Cook smart to save money

With food costs skyrocketing, it behooves the conscious consumer to look for ways to stretch their food dollars further.

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Have you noticed that packages are smaller but prices are the same or higher? There are plenty of ways to eat well for less.

Meat is expensive. So is chicken and fish. Finding ways to eat less is not only good for your wallet, it’s good for your metabolism. Instead of serving whole pieces, sliver or shred for stir-fries and combo dishes.

Substitute less expensive forms of protein. Eggs are a bargain, and what could be lovelier than a frittata served with a salad for dinner, especially on a steamy summer evening? Or how about breakfast for dinner? Turn your thinking on its head and save some money.

Learn to love beans and lentils, adding them to chili, stews and ground-beef dishes. Not only will you need less meat, you’ll up your fibre intake, which is very good for your heart.

Eat more veggies. They’re not only healthy, they can be far less expensive if you buy in season. (Hard to do in winter, I know, but summer’s here so get saving!) Adding grated carrots and zucchini to chili, lasagna and other “combo” dishes not only adds volume to a meal to fill hungry teenagers, it adds essential vitamins and antioxidants to keep them healthy.

Don’t throw away food. If your veggies are getting close to their best-before date, cut them up and freeze them, or throw them in a soup or stew. If you’ve roasted a chicken or a piece of meat with a big bone, use the carcass to make stock. I buy my chicken breast on the bone, debone ‘em myself (only takes a couple of minutes) and then freeze the bones for my famous Mom’s Chicken Soup, which I mass-produce and hand out to sick friends and family. (Yes, it can cure a cold! Or at least make you feel better. That’ll save drugstore spending too.)

Since the grocery budget is one of our biggest variable expenses, putting in a bit of effort to feed your household well while spending less means you’ll have some money to save. Healthy bodies. Healthy bank accounts. Well done!

2 comments on “Cook smart to save money

  1. I like this article on eating healthy for less by holistic nutritionist Sandra Tonn. Full article: http://www.hans.org/magazine/632/Is-Cost-Really-a… Excerpt of her calculations:

    Comparison of Packaged vs. Whole Food

    • BlueWater Grilled Salmon (179 g box) at $3.49 versus wild salmon for the same price, but with 16 more grams (and without the added modified corn starch, hydrogenated vegetable oil, many unpronounceable ingredients, plus flavour and colour).

    • Campbell's Gardennay squash soup (500 ml carton) at $2.99 vs. 1 litre of homemade squash soup for a savings of $4.11(and without the modified corn starch and sugar ingredients).

    • Hunts Thick'N Rich tomato sauce (680 ml) at $2.39 vs. a can of organic tomatoes plus spices and fresh veggies for the same cost (but without the salt, glucose-fructose, corn syrup and sugar). Make tomato sauce from homegrown tomatoes and it's even cheaper, more nutritious and delicious!

    • Whole Grain Brown Minute Rice (1 kg) at $8.49 vs. $3.84 for the same amount of bulk organic long grain brown rice from an organic outlet.

    • Quaker Quick Oats (900 g) at $4.49 vs. 10 kg of organic regular rolled oats at the same grocery store for only $19.99 (a savings of more than $25 over the long term).

    • Pre-washed, packaged salad container (142 g) at $4.49 vs. one head of organic green leaf lettuce (340 g) for $1.99 (more than twice the lettuce for less than half the price).

    • Packaged basil (10 oz.) at $1.79 vs. months of basil on the kitchen widow ledge for the same price or less when you plant a seed or buy a plant.

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  2. Great tips for food. I have found this to be the one area of our variable spending I am shocked by. We've done the following: plan meals in advance so it is harder to buy food impulsively; have hot sandwiches (like grilled cheese) and sides for supper (our son loves this); get local veg at farmers market; make meals at home that we loved to eat at restaurants for big savings (we have a nacho night every 2 weeks for a fraction of the cost of eating out).

    When travelling we don't eat all our meals in restaurants, I hunt for hotels with mini fridges and free breakfasts, and we eat one meal out a day, or get grocery store convenience foods like sushi (which we wouldn't normally get, so it is a treat).

    I have traded some foods to cheaper ones, I eat puffed wheat or oatmeal for breakfast (I know some people hate these because they were forced to eat them as a kid, I wasn't and I love them!) I also bought a cheap airpopper and eat airpopped popcorn most nights for my evening treat.

    Finally, I switched to a lot of store brands and collect airmiles at our grocery store which I only use for grocery gift cards.

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