Saturday, March 5, 2011

Saving Money in the Kitchen

One of the best places to consistently save money is in the kitchen.  Habits form quickly and have a tendency to endure, for better of worse. 

We naturally lean toward speed and ease, but with regards to our eating habits this has begun to reduce quality while increasing costs.  Obviously speed and ease are valuable, quite handy, and readily available.

I'm not going to preach to you about changing your lifestyle.  I rely on the quick'n easy myself at times.  I certainly don't think it's evil.  But it's not healthy, or even very tasty ... well, not usually. 

What if, just once in awhile, we made something from scratch?

Families are all over the map on this one.  For some, making three homemade meals each week may sound like a realistic goal.  For others, maybe putting together a couple of freezer meals a few times in a month is a stretch. 

You know your schedule, and yourself.  A little challenge is good, but you shouldn't stress out over this.  Simply aim for an increase of "made from scratch" in no particular amount. 

It's smart to plan meals.  Have your family pick out a couple recipes each, this increases the chances of their appreciating your effort.  Don't forget to write these ingredients on the grocery list.

Eat more beans.  I've said it before, they're a more economical protein than meat when paired with a grain, potato, or other carb.  Aim for once or twice each week.  That's one meal you spent less than you would have with a meat dish, and increased your fiber intake.  (I'll be bumping up my legume recipes in "Bless Our Vittles.")

Learn how to "stretch" your meals.  We can even do this with a can of Campbell's soup.  Add a cooked potato, sauteed onion and garlic, beans or lentils, pasta or rice.  Adding less expensive ingredients to "stretch" out your meals can also be a great way to increase your vegetable intake, or make a meal for one into a hearty meal for two.

Practice good storage.  Learn the best ways to store your produce and dry storage.  You can loose a lot of money in soggy produce and infested grains.  Composting is great, but feeding ourselves is our priority.  And if you've ever endured pantry moths, or other pest, you don't care to repeat such sickening wastefulness.

Yea, gross.  But if you've endured these nasty creatures you know that this is not the disgusting part.  No, it's their offspring you don't want to meet.  Unbeknownst to you, they catch a ride in your newly-purchased sunflower seeds, or other such provision.  Next thing you know your 4-year-old says, "Mom, my seeds are moving."  Using storage that offers a secure seal prevents their survival.  I use my chip clips for frozen veg in the freezer.

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As long as I'm on this journey, rambling through life's exhilarating highs and trudging heavily amongst it's incapacitating lows, I might as well share whatever may be gleaned from my little bits of wisdom and my many missteps. No room for judgment from this broken mama. I'm writing from my heart: raw, open, messy, but saved. And I'm still thanking God!