Category Archives: Saving Money

Broth – To Make It or Buy It

Broth is easy enough to buy, but did you know, it’s just as easy to make it.  Homemade broth is what gives soup it’s healing powers.  Broth by definition is .  Not only is it more nutritious, it tastes absolutely delicious.

Think of broth as the best way to recycle bones, carcasses, vegetable part and pieces – things we would typically throw away.  Did you know that all of the bones we toss provide a ton of nutrition once we boil it.

Another great thing about making your own broth is that you can make a bunch and freeze it.  You can freeze it in different size servings.  Ice cube trays work great for small servings and plastic freezer bags also work great for a can sized serving.

For chicken or beef broth, boil the following ingredients in a large pot (about 2 -3 quarts) of water. 

•Meaty carcass remains or bones
•Two and a half to three quarts of water
•One or two washed, chopped large carrots
•One or two large, peeled quartered onions
•Two stalks of chopped celery

For vegetable broth, use the same ingredients without the meaty carcass or bones.

1)  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least eight hours. You can also use the crock pot and let it cook on low all day.

2)  After about eight hours, drain the mixture through a colander into a large bowl, capturing only the broth.

3)  Discard the cooked vegetables. If you want to add turkey or chicken meat to the broth, wait for the carcass to cool and then take the meat from the bones and add it to the broth.

The best thing about making your own broth is that it’s always on hand when you need it.

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Filed under Cooking made easy, Food Stuff, Recipes, Saving Money

Eat better for less – more affordable proteins

We’re all looking for ways to cut back on expenses, especially the grocery bill.  One way to meal plan for your family is to check your grocery store’s advertisements or call to see what proteins are on special that day or week and plan a meal or two around that main ingredient.

Another way is to learn how to get the most from ingredients that cost less. Robin Miller, author of Robin Rescues Dinner, dishes on how to cut back on your protein budget without sacrificing nutrition and taste. Here are her five money-saving tips!

  1. Sirloin or top round. Cheaper: Flat iron steak. Tenderize meat by marinating it for two hours before cooking.  Save: $3 per dinner for a family of four.
  2. Pork tenderloin. Cheaper: Pork shoulder. Prepare in a slow cooker to soften. Save $2.
  3. Lamb chops. Cheaper: Lamb shank – braise or slow roast to break down fibers. Save $3.
  4. Chicken breast. Cheaper: Whole chicken. Stuff with apples and onions, and oven-roast for added flavor. $2 savings.
  5. Salmon filet. Cheaper: Salmon steak. Grill on foil to lock in moisture. $5 savings.
  6. Ready-to-eat-shrimp. Cheaper: Frozen. Thaw and then broil. $5 savings.

Remember, more expensive doesn’t always mean better.  So be creative and find some recipes for meals that make the most of your budget. If you’re at the grocery store and not sure which protein to choose, ask the butcher – the good, knowledgeable ones tend to have some great cooking and meat cut advice.

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Pre-Sliced and Pre-Divided Food: The Cost Breakdown

In today’s world the grocery store has items that are all about convenience. 100-calorie packs, snack packs of pre-sliced fruit and more. Theses items are perfect for the busy parent on the go. But, while all of these modern grocer amenities are mighty fine, if you’re trying to cut back on costs, you may want to re-consider making these items part of your weekly shopping routine. Maybe just save for multi-tasking mom emergency moments.

Real Simple magazine’s January issue included the following numbers:

  • Sliced green apples, $5.79/pound; regular green apples, $1.29/pound. You’ll save $4.50/pound.
  • A bag of prewashed romaine lettuce, $3.25; a head of romaine, $1.99. You’ll save $1.26
  • 12 1.4-ounce snack-packs of brand-name cookies, $7.95; regular 16-ounce package of name-brand cookies, $5.39. You’ll save $2.08 for 16 ounces.

Astonishing.  We all knew we were probably paying a premium, but that is quite a cost difference!  Of course as parents we all have those moments when we need to buy for convenience – when you are in a rush or going to have busy week, but just remember buying the regular size, dividing into snack-size portions at home could allow you and your family major savings!

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Wholesale Shopping 101

Most of us belong to a wholesale club because it certainly can save a lot of money.  Like anything, if we get carried away it can cost us more than we saved. 

As with any shopping you should always have a shopping list to avoid impulse purchases.  Impulse purchases are much more costly in bulk.  Be sure you have a master checklist since you usually buy the same things.  You should also really consider what you are buying and if you really need that much.  I know that I have to really rally my will power when I step in the store.  It’s really hard to think past lots more for lots less.  But often times, I don’t need more no matter how much less it is.

Another good rule of thumb is, don’t buy something new or for the first time at a wholesale store.  Try it from a regular store in a smaller size.  Even if you taste a sample and like it.  I really recommend waiting and getting a smaller size elsewhere.

Consider these things for all of your purchases:  What is the shelf life?  Can I freeze it?  Are we going to be able to eat  all of this before it goes bad?

Obvious things I buy that will never go bad are: toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags, and cleaning supplies.  Things that we eat lots of and I am better off buying in bulk are: cheese, eggs, refried beans (cans), and fruit snacks.

As for things that freeze, I buy chicken breasts, sausage, and bacon.

Make your master list and go through it before making your shopping list.  I only go to the wholesale store once a month, so I go through my master list and make sure I have enough of everything to make it through another month until my next trip.  These tips should make your next wholesale shopping trip a little more conservative and a little less impulsive.

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Filed under Food Shopping Tips, Food Stuff, Saving Money, Uncategorized

When to cut corners and when to walk all the way around

Are you always looking for ways to save money and save time in the kitchen?  I think more than ever, most of us are.  Is it ever worth the extra time or money to do things a little differently?  I’ve made a list of a few things that I think are indeed worth it and a few that are not.

A block of cheese verses pre-shredded cheese.  The price is the same, but pre-shredded cheese is much quicker.  I think it makes a huge difference to shred it myself.  There are lots of preservatives in pre-shredded cheese and as a result the taste isn’t as good.  I’ve also found that it melts better too if you shred it yourself.  The extra time it takes is definitely worth it.

Speaking of cheese – a good fresh block of parmesan is expensive, but worth it.  I would not have thought this, but my friend went to Italy and brought me back a block of really good parmesan.  I used it on everything and it lasted almost 9 months.  After that I was hooked.  That is one splurge I am willing to make.

Vegetables – canned, frozen, or fresh.  If you are eating a vegetable as a side dish, I would never suggest canned – no matter what the price difference.  I can hardly tell the difference, however, between fresh and frozen.  I always go with the least expensive of those two.

Spaghetti sauce – depends.  I buy mine in a jar, but many people will argue that the time it takes is totally worth it.  I think if I ever started making mine from scratch, I’d never go back.  I haven’t gotten that ambitious and I really like the Hunt’s Garlic and Herb in a can.  It’s hard to bring myself to slave over the stove when there’s a great one that’s so accessible.  This one is definitely debateable.

Butter – Real butter is sometimes a little more expensive.  It’s often cumbersome because it’s so hard and then there’s the calorie splurge.  All of this aside, real butter is the ONLY way to go.

Herbs – fresh herbs are usually so much more expensive.  No doubt that real basil blows dried basil out of the water.  Is it a 5.00 difference?  It depends on what you are making and what your budget is.  I very rarely use fresh basil for this reason.  It’s very expensive, and also has a very short shelf life.  This is one case where I vote against the splurge.

I hope this helps you the next time you are grocery shopping and undecided about what splurges are worth making and what corners are worth cutting.

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Treat yourself with the money saved cooking

It’s 5:00 and inevitably time to think about dinner.  Going out would be so much easier than whipping something up.  Consider the amount of money you would save by staying in.  To really make it worth, put that money to good use.  What’s something for your kitchen that you’ve been wanting?  Maybe it’s a bigger crockpot or something as small as a mango corer.  Whatever it is, use the money you saved cooking dinner when you really didn’t feel like it.  It will be an investment in your future meals and a well deserved treat.

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