Photo copyright Gordon Smith. Used with permission. Click on image for link to his photo blog.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Feed your family well for less

When thinking of how to cut corners and make do with less, the mere thought can make you feel like a flea on an elephant. However, when you realize that you can chop away at a large problem little by little, the task to achieve your goal need not keep you awake at night. Simply put, there are only three basic necessities in life. Food, clothing and shelter. Everything else is secondary. Put in proper perspective, I just made the elephant a bit smaller for you.

A thought or two on filling your elephant’s belly (grin). No matter how little money you have to spend on food, make a conscious decision to spend it wisely. You CAN eat well for less. First things first, I'll repeat a mantra I’m sure you have already heard....Remove fast and convenience foods and empty calorie foods, such as sodas and candies, from your grocery shopping list.

When preparing your grocery shopping list, plan meals so that you use all the leftovers. For example, make a meat loaf then use the leftovers to make two more meals. Depending upon the size of your family, purchase three small, medium or large sized packages of ground meats (lamb, beef, veal, or pork). Prepare your favorite meat loaf recipe as the first meal. For a second meal, make meat loaf sandwiches (hot or cold) and serve with a hot soup or salad and fresh fruit. For a third meal, break up the leftover meat loaf into small pieces and make sloppy joes to serve over hamburger buns. Or, combine with a small amount of spaghetti sauce you can make yourself. My own dry mix recipe on this blog is HERE. Serve over spaghetti noodles with garlic bread (made from hot dog rolls spread with butter and garlic powder baked under the broiler) and fresh fruit.

Did you notice that I suggested that you make your own spaghetti sauce and that you serve fresh fruit with a meal two times in the last paragraph? You should make your own seasoning sauces and mixes. Purchase only fresh fruit and vegetables during their peak seasons, as their cost will be lower during those months. You could also plant fruit and nut trees in your yard. Don't let empty yard space go to waste. This will be a topic for another blog in the future.

I plan to post more blog entries with suggestions for saving on food costs. In the meantime, I urge you to learn to cook meals from scratch. If you do not own an older cookbook, say from the 1940's, or earlier, find one. Sell your other cookbooks and with the bit of extra money, start buying extra food staples (such as flour, sugar, rice and beans) and set aside space to store them in a spare inside wall closet or small room off your kitchen that can be kept dark, cool and dry. More on that in another blog post.

If you have the time, a visit to the cooking series $10 Meals with Melissa d’Arabian" of the Food Network channel is very enlightening.

And, why not forage for nature's bounty in your area. For a starter, check out Steve Brill's site to educate yourself on foraging for food in your part of the country.

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