Frugal Eats

Balcony Bounty And A Veggie Stir-Fry

snap peas

Fresh from the balcony

Happiness is Fresh Snap Peas

It was a lovely morning, full of sunshine and the musical trills of red-winged blackbirds that live in the soggy marsh near my house. It was going to be a busy day, so I was up early,  with a cup of coffee in one hand and a basket for picking in the other. Today was the day I could FINALLY  harvest some snap peas.  I have been circling the two vine-filled pots on my balcony for weeks, like a hungry vulture.  Well, if vultures were vegetarians anyway. I’m certain anyone who follows me on Instagram has long-since grown tired of seeing pictures of pea plants.  Unfortunately for all of them, my next post will be about peas…again. Sorry guys!

Weekly Meal Plan And Grocery Haul

DSCF4576 Weekly Grocery Haul

I had a pretty epic grocery shopping trip last week.  By that, I mean that I got a ton of stuff on sale.  Since so many thins I usually buy were on sale, I bought extra.  So, this week, I was able to go lighter and keep my grocery bill low.  We had two leftover nights last week too, which means I was able to save a meal or two for the meal plan this week.  I’m really excited about the money saved because – you guessed right – it’s going straight toward a credit card.  That’s the debt repayment tactic here – any extra penny is being put toward debt.

18 Smart Ways To Save Money On Groceries

ALABAMA

This week, I’m starting a series on meal planning and how I save money on groceries.  I thought it would be helpful to provide some tips on how to do this. Really being strategic about planning out a weekly menu, shopping with a list and managing leftovers can seriously save money on groceries.  When you consider that the big 3 household expenditures are housing, transportation and food, learning how to better manage your kitchen is a great money saving opportunity.  Of course, it’s not all about money.  Just think of how much healthier food you prepare at home can be for your family.  For much less than going out to eat, you can put whole, nutritious foods on your table that will be a benefit to everyone.

Our Weekly Meal Plan

 

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This is part one of an ongoing series of our weekly meal plan and grocery shopping trip.  Each week, I’ll provide you with a daily meal plan and grand total spent.

Of Food Budgets And Success

I feel really good about our meal plan this week.  As the picture shows, shopping frugally doesn’t mean going without or eating Ramen and Spaghetti O’s.  Rather, I’ve found great deals on nutritious whole foods for the week. I was able to pick up a few extra items for later that were marked down without going over the budget.  How exciting!

Veggie Hummus Wraps: Smart Ways To Transform Leftovers

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 The  Leftovers Dilemma

Using all your food is the most budget friendly option, but coming up with creative ideas for how to do that can be challenging.  I don’t think anyone likes eating the same thing for days; I certainly don’t.  One way to avoid this is to freeze individual portions for later meals.  Another way is to recreate your leftovers into something tasty and appealing you can eat right away. That’s exactly what I did to transform our hummus and veggies into a satisfying veggie hummus wrap.

Save Time And Money With Crockpot Cooking

Meatless Meals Save Money

Vegetarian Burrito Bowl

Vegetarian Burrito Bowl

Adding a few vegetarian dinners into your weekly meal plan is a great way to reduce food costs.  I’ve found many delicious meatless options that are healthy and cheap.  Bonus – they are excellent to eat the next day for lunch.  Today, I’m making vegetarian burrito bowls and, with a little planning ahead, they are so easy to make. Crockpot, you are my favorite kitchen appliance! I use this little one, a real bargain at $9.  It’s much more energy-efficient than my gas range and I don’t have to babysit the pot!

Weekly Meal Plan And Warming Winter Soups

Soups for winter

A hearty bowl of homemade soup is perfect for cold weather

Meal Planning And Soup Making

It just so happens that I’m checking my pantry and freezer while making  a grocery list today. I’ve found quite a few great meals, including a yummy soup for today.This is yet another proclamation for my love of soup on wintery days. Today, Boulder is expecting 10inches of snow and I find myself lucky enough to have the day off.  That means I can look out the window and exclaim, “oh how pretty the snow is,” without having to deal with driving in it.  It also means I’m craving a warm bowl of homemade soupy goodness.  

Save Money On Groceries By Cooking At Home

Pack those leftovers!

Pack those leftovers!

Well-Used Leftovers

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to save more money (and pay off debt). For us, this pursuit began in August rather than January.  Calculating how much you spend in a give month on eating out is a really beneficial exercise if this is a goal for you as well.  That’s exactly what we did when we made the decision to get serious about our finances.

The Best Banana Bread Ever From Overripe Bananas

Homemade banana bread

Repurpose those overripe bananas!

Put Those Overripe Bananas To Good Use

It’s so easy to let fresh fruit get away from you.  You turn around and suddenly those perfect, yellow bananas you bought earlier in the week have now become mushy and brown. How does that happen so quickly? Part of being frugal when it comes to groceries is using up everything you buy.  You worked hard for that money: don’t waste it!

Amazing Red Pepper And Salami Panini In Minutes

Roasted Red Pepper PaniniLeftover Bits Transformed

As usual, my boys returned from school hungry and ready for a second lunch. Making creative snacks is a great way to use up leftovers – not to mention get your kids to eat a healthy snack.  A Panini is just one way to put all those little bits and pieces from other meals to good use.  After making a quick search of the refrigerator, I found the makings for a tasty panini.

Freezer Meals Save Money On Groceries

Freezer Meal Planning

A  lone Christmas light peeking out of the snow

The festive lights along the railing are chilly and snow-covered. Its cold outside, but I’ve been busy inside trying to find ways to frugalize the grocery budget during the holidays.  With a little imagination and a well-stocked freezer, our bellies are full and our Christmas budget is going further.  A very merry occasion indeed!

When you have a family, buying groceries anytime of year is expensive.  This is even more true during the holidays.  Even if you’re a frugal shopper like me, all those special holiday meals and snacks increase the old grocery bill (and maybe your midsection).  I’ve found a great way to combat this – plan meals out of the freezer and pantry for a week or more.  This is a good idea anyway because 1) it allows you to clean out the clutter and use up things that may have been waiting around for a while to be eaten and 2) it  saves you a ton on groceries.

A Well-Stocked Freezer Save You Big-time!

I like to shop sales and stock up on things even if I won’t use them right away.  For example, when meat goes on sale, I will buy extra and put it in the freezer for later.  This allows me to buy at the cheapest price and skip it when its more expensive. This is true of other foods too and my pantry is full of great things.  Last week, I decided to put these goodies to good use.  I carefully went through my pantry and freezer, planning meals around what I had.  I couldn’t get away from shopping completely, but I didn’t need much.  My last post was an admission to being a bulk food hoarder, which provided quite a bit for my n0-grocery-shopping-week(s).

Drumroll For The Freezer Challenge Menu

Below is a list of what I came up with.  As you’ll see, we aren’t going hungry.  In fact, we’re eating really good meals.  Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

  • Pork chops with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables
  • Spit pea soup and bread
  • Lasagna and salad
  •  Chicken enchiladas, rice and beans
  • Moroccan chickpea stew and pita bread
  • Beef roast, mashed potatoes and green beans
  • fettuccine alfredo with frozen peas and shrimp
  • White chicken chili
  • Spaghetti with Italian sausage and antipasto
  • Pinto bean soup and cornbread
  • Tamales with rice and beans
  • Roasted salmon, carrots and roasted potatoes
  • Chicken and dumplings
  • Cuban black beans and rice

I have 14 meals planned out of mostly what I had left in my crisper, pantry and freezer!  I could easily add a few more things, but that would require a more extensive shopping trip for some fresh things. Notice that some are vegetarian dishes.  The best part of these meals is that I’m getting more than a single pass on some of them.  Quite a few provided tasty leftovers for lunches and leftover dinner nights.  Yah for not having to cook every night! So I actually have more than 14 meals here.

I have 3 teenage boys at home along with myself and my husband.  Our grocery bill can easily total $170, and that’s if  I’m being really careful.  That means these meals are “saving” us about $340 over the next two weeks. Of course, the ingredients had to be purchased at some point, but instead of full price, I got them on sale. This is really helpful to making our Christmas budget go further.

I Challenge You To A Frugal Food Duel!

I challenge you to see how creative you can be with meals by using what you already have.  When you start digging through the dark recesses of your freezer and pantry, it will be surprising how much is there!  I was able to do really well and there were no sad meals of spaghetti  O’s or ramen.  We had lots of great protein, legumes and vegetables.  I should mention that I had a delicious stash of granny smith apples too.  I paid a whopping 88 cents per pound for them.  Granny smith apples always seem to keep forever without getting mealy. They’re great if you want to buy fruit in advance when on sale. So, no worries, we have plenty of vitamin C and not a hint of scurvy!

Let me know what you come up with!