Eating Well on a Budget

digitS'

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Some of us do a LOT of food preserving while and after growing a LOT of produce.

That process is certainly a Good Start to saving money. What else would be healthful and practical? There was something on the teevee recently about eating out to save money on the food budget. Really? Wow. What are people bringing into their kitchens for that to be true?!

Our most economical food purchases have to be the rice and pasta. And then, that's how these two gardeners eat. Sure, there is animal protein in our diet also but there are lots of ways to serve rice and pasta with vegetables mixed in or along side. Not only is there great variety to pastas but we sometimes have rice with couscous or cornmeal, just for a change.

Think money-saving ;)

Steve
 

flowerbug

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nutritionally rice and pasta are not that great, any fresh vegetables you can substitute for those would be an improvement in overall health and diet (if you happen to be lacking in nutrients :) ).

my largest problem here for gardening and budget items is that food wise Mom just doesn't like a lot of things that would be great to grow. almost all leaf lettuces she doesn't like. those that she will eat are more like head lettuces (romaine). she doesn't like anything related to cabbages unless it is brocolli and cauliflower which we can't grow. she doesn't like beet greens, chards, etc. :(

thank goodness she likes beans. :)

celery i need to get that figured out sometime to see if i can find a spot to grow it (inside the fence somewheres).

tomatoes we both really like, so we grow a lot of those but only certain kinds, i don't get chances to try different ones. this year i'm reminded how much i'd like to try some different ones in hopes to find those that are better than what we've got out there now, but that means taking some risks and she don't like that...

i don't like wasting space on growing things if she won't eat them.

parsley i should also put some in each year, large leaved kinds, but i think the varmints eat those too (like the brocolli and cauliflower) even if they're inside the fence.
 

ducks4you

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The Most economical thing I can add to this conversation is try not to waste food, condiments and pre made extras like crackers.
1) Know (or figure out) what it is that you eat, and that includes sauces like ketchup, mustard, commercial relish, etc., and commercially made extras, like crackers.
The packaging has an expiration date. You can find it (look at my posts on Price Shortgages thread) and I have taken a black Sharpie and written in large letters the expiration date month/year.
After the expiration date it can go stale. Then you just wasted the money you used to buy it, so only buy what you will use before the expiration dates, We recently had to throw away a package of crackers that hadn't been open and Had gone stale.
2) Keep a supply of Good ziplock bags. Name brands are good, but sometimes off brands can be just as good, like the quart sized bags I used to freeze okra last year, $1/box/50 quart bags. Meijer brand ziplock bags ALL suck bc they are difficult/impossible to seal and you NEED a good seal to keep the foodstuffs fresh, Try to roll all of the air out of the bag every time you store the leftover potato chips, etc.
3) Freeze leftover meals that you intend to consume within one year and LABEL the freezer container. Sometimes it's easier to put the storage containers inside of a cheapo ziplock bag bc there is a place to write freezing dates on the bags. This is a great way to use up any crummy ziplock bags. Then it doesn't matter if the bag seal is poor.
4) Create an Excel sheet to keep track of what you have bought. It can be like the Excel sheet that DD made for me for "Big Boy". Here is the hamburger spreadsheet, as an example:
1660669321117.png

Just dive in. Excel came with your Microsoft Office upload on your computer. Go online if you need help.
...more
 
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ducks4you

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...more
5.) Drink up the extra juice that comes with the can. I LOVE pineapple juice, so when we open the can, I drink the juice. I also drink up an extra tomatoes/juice when I am canning, if it won't even fit in a half pint. Good vitamin C, there.
6.) Refridgerate cooled bacon grease. I keep it in my fridge in a sturdy plastic storage container, and use it to make cook pancakes and fry okra.
7.) Recycle used freezer bags. I already gave you an example, but turn them inside out and use a kitchen sponge and dishsoap to clean, rinse and hang inside out on your faucet and let dry out for a day. I use mine to bag up glass/plastic containers where I keep my seeds, as an extra seal. You can label them "Used" and you Will find uses for them. You will discover that are buying storage bags less often.
8.) If you use loose plastic shower curtains, save the old ones for gardening when you have to change it out. They make a great cover for early frosts, and when you have prepped an area and don't want any weed seeds to land and sprout on it. If you want to prune, like a rosebush, something small, you can lay this out to catch what you cut, then dispose of the cuts (as you see fit.)
9.) Buy ANYTHING that you periodically replace when you see a great price. I needed some new ice cube trays. I was at WM and saw 2 packs/$1 and I bought 4 of them, used 2 in my kitchen freezer and stored the other 6 for the future.
10.) Go to store closings and do like in #9. Treat them like an estate sale, looking for bargains.
BUT, recognize when the price isn't great. THAT means that the store is planning on selling their inventory to another vendor. DD's and I discovered that this was what PayLess did with Their inventory when they went under, bc they had their own Brand names of their shoes.
11.) Stores still do their best sales on the last FULL week of every month. I used to take advantage of B1G1 and the other deals, but Now I buy 2x.
12.) Here's something I learned when I was 17yo. Fashion. If some garment is in style and you look so marvelous in it that Everybody comments on it, buy a high quality version of it. You will wear it out.
If you don't look so hot in it, but have to get it Anyway, but it at WM or Meijer or Kohl's and look for a sale and use coupons. You want that thing going threadbare when it goes out of style.
Sweaters rarely go out of style. I am kinda "flat", if you know what That means, and I have bought some very nice Men's sweaters at Jos A. Banks.
13.) EVERYBODY is gonna hate this one. Start on a very long term diet. If you are overweight, like me, it took years to put it on, so take a year to take some of it off.
I am on one and I can tell that my clothes are getting looser. I don't step on a scale, and I have stopped buying treats for myself.
Pretty soon people without resources are gonna be hungry. They will either eat very badly and gain "that COVID 15" all over again, OR, they will be doing without meat every day and probably lose weight.
You DON'T want them to know that you have a freezer full of meat/pantry full of vegetables and pressure canned meals.
16.) Storage for extra food storage containers. I went to WM last week and bought a clear, 3 drawer storage cart. I don't have enough room in my kitchen to store ALL of my food storage containers, and I have bought some very nice ones over the years. So I bought This:
I am keeping mine in an especially nice spot, the closet in my guest bedroom off of the kitchen. My old house has an old laundry door that is below it, I have a nice 3 step stepladder to get Into it, point is, there is No traffic there to break it. I have been filling it with my extras. When I make a turkey I Need big storage. When I make bbq pork, I need freezer storage bc I tried pressure canning it and it turned out yucky, but it makes a nice 4 person meal when defrosted. This one has wheels so I can roll it out to fill, roll it back to store.
You will discover that you won't be running to the store to buy More plastic storage containers right before the holidays bc you'll take care of the ones your have.
17.) When you replace the broken cheapo storage containers that you DO have, buy these, instead:
These come in quart and pint and I have even found comparables in larger sizes. They are dishwasher safe and they last for YEEEEEAAAAAARRRRRRSSSSS, long after the others went to the trash.


I am doing pretty well bc DD's and I stocked up on a great deal of non perishables, and long lasting perishables.
 

flowerbug

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there's a lot of good tips in there @ducks4you.

the one about buying good storage containers is one that i appreciate, but what is interesting to me is that even the cheapie ones that sometimes come as wrappers for luncheon meats can sometimes last years if you're careful to not abuse them. we have a few Glad brand ones that are about a quart and they're holding up well at about 5 years of nearly constant use. a few had cracked lids that we eventually put in the recycling but otherwise whatever we paid for them they've earned their keep. glass quart and pint canning jars always also earn their keep many times over before they get broken or given away. i have a few large mouth short canning jars that are great for food storage but i like them so much that i don't want to use them because i don't want them to get broken. we have plastic lids that fit tightly enough on the canning jars that they do well for storage but we can also put a used clean canning lid inside them if we want an even better seal for the freezer.

my preference is for storage containers to be glass with a flexible enough lid that you don't crack or break it easily. we have a rather large pyrex bowl (it must hold at least 8 quarts) that we use a great deal and i'd love to have a whole set of similar ones of smaller sizes because we use it so much.

what we often do is cook up large batches of whatever and then we put portions in the freezer and keep the rest in that large bowl in the fridge until we eat it up.

last week it was stuffed green peppers, this week it is veggie soup.

i may, in my above post, be appearing to dis rice and pasta, but as starchy things and me trying to avoid a lot of those i do try to limit how much of those i eat. the times i don't mind eating a lot more of those are when i'm exercising heavily or in the winter when i'm burning more energy keeping warm. the veggie soup mentioned did have potatoes in it. :) they're good eats too.

the comment about losing weight also is fitting because i'm trying to get back to my previous normal weight of 155lbs. i have 15 more lbs to go on that journey. after my recent high point of 183lbs i made it back to 170lbs this past month so almost half way there. more to go the next few months i hope i can get back to 165 lbs before the end of fall. we'll see how that goes. i do know that with the high heat it is easier for me to cope with it when i've not go so much extra weight on to begin with. i noticed a big difference in how this summer started by just being down 5lbs from where i was the previous year. much easier on me.
 
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meadow

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What else would be healthful and practical?
Legumes in bulk. DD discovered she has a Mennonite store near her (Oregon) and it has been a great source for bulk grains and legumes. Well, and I suppose various types of sugar too if you're into that sort of thing.

There used to be quite a few bulk places around here but those are gone now. Maybe there are new ones, I don't know.

eta: also ethnic grocery stores can be a good source for low cost legumes & spices.
 

ducks4you

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Rhodie Ranch

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When I lived in Medford OR, (until last month), there was an LDS store open on Wednesdays from 3 - 7. Gosh, their products are great as are their prices!!

Edited to add: we are all gardeners on this forum. Everything I scrap goes to the compost pile. I just got baby chicks so soon non compostable foods will go to them.

I'm also the queen of mixing things together into a tortilla and calling it a burrito!!
 

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