Find How to Save Money on Home Cooked Meals.
Back in the early days of America, not a single scrap of food went to waste. Sadly that has changed over the years. We will provide you suggestions on how to save money on home cooked meals, cut back on waste, and save money. Many of these steps my mom took as I was growing up, as my family was also very limited in what we could afford and without the help of my grandmother, who knows what growing up would have been like when it came to a meal.
Homesteaders and pioneers were tasked with feeding large families with limited resources. They had to save money on each and every meal they cooked at home. To do this, families had to devise inventive ways to make the most out of every ingredient they had available to them. These tips we provide below can help anyone, as people of all income levels not waste food, groceries, and ingredients left and right as this waste leads to additional cost in the household budget. Find how to save money so you can afford a home cooked, healthy meal for your family.
As the American economy progressed, people started to become more wasteful with food and spent ridiculous amounts of money on processed meals and snacks - the result of all of this was much higher grocery bills. If you are ready to take back some of your grocery money create delicious and healthy home cooked meals, here are some tricks and techniques to help you save money while feeding your family like royalty.
More Uses for Meat
Many people have been led to believe that they must serve up a thick cut of meat on each plate in order for a meal to be complete. However it expensive to do that and you should consider getting by with eating less of it. In fact, in many cultures around the world, meat is used as an enhancement in dishes, not as a main course itself. Consider reducing the amount of meat you purchase and eat by making stir fries, soups, and casserole dishes.
When it comes left over cuts, fatty pieces, and bones, save these items and boil them up to make a broth for dishes and soups down the road. This can be the base of some future home cooked meal. Homemade broth can be placed in the freezer and will hold up for months; you can also control the salt and fat levels much better than broth you buy at the store. If you do not yet have enough bones and meat ends to make a batch of broth, store the pieces in a Ziplock bag in the freezer until you do have enough to make a batch.
Use Coupons when Shopping for Food for Meals
An easy way to save money on your next meal is to of course shop smarter and more efficiently. There are so many ways to get free coupons these days, ranging from apps on your phone to online websites, the Sunday paper, and other sources. Use them to save money on your groceries and ingredients.
My mom did these year after year as I wrote about. She doubled or tripled coupons, combined them with sales at the grocery store, and was extremely smart and efficient in how she shopped. Heck, there were times that grocery stores were paying her for an item...which I still do not understand to this day. Read about the queen of couponing.
Save Vegetable Scraps for Another Home Cooked Meal
Vegetable scraps are another ingredient that is quick to wind up in the garbage or a compost pile somewhere. At most grocery stores, you pay for vegetables by the pound, and throwing away scraps leads to money waste by weight. This adds up over time. Just as you would store meat scraps for use in a broth, save your usable vegetable scraps in the same manner.
It also pays to use only in-season vegetables in your cooking. This helps diversify the meals you make and can make them taste fresher and better. In addition, locally sourced and in-season vegetables have less of a distance to travel to get to your table and they are always cheaper when they are in an abundance. You can also try your hand and gardening and grow your own vegetables for free.
Freezer Friendly Meals
Another quick and easy way to save money on food costs is to buy ingredients when they are on sale at the grocery store and make the sale ingredients the base for your meal plan. Stock up on the ingredients and make two batches of the dish you are preparing. Buy the items in bulk if need be (see below for this).
The extra batch can be placed in the freezer to be served at a later date. Making extra meals of your family's favorite dishes will save you time down the road on a busy weeknight and can save you from having to pick up take-out food on your way home.
Throwing away left over food is the equivalent of tossing out perfectly good cash. This is one of the main ways Americans waste money on their monthly grocery bills. Be smart with your leftovers and look for ways to transform them into new meals the following night. Do you have leftover mashed potatoes? Turn them into potato bread, pancakes, or the topping for a shepherd's pie. What about leftover vegetables?...these vitamin packed goodies can be mixed into a stir fry or soup.
Save the Cheese for Another Meal
Have you ever hosted a party or other special event, only to have leftover cheese sitting around you really aren't fond of eating as-is? Maybe it is a strong chunk of blue cheese or a pot of fondue swiss that now has a thick crusty coating on it. Save this for the base of another home cooked meal.
Cheese is expensive and some people consider it to be sacrilegious to throw out even a small chunk. If you have leftovers, the bounty can be transformed into a fancy sauce a filler for stuffed baked vegetables, or even an add-in for a Sunday morning omelet. Some people are also under the false impression that you have to throw away cheese that has mold growing on it - this only applies to fresh cheese. If you have a hunk of aged cheese with mold growing on a small piece of it, cut the moldy piece away, and indulge some more.
Less is More
A meal does not need to be fancy to be delicious. You can make a tasty dish using the “basics”, and that approach can save your family a lot of money each month. Many basic foods like chicken breast, potatoes, fish, steak, and vegetables only need a light seasoning with some herbs and spices to be mouthwatering and delicious. Cut out the truffle oils and other expensive ingredients and stick to the basics. Utilize your outdoor grill for weeknight meals and savor the smokey flavor it adds to any home cooked meal.
This goes back to our concept of materialism. So many Americans (almost all?) chase materialism and "keep up with the Jones" lifestyle. While that usually means clothes, cars, houses, shoes, electronics and all the materialistic things people "want", the concept can also apply to food. Use the basic food and ingredients for a good, healthy home cooked meal.
The Rich Spoils of Fruits and Berries
Some say that spoiled fruit makes the best baked goods and jams. When you have bruised fruits or over ripened berries at home, make sweet or savory home cooked meals with them. Fruit breads and berry muffins make excellent quick fix breakfast foods. You can also make chutneys and glazes for meat dishes, or jam for toast. If you are running short on time, you can freeze your spoiled bounty so it will last until you are ready to use it.
Expiration Dates Are Not Gospel
The expiration dates found printed on many refrigerated food products are only meant as recommendations on when a particular item should be used by, not a steadfast rule that the ingredient has to be used by that date. Note we are not medical or health care professionals, so take this information with a grain of salt.
Instead of just throwing out ingredients that have expired, taste them first; but do so at your own risk. If the ingredient is still good, use it as inspiration for your next home-cooked meal so you can use it up instead of letting it go to waste.
Use a Charitable Food Pantry
Many churches, charities, and non-profits offer assistance. Both low income families and those in a crisis can use this resource. The food for your next meal (or most of it anyway) can be provided for free from a pantry. Some even operate client choice models, meaning you can shop for exactly what you need. Find a list of local food pantries by state.
Stock Up on Cheap Staples to use for a Healthy Meal
Pantry items such as potatoes, beans, pastas, and grains are cheap food staples that can be used as the base ingredient to save money on home cooked meals. As a kid we had literally shelves and shelves of food, personal items, paper goods, and more. All of those my mom bought on sale and using coupons, so we she had a good deal she bought the items she needed and stocked up in preparation for the next home cooked meal. You can feed an army for pennies on the dollar when you know how to cook these food staples the right way.
Buy Groceries and Food in Bulk for a Home Cooked Meal
Everyone has an ingredient that they can't be without in the kitchen. Make a list of the ingredients that you must always have on hand. Do the same with other related items too, such as napkins, utensils, and similar goods. Purchase these ingredients as well as your groceries in bulk from your favorite warehouse store or even grocer. Food costs less per pound when you purchase it in larger quantities and you can save money on each meal you make using the ingredient.
Use these helpful tips and techniques to save money on home cooked meals and general food costs. Not only will you save money on ingredients and prevent food waste, but you will also prevent spending extra money at restaurants and on take-out meals. Making meals at home will lead to a better diet and a healthier lifestyle.