Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cutting your food bill Part 2........

So last week we in theory, made an inventory of our freezer, fridge and pantry, and we made a menu plan for the week, right? RIGHT!!!!! Did you at least plan a menu for the week, that in itself is a life saver, as you don't have to think what should I make for supper tonight, just look at the list!!!!

Here is our menu for this week. As you can see it's heavy on the ceaser salad side this week, only because I have a jar of salad dressing that needs to be used up in the next couple of weeks.

One of the best way to save money on groceries is to buy them in a "basic or no frills" type of store. You know the type of store that probably doesn't have a deli, or a butcher, or a fancy bakery in store. Now some of you don't have a choice as to where you can shop. If you do check out these basic stores. More often than not they sell the same name brands as the fancier stores, and nine times out of ten they sell them cheaper. If you must buy your meat fresh from a butcher, then of course go to the butcher, otherwise I have had no problem with shopping in these kind of stores. At the basic grocery stores its not as fancy, but honestly if you are only having to spend an hour a week there, who cares? If you can save $5 by shopping there instead of the fancy dancy store, isn't that $5 better in your pocket rather than the grocery stores?

Also buying no name brand items is also a money saver. I will say there are certain things I won't buy no name, like Heinz Baked Beans for example. One thing I will warn you, if you haven't tried a particular brand before only buy one at a time to see if you and your family like it.

Last week I touched on the subject of buying reduced meat, veggies, fruit and even bread. If you have a freezer buying reduced bread is great, pop a few loaves in the freezer and you have it on hand all the time.

I also buy cheap cuts of meat and pop them in the crockpot to cook. One of my all time favourite meals is Cola Beef I buy the cheapest cut of beef, normally on sale for $1.99 per pound (haven't been able to find it for less) and because of the slow cooking and the cola (it does not taste of cola) it makes a super tender roast of beef.

I also find that using your crockpot saves you money and time. Pop everything into the crockpot first thing in a morning, and by supper time its all ready to go. To make some meat dishes like stew stretch I also use less meat and more veggies. Check out this site for some good crockpot recipes.

Again for those of you who are short of time, prep everything the night before and then just throw it all in the crockpot in the morning. Making things from scratch not only saves you money but you at least know what is in that meal and you can alter it to suit your family.

Buying fruit and veggies in season is also a money saver. For us in Canada its Fall/Winter so of course its that time of year for root vegetables and apples/pears. For those of you "down under" its that time of years for Summer fruits and salads. I must say though that nowadays it is easier to buy off season fruits and veggies as all countries seem to import more and more things.

Still it's better to take advantage of what is in season. Although I know by mid February I will be craving summer salads and fresh strawberries, but that's human nature isn't it, craving what you can't have!!
I do keep an eye open in other areas of the stores, as sometimes stores have other items on clearance, which combined with coupons will also make great deals.

One section I do use a lot of coupons in, is the cleaning aisle and the toiletries/personal items aisle. I also use coupons in the paper goods section.

I have saved quite a bit of money by making my own laundry detergent and fabric softener.

Buying in bulk sometimes is a money saver.....I say sometimes, as you really do need to know our prices. Also make sure its something you will use before the item expires. For example buying 6 romaine lettuce for $3 is a great deal as long as you don't mind eating romaine lettuce for the next six nights, as you know they won't keep for too much longer!!

Big batch cooking or once a month cooking also helps you save both time and money. When I worked outside the house, I used to spend a Sunday afternoon preparing meals for the upcoming week, it took two or three hours, but it was so handy to have those meals ready to go after work. One site I like that has a lot of good bulk recipes is this one I haven't signed up for anything on there, I just use the "free" recipes.

Another site I like is the Kraft one, it has a variety of recipes on there that will suit everyone.

I think everyone has their own favourite recipe sites, with money saving recipes on them..........if you like put a link on your comment, so we can all share.

I did some canning this year for the first time in years, and have to say we are enjoying the fruits of my labour. The pears are really good as is the jam. However, if I hadn't got the raspberries for pretty cheap, it wouldn't have been worth my while, the same with the pears, I got them for free, so it was a good thing to do. If I had, had to pay full price for the raspberries and I had, had to pay for the pears, I probably would have found it cheaper to buy these items.

I still haven't done an inventory of my pantry, as I have a good idea of what's in there. Here are a couple of photos of my main pantry.

We have another double upper cupboard with baking things and spices in. Then the over flow of other things I have on shelves in my laundry room.

I hope some of what I have talked about has given you some ideas. As always I welcome what you have to say.


Caroline said...

Great Post as usual Gill. You always give me "food for thought" & new ideas I can try to see if they work in our family

Lakeland Jo said...

inspirational stuff as always. I enjoyed seeing your menus for the week, and your organised cupboards. The food here in Ireland has been so 'grand' ( as the locals might put it) I am resolved to cook more when I get back, and that includes planning ahead. I like the idea of doing an inventory of the stuff in the cupboards and freezer.

Clippy Mat said...

some great ideas. i agree on the basics shopping thing. much cheaper than other stores.
the heinz baked beans is a dead giveaway that you are a brit LOL
but of course the no name brand beans are perfect for chili and other recipes you know that right? but never on toast or with bacon and eggs.
ooh listen to me; 'recipes'.
i sound like i know what i'm talking about.
as if.

Janeen said...

Good morning! Great post, so many ideas I'm sure I'll keep returning to read them all. I love that cola recipe - definitely going to try it! Have a great day!

Expat mum said...

Now don't tell me you didn't tidy up those cupboards for the photos? My problem with menu planning is that I change my mind half way through the week. There's something about knowing what you are going to eat all the way through to next week that makes me very claustrophobic. (Obviously I have some deep issues here.)

Lib said...

Hi Gill,
Great Post! I agree 100%!
Have a great Day!

Cherie said...

I love food Basics and the bulk barn! Coupons do not seem to ever get the item cheaper than the store brand. We do buy Heinz ketchup and I make my own baked beans. I love my slow cooker too! A great post as always!

Anonymous said...

I only just came across your blog and enjoyed reading it. I guess we think alike! I usually plan menus for a week and enjoy batch cooking for the freezer. It gives me a warm cosy feeling when the fridge, freezer and baking tins are full!

Gill - That British Woman said...

thank you all for your lovely comments........


Denise said...

The planned menu is very sensible. I just have to get more disciplined but reading your post helps sow the seed even further along. Thanks Gill and great post.

Tea Time With Melody said...

You have it all down pat. MY problem is everytime I make a weekly dinner menu, I don't want what I am supposed to have that night. That 1.5 hour commute home leaves too much time for changing my mind but I really should get back to it because my husband and I commute together and EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY DAY he asks me, "Whatcha got in mind for dinner tonight?" My answer, "I have no clue but I can tell you it's currently frozen". This works really well when you are driving past a strip mall with resturants. lol

Evelyn said...

love reading how you save money! i buy almost everything i can in noname. i think we have a basics store called Lofood but it is so out of the way i am sure I don't save on gas.