This week I’m participating in a money saving collaboration with the YouTube Mommy Meetup community. My video is on Using Your Calendar to Grow Your Savings!
These savings in these tips will, of course, vary by your local prices and how your family eats. I hope at least a few, though, will help you keep more green in your pocket.
1. Check the international aisles for spices. The little bags of spices in the Mexican section, for example, are less than half the price as on the spice aisle, often with even more in them!
2. If you family eats a lot of deli meat, you can buy a small ham or turkey breast, already cooked, for about half the price as buying it from the deli/deli case. If you buy it and cook it yourself, you can save even more. The small, already cooked turkey breasts at Costco (near the cheeses) are less than $4/pound. Slice thinly with a sharp knife or, if you eat a lot of it, you may want to invest in a small slicer. My husband takes turkey each day and really prefers the Costco turkey over the deli turkey now. I’m not ready to take on the task of cooking the turkey myself yet, so this is a nice intermediary step.
3. If you have a food processor, shredding your own cheese takes very little time and the savings can really add up. If you buy a large block at a warehouse club, you can save even more. Shred it, layer it on a cookie sheet and freeze for at least 30 minutes; bag in freezer ziptop bags and freeze until you need it. I can usually find the blocks of cheese for 1/2-2/3 the price of already shredded cheese.
4. Overripe bananas can be frozen for smoothies or baked goods. If I plan to use them as smoothies, I peel & chunk them first. If I want to use them for baked goods, I’ll peel them first and sometimes even smash them and freeze in 1/2 cup portions. (Need a muffin recipe? These banana & nut butter muffins are grain free and a favorite of my kiddos.)
5. When I plan to buy rotisserie chicken or roast a chicken, I plan to make stock that night. I put the leftover carcass, including any meat, skin & juices leftover, into the crockpot. In the freezer I keep a ziptop bag for ends of carrots, celery, garlic, onion. I add that to the crockpot (I don’t have a set amount, just what looks good) with a couple more cloves of garlic, a few peppercorns and a bay leaf or two if I have it. I cover with water and cook overnight. The first batch will get me 8-10 cups of stock. I strain that off and cover with water again and let it cook until after dinner when I do that again. Sometimes I will go a third batch but I usually stop after 2 batches. For barely any cost (since the chicken was already planned, the vegetables & chicken bones would have been trashed), I have 15+ cups of chicken broth. I freeze in 1 & 2 cup portions in glass freezer jars but you can use plastic containers or even ziptop bags.
6. Stale bread & end pieces can be cubed and frozen for croutons (we like this recipe). Or run them through your food processor for homemade bread crumbs (which I freeze).
7. A little bit of tomato paste left in the can? A little bit of fresh herbs? A little bit of chipotles in adobo sauce? All those little bits can add up when we throw them away because we don’t have use for them right now. On a small flat surface, put down wax paper and then freeze, in tablespoon heaps, your leftover thick items (like paste). Freeze for an hour and then remove to freezer bags or jars & label. Herbs can be added to softened butter and then used then or frozen (again, I do it on tablespoon-sized heaps). Then use the pats of butter to saute meats or vegetables. If you have stock, you can add herbs + stock to an ice cube tray and freeze for later use. Cream-based items don’t freeze well, generally, but I freeze so many bits of leftover items—just don’t forget you have them! I try to keep my little portions in a basket in my freezer so I can easily check for them before grocery shopping. Citrus zest is easy to freeze, too (I use teaspoon heaps of that.) Only used the yolk or white of an egg? The rest can be frozen, too.
8. After preparing them, I immediately plan freezer meals in my calendar. I will likely not end up eating them at the time I originally planned but it keeps me from forgetting about the food!