Lorraine wrote me a great email after my post about Frugal Meal Ideas for When You’re Broke. She has some great tips, plus, it’s kinda fun to see how other families use their grocery money. I also really appreciate Lorraine’s focus on healthy eating. She has found what works for her. I think if you really focus on narrowing down what works for your family, you can save a bundle by buying basically the same things each time you go grocery shopping. In my mind this simplifies the meal planning process, and you will start to see when you should be stocking up on the items your family uses over and over again.
With regard to your frugal meals on a budget, I would like to suggest that people can eat vegetables that are in season. For instance, during the summertime and early fall, when the bounty abounds, we freeze many of the local vegetables in freezer bags and have them on hand throughout the winter. We freeze broccoli, cauliflower, shallots, leek, celery, peppers, zucchini and use them in soups and casseroles when the weather gets colder and the cost of produce becomes exorbitant. We buy canned tomatoes in bulk when they go on sale for 88 cents and add them to our soups and sauces. During the winter, we eat a lot of root vegetables and cabbage as they are plentiful and a produce of Canada. We also eat lots of stir fries, chicken casseroles, chicken cacciatore made with ground chicken that we buy when the ground chicken is on sale. We buy stewing beef when it is on sale and add way more vegetables than meat to our stews. We eat potatoes regularly and stretch the budget by boiling chicken pieces for a broth in a soup and then use the boiled chicken in sandwiches or casseroles such as chicken à la king. We incorporate at least 6-9 fruit and vegetables in our daily diet to ensure that we get all the necessary nutrients.
We also eat a rainbow diet; example: purple cabbage or raddichio, red peppers/tomatoes/red skinned apples, yellow beans/yellow peppers, rutabaga, for the greens, we eat kale, broccoli, spinach, the darker lettuces and cabbage and the for orange in our rainbow diet, we eat tons of carrots, sweet potatoes, squash.
Legumes are also a cheap way to get protein when combined with a whole grain pasta or an ancient grain like quinoa. We use quinoa and wild rice in our soup bases to ensure a good nutritious meal. We add lima beans and lentils to our soups. We also eat baked beans as a main course with a side salad and a whole grain bun or slice of bread or a muffin made with whole grains.
We do not eat much cheese as this is high in saturated fats. Quite often, I use a drizzle of avocado oil, grapeseed oil or almond oil in our soup instead of chicken or beef stock. This ensures that we are getting the good oils in our diet and helps to maintain our good cholesterol levels.
We watch the aisle in the grocery store for the meat marked down as it is close to the expiry date and there is never a problem if it is stored right away in the freezer for future use. We also buy chicken that has been reduced in price as long as it is within the best before date. We do not buy cheap fish, as much of the fish from Asia and especially China is contaminated with chemicals that are harmful to human consumption. That is one item that we splurge on and try to buy “wild” fish from Canada such as cod or trout.
As the cost of meat has skyrocketed in our area, we only buy when it goes on sale and we prepare meals according to the sale cycles. We also eat omelettes made with vegetables and a side salad for a healthy, quick and filling meal. When cooking meatloaf, I add a lot of oatmeal to the mix and am able to get more portions out of a small quantity of hamburger meat and as oatmeal is known to reduce the bad cholesterol, it plays an important role in our diet.
We also buy frozen fruit in the winter time when it is on sale as it is much fresher than the exotic fruits coming from South America and elsewhere. The longer the travel time, the less nutrition a food contains. Again, we freeze berries in season and use them during the winter months. We buy apples on sale as well as oranges and bananas. When the kiwi goes on sale, we purchase these for their Vitamin C content.
We also check out the bread rack where some loaves have been reduced for quick sale. They are usually still quite fresh and if they are frozen, they are great when toasted. We buy oatmeal and other cereals in bulk and save on the packaging. Oatmeal is great for a dinner with fresh fruit and almond or rice beverage and a good alternative for those who are lactose intolerant.
We also stock up on butter when it goes on sale at $2.99 or lower. We buy enough to ensure that we will have it on hand until the next sale cycle. We watch the sales for lactose free milk and buy as many as we know we can use before the expiry date. We do the same thing for orange juice as we have a special brand that we prefer. The sale cycle for orange juice is fairly short; therefore, when we buy six containers at a time, we are sure to find a good deal when we run out.
We also watch the sale cycles for paper products, cleaning products and hygiene products and we stock up to last until the next sale cycle. All of these measures ensure that we eat properly, maintain an ideal weight and do not feel deprived of life’s most basic pleasures.
I hope you’ve gleaned some ideas from Lorraine. Or at least been inspired to keep it simple and always buy on sale! Give us a look at how your family uses their grocery money in the comments!
Looking for some more practical ways to save on groceries? Check out my ebook, Trim Your Grocery Bill.