Frugal Cooking Tips and a Challenge

In the times we live in, do we need to sacrifice our health for our dollar?  Do we need to eat just rice and beans?  Here are some ideas I use to help save our money for other things. 

This next month I am going to be doing a freezer/garden/pantry challenge to help me save money.  The summer and increased daycare bills for two of my children instead of just one and the back to school fees are all taking its toll on my finances.  I am trying to spend no money, but it seems as if I am spending more.  Join me as I share tips and recipes I am using to save money. 

I just rarely cook any pasta, casseroles, sauces, ect. Our meals are meat & sides. to help with cost I watch meat sales very closely & buy the least processed meats. In other words whole chickens, roasts, raw fish, ect rather than bagged chicken pieces, pork chops, ect then I cut my meat myself - or have the butcher do it for free if your store has one.

I stretch meat with vegetables. Serve small portions of meat with large portions of salads, fruit, raw or cooked vegetables. I do serve one carb at most meals but serve small portions. Breads, potatoes, corn, pasta, beans, rice, ect only one of these kinds of things are served with a meal. I can never understand why I see corn & mashed potatoes as the two sides with a meat when they both are very high carb & starch? I never serve them together & in fact they are both rare foods at our house.

I've found that if I set a limit on my budget, buy the healthy foods first & stop shopping when I reach my spending limit that I really can stay within my budget & I end up not buying the processed junk foods so much. Think about what you spend the most on & look for cheaper, healthier choices. Here are some examples - I've already done meat, the most expensive.

cereals - buy old fashioned oats instead of boxed cereals or country breakfasts - save the country breakfast for holidays

drinks - drop sodas, sports drinks, flavored milks or coffees & save them for holidays or special days - instead drink water, make your own iced tea, serve one small glass of juice a day. Milk is the only expensive drink I don't cut back on with my family.

snacks - I've found that with counting calories & watching serving sizes I don't have room in my calorie budget for snacks most of the time. It saves me money! When I do snack it's usually yogurt, fruit, cheese, nuts, pretzels, vanilla wafers, ect & a very small serving of whatever I'm snacking on with a glass of ice water or iced tea.

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