Okay, you’ve just been fired. Or another calamity has you running out of money at the speed of sound. Or maybe you just want to mercilessly cut corners to save money for a coveted object, trip or some other goodie.
It’s time to hit the kitchen and see where you can squeeze money out of your eating, cooking and shopping habits. Here are some tips to get you started on your goal of saving money in the food department.
- Never throw out stale bread for the simple reason you’ll never have stale bread IF you freeze your bread and only defrost a few days’ slices at a time. A simple way to both save and always have fresh bread on hand.
- Pick up scissors and cut those paper napkins in half. Is this uber extreme? Yes! And it’s also presuming you know how to eat without dribbling. If you do, you only need half of a napkin to stay presentable. Any dining quests that might not appreciate your economical style can be allotted full sized napkins.
- Only buy staples when they’re on sale. This means you’ll have to stay alert and check weekly store flyers for that coffee or mayo or sugar or tea you’ll need. It also means you can’t wait till you run out of instant coffee to buy some because it will never be on sale exactly at the moment you need it. So the minute you replenish a staple, you need to keep an eye open for a sale of the same stuff elsewhere. This further means you will often have two or more of the same staples on hand. One open. One stored. You haven’t the storage space you say? I solved that problem in my teensy kitchen by purchasing a free standing, metal linen cabinet to store food.
- Get food rain checks. The CVS stores in my NYC neighborhood are small and notorious for running out of food items within a day of going on sale. No problem. Ask for a rain check – which can be even more advantageous. You’ll be able to purchase those items later when you most need them.
- Kill prepared, manufactured foods. They’re expensive and loaded with chemicals to keep them “edible” while they hang around shelves and freezers for who knows how long waiting for you to crack them open, heat and eat. Check the encyclopedic list of chemicals in things like macaroni and cheese, canned soups and frozen dinners. And when talking about chemicals in manufactured foods let us not forget some of Big Food’s fascinating “natural” additives such as wood pulp in various pancakes, hot chocolate, and fish patties, etc. and hair, beetles and anal glands in some ice creams, yogurt, soda and candy. It’s far cheaper, healthier and way better testing to make your own meals.
- The same goes for your breakfast oatmeal. Along with all the preservatives, most instant oatmeal packets are chock full of sweeteners. By comparison my oatmeal box contains exactly one ingredient: rolled oats. And the satisfying taste is worth every bit of the five minutes it takes to simmer. And yes, there’s a pot to clean afterward. But come on all you lazybones, when did eating a pack of chemicals become preferable to cleaning a pot?
- Replace expensive meat proteins in meals with cheap rich proteins like eggs, canned salmon, beans and peanuts. Combine these ingredients with fresh vegetables in yummy, healthy, and easy to prepare dishes that will save you mucho lettuce. And your body will thank you too.
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