Save Money on Food

Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 9:11 am Pacific USA Time.

This economy stinks. It's a good idea to cut down on anything you can, and make a few sacrifices. Even if you save the amount of money that your cable/internet bill costs in a month, hey that's something!

One thing to note is that I still want quality food even though I also want savings. Pre-packaged food, stuff made in factories, and microwave meals may be cheap. But you'll be sacrificing your health with all those chemicals and foods lacking nutrition. I've seen a few TV shows where people talk about how they packed on so much weight, and very often, it's because they were low on money and starting buying really cheap food and McDonalds.

It's not worth sacrificing your health. You'll pay for it in energy and mood, and you'll pay for it at the doctor's office or hospital. So be good to yourself!

Here are some of my money-saving ideas. I welcome yours in the comments section!

1) Coffee! Lots of us get coffee out on the road, and overpay for it. Every time I get a decaf soy cinnamon dolce at Starbucks, it runs me almost $5. My local health food store has DELICIOUS decaf french vanilla coffee for $7.99/lb, ground or beans. I found CoffeeMate's new cinnamon bun flavour. And hey, it's a good copy. Each cup probably costs me pennies. If you can cut say 3 Starbucks drinks out per week, you will save around $15 per week.

Another coffee idea is to look for the places that give deals… free coffee if you come in with their mug. Discounts if you come in with any mug. Brueggers Bagels has an offer right now. Pay $109-149 (depending on location) for a special mug and card, and get free unlimited coffee in it (they charge extra for flavoured syrups). So if you get a cup of coffee every workday, and you can stop here and use this mug, each cup of coffee may have cost you around 50 cents. Probably still cheaper to make your own and put it in your own damn mug, but if you like the "getting coffee outside my house" feeling, this should do it on a good budget.  

2) Meat on sale. My local supermarkets tend to put their meat on sale when it's closer to its "use by" date. The meat's still good. And it was packaged by the butcher, so hopefully it's better than some of the weird things I've seen factories do with packaged meats. I've seen good cuts of meat get sold for under $3/pound. You have to use it soon, but these are great places to save sometimes half or more off the regular price. Maybe you could save $10 per week.

3) Definitely cook more often. When I think about what a plate of pasta costs in a restaurant, I tend to lose my mind. :) I'm not even that fond of buying sauce in a jar as I think I can make something better and healthier. A pound of pasta is what, 89 cents? A dollar? I like spelt pasta as it's healthier and tastes great. That's $2.70 per box, so it does cost a bit more. Then what can you do? Make easy sauces with tomato or olive oil bases. Get a giant can of diced tomatoes. Get some fresh or frozen veg. Get some fresh garlic and onions. You can even get a jarred alfredo sauce if you want to add a little cheesiness. Or don't since that's just calories.

Pasta and sauce for your whole family? Maybe $10 or so! And healthy and homemade and EASY. You stick all the sauce things in a giant pan, covered, to sweat it out together. Fresh mushrooms can be great in there. Spinach. Maybe you got some chicken breasts on sale, and can cut in a few breasts for the family to share. Healthy, tasty, easy. Dinner out for 4 people after tax and tip? Easily $30 if not way more. Save $15-20 PER MEAL.

4) Freeze! I like to make a giant thing of pasta sauce, break it into smaller containers, freeze some and fridge some. Pasta may not freeze so well, but many things do. Look for books on freezer cooking as those will have recipes and the how-tos for freezing and unfreezing.

5) Kids don't have to eat crap. When I came home from high school, every day, I boiled water. Put in pasta. Threw Velveeta on it. Fried up some ground beef. Made my own beefy mac and cheese. No microwaves. Is that the healthiest meal known to man, no. But your kids don't HAVE to microwave everything. Not everything has to come from a factory. Not everything has to come from a drive through window. They CAN learn to cook. They can learn to cook things that have SOME nutritional value.

Those are some money-saving tips on food while not sacrificing your health. I hope to have more entries with money-saving tips in other life areas. :)

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