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Frugal Menus - Ideas to Keep Meal Costs Down

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Groceries is one of the items on your budget that you have control over.  You may not be able to change your car payment or mortgage payment but you can certainly control how much (or little) you spend on groceries. 

  • Plan meals in advance.  I plan my meals by the month.  I have a huge magnet calendar on the side of my refrigerator and once a month I sit down and write each meal for each day.  I then shop by the month.  This allows me to buy in bulk and share ingredients. Others will plan by the week or 2 weeks – figure out what works best for your family.

  • Once a month cooking (also known as freezer cooking) can help you save money and time.  Click here to find out how to do it!

  • Use a grocery list.  If you can limit yourself to only what is on your list you will be able to avoid impulse buying. 

  • Leave the kids at home – if possible.  I always end up buying things that I don’t need because my child will see something and ask for it.  I don’t give in to the cash register stuff like gums and candies – but I usually cave when it comes to a bag of chips, or cookies.  

  • Use coupons with care.  Coupons can be great money savers if they are items you normally buy.  Don’t let a coupon be an excuse to buy something you wouldn’t normally buy just because you’ll save .40!  Another thing to consider – coupons are generally for name brand items.  Many times the off brand items are cheaper than the name brand items with a coupon.  Shop smart!

  • Create a price book.  I use my palm pilot to keep track of prices at grocery stores.  For example when I need to buy diapers I can look at my price book and see which stores sell my brand the cheapest.  It helps me to recognize sales also.

  • When you have leftovers freeze them to reuse in future recipes.

  • Eat less meat and fill up on vegetables and pasta.

  • Plan meals around what is on sale and what is in your pantry.

  • Cook from scratch

  • Serve bread with every meal

  • I try to stick to this price plan for meat:  I don’t pay more than $2.00 per pound for steaks, pork and fish. I shop till I find it and then buy in bulk

  • When your store has a good sale on items you use a lot, stock up.

 

Recommended Books:

Not Just Beans: 50 Years of Frugal Family Favorites: Not Just Beans is a collection of frugal recipes and tips from the cooking expertise of three generations of Tawra Kellam's family. Using these tips and suggestions, Mrs. Kellam shows how anyone can tighten his or her food budget. In the book, Tawra shares the secrets of how she spends an average of $125 per month feeding her family of four.

Not Just Beans is designed for the beginner as well as the more experienced cook. It contains over 540 recipes and 420 tips explaining how to eat well while slashing your grocery bill. The recipes are easy to cook with ingredients readily found at your local grocery store. With hard-to- find frugal recipes like buttermilk, enchilada sauce and granola bars, classic favorites like slow cooked roast, hush puppies and apple crisp and old-fashioned comfort foods like watermelon pickles, lemon bars, rice pudding and fried green tomatoes, Not Just Beans has it all.

Miserly Meals: Healthy, Tasty Recipes Under 75 Cents Per Serving:  Learn how to prepare inexpensive, delicious and healthy meals that are easy to prepare.  The book includes main dish recipes, appetizers, beverages, soups, vegetables and side dishes, the "Twelve days of Turkey", slow cooking, breads and muffins, sauces and dressings, mixes, as well as desserts and snacks.

Feed Your Family for $12 a Day:  This is an update to the authors book "Feed Your Family for $50 a Week."  Contains a lot of the same information so you don't need both books.

Additional Resources:

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