posted on Nov, 10 2012 @ 08:51 AM
If you want to save money and you have an option for "bulk food" shopping, I would start with rice - brown if you can for the higher nutrition/fiber
content (we have several "health food" stores with huge bulk food selections - we are lucky - the regular 'health food' is horribly expensive, but
the bulk is reasonably priced. Also, warehouse clubs, if you have a budget for buying big amounts at one time that will last...). Dried beans are
incredibly cheap. We have a lot of "special diets" at our house due to allergies and other health issues - it gets complicated, but when the
budget is tight....
If you eat meat - traditional meat-extenders like "meatloaf" and "meat balls" include bread and egg to stretch the hamburger further. I actually
buy a slightly more expensive "ground sirloin" that has a lot less fat in it, so you end up with more edible meat, less grease. Chili is another
way to stretch meat, or you can do it vegie with just kidney and red beans, which is cheaper. Onion, cumin, chili powder, crushed tomatoes, etc.
That's the same protein-stretching concept as 'fried rice' - lots of rice, some frozen peas & carrots, soy sauce (wheat-free tamari for me), and
your favorite protein - you can use small amounts for "flavoring" as much as anything. Or eggs for a vegetarian meal.
Soup - tomato base & on-sale canned-veggies. If you want it with protein, take on-sale ground turkey, brown it with onions first and then add the
rest. I also use fresh carrots, potatoes and celery - I make a huge amount and we eat off of it all week.
Cheap protein for meat-eaters or lacto-ovo vegetarians: Eggs. If you can eat eggs, you can eat very cheaply. We have done (back when I wasn't
allergic to so many things) "breakfast for dinner" which is fun. An egg on toast (which I can't eat now either....grrrr...), whole wheat if you
can, will carry you a long way in the day.
I like from-scratch baking - it = less weird processed ingredients and a higher quality of food, even if done cheaply. The initial purchase of
ingredients may be more than a "baking mix" but usually last longer, imo, and you will have them on-hand for multiple needs.
And as others have also mentioned - home-grown is awesome. We live in the city, but have a little property we've started to cultivate. It is
incredibly satisfying. The next skill I want to learn, once we get over the learning-curve hump with "in-city farming" is canning. :-)
Freezing - if you have the space - is another great way to save. Making large quantities of on-sale meals and making your own "frozen dinners" to
"Whatever Stew or Soup" - this is where you take that leftover roast-beef or turkey from TG, the odds-and ends of whatever frozen or fresh veggies
you have, a can of diced tomatoes and a can of plain tomato sauce OR two cans of crushed tomatoes, 1 large potato, diced, thaw the frozens & toss them
in a large soup-pot, add some water and you have dinner and lunch for days.
Shepherd's Pie - do the above and use less water - put the cooked mixture in a casserole pan, then take left-over mashed potatoes (because you made
extras!!) and cover the top - sprinkle on some paprika if you like and bake until the top is lightly browned the the mashed potatoes are heated.
Crock pot beans from scratch. Soak beans and rinse (do this over night, rinse twice!) - add fresh water and NO salt to the crock pot - use 2x or 3x
the water for the amount of beans to expand further. If you like certain flavorings other than salt, go ahead and add them now. Salt will keep the
beans hard. By that evening you should have some lovely, soft beans - add salt and extra spices at the end of cooking.
I hate the idea that if you don't have money, you have to eat unhealthy processed foods - I know that sounds uppity, but since both I and my son
CAN'T eat many processed foods due to allergies, I've learned to try and save money eating whole foods. I am trying to eat less meat as well, but
that is not happening soon...