Thanks for stopping in for more great Frugal Living ideas. Today we are going to talk about planning and creating Thrifty Meals. We have lots of great tips today on getting the most bites from your buck along with a video clip of the authors Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik of Fix , Freeze and Feast who will share how simple their cooking method really is.
Be sure to enter in today’s giveaway for your own copy of Fix, Freeze and Feast.
Time to get Frugal so check out all the great stuff below.
FIX FREEZE and FEAST
With grocery prices rising and household budgets being challenged as never before, cost-conscious families are always on the lookout for creative ways to put healthy, tasty, and affordable food on the table. Fortunately, every kitchen has a valuable appliance that, if used properly, can be an indispensable tool in helping make ends meet – the freezer!
Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik have built businesses teaching time-starved home cooks how to take advantage of bulk savings by shopping wisely; converting food purchases into delicious, healthful family dinners; and labeling and storing the meals for easy access. They share all their best recipes and organizational wisdom in Fix, Freeze, Feast, a cookbook every price-conscious shopper will love and no warehouse shopper should leave home without.
Each recipe in Fix, Freeze, Feast includes instructions for dividing, preparing, and storing the raw ingredients, and a second set of simple directions for thawing, cooking, and serving the dishes. Included are recipes for chicken, beef, pork, and meatless main dishes; soups, sauces and marinades; and even breakfasts and sweets. These updated recipes focus on simple stews and stir-fries, quick grilled or broiled main courses, and popular ethnic dishes.
For more information and sample recipe to try, visit FixFreezeFeast.comhttp://www (.FixFreezeFeast.com). Fix, Freeze, Feast is available online at the 24/7 MOMS store.
Today’s Frugal Living giveaway:
24/7 MOMS and the authors of Fix, Freeze and Feast are giving away a copy of this fabulous cookbook . To enter for your chance to win, enter your name and email address in the box below you will be signed up for today’s giveaway as well as be added to the 24/7 MOMS E-list (if you are not already a 24/7 MOMS subscriber).
“Frugal Meals: Getting the Most “Bites”, From Your Buck!”
By: Amy Hannold, of SavingCentsEveryday.com
Thrifty meals are made with a bit of planning, frugal strategy, creativity and networking. When you invest a bit of your time into preparing for your meals (outside of the kitchen), the outcome is healthy both for your family and your checkbook.
Let’s begin with planning. Take a look at your calendar for the week. Designate evenings that need quick or prepared meals. Which evenings, with a less hurried pace, can you look forward to sharing the preparation and dining with your family?
For many, the easiest way to narrow the options is to plan with the “Themed” approach. As your family accumulates favorites, you can mix them in with the themed plans however you wish. An alternate method is to simply list your family’s favorites and chart them ahead of time throughout the month. Balancing your favorites with heed to what you have in stock and what’s on sale will save you the most money.
Frugal Family Food Tip: Have Fun, Create Potential Meal Themes: Meatless Mondays (an opportunity to try fish or legume entrees), Stir Fry, Breakfast for Dinner, Slow Cooker Nights (for those busy days), Soup Night, “Planned-Overs” (roast sandwiches or casseroles from the previous night’s main entrée), etc.
Frugal Family Food Tip: Remember what you buy, is a valuable resource:
Families throw away 20-50% of purchased food. Take stock of what you have. Plan items you have near expiration date into your menu planner sooner than later. As you bring new items in, place them behind older items. When expiration dates are difficult to read, write them in permanent marker where they can be easily seen. Maintain a running list available to everyone, on the refrigerator, of items you’re about to run out of.
Frugal Family Tools for Menu Planning: Menus4Moms.com offers tools for frugal kitchens. Subscriptions are available, to receive pre-planned menus, or you can peruse the cornucopia of great, free ideas. This weekly planner combines your schedule (To Do’s) with meal planning:
OrganizedHome.com offers blank Weekly or Monthly Menu Planners (and lots of other FREE home organizing advice):
Frugal Living Event Note: Next Thursday, we will focus on planning frugal, healthy meals. It is true that not everything that you need (or is good for you) can be bought with coupons. Often times, buying the store brand and buying unprocessed foods are the better options. Every family has their preferred diet, and we would be remiss not to encourage families to choose the healthiest options for themselves. Coupon use, can save you money – but, it is only one option for living within our means. If coupons are not for you, network with those who are kindred to your frugal philosophies. Utilizing meal planning, comparison shopping and kitchen efficiency, as outlined below can be of help to all shoppers.
Frugal Grocery Shopping 101: This is where the frugal strategy and the networking come in.
Find the time, a little at a time, to try new spending methods. Choose one or two strategies, see what they save you and go from there. Get more, for less, when it’s on sale and you avoid multiple (expensive) trips to the store to buy what you need at full price.
Supermarket Smarts – Before You Go Shopping:
*Prepare a list (and review your menu). If you already have a menu planned for the week, compare it to what you have in your kitchen (this avoids rushed, 4pm trips to the store!).
*If your menu is decided by what’s on sale, gather the circulars and/or study (free) forums on websites such as hotcouponworld.com, BeCentsable.net and afullcup.com. These forums cut out a whole lot of time you would spend searching for the best deals yourself. Weekly circulars are matched with available coupons, giving you the inside track on how to save the most money this week. These boards and blogs are maintained by shoppers (with more valuable frugal wisdom). Store promotions, available without the use of coupons, are also listed. If you’re short on time or want a quick introductory to matching coupons with sales, subscriptions can be purchased from TheGroceryGame.com. The same “stacking” of sales with coupons information will be sent to you, at a minimal fee per store.
Coupons – The Where’s and How’s: Coupons are printed weekly (except for holiday weekends) in coupon inserts, included in weekend papers. Internet printed coupons can be found throughout the internet. Manufacturer and independent coupon websites (boodle.com, coupons.com, wow-coupons.com, etc.) offer coupons you can print at home. When shopping, look for “blinkie machines”, which offer coupons from store shelves. “Catalinas”, are coupons which print at checkout, triggered by products you have purchased or by store promotions. To acquire coupons in bulk, use sites such as thecouponclippers.com or couponsandforms.com which offer to send you coupons in exchange for handling and postage fees. Products sometimes have coupons attached to them and coupons can be acquired by mail when you join retail or manufacturer mailing lists.
Coupons- How Do You Keep Them?
Coupon organization philosophies vary. The best advice is to research and compare to find the one that works for you. Coupon files come in all sizes and types, from purse size to baby-seat sitting fileboxes. The best tip is to keep coupons for items you use frequently with you, so that you can save big on that unexpected sale.
Coupon File Note: If you’re opposed to coupon files (or are short on filing time and space) and you want to “list and go”, there is the option of writing your menu and list on an envelope (recycling!), and placing coupons in that envelope.
Most coupon users organize their coupons in the grouped categories found in stores. For best frugal efficiency, designate file space for a particular store within your coupon holder. Other file options include our favorite file tab; “check out”, where I keep coupons for the items my kids and I spot as we wait in line.
In order to utilize grocery coupon boards which match sales with coupons, you must acquire an inventory of coupon inserts. A single file drawer or portable (with a lid) file box work well. Before you file the coupon insert, clip out coupons which match this week’s sales or coupons for items you buy often. Insert dates are often hard to read (they’re printed on the spine of the insert), so use a dark marker and print the date on the front cover. File each week’s inserts, by date, into hanging files (which are labeled by date). Each week, as you read the grocery coupon boards, they will tell you the date and brand of coupon insert for a particular coupon. Go to the filed inserts for that date, clip the coupons and put them into your travel coupon file (again, designated by store is most efficient).
As dates go by, periodically weed out inserts from your home coupon file which contain all expired coupons. This will give you space for more current inserts. (By the way, put the word out to friends that you’re clipping coupons. Between your network of friends, churches, social groups and coupon groups, you can acquire all kinds of coupons.) Subscribe to the weekend paper only, if only for the coupon inserts.
No-Clip Coupons: An emerging trend is occurring with retail companies. In larger markets, your grocery store may have the option of loading coupons onto your frequent shopper card via their website. Kroger, Proctor and Gamble, Upromise and others are companies offering this paperless option to saving money. Where there is more competition between stores, “Double Coupons” and the accepting of competitor coupons may be available. Rebate programs, store coupons and clearance aisles are other options for “stacking” savings (matching sales with coupons). Get to know the coupon options and money-saving opportunities in your area.
Coupon use does take some time to implement and become a part of your shopping routine. Be flexible (an important frugal attitude) and look forward to adding up your savings. Calculating an hourly wage from the (decreasing) time you’ll spend to save money keeps you going (as does a little friendly competition!). It can be fun, it can be done and it’s awesome to know you’ll never pay full price again!
Share your skills, and your good ideas with others. If you can get products for free, using your money saving strategies (and you’re not going to use them), consider gifting them to charities. Frugal living is about sharing and caring, enough to find ways to be more efficient with our resources and to pass our enthusiasm for living well onto others.
More information on the use of coupons and more detailed “How-To’s”, visit any of the above listed sites or SavingCentsEveryday.com
Frugal Quote for Thought: “The more we do, the more we can do”-William Hazlitt
Frugal Reading Review:
“Super Baby Food”, by Ruth Yaron
This encyclopedia treasure of a book does not stop at advice for feeding your baby and toddler. 350 Recipes for delicious and nutritious meals are included, as are dozens of family fun ideas for food decorating and crafts. “Super Baby Food” tells you what to feed, how to pay less for it – and advocates for healthy options at all stages. Kitchen and food safety, time-saving tips, and a comprehensive index will keep this book on your shelf for years. You can purchase this great book at the 24/7 MOMS store.
Upcoming Friday: Frugal Family Fun