Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Tips and Tricks

It is so hard to come up with ideas that haven't been mentioned over and over.  I am going to give a few money saving kitchen tips - that you may already know.  Maybe someone new here, will pick up an idea or two.  I hope so!

  • First and foremost - shop your pantry and your freezer BEFORE going to the grocery.  If money is tight - look at what you have.  Get creative and make up some recipes.  Mix and match things.  Hopefully you are always prepared for emergencies (as we all preach), and you could get by for a while without grocery shopping.  DON'T buy just to be buying!!!
  • Pre-make breakfast meals for your family.  **Make up batches of scratch pancakes or waffles and freeze individually.  Pop in the toaster or microwave for a quick breakfast.  **Make breakfast burritos and freeze.  **Think about making sausage biscuits and wrapping and freezing.  **Muffins are a great breakfast food, or make egg cheese 'muffins' in muffins pans.  There are tons of ideas out there.  **I used to make a 4 day batch of steel cut oats for hubby- always easy to heat up.  Think something different - **make a batch of rice and freeze in individual servings.  Great topped with butter and sugar or syrup - top with cheese or a scrambled egg.  Always think about leftovers for breakfast.  There is NO right or wrong food to start the day.
  • If you work, have a spouse working or kids or grands - lunch can be expensive.  DON'T buy it out.  Make and take your own.  (don't forget using leftovers).
Lunchables are super easy to make.  Those little packets can add up in price at the store.  MAKE YOUR OWN! 
Have lots of re-usable containers on hand (can be purchased at dollar stores).  Any type of crackers can be used, round, square, rectangular, snack crackers (Triscuts, etc.) mini rye bread slices, mini bagels, etc.  Take leftover chicken, ham, turkey, shredded beef, or lunchmeat - whatever you have.  Bits and pieces of cheese.  ALSO make big bowls of Jello and fruit or pudding and then repackage in small containers for a great cool treat.  Homemade cookies, cake, pie, whatever desserts you make at home.  Take your drink.  Partially freeze a bottle of water, Kool-Aid, tea (all made from home) and by lunch it should be fine to drink.  It keeps your lunch cool as well.
*Even a sandwich made and cut into quarters would give you mini bites for lunch.
NO NEED to spend $$$$ on lunches.
  • There is not much difference in a roaster and a fryer chicken - except size.  Buy which ever is cheapest.  They are interchangeable.
  • IF you have a family of BIG eaters - make soups, stews, chili, slow cooker meals, etc.  They tend to go further and they are more filling - and then add bread or a sandwich to go along with it.
  • Add starches to extend a meal - pasta, rice, potatoes.  They are cheaper alternatives, filling, and they extend a meal
  • Think about adding noodles or dumplings to soups to extend and make it more filling
  • Think about making more crockpot meals.  You can add anything to them.  You can also use CHEAPER CUTS of meats and they will become tender.  Meats can be shredded to go further and you get more servings.
  • If you have some stale or older bread (not molded) toast - top with butter and a bit of shredded cheese and top with an egg.  That makes a filling meal for any meal.
  • If you have some apples that need to be used - think about fried apples.  Peel and slice and add to a pan with a little butter.  Sprinkled with a littles sugar and cinnamon and sautee until soft.  They are so good as a side (great with pork) or as a dessert.  OR core the apple - add a bit of brown sugar, butter, and nuts (or whatever you want to add) and bake in a 350 oven until fork tender.  YUM!  No need to waste your fruit.
  • Add a little meat to pasta salad and call it a MEAL!  Chunks of hams, turkey, faux crab, baby shrimp, chicken, etc..
  • Make a leftover pizza!!!!  Pizza can be anything.  Use any type of leftovers to crust and wahla you have pizza.  Veggies can be used to make a vegetarian pizza, or add ham, BBQ, taco meat, mac n cheese (this a new thing around here).  GET CREATIVE - anything goes and there is no waste and you have created a new meal with odds and ends.
  • If you have leftover veggies that no one wants to eat - puree them and add them to soup, stews, etc.  They help add vitamins to the meals and pureed they will make a thickening agent for soups and nothing wasted! (get sneaky)
There you go - a few ideas to save some grocery dollars.  I hope you find something you can use.  What are some fun ideas you have to stretch the dollar and not waste your food?

Get creative and have fun and save!


  1. I'm working on using up what we have. I have several of the individual packets of oatmeal, so I've been eating them for breakfast to clear them out of here. We had a lot of apples this week, so I cooked some of them and had apples as a side dish for dinner a couple of nights, which was a hit. Your homemade lunchables are so cute. I forget about the idea of freezing your drink and it helps keeping your lunch cold. Thanks for the reminder. :)

    1. Your welcome. Good job for you. I love cooking apples - one of my favorites.
      Add some of those apples on top of the oatmeal and maybe some walnuts - YUM!

  2. Great List. Last week I made tacos. I always make rice and beans because it doubles the amount of food. The next day I forgot to pull meat out of the freezer before I went to work. When I got home, I took homemade sauce and thru in the leftover taco meat to make a meat sauce. No one knew it was the leftover taco meat. Made pasta and a salad and dinner was ready in no time.

    I always make extra so that I can freeze a meal for the future. It saves me from having to cook 3 meals a day. When I make sauce, I make a huge pot. Same goes for soups and chili. When I make baked ziti or lasagna I make 2. It only takes a few minutes longer. I make individual pot pies and I always freeze several for easy meals. The pot pies, lasagna and baked ziti don't get cooked until I need them. They are also great if something happens and I need a meal to give away in a hurry.

    1. Great tips. I love taco meat in spaghetti sauce or in chili. Cook once and eat twice - is so smart.
      Thanks for the tips, they are all great ideas.

  3. I love the home made lunch able idea. Grandkids will love that. I think you can repeat over and over, as humans some of us take along time for anything to sink in......

    1. LOL - you are funny. I guess it takes me a few tries to remember things as well.
      The kids would love the lunch-ables!

  4. The homemade lunchables are cute for children, but you don't have to go to so much effort for (most) adults. My daughter does not like sandwiches. For the last 22 years, she has taken essentially the same lunch virtually every day: a hardboiled egg, yogurt, cheese and/or sliced meat, crackers and a piece of fruit. This isn't as boring as it sounds because it's all variable, except for the egg.

    You mentioned whole chickens. There are only 2-3 of us and we can't eat a whole chicken since they are all so much larger now. When chickens go on sale, I ask the meatcutter to split the bird(s) for me. No one has ever refused or charged me extra for this. I freeze the chicken halves and always have the right amount of food. If I want a cut-up chicken, I just cut-up the chicken half...very easy.

    Finally, I am an old frugalista but a new reader. I saved your blog as a favorite, but it always comes up on the date I saved it. I then have to scroll down to the bottom of the page to hit Home. Is there an easier way to do this?

    1. Your daughter's lunches sound good. That is why I mentioned ham, turkey, BBQ, etc. It doesn't matter a lot, just use what you have.
      Great idea on having the whole chicken split. I have heard of doing that with turkey, but great idea with chicken too. Cutting a chicken is such a little bit of work, for a whole lot cheaper price.

      I am not sure exactly how it works - but if you hit the follow button on the upper right side of my page I think you can put in your email and will be notified. I think! I do what you do with several that I read as well. I have some listed on my blog list at right and I look at them when they update.

      Perhaps one of the readers/followers can explain it. There is also a spot that says follow by email (at right) - but you might need a g-mail account. (google)

      READERS HELP - can you explain this for us both to understand????


    2. Hit home at the bottom of the page. Then hit your "star" on the right of the bar to save the blog. Don't hit the topic for the day itself.

  5. I tend to put the cracker part of the homemade punchable in it's own container as many times the crackers absorb the moisture and get soft, but they are a very popular lunch with my girls. Today's lunch was wheat thins, Colby jack, carrots and ranch, apples and pb, a cutie, and a strawberry dessert bar. School lunches are so expensive and processed, so we've been packing our own for four years now.
    One of my favorite frugal pizza toppings is tomato sauce, thin sliced baked potato, sliced onions, and whatever cheese you have on hand.

    1. That is a very good idea to separate the crackers. Todays lunch sound yummy for sure. From what I have seen in recent years school lunches look horrible.

      Now that pizza sounds so good. Never thought of potato on it, but that sounds delish. I will have to try that.
      Thanks for the tips!

    2. there is a little Italian pizzeria in Little Italy in Omaha Nebraska and they do a double crust pizza that has potatoes, onions, sauce, and hamburger that is so delicious! I try not to use much hamburger, but just potatoes and onions works well. I season it with a bit of salt, lots of pepper, and Italian seasoning too.

    3. Definitely going to try that. I recently made tacos with a combo beef/potato chunks/salsa/cheese and they were great.

  6. I'm pretty proud of myself tonight! Our apt Mgr planned a supper gathering for anyone who wanted to show up. and it was to place your order for Subway sandwiches, chips and a drink for a total of about $10 -tip. The Mgr ordered online and then drove to pick them up. Out of 50 apts with one or two persons oOnly 7 of us showed up. I decided I wanted to socialize a bit so I made my own sandwich along with sliced apple and water. I baked oatmeal-raisin cookies to share. I had a nice visit and $0 extra spent. I had been to the grocery store on Sunday and decided I didn't want to spend extra. So that was my "trick" for the day! The other day for my dinner I found two pcs of Naan bread in the freezer and fixed one as a pizza with bits of this and that already on hand. It was so good. Keep those awesome blogs coming, Cheryl!

    1. You are a smart cookie!!! How neat - nothing wrong with taking your own. It was about having an evening of visiting, not spending.
      I love those finds when digging through the freezer or frig. New ways to use things.
      Thanks for the FRUGAL tip!

  7. There is only the two of us at home but we still cook the same amount of food as when the kids were home. We take the left overs and freeze them into serves for two. This gives us quick and easy meals when we don't feel like cooking. It also gives us meals to share with others who are doing it a bit tough.
    I am doing a bake up today as my Mum fell and broke one arm and tore tendons in the opposite shoulder. A few simple freezer meals will help Mum and Dad. I will extend a meat meal, like spaghetti bolognaise or lasagne by adding grated zucchini or carrot to the meat sauce. I use mashed pureed sweet potato, which I grow, instead of white sauce.
    Lots of great ideas in the post Cheryl. Don't worry if you feel you have already told us, just keep telling.

    1. Jane I am sorry to hear your Mum fell and got hurt. I sure hope she mends quickly.
      That is a great idea to have freezer meals ready. I am sure your parents will appreciate the food.
      Sneaking in veggies in sauces and soups is such a good idea. Adds vitamins. Great way to get good food into those who don't want to eat it!
      Good idea on the sweet potatoes - would never have thought of that.

  8. Love the tips! And love the fact you mentioned there isn't a certain thing to eat for breakfast. The way society got set in the mindset that only certain foods are breakfasts foods & the saying "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" was actually a company trying to sell more of their product in grocery stores years ago! No science involved when that got started literally just an ad campaign. Love the tips and thought you might find my little "food history" interesting!