Dinner on a Budget


5-ways-fight-food-inflation-1-intro image credit: Google

Dinner on a budget, fighting inflation, making money go further at the grocery store. Call it whatever you want. Here are some tips for healthy eating and saving money.

We only need three ounces of protein a meal, and it doesn’t need to come completely from meat. By cutting down on meat intake, you’ll save money, and depending on how much meat you’ve been piling on your plate, you may be doing your body a world of good. Have a small portion of meat and a high-protein side dish, such as beans, lentils or grains.

Check your cupboards and refrigerator. I have a fit if I have to toss food. Often, I’ll turn one meal into another meal to use up what I have. I may have roasted vegetables one night with leftovers. The next night, I may have soup with the leftover roasted vegetables in it, Or add cheese and pasta sauce to the vegetables. Use ingredients before they expire. Get creative without going to the store. Maybe you’ll find a can of diced tomatoes, a can or bag of frozen corn, and a can or bag of frozen green beans. By adding rice or pasta, spices and some meat, you’ve got a meal you can make in one pan. Or, add chicken broth and you’ve got soup. For great soup, you could use the bones from a rotisserie chicken and use up “tired” vegetables from the refrigerator. (Celery tops, onion chunks, carrots, parsley—whatever you have.) Add enough water to cover the bones and cook for an hour or so. Take out the bones and vegetables and add new/good vegetables to the broth.

I used to buy black and Northern beans in cans. I didn’t know how to use the ones from the bag, and didn’t want to have to plan ahead so far to soak them for hours before cooking. I have a 94 year old neighbor who was upset with me when I told her I never “made” beans before. She brought me a bowl of Northern beans and spaghetti (no sauce) and told me the beans were from a bag, and she cooked them for one and a half hours (no soaking.) I thought they’d be hard and tough. They were delicious. The beans were far better than the caned ones, and I’ve learned they last longer in the refrigerator than canned ones. Stored the un-used cooked beans in a jar with some of the water they cooked in covering them. You’ll be happy how easy and inexpensive beans form a bag are to prepare.

Take advantage of the grocery store sales. If you’re low on something, but not out of it, consider buying it before you run out, when you may have to pay full price. You may need to cook up the sale meat that day, or freeze it, but if it’s something you’ll eat anyway, it’s savings.

Buy oatmeal in the drum rather than the packages. Or, if you’re okay buying from bulk bins, scoop up savings that way.

Buy smaller amounts to keep things fresh. I love what Nabisco has done with the Original Saltine crackers. Fresh Stacks are packed in smaller portions, so they don’t go stale. Rather than having four long packs of crackers, this box has six packs. I think you get two ounces less of crackers and pay about fifty cents more. It’s a bit more expensive—or is it? None of my saltines go stale anymore.

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