good resource for budget conscious meals?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by ctmom05, Oct 3, 2009.

  1. ctmom05

    ctmom05 Member

    There are more and more folks who do not qualify for foodstamps, but are having a hard time putting food on the table; or maybe you're there sometimes more than others.

    We're facing the challenge here of living within different budget constraints than we used to; my husband is recently disabled and gets SSD, which is about half of the income he made when working, and I work 3/4 time.

    What resources do you refer to when planning meals that won't break the budget?
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2009
  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    It is a religious-based organization but there are no income guidelines. There are new host sites being added each month.
  3. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    I really really shop the ads. If meat is not under $2/lb I do not buy it. Angel food is great, but it is not in Oregon. Maybe someday. I also go to the day old or bread thrift store for bread, and will shop the grocery outlet also. They will have dented cans, cans printed in chinese and so on. They are really cheep.

    It is really hard. We have cut out all extras, and only do necessary stuff. I did buy some salmon the other day, but that was a major splurge. You can only eat sphagetti and tater tot casserole so much. Ewww.
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    JOG sent me this book on freezer cooking that is amazing! I swear I dont know why I didnt think of this I really think it makes a whole lot of sense plus saves money.

    The whole concept is to save time but I think it saves money. You basically do things like cook up a whole bunch of hamburger meat or meatballs or beef cubes or taco meat or stuff like that and put it in meal sized portions in your freezer so you have meals ready to go at a snap. Like you would have a dozen meatballs already cooked just waiting for you to toss into some spaghetti sauce while the spaghetti cooked. Or frozen meatloaf mix ready to take out of the freezer in the morning so it is thawed that evening to bake that night for dinner.

    Here...around memorial day/labor day and the 4th of july, hamburger meat goes on sale for 99 cents. If you can stock up then for darn near the year...and have a can really get a great deal. I always try to get at least a hundred pounds between those dates.

    Now with thanksgiving and can get good deals on turkeys and hams after and during the holidays. Stock up!
  5. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    Check around your area to see what agencies are out there to help people. Some don't have income limits, some do but it never hurts too look.


    Shop your store ads, cut coupons even if you have to buy the Sunday paper to get them, it's worth it. It's very rare that you don't use enough coupons to cover the cost of the newspaper. If your stores are close together another good way is to store hop. I have gone to Big Lots then Walmart and then the grocery store before. Big Lots will sometimes have stuff I use and it's cheaper than the other stores. If not, I ALWAYS go to Walmart first. We have a Walmart with the groceries but it's rare that I buy cold stuff there. What I do get though is all of my paper products (paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates, etc.) soaps of all kinds, bathroom stuff (shampoo, toothpaste etc) and most of my dry or canned foods. Pretty much everything I need that does not require refrigeration. For me there are two reasons for the nonrefrigeration list at Walmart. One.....I HATE their meat. I've bought meat there before but ONLY because I was in a hurry. Plus it's so much more expensive. Two...with the refrigerated stuff, between Walmart and my grocery store, the prices are comparable. And, if I get cold stuff at Walmart, it will sit in the car while I'm in the store....not good. Walmart's prices on all of the dry goods are just so much cheaper than the grocery store and they accept coupons. I don't think they double them like the grocery stores do but still....even with the doubling, sometimes stuff is STILL more expensive at the grocery store.

    Another thing is to buy in bulk when you can. I bought a pork roast the other day...just happened to see it on sale. I got a HUGE roast that was normally almost $20 for just over $8. We're talking big enough to feed the entire family at Thanksgiving. I got it, took it home, cut it into more reasonable sized portions and froze it. I do the same thing with the family packs of hamburger, pork chops...whatever they do that with. This works for anything though. I found a huge pack of toilet paper on sale somewhere once. I think there were 24 or 36 rolls in the pack and it was a special for some really low price....the good kind too! LOL

    Another thing you can do that really helps your grocery bill if you can swing the money upfront....get a side of beef. A full side of a decent sized cow can last close to a year depending on how it's cut and how many people are in the house. Of course though, like I said, you need to pay upfront and this is only good if you have the freezer space. usually averages out to around $1.80 - $2.00 a pound depending. Not bad when you consider you're getting hamburger, roasts, steaks and other various cuts. We have a small meat shop here and they also offer packages. You can order "variety packs" that are so much beef, so much pork and so much chicken. They vary in size and content and can range anywhere from $50 and up. But, you get a good variety of meats and cuts and again, the total cost averages out to be much less than what you would pay for it all at the grocery store.

    Next summer if you have the room and are able, plant a garden. Canning and freezing does take some investment (jars, lids, etc.) but if you get enough, that can keep you in veggies for a good long time. Or, buy things from the farmer's markets and can those too. Does your area have a co-op garden?

    I know you were probably asking more about agencies or things like that but these kinds of things can really make a difference in your budget.
  6. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    If you have access to either Sam's Club or Costco, both carry excellent quality whole, boneless pork loins.

    You can cut these into chops and freeze, or into strips for stir-fry, etc.

    Sam's at least also used to have pork baby back ribs on sale periodically in 3 rack pkgs. They are still not a cheap cut of meat, but nice for occasional cookouts.

    If you can find their beef ribs, snap them up. Trimmed of excess fat and brined, they make excellent crockpot or pressure cooker meals.

    I don't have access to those stores where I live, but I can sometimes get the 'family packs' of meat on steep markdowns the day before expiration date. I take them home, repackage them, and freeze them in smaller portions.
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I use Sam's, Angel food (not as much as I used to - we don't eat a lot of what they have been sending lately), is another great source, and I have many cookbooks that help.

    One thing I do is to make our mixes from scratch. It takes a little time, but that is all. I use several books but my fave is "Make a Mix Cookery" by Karen Eliason et al. I even make our taco seasoning mixes, etc... I get spices at Sams or from Whole Foods bulk section. Sometimes our local health food store but their spices are not always fresh.

    Check into Once a Month Cooking - I think it is what was being discussed for having stuff in the freezer ready to go. You can find a LOT of recipes for this at if you search for OAMC in the search box (once a month cooking).

    I also save $$$ by making cleaners, etc... I make laundry soap by grinding up a bar of cheap soap (I use one sold in the Hispanic section of our IGA that is 27 cents a bar and is very mild) and mixing it with borax and washing soda. I just found a recipe for dishwasher detergent that will save us a TON of $$$. Instead of dryer sheets (which cause the kids to break out - bounce is the worst according to our doctor) I buy the liquid fabric softener. NOT for in the washer though. I put a few ounces into a small container, add the same amount of water (approximately) and then dip a scrunched up square of fabric (cut from worn out clothing or towels that got holes) into the mix. This fabric gets tossed on top of the wet clothing in the dryer and it works better than the dryer sheets.

    I do NOT soak the whole square of fabric, I just scrunch it up, dip it 1/3 to 1/2 way down into the softener and then squeeze out the excess. A 32 oz bottle of softener lasts us about 10 months. Just ONE bottle. At LEAST 9 loads of laundry a week..

    If you want to use the dryer sheets, take the time to cut them in 1/2 or 1/3 or 1/4. I would watch a tv show and do tasks like that. I got the same benefit using 1/4 of a sheet but it had less scent. The scent did not last all week either. For us that is good. Very few scents do not trigger migraines or problems for one or another of us.

    For books on this, I shop at . You can get any title for very cheap. many times I can get a book for less than $5 including shipping.

    I STRONGLY encourage you to get a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette if you don't have it. It is all 3 volumes of The Tightwad Gazette in one book. The book is crammed with ideas, recipes, ways to save $$ and have a better life at the same time.

    Cheaper and Better: Homemade Alternatives to Store Bought Goods is another excellent book to help you with this. It is written by Nancy Birnes and the copyright is 1988 but the recipes are great.
  8. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I'm glad you started this thread because I really need to make some deeper cuts again.

    To really cut costs I think you need to make the best use of whatever resources are around you. For instance, within 7 minutes from my house are a number of grocery stores so it's fairly easy for me to make the rounds to check clearance tables and discounts several times a week. If I lived further away that wouldn't be feasible. Once this summer I found turkey breasts mismarked for around $3 and since the store honors mismarks I took 8 for the freezer. Another time I found a huge Butterball Turkey for $8. Last week I found the pricey insect spray my daughter likes marked half price. Yesterday I cooked up a triple batch of chili for the freezer as I found the roasts I like plus crushed tomatoes and beans all on sale.

    Use coupons, shop stores for their sales, stock up when things are cheap, etc. Get to know what kinds of sales/discounts your stores usually feature. For instance, one grocery store chain here marks meat down a few days before expiration. Even so I still check their regular sales because sometimes it's cheaper.

    This site will point you to a lot of printable internet coupons plus explain ways you can maximize coupons plus sales. Couponing takes a lot of time and I think it's a big pain but it really can save you a lot of money when combined with other methods. This past summer one of the food companies was running a special where if you bought $30 of their products they would print out $15 at the checkout to use for future purchases. These can be really good deals if you watch carefully and buy what will get used. For instance I discovered Bryer's ice cream and Klondike bars would actually print out $30 instead when I bought 11 packages so I fed the marching band, the youth group, and stocked up our freezer for after school snacks for an initial outlay of $20. I had (and it kept generating) manufacturer and rebate coupons--even the checkout clerks were in disbelief.

    Online coupons--you'll need to download the coupon printer:

    This site has forums for the various stores. Some are more active than others but it can give you heads up to good deals.

    If you can afford to stock up with the seasonal sales, that can help cut costs. Around Thanksgiving I usually buy a case of canned pumpkin because it's cheap then and pricey the rest of the year.

    The other thing I've found that helps is to get to know the employees. One checkout lady and I always compare deals and she's often giving me a heads up (ie last year when I was checking out she asked if I'd seen the snacks on clearance since I was always needing them for chess club). At one store the butcher is out a lot and we'll often chat about what's for supper and I'm not hesitant to ask what's the best deal this week.

    email lists--the in thing right now is for companies to want your email. I have a hotmail account that I use for public use like this only. If you're willing to give your address that can bring some good coupons your way as well.

    mstang, I'm with you--I hate Walmart meat too. A lot of it seems tasteless to me and the packaging is too airy for the freezer.
  9. SRL

    SRL Active Member