Friday, June 13, 2008

Frugal Friday: Using What You Have - Part 2

Here are some ways of being intentional about using what you have for meal preparation... 1) Plan ahead The 1st step toward being more frugal by using what you have is to have a plan. I try to plan out basic meals for the whole week. Often things get switched around because I forget to get meat out of the freezer, I get home from work later than I had planned etc. (maybe the leftovers planned for tomorrow night get switched to tonight). But, having a basic plan eliminates the last minute "What am I going to fix for dinner?" approach and therefore: -increases the chances of preparing a healthy nutritious dinner -decreases extra trips to the store for a small number of items or buying something that is not on sale just because it is easy & quick -decreases the chances that you will end up going out -decreases waste/food being thrown away 2) Be flexible Vary your recipes depending on what you have on hand or try a new one if you have something that you want to "use up." For example, spaghetti doesn't need meatballs or ground meat to be a meal. Also, you can use a different type of pasta other than spaghetti. I make mashed potatoes differently depending what I have on hand and may want to use (such as cream, sour cream, ranch dressing or cream cheese...and, a bonus is that the fat-free or reduced fat versions are less calories than margarine...I've never tried it but plain yogurt may work too) I don't buy garlic bread, I make my own using bread, hamburger buns, hot dog buns. Instead of pizza, you could make personal "pizzas" from English muffins, bagels, buns or bread. These two websites can help you put together a recipe for what you have on hand: and 3) Use substitutions A lot of things can be replaced with something similar: - apple juice instead of apple cider - semi-sweet chocolate squares (1 Tbsp vegetable oil, 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 3 tsp sugar) - to make pretend buttermilk, add 1-3/4 tablespoons of cream of tartar to a cup of milk, or add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a cup of milk and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes. (in many baking recipes, you can also just use plain yogurt or sour cream instead of buttermilk) 4) Make your own if you are out Stocking basic items allows you to make your own salad dressing, BBQ sauce, taco seasoning and many other things. Try a search on the internet to find a recipe to make your own with ingredients that you have on hand before you run out to the store to buy that item. Maybe you'll like the homemade version even better. 5) Plan your leftovers I don't mind leftovers. But, it always works best if I have a plan for them (to be eaten for lunch, and 2nd dinner, to make into a different dinner that week) and know how much of the original meal you want to have leftover. If we are going to be out of town for the weekend or longer, I don't want to make a meal late in the week that will have leftovers that end up getting thrown out. 6) Be happy eating something other than what you are craving at that time This is the hardest one for me especially on days when it seems like all of the meals that I can think of to make for dinner "don't sound good." I am trying to be better at making meals that eliminate waste by finishing what is open and using any fresh items before they go bad even if something else "sounds better." Now, I don't want you to think that I am an expert because I'm not. I am trying to get better at doing these things myself. However, by being intentional, you will have a much better chance of using what you have efficiently and also saving money!!! (And also, the more you read about how others have done these things, the more inspired you become to do them yourself.) __________________________________________________ *Finally, I had to share my trip to Walmart this week (if only they could all be this good) :

Post Trail Mix cereal = Free with coupon

Kashi Honey Oat waffles = $2.12 (-$2 coupon)

Kraft dressing = Free with coupon

Taco seasoning = 2/$1.00 (-$.75 coupon)

Grand total = $.41

(and I also got a free travel size bottle of All laundry detergent at Target and had another coupon for $1 off Ortega that I used at Walmart for 2 more free taco seasonings!)

So, you don't always need to have a CVS to find good stuff...


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OK, your savings are ALWAYS better than mine OR my daughters! Thanks for sharing & keep up the good work!