When I first got married I didn’t know how to boil an egg. So I called my college girlfriend, Donna, and asked her. “Oh my,” she said, “I think you just boil it until it floats!”
Well, two hours later, the egg floated all right—by exploding in a billion bits.
As the years went by, I finally managed to boil an egg without having an accident. In fact, I enjoyed learning how to cook healthy and tasty foods for my growing brood of lean, mean, eating machines. Our four boys seemed to have a bottomless pit in the place of their stomachs. I developed some ways to save money in the kitchen without compromising health.
Tips to Stretch the Food Dollar
- Kid Power – When my kids were little, I always let them help me in the kitchen because they wanted to be there. Plus, kids are more likely to eat food they help prepare, thus eliminating those picky eaters and the need to lecture them about hungry children in third world countries who would love to eat their dinner.
- Teen Power As the kids grew into young teenagers they loved watching cooking shows and became adept at putting together a meal. When I’m too tired to cook and before I spend $35 + on fast food, I just gather the ingredients and ask one of my teens to cook something simple. I pay them $5 for the effort and that usually saves about $20 over the cost of buying fast food. Teach them to use apps like Coupon Sherpa and RetailMeNot to save even more.
- Cook Once, Eat Twice – To save time, energy and use leftovers, try to cook foods that will give double the mileage on a single effort. For example, cook my recipe for spaghetti sauce and use the leftovers for spaghetti pie. Or boil extra chicken breasts to make chicken enchiladas one night and use leftover chicken to make tasty chicken salad over the weekend. Another one of our favorites is to make a large pot roast for one dinner, then save the leftover meat, combine it with bar-b-que sauce and make hearty sandwiches for Sunday lunch!
- Weigh Your Produce – Not all ten pound bags of grapefruit or potatoes are created equal. Weigh your prepackaged produce to make sure you get the most for your money.
- Follow the Food Mile – Today’s it’s all about sustainability and the environment. Part of that has to do with how far food travels to get to your local store—the longer the food mile, the more expensive the product. Try to buy local food or shop at farmers markets because these products have a shorter food mile to save dollars and the environment!
- Soup and Muffin Night – To cut back on meat, try substituting a soup and muffin for dinner one day a week. This lighter fare will not only help cut back on your food budget, but it will also save calories. If you’re feeding teen boys or a hungrier husband, you might want to substitute sandwiches to go with the soup instead of muffins.
How do YOU save money when cooking?
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)