How to Save Money and Still Eat Well

Geek!This is Rogue Puppet’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Today, everyone is looking for ways to stretch a dollar further. Here are some ways you can get more for less – right at home, in your kitchen.

(1) USE your kitchen.

If you are in the habit of eating out for dinner 2, 3, 5 or even 7 times a week, it’s time to cut back. Those drive-by meals from Burger King or Subway while you are running the kids from one place to another? Those count as eating out as well. Dining out can be fun, but that gets expensive quickly. Modify that pattern to accommodate a special social event to be shared with friends or family instead. Think you are too tired, too busy or too clueless to cook? I say: Balderdash! With a little planning, you can choose and make meals that are easy (or even ones that cook while you are gone at work). Clueless? The Internet is a vast resource of recipes and how-tos, including step-by-step video guides. You can even get a Nintendo game that will teach you how to shop and cook. There is no excuse not to try.

(2) Share in the family love.

Most stores (and even some butchers) offer items in bulk or “family-sized” packaging at lower costs. While it may be difficult for you to make good use of a three gallon jar of mayonnaise (does ANY family use that much?!), there are some such items that you can use – no matter what your family size is. Buy the family pack of meat, break it down at home, and freeze it in individual packets that fit your family’s size. Lots of other items freeze well that you might not have considered, too. Try re-sizing and freezing things like spaghetti sauce, baked goods (bread), or even cheese.

(3) No Bones about it.

For many, cooking with meat means buying pre-prepped skinless, boneless cuts and using those in recipes. Relying on the meat processing company to do all your meat prep for you adds a lot of cost. You can generally save a lot on meat if you are willing to skin and de-bone it yourself. Even better, for chicken, buy the whole chicken and either cut it up or cook it whole. Being willing to get your hands just a little dirty can save you real dollars on your food bill.

(4) Cook from scratch.

For some, cooking dinner means opening a frozen meal and heating it up. While this is convenient (and sometimes tasty), it is still an expensive proposition. Most dinner recipes involve less than 15 minutes of prep and about 30-45 minutes of cooking time. If you get home late in the day (and are really hungry), consider cooking with a crock pot. For a small investment, you have a countertop appliance that can slow cook marvelous meals that are ready to eat as soon as you get home. Most people think of things like chili or stew in a crock pot, but the possibilities are nearly endless – and include things like pot roast, roasted chicken, pork chops or even vegetable dishes. Do a quick search on “crock pot recipes” and you will get thousands of results. For days, with no time to prep in the morning, freeze leftovers in meal-sized portions for your own version of “frozen dinners.”

(5) Brown Bagging, FTW.

Thus far, we’ve largely covered dinners, but making and taking your lunch to work (instead of buying something while at work) is the next extension for saving money. If you are not lucky enough to work from home, and have to eat lunch far from your own kitchen, take a bit of home with you. Instead of a $7-15 lunch, you can have a meal for a couple of bucks. Tired of bland sandwiches? Use a tortilla and make it a wrap! Fill a thermos with soup or stew – or chili. A tossed salad with the dressing on the side paired with some homemade bread is a winner any day. You think outside the box all the time to solve problems at work, so have fun getting creative with your lunch as well.

Put some (or all) of these steps into action and you will find that your eating expenses will quickly decline, but your eating experiences will grow.

97 thoughts on “How to Save Money and Still Eat Well”

  1. GREAT post! so true, people are so reliant on going out to eat these days, it’s scary. People need to get into their kitchens and put them to work. Also, great point on bone-in meats. They’re less expensive in the long run than boneless cuts, not to mention that bone-in meat is often more flavorful because of the bone!

  2. Good tips, #3 brings to mind a corollary: Save the bones in a bag in the freezer and make stock once you have accumulated a couple pounds or so. From there you have home made soups in a jiffy, another good way to stretch the food dollar.

  3. It’s nice someone else has figured this out. I’ve been trying to get my family to get into these habits for the past 6 months. When they do listen to me we do end up saving enough money, so for everyone out there, these really do work.

  4. Many practical ideas that our parents lived by. Our generation and society have become so “now, now, now!!” We don’t even know HOW to take the time to slow down and even enjoy a meal, let alone take time to really prepare a meal. Most days, eating is last on my list. I, for one, need to read more articles like this,that will inspire me. Thanks!

  5. Nobody really thinks of getting their hands really dirty when it comes to preparing meals, but buying the meat with the skin and bones really isn’t adding as much work as people think. It’s just a few extra minutes that people think they don’t have, but we all do. This article has some great tips in it!

  6. I like the USE your kitchen one. Since being laid off, I have had to really cut back. The other night I was craving cookies. Now cookies are no longer in my grocery budget so I haven’t had them on had for sometime but my sweet tooth would not shut up! It hit me that I hadn’t made cookies in the longest time and realized I had all of the ingredients on hand for peanut butter cookies. As I was making them, it occurred to me that I have always had these ingredients on hand and could have saved my self a lot of money in the past by making my own. Can’t think of when I got out of the habit of making my own cookies to begin with. After looking through my cook book, I realize I have a lot of ready ingredients for other things as well.

  7. I know my family tries to eat out once a week, and no more or less than that. This way we aren’t easting out all the time, yet we still give my mom a well deserved break. Also on that subject, sometimes I cook for the family to help her out too!

  8. These are great ideas for everyone and well written. I’m sure using them, even some, will help to save money, and with today’s economy, it’s so necessary. It’s also a great way to get back to the way we used to do things.

  9. Cut out the meat and dairy products and you’ll save even more money. Additionally, try strategies like:

    Buy items in bulk (flours, grains, beans, nuts, etc.)
    Get a share in a CSA (community supported agriculture) with neighbors or friends
    Look for organizations in your area that offer gleaning opportunities (you pick and get to keep some of the goodies)
    Start your own little garden – grow some of your own stuff.
    Go in w/ friends and family for more even more savings on bulk food buying (you can even find stores online that offer bulk purchasing)
    Start a meal club w/ friends and family and take turns cooking for each other to reduce the amount of overall work.

  10. Great tips! It’s true, we’ve become so reliant on eating out that many of us *forget* what it’s like to actually cook. My DD and I were allergy tested recently and found out we’re allergic to dairy, eggs and wheat. EVERYTHING has these in it! So I’ve had to learn to cook from scratch all over again, and USE my kitchen. I’ll add a tip – if you’re cooking from scratch (although it may not be a money saving one at first!), buy the right appliances. This makes a WORLD of difference. 😉

  11. Great Ideas. My favorite is the crock pot. When I was working the 10am-6pm shift I cooked in the crock pot about 3 days a week. My family loves beef stew in the crock pot and Chicken and rice. I have friends who will only eat the boneless skinless chicken breasts and will pay the $4.19 a pound. Usually the stores will have them on sale for $1.99 or less at least once a month. That week I usually buy 10-12 pounds so I always have them in the Freezer. Also look for a used freezer in the classified ads. I bought mine about 10 years ago and only paid $45 for it. It works great.

  12. Excellent suggestions! Especially with this crazy economy right now! I am glad that my mother taught me how to cook and make things from scratch and get creative with making gifts, food and needed items around the house! Here’s to a revival in “home style” living! Kudos Nan… great article!

  13. As I was reading all these tips, I started thinking; “hey, my mom does that. or my mom used to do that when all 3 of us kids still lived at home, now she does it for her & dad & then sends the leftovers home w/us kids.’ WOW!!! That mom of mine is one smart lady after all. I will have to start & utilize these ideas myself, now that I live on my own. I also thought of another positive aspect of following these food bill saving tips, it’s also a great way to get your daily diet into shape. Fast food does have EXTREMELY high calorie & fat content. YEAH for eating in!!

  14. Great column! I used to do all of these at one point or another, so it’s not really new information, but it’s so good to be reminded of it. Now that the economy is looking down, I really need to put these on a higher priority. Forming good frugal habits is a great way to weather the economic storm. Thanks!

  15. Along with cooking and freezing, we plan our meals with leftovers in mind. Thus, if I have 2 or 3 meals with rice, I cook that much rice just one time. We cook our meats with seasoning that works for a second meal as well. It saves time that way. Oh and baking your own goodies FTW, but we wind up sharing with work so we don’t have so much temptation in the house 🙂

  16. Some good tips for cutting back on eating out and cooking more at home. But, apart from the buying in bulk suggestion – not a lot of help for those of us who already do all the things you suggest, including taking lunch to work every day.

    Maybe some help with being a better shopper? Coupons seem to be very uncommon these days, but I’ve managed to save a lot of money by being a member of my favorite stores “Club” and having a membership card. I save $10-20 every two weeks when I ‘stock up’ just by paying attention to those items that my card gives me a discount on. That’s $240-$480 a year!

    Don’t be stuck always buying Name Brands. I’ve found many store brand items that are even BETTER than name brand and cost considerably less.

    Try shopping at a larger, discount store like “Aldis”. Their selections are much more limited than at the larger chain grocery stores, but their prices can’t be beat. And shop at this sort of store FIRST. Then, whatever is left on your list get elsewhere. It’s not the one-stop-shopping we Americans seem to think we are entitled to, but it really is worth it in the long run. You shop around for a car or a house, right? Why not do the same for the food you eat?!

  17. Thanks for the great tips! I like how you pointed out that we get creative with other things but need to do the same when it comes to food…..very good suggestion – along with all of the others!!

  18. These are all excellent ideas. Growing up, I didn’t know why my mom was so fanatical about the crock pot, but I’ve used it to save time and effort a lot lately, especially for chili, stew and even yet another version of my red beans and rice!

    Oh, and a crock pot can be used with those bones, saved from chicken leg quarters or whole chickens and the crock pot can make good chicken stock to freeze and use later!

    It’s true, convenience meals seem easier, but if you cook in bigger portions and freeze the leftovers for lunches (I put mine in round Ziploc containers I call ‘hockey pucks’), you can save a LOT by not eating out.

    I do a lot of these things already, but not enough people realize how real cooking and bulk buying and leftovers as meals can actually make life easier!

  19. What great tips. While you’d think they’re common sense, they’re often overlooked. I think you wrote a great article with some awesome insight in how to both save money, and eat healthier as you do so! Great work!

  20. Great post! The biggest expense most Americans have is….. you guessed it, dining out! If Americans would cut dining out to once a week they would save tons of money. On average, we spend approximately $50 on a meal for a family of four.

    However, this post is also great because not only are you saving money, you are eating healthier. Why healthier, because you control what goes into your food.

    Rogue Puppet, this is one hell of a post!!!

  21. I love cooking in the crockpot. You can even bake bread in the crockpot. Nothing is better than coming home to a meal that is already ready. The house smells good; the food is cooked; and prep time is minimal. Crockpot, FTW!

  22. My crockpot is my friend! Even as a SAHM, I rely on it so I can spend more time with the kids or doing other things.

    And if I forget, I can also use my pressure cooker to whip up a fresh meal in no time. It’s not just for canning!

    In addition to being more costly, pre-packaged meals are also loaded with sodium and other additives and preservatives that we should avoid. Yuck!

  23. Is there really a “Nintendo game that will teach you how to shop and cook”? Wow. In my day it was mainly Space Invaders. You’ve provided excellent suggestions though.

  24. We save a lot of money by being vegetarian and by bartering for local produce.

    I save time by freezing grains- so if I need rice for a meal, I cook extra and put a few cups of cooked rice in the freezer, then I’ve saved 30 minutes next time.

  25. Great Article! It’s good to hear that there are more people out there who enjoy family time. And sitting around the table for dinner is a wonderful way to save money and learn about each other’s day. Plus the food always seems to taste better and be healthier for you.

    I spend a great deal of money on lunches throughout the week. I used to freeze my leftovers and take them to lunch with me the rest of the week. I will have to start doing this again.

    Thanks, -Toby

  26. Being a vegetarian, #3 doesn’t help much, but I do like the idea of prepping a meal in the morning to be done at the end of the day. My life is crazy hectic these days, so new routines are difficult to make. Maybe it’s a New Year’s resolution in the making.

  27. Actually, I’ve been sort of forced into many of these steps recently, not by the economy, but by developing Celiac Disease. Celiac makes my digestive system intolerant of anything containing wheat gluten, which these days is damned near everything.

    Thus, I have returned to the college-poverty habit of making my own meals, the better to ensure the absence of wheat products. While I don’t particularly like the reason I’ve gotten back to basics, the results are very positive for my wallet as well as my body.

    It is estimated that 1 in every 133 people has Celiac, though most don’t know it. We live in a time of processed everything, and many might be surprised how much better they feel if they cut out processed wheat products.

  28. Ah, actually USING your kitchen – an obvious but overlooked money saver. Plus it has the added benefit of it being better for you, and if you have kids its a great way to get them involved in cooking and doing something as a family.

  29. Cooking meals for your self also allow you to remove many of the chemicals found in processed foods. Pre-processed foods also have lost many of the good nutritional value their “home made” counterparts had, causing us to eat more processed food just to get the same amount of good nutrient content. Also in the long run, Brown bagging it can at least half the cost of eating lunch out. Plus think of all the packaging you are saving, it is ‘green”, too. Great tips!

  30. Good advice, ma’am! It’s the easiest thing in the world to fall into habits of convenience, come to see them as “normal,” and then think that it would be impossible to do things any other way. In fact, though, the good advice you’re giving here hearkens back to much older and more durable habits of eating — but ones we’ve gotten away from in the era of packaged & fast foods.

  31. Wonderfully good tips! This makes totally good sense and it is the #1 healthy option for one’s self! If you have the space and time plant your own garden or visit your local growers at the farmer’s market. Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals has additional points that may be of interest.

    Happy Holidaze to all!

  32. Great points, especially about the crock pot. It saves us a ton of time and effort getting meals ready. We got a huge one and it feeds us for a couple of meals at a time!

  33. Use the leftovers! As the mother of five grown children I saved a lot of money by using leftovers and making a new meal with them. Leftover chicken becomes stir-fry and leftover rice becomes fried rice. Leftover mashed potatoes become potato pancakes or leftover veggies become vegetable soup. It’s easy, economical and taste good too. The possibilities are endless.

  34. Using the kitchen is possibly the single best way for most families to save money in a financial crunch, especially if it’s the stove or crockpot. Added benefits are often more energy and a smaller waistline because you’re not loading up on the unnecessary calories that go along with eating out.

    To further cut your food bill, stop purchasing single serving beverages like bottled water, juices, and sodas. Fill your own reusable container instead. If you’re a coffee junkie, kick the latte to the curb and make your own cafe au lait at home instead.

  35. Great Ideas! I especially like the crock pot idea! I might actually get one! I love tortillas, which is probably why they are better for lunch! All in All great tips. I plan to use some of them, especially using the itchen!

  36. Great tips. The slow cook is a great thing and cam make some really tender meat. My favorite is pork chops with cream of chicken soup and some potatoes. Comes out super tender with a great gravy. Also… whether working with the bulk meat or extra leftovers for later, look at using a vacum bagger. It keeps your goodies fresher, and makes the quick re-heat even easier.

  37. There is certainly no harm in trying to cook. I agree that you can’t just eat out all the time as that racks up a large expense. Actually using your own kitchen and preparing your own food is cheap and with practice you get better!

  38. That’s great advice! I can’t remember the last time that I ate at a restaurant for lunch (but my company caters about twice a month, so it’s not so bad!). And buying in bulk at Sam’s Club helps a lot! We store a lot of bulk food, including freezing chicken breasts and hamburger meat for later use. That also serves as an incentive to cook at home: don’t want all that meat to go to waste!


  39. Excellent tips! Getting back to the basics (i.e. getting away from the totally pre-processed, pre-packaged, pre-cooked garbage that populates most of our supermarket shelves) is not only less expensive overall, but notably better, and cheaper, too!

  40. Great suggestions. I am lucky enough to work close to home so I can go home to eat lunch, take care of the pets and get a start on dinner (thawing , marinating etc). These are all really great tips and since I’m on a lean budget have been a huge help.

  41. Food is yummy.

    Money is good.

    Why not have both? When they ask you “What’s in your wallet?” you say “MONEY!”

    We have become almost completely lost in consumption these days. We thought we could live on more than we make, borrow more than we could afford, and not have to pay the consequences. It’s time for everyone to live more frugally right now, and teach those jokers in Washington you don’t “bail out” failure by just going from spending Billions to Trillions instead!

    Save your money. You’re going to need it. Make your own food. It’s the way God designed man.

  42. Thanks for a great article – one of the things I tend to do is a lot more cooking at home rather than buying preprocessed/fast food.

    It doesn’t quite take as much time as expected, for one thing – in fact, it often acts as a way to decompress from the day. And quite honestly, since I’m only cooking for one – leftovers tend to last awhile….

  43. We have been saving a ton of money each month by making large meals on Sundays and midweek and then taking the leftovers for lunch. We’ve discovered a core of recipes that make large quantities of food such that the leftovers are actually tastier the longer they sit — chili is an example. Cooking in bulk is just as economical as buying in bulk.

    Another good small investment in that vein is a stand-alone freezer. We bought one the size of a regular refrigerator at a scratch/dent sale for $200 and it has paid for itself several times over by giving us the ability to buy whole sides of beef, mass quantities of frozen pizzas when they’re on sale, and so on.

  44. I have seriously cut back on my fast-food lunch trips and am saving serious amounts of money by cooking my own lunches. We tend to just forget how much going through the drive-thru costs but it really adds up and there are so many more affordable alternatives.

  45. Excellent tips! Once I figured out how easy (and inexpensive) it was to make hummus, I never again shelled out the $$ to buy it.

    Another idea – before shopping, clip coupons or go to the websites of your favourite products – there are usually special offers and printable coupons there.

  46. Great post. Our family is more often found eating home cooked meals than to purchase our food from “fast” food restaurants or even sit down locations. As you mentioned, the savings alone are good enough reason to keep it at home.

    I also suffer from several food allergies (corn, soy, wheat, yeast). Try finding something that you purchase pre-made or from a restaurant that doesn’t have ANY of these four ingredients. Stumped? You should be. Eating at home is a far healthier option, too — even for those that don’t suffer from food allergies.

  47. Some great tips, I must get my crock pot out that I was given a couple of years ago, I’ve never used it.

    I think you can use the principles of bulk buying even if you are single like me, you can still portion it up and freeze it if your freezer is big enough.

    If only I had room for a chest freezer.

  48. As part of our Financial Peace University class, we’ve gone on a strict budget, eating at home was one of the first things we did along with brown bagging it. It’s helped us save hundred of dollars per month, not to mention how much healthier we are eating now. Taco Bell was like a second home to me, now a ham sandwich and a pudding cup leaves me just as full and feeling much better about myself.
    Also if you haven’t heard of Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace, get on google, he’s a little “out there” for some of you, but normal is broke, I like being weird!

  49. This is a great list! It sparked my thinking about a bunch of things. Like planning–most of us are great planners, but when it comes to the grocery list and the next weeks meals, I don’t always use that talent. And shopping local–buying fresh, locally grown food is healthy for you and your community.

    My crockpot is in the cupboard over the refrigerator ant the back of the top shelf. I’m inspired to haul it out of there, dust it off, and start using it again.


  50. There are some terrific ideas here. Last year I bought a mini-fridge and put it in the office. Once a week I stock it up with lunch food. My lunch budget went from around $200/mo to around $45/mo.

    As far as becoming good at cooking easy stuff quickly… absolutely. I started cooking a new recipe every Sunday as a rule after my divorce. I now have a potential menu that is two pages long and there is almost always something I can make with what is on hand. Chicken Marsala (so easy, but everyone thinks it is fancy) stir fry, I could go on and on. They are far easier than you think 🙂

    Great post, super ideas 🙂

  51. You’ve brought up so many great points, all which I think I know deep inside, but never have time to implement it seems. Thanks for the reminder which I will use as an encouragement!

  52. I shop @ the local discount grocery stores like Aldi’s & Save-A-Lot. I don’t remember the last brand name I saw.

    Soup. Salad. Sandwich. Snack. These are my 4 basic food groups ’til the economy improves.

    You can also save money by eating less. Go look @ your keister in a mirror. Yikes! Am I right people?

  53. i don’t buy whole chickens because i don’t always find a use for the back, and hate to waste it. i do wait for split chicken breasts to be on sale, though (i can usuallyget them for 99 cents / Lb), and then use them

  54. It is hard for people to balance convenience and finances. But, with the way the economy is rolling now, we are going to see a lot more people realize that it might be better to spend a little time to get more out of their money. Thanks for the tips, because they will come in handy when people get this reality check!

  55. Very good tips, especially about cooking from scratch and buying in bulk.
    The cooking tips are great as well. I eat at home most of the time, and anything made at home can be just as quick or tasty as anything from a fast food restaurant.

  56. This is so true. It is something that as a college student I don’t ever think about, but definitely should. We have little money as it is, but what we do have we spend on food that is unhealthy and expensive.

  57. I’m glad you’re my mom so you can make us all this good food 🙂 haha
    and I love that game for Nintendo.. it’s called “cooking mama cook-off” or something weird like that
    and it actually DOES teach you how to cook XD

  58. Great post. Much of it is common sense but the problem is that common sense ain’t all that common and people need to be reminded to go back to basics every so often.

  59. Good post!

    The idea about keeping the bones in is a great idea. I used to always try to buy whole chickens and then process them myself. Not only did I save sometimes $1/pound, but chicken with cooked with the bone-in tastes better, too.

    I also like to cook with my own dried beans (chick peas, pintos, etc.) instead of canned. I am doing that more and more.

  60. Awesome idea’s, I can’t really add much more then what has already been added. I am the crockpot king but I also have found that it is a lot cheaper and healthier to steam my meals. I have this jamming electric steamer and tend to use it more then the crock pot over the last year. I lost over 80 pounds just from eating at home and steaming most of my food. I should add being a geek and in front of a large amount of computers all day is not the best exercise, so doing regular old exercises like when I was in tech school or even high school helped shed some of that weight as well.

    Great blog, I found you through a friend on twitter and if I am sure we are friends an several networks as well Chris.

    Peace, Aero

  61. Yes, I agree use the kitchen. There is nothing like a home cooked meal. As we all know the economy is tanking and we may find ourselves standing in line for a sack of beans. The next best thing to home cooked meals is the leftovers during the week.

    Good job Rogue Puppet.

  62. Excellent points all! We’ve been trying to scale back and one of the best things we’ve done is to relearn what our kitchen looks like.

    If you don’t have time to prep lunches for work, the frozen ones will do if you have a microwave (and most places do). And some are very cheap.

    Also, you are absolutely right about using internet sources. I love, it has an amazing number of recipies online, and a great online community if the original isn’t to your liking. Also, it has an automatic serving calculator, so that Chili Con Carne for 100 can be scaled down to 10.

    Not only do we buy bone-in meat for the most part, but we also look for sales. If that Family Pack is on sale for cheaper-per-pound, well, that’s what freezer bags were made for :).

    Great article!

  63. Always liked the New York Times Cookbook. Great recipes, not terribly complicated in most cases. There was also a great article years ago in the food section that went the opposite way, recipes that are SOOO complicated that you probably will only make them once in a lifetime.

  64. Great ideas for saving money and providing your family with well balanced meals.

    LOve the tips and really made me stop and think.

    In this McD%$^’s syndrome world we live in it’s nice to read such helpful ideas about not only saving the $ but giving our families what they rightfully deserve = better nutrition.

    So the buck stops here…

    Or should I say, thanks to your wonderful insights.

    The spending,wasting of the buck stops here!

  65. Great suggestions, all, especially about using your kitchen. We’ve saved hundreds of dollars a month cooking at home. We can make a dinner for four adults at home for 10% of what it costs in a restaurant. That’s less than the tip!

    Here are a couple of other suggestions that my wife, in her wisdom has discovered.

    Use Google to help you use your leftovers. Some of the most awesome meals we’ve ever had have come from my wife typing something like “spinach chicken mushrooms peppers recipe” into google. You’ll immediately come up with several interesting and new ways to use the ingredients.

    Buy spices in bulk! Most of what you’re paying for in the grocery store for something like peppercorns or basil is the fancy bottle. What costs $5 or $6 in a bottle can cost only $1 or less in bulk. Baggies, FTW!!

  66. I participated in an experiment with our local news crew. Can a family of 4 eat 3 meals a day for $100. I have 5, but my girls are small. We did it w/ lots of staples left over. We ate healthy. We ate enough. We ate in.

    BIG money saver…eating in.

  67. This is the sort of sensible advice that few of us actually manage to follow… I know that I try to cook from ingredients for my son at least half of the time, but it’s so easy to get takeaway (or ‘takeout’ as you seem to call it in the US) or buy ready meals.

    I’m with Amy, too, that being vegetarian helps. Unfortunately my son isn’t, so often it’s two separate meals. More cooking practice, I suppose…

  68. these are some great tips…one thing i like to do
    is to cook up roasts or whole chickens and then use them for other meals…shredded beef and chicken is great in soups, stews, and they really help stretch the family dollar….they also freeze well.
    another great thing to do to save money is to garden! start out simple with a couple of easy plants (tomatoes and leaf lettuces) your first season. you don’t need a lot of space to grow them, they taste great and they get you outside MOVING.

  69. Some great suggestions here. Being single, I really don’t do much “cooking” outside of the microwave. Probably would starve without it! LOL

    But I DO love to use the crockpot for things like my homemade chili and stews that make it simple for a non-cook like myself.

    I JUST hate the cleanup associated with cooking, though! heh heh

    Rick Wilson aka CorpRebel 8)

  70. It’s funny. I ate out every night for 25 years, and then suddenly stopped. Partly it was the downturn, and partly I was bored with restaurants. Now I do what you suggest, and not only do I save money, but my meals are MUCH better!

  71. I enjoy cooking, so it sounds like I’m on the right track. Often I’d rather stay home and make something, as opposed to sitting in a crowded, noisy restaurant.

  72. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing. Seems sometimes we just get stuck in a rut and keep doing the same things over and over. Many of which involve eating out or food that is convenient and fast. Thanks for the reminder! I know its the lunch at work thing I need to work on the most!

  73. very practical tips…

    about bones – good cooks know the importance of bones – they use it to make broth, boil those bones and make good and tastier soups…

  74. These are all good ideas, most of which I would have thought might have been common sense to a lot of people, but maybe not. We’ve slowed our eating out considerably since I went back to school out of a natural need to cut back on expenses. We’ve also been buying more of the larger cuts of meats, even considering getting a side of beef for the freezer. And my wife uses the crock pot a lot for things like chili and stew, and I have leftovers for several days’ lunches afterward.

  75. Steam a head of cauliflower.

    Mash it up.

    Add 3 tbls of half/half

    Add a little “Can’t beleive it;s not buter” maybe tablespoon

    Pepper and salt to taste.


  76. You have some great ideas here, and the comments have even more. I’m printing it to keep. Like others, I’m a huge fan of the crockpot. There is something so comforting (especially in winter) about smelling dinner cooking slowly and gently. 🙂

  77. It’s amazing what a difference in budget and waistline these tips can make. I’m a big believer in roasting a chicken one night, and then the next day or so making a scrumptious soup with the leftovers and whatever veggies I have handy. And like others have echoed, you can make sure all those preservatives and additives are NOT there.

  78. Hmm, I wonder if you have any websites with good vegetarian recipes that are made from scratch ? 🙂
    I noticed that a lot of your tips involve meat. And also, I’m kind of tired of Vegetarian food that’s like frozen and pre-prepared, because i know that it’s bad for me. Most of the time, if you make something from scratch, it’s healthier because you don’t add in all that extra crap that he food companies add in when they process it.

    This article has a lot of truth though, because in today’s society, most people just go out to eat and even though fast food is cheap, it would be cheaper to cook your own food, or if nothing else, it’s better for you ! 😀

  79. Good reminders. I’d add that I save a lot of money by checking the weekly ads, then making a weekly menu around the sale items. By buying from the ads I obviously save money, but if I actually plan out, even briefly, my meals for the next week then I won’t forget something I just bought and put in the fridge or freezer. That use to happen a lot, especially produce that would be wasted. Now I buy it, and especially with produce make sure I have a plan to use it.

  80. Nice! My wife and I have just become more intentional about spending less on our monthly food budget. We’ll definitely be implementing some of your suggestions.

  81. I think recommendation (4), cook from scratch, is an important one. Not only does it taste better and cost less, but unprocessed foods are less likely to cause you to gain weight. Processed foods are much easier to digest. So, they hit the bloodstream too quickly and just make you hungrier

  82. I agree ’bout the brown-bagging. I like to know what I eat by making it myself. Moreover, it’s cheaper. I also bring a stash of tea bags to work, rather than going out to get coffee. Even the fancy teas are cheaper than an overpriced coffee.

  83. Way to go Nan. You said it all!! We love to eat out like everyone else, but we feel so much better when we spend time in the kitchen together and make something that we all can enjoy. Also what a great way to try different recipes without the expense of someone else making it.

  84. Great article, things have been tough for awhile, and rediscovering our kitchen was one of the best things we could’ve done.

    We’ve been eating healthier, and more cheaply than stopping at any of the myriad fast food joints on the strip-o-commerce near our apartment.

    Good point too, using the internet as a recipe resource. My favorite is They have ideas for anything you can think to cook, a very supportive community for tweaks and substitutions, and a serving calculator so that Chili Con Carne for 100 can be scaled back to 10.

    Pot Lucks are a good idea, especially since we’re not traveling much, and it’s something that keeps us face-to-face with friends and family too.

  85. Well done. Food should always be *real* – avoid processed crap at all costs. I break down and have the occasional bucket of KFC when I neeeed an injection of Vitamin G – but for the most part I strive to (and enjoy) preparing my meals (and meals for others) from scratch. It’s healthier. It’s fun! It tastes good. Every morning I get up and make a school lunch for my son. Home made soups, home baked bread, the works. The other kids, peeling apart their plastic meal packages, are actually envious because his food smells and tastes better. Keep posting stuff like this and spreading the word. You are what you eat – so don’t eat garbage. Thanks for that.


  86. I do a lot of my own (scratch) cooking but do still grab fast food, esp. when on the run with kids in the car. Oddly, it seems like everyone is raising prices in response to slowing volume these days. (aren’t prices supposed to *drop* in response to lowered demand? So this posting has been a great reminder… I’m going to cut back even more on fast food and deliveries.. and cook even more! -JR

  87. Awesome write-up Rogue.
    In this day and age of the Hustle and Bustle of city life,people are just too tired after work to cook a meal. Often having to work long hours and/or lengthy travel home, can have a detrimental effect on your psyche to bother cooking at home.
    Very few city-dwellers have a vege garden in the backyard. And if you happen to be a tennant of an apartment building, then there’s less of a chance of even having any garden at all.
    I think parents have lost the knowledge of gardening and how to produce enough food to live on.
    The schools should provide better Horticutural training to provide children with gardening skills for their future.

  88. Great tips for lean times. Thanks for sharing, Rogue!

    I like to keep the crockpot going (esp in this season) and minimizing the meat in our diet (while increasing alternative protein sources) also trims the budget.

  89. Excellent suggestions, Rogue!

    If you have a little bit of money to spare, one of the best investments you can make is a deep freeze. We bought one right before our daughter was born, and now we use it in concert with some of that “buying in bulk” wisdom to freeze single serving or meal-sized portions of soups, chili, and anything else that freezes well and can be re-heated in the microwave. That way, we can cook massive amounts, but not wind up eating the same thing for days in a row.

  90. I’ve been doing a lot of this for the past couple years, and I’ve found that I prefer what I make to what I can order. Almost everything I eat is low in salt—which you get used to really fast—making almost everything from restaurants or pre-made meals taste way too salty.

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