Friday, April 5, 2013

Fun Fridays- Saving Money in the Kitchen

Welcome to the first week of
Saving Money in the Kitchen.
  I am so excited to get started on this series.  It has been brewing in my mind for a while now, but several of your questions and emails prompted me to get it out of my head and onto the paper.  Thank you!

Yes, my monthly budget for groceries really is between $400-$450 for our family of six.  I aim for $400, but depending on what our month looks like- company, parties, holidays etc. - it can be a little more.

I will try to take each week to concentrate on a different aspect of how I save money in this particular area of our budget.  None of this is rocket science.  Most of it is probably not even new to you.  But sometimes we just need a reminder or a gentle nudge to get started.

Consider this your NUDGE!

Here we go!

Let's start with meat, as that is often one of the most expensive items in your cart at any given time.   I do get most of my meat from the commissary, but you can use these same ideas anywhere.  Let me preface this by saying, this is not organic meat.  I know, I know.  Trust me, it concerns me too, but that is one place I just have not changed over yet.  It is our goal after our summer move to buy local organic meat in bulk, but that is simply not where we are at right now.  Hopefully soon.  Until then...

Buy whole chickens in large quantities whenever you find them on sale.  Be on the lookout for .99 and even .79 sales!    Stick it in the crockpot with some water, onions and spices and you are on your way.  After it is cooked and de-boned I freeze Mr. Chicken into 2 cup portions to be used later.  Think soups, casseroles, burritos, enchiladas, and chicken salad.  Depending on the size of your chicken you can usually get 3-5 meals out of one chicken.  If said chicken cost you $5-$6 you have stretched your money by a ton.  $1.50 per serving is a bargain!  Don't forget to freeze the broth as well.  I have not bought cans of chicken broth in forever!!!

Split your chicken breasts in half!  Usually the breasts you buy are NOT a standard healthy portion. Trust me on this one.  In a world of super sizing we kid ourselves in what a portion really is. Get out a kitchen scale if you don't believe me.  By slicing the breasts in half we double what we have and are eating healthier.

Buy large cuts of meat when they are sale.  Turkeys are cheaper at Thanksgiving.  Hams are cheaper at Easter.  Buy several to stock up!  Once cooked they can be used for multiple meals.  Case in point...I got our Eater Ham for $14.00 on sale.  We ate ham for three meals, froze one 2 cup portion and two 1 cup portions of diced ham for homemade pizzas or casseroles, and three packages of ham slices to use later. That is nine meals... at a fraction of the cost!

Let's chat ground beef for a second.  We do not eat a lot of red meat, but we do like a good hamburger occasionally, tacos and meatballs even.  But ground beef is expensive.  Ground turkey, not so much.  So for about half our meals that call for ground beef, I substitute ground turkey. Sometime I will use half and half.  Easy!

Go meatless once a week!  Here is one that I do not do as well as others because I have picky eaters who do not care for beans.   (except CJ, of course!)  But, by buying beans in bulk rather than cans and cooking them yourself you WILL save!  Another way to do this is to cook soups.  There are plenty of recipes out there for meatless soups that when paired with rolls or some homemade bread make a hearty meal.

Eat breakfast for dinner once a week.  I started this at our house because the kids thought it was fun.  Since then, I have realized it is also cheaper.  From everyday staples like waffles or pancakes to french toast and even breakfast casseroles, you can save money with breakfast food.

Buy pork chops.  I realize pork is an off limit food for some, but if it is for you consider buying it more often.  Pork chops are less expensive than chicken and I think sometimes we just forget they are an option.

OK, I know this one is not meat, but I am going to slip it in since I have mentioned bulk buying...

Buy side dishes in bulk.  We do this in our house primarily with potatoes.  A 10 pound bag is cheap when on sale.  When we were growing them ourselves, it was even cheaper...and made me oh so happy!  (You can grow potatoes in large buckets, bales of straw and even large trash cans.  Do not let space alone be your excuse for not growing them.  It is easy and your kids will love it!) We can get a lot of side dishes out of one 10 pound bag of potatoes!  Homemade french fries, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, hash browns!   I figured out the savings once of that one bag of potatoes compared to what it would have cost me to buy bags of the frozen equivalents and the difference was about $14.00.  Never mind the health benefits.  We also buy brown rice on bulk!

So there you have it.  Told you it wasn't rocket science.  And no coupon cutting was even involved. This month we spent right at $100.00 on meat.

Come back next week and I will break down the $400.00 even more for you and focus on the dreaded snack foods!

Questions?  Ask away!  More money saving ideas?  Please share!

Until then, Happy Shopping!

Linking up with Caroline at The Modest Mom today!


  1. What sorts of things do you make with the shredded chicken? I haven't found many ideas that my children like.

  2. Hey Cristi! We do things like Chicken Tacos, enchiladas, and chicken and rice or noodle soup. Sometimes I add b-b-q sauce and do chicken sandwiches. Chicken divan and pot pie are also popular. I know how hard it is when kiddos are picky- several of mine are the worst!

  3. I use to buy potatoes, oranges, and apples individually but now I buy them in the bag. I have found that if we have them we use them. We haven't wasted many of any of them.

  4. Wow! Great post! I look forward to reading the next installment. Usually low budgets include lots of cheap processed food and it looks like yours doesn't!

    1. thanks Kerry! Hope you enjoy it. We have been down the road of cheap, processed foods to save money, but not anymore. Working on being is a process!

  5. Such good ideas. We're a family of six, and I'm looking for ways to save on groceries that don't involve couponing (except for the occasional one). I hope you have more posts planned. :)

    1. 4 or five more in the process- stay tuned into Fridays. Glad you enjoyed it!


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