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Saving Money in the Kitchen
Over the past few months I have watched the prices in the
grocery store climb higher. This has made me have to stop
and reevaluate our current eating and spending habits and
see where I can trim the budget. I thought I would share a
few of the tips that I have been incorporating
into our budget.
First off years ago I started keeping a price book. I
checked the prices at the different stores I shop to see who
had the better price on napkins, pasta, hamburger, milk,
eggs, etc.. Soon I had this price list memorized pretty
well. I knew what store had the best price on which items.
The only thing to remember is to recheck this list
periodically. One of the first things I did was to re-check
these prices to make sure they were still a good deal and
not take them for granted.
Another thing I have been doing is to stop buying or buy
less of very expensive items. When I saw mozzarella cheese
rise higher and higher, we took a break from pizza and
lasagna. This was the same with the cheddar cheese although
I did not see it jump as high as the mozzarella cheese. So
with the cheddar I looked at how much we had been using and
determined to use half this amount. I simply did not make
as many meals with cheddar cheese in them as I had and I
cautiously used the cheese on other meals. I watched
butter climb to over $2.50 per pound at Costco and this was
the least expensive price I could find. We donít eat
margarine so instead I limited our butter use to a certain
amount per week and we stopped baking foods that called for
butter. We also used things like cream cheese on our toast
or pancakes instead of butter. Olive oil was also about
half the price (per pound) as butter. So when I did bake I
would choose things like cakes and quick breads that used
oil, or muffins that did not require any fat in them.
As meat prices have climbed I have been serving more soups,
breads, beans and whole grains. I usually will serve a
couple of bean based meals a week and this has increased to
more. My meals are basic and simple and the ingredients
inexpensive. I think of the meat in the meal as flavoring,
not the main component of the meal. I can make a pot of
chili bean soup with 1 pound of hamburger in it and that
will feed my family dinner one night and the leftovers will
be lunch the next day. I stretch my meals by using my meat
in sauces and gravies that are served over brown rice or
whole wheat pasta. This also stretches the meat, adds great
flavor and served with the whole grains makes a satisfying
I also have tried to determine how much I want to spend per
day to feed my family. I have then worked to find out how
much each meal is costing us. For instance the chili bean
soup served with a pan of cornbread will cost me about $5.
Not bad for feeding a family of my size. I also have
breakfast meals and lunch meals to consider for my daily
cost. In the end I have some meals that are under budget
and I have meals that sometimes are over budget. It becomes
a matter of working towards an average cost. But I know
the more low cost meals I serve in a month the better the
average costs will be.
Finally remember to be conscious and be aware. Donít just
throw items into the shopping cart. Buy your foods with a
plan. Know what you are spending each week, know what items
are costing you and be prepared to make changes in the way
you cook and the foods you buy.
Here are a couple of my low cost recipes that help out the
monthly food budget at our house!
Crystalís Chili Bean Soup
Heat 2 T. oil in large soup pot.
Chop up and add:
1/2 a green pepper, optional
Cook until the onion is soft.
3 cups small red beans
12 cups water
1 Tablespoon salt
Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir
occasionally. After beans are soft add:
1 Tablespoon chili powder (more if you like it spicy.. less
if you donít!)
1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chilies (this brand of
tomatoes is usually found with the other tomatoes at your
local grocery store)
1 ľ cups whole wheat pastry flour
ĺ cup finely ground cornmeal or corn flour (I grind my own
to a coarse corn flour)
2 T fructose or Sucanat or sugar
2 t baking powder
Ĺ t salt
1 cup milk or buttermilk
ľ cup olive oil
Heat oven to 400. Grease or spray an 8 or 9 inch pan. Mix
milk, oil and egg until well blended. In separate bowl mix
dry ingredients and add to liquid and stir until moistened.
Pour batter into pan and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until
golden brown. I double this recipe and bake in a 9x13 pan
for 25 minutes (need to check, it could 30minutes).
Copyright: Crystal Miller, 2005
About the Author:
Crystal Miller ( mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org ) is
a mother of 8 children and enjoys her God given role as
wife, homemaker and mother! She has a homemaking and
country living web site called The Family Homestead
newsletter called Homestead Happenings. You will find
sign up information on her website.