This is part III of a series on how to save money for Christmas.
Part III: In the Kitchen
1.) Stop eating out so often. It’s healthier to eat at home, it’s cheaper to eat at home, and it’s more fulfilling to make it/bake it/cook it yourself.
2.) Get started on eMeals right away! Emeals is a program Dave Ramsey endorses that sends you a weekly shopping list and menu based on what’s on sale at the grocery stores this week. You can choose where you shop – Wal-Mart or Kroger, for instance – and other options, like Clean Eating or Low-Carb, etc. It tries to get your grocery budget (for 7 dinner-type meals) for that week at or around $60. Go to www.emeals.com to sign up now! They have a free trial offer.
3.) Make as much as you can from scratch. I have the time (what a valuable resource, I’m discovering!) to make things like breads and home-cooked meals, so that is one way I can decrease our living expenses. Stay away from convenient, pre-packaged foods, which are often full of sodium and saturated fats. Also, there are lots of accessible homemade seasonings recipes on the Internet these days. I make my own dry Ranch dressing mix, taco seasoning, and Italian seasoning. (Plus, it’s a lot healthier for you since you can control the amount of salt you put in.)
4.) Buy in bulk as you can. I bought a box of 5 dozen eggs at the beginning of this month, which was like paying under $1.00 per dozen. If you buy each dozen separately, you spend as much as $3 per carton! Sam’s Club is a good resource for us.
5.) Use your freezer. Instead of throwing away leftovers, freeze what is freezable for later in the month. Here’s a list of freezable foods: http://www.simpleorganizedliving.com/2011/02/10/freezable-foods/.
6.) Do the couponing thing, if that’s what you love to do. I don’t love the goose-chase of it all, and plus, I don’t buy a lot of brand name stuff because the store brand is often cheaper.
7.) Make your own dishwasher detergent. Yep – it’s super easy and only uses 4 ingredients. Recipe here: http://www.diynatural.com/homemade-dishwasher-detergent-soap/.
8.) Stop buying cokes, candy, ice cream, and other things that eat up your food money and aren’t good for you anyway. Just because Dr. Pepper is 3 for $10 at Albertsons doesn’t mean it’s any better for your body. Water is free!
9.) Do your oven cooking in the coolest parts of the day so your A/C doesn’t have to work as hard to keep your house cool.
10.) Keep a log of all the food you throw away. This will give you an idea of what you need to cut back on next trip to the store. One news special kept a hidden camera on the trash can to see the amount of food one family threw away. I think in a month’s time, approximately $1500 of food was wasted.
11.) Designate a day or a week for “Eating Whatever Is In The Pantry/Freezer/Fridge.” It may not look like much, but once you start pulling it out and putting ingredients next to each other, you may actually come up with a masterpiece! I love the option from Kraft Foods where you input the ingredients on hand and it finds recipes for you with those ingredients. I remember one time, when my cousin and family were moving from one house to another, she posted on her facebook wall that she was pulling everything out of the freezer, throwing it into a pot, and calling it “soup.” (She also included her apologies to her family.) So what’s in your freezer right now? Could you live off of that for a week? A couple of days? How about the pantry? College kids, Ramen noodles can be done lots of different ways! Just get creative!
12.) Use just your “tried and true” recipes, the ones that are easy to make and use few ingredients. Sure, I love this Chocolate Harvest Fruit-Topped Cake, but look at that ingredients list! It’s time consuming to make, it’s expensive to make, and, I know from experience, that it doesn’t last very long before spoiling.
13.) Skip those hard-to-find (read: expensive) ingredients, substituting them with something else. One time, I even substituted almond extract for vanilla in my husband’s favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. I thought I was going to be in trouble…but he loved it!