Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Make your money stretch

I'm sure you all have the same problems I have. Its a week before payday and you have to make stuff stretch as far as it will go. So instead of going to the store and putting groceries on my credit card, I try to use what we have and get creative along the way. Over the years its become easier for me to do this.
Ive been telling you for a year now to buy seasonal. Seasonal? Yes, each season stores and farmers are selling what is in season for super low prices. When this happens, I buy and stock up. Currently apples are cheap, potato's, squash and things like that. How can I make my money stretch further? Its easy. You can dehydrate, freeze, or eat it.

Dehydrate-If you do not own one, borrow one. I found mine at a garage sale for $3 a few years ago and it was the best investment. During the summer I dehydrated cherry tomato's, squash of all kinds, carrots, mushrooms, and recently apples. I put them into canning jars and in the darkest part of my pantry so they will last longer. Now if I want a savory soup I simply take a few of each veggie I want, put them into water and boil for 20 minutes. Mmmm yummy. I recently bought 30 lbs of apples for 50 cents per lb. The dehydrator came in very handy for these. Now anytime my kids want something different, they have apple chips that mom made. Or we chop them up and add them to muffin recipe's. When the muffin cooks, it plumps up the apples. If you see a Dehydrator for cheap, snag it while you can.

Freeze-Now this is a love hate thing with me. I have a old fridge with a small freezer. Been looking for a freezer to put in our garage but other things have been coming up so I still have no freezer. Bummer! One day...I can dream though. Until then, I have to constantly remember whats in my small freezer, move things around like Lego's until I can fit everything in there. Frustrating to say the least.
You can get things that are in season and super cheap then simply freeze them. Currently I have peaches(99 cents lb), blackberries(free!), raspberries (99 cents lb), shredded zucchini (free my garden), pumpkin puree(49cents lb), and even fig puree(free). These things freeze very well and can be used in many ways. So saving them is worth it. Forgot to mention the quince jelly I made from a few pounds of quince I received for free. Another great tip, do not ever pass by free food. I would recommend writing the date on some tape on each item. This way you know what needs to be used first. By having all these things in my freezer, I can simply look in the freezer and get creative. Cobblers would be easy for me, pumpkin pie's, shredded zucchini for muffins, or we can make some smoothies.

Eat it. Well what I mean is plan your meals around what is in season. So freeze what you can, dehydrate what you can, then anything else left over that you have no room to store, eat it. So this week its potato's. I bought a 10 pound bag of potato's and completely forgot I also had my potato's from my garden this past summer. So guess what were eating now? Yep, potato everything. Who doesn't love potato's? Soups, mashed potato's, fried potato's, fries, and even shepherds pie. And don't forget about the apples I bought, apples are in each lunch for the kids. They store in your fridge for weeks so apples are always a good buy. So remember to plan your meals around whats in season.

Internet. Internet is your best friend. If you ever have one thing but don't know what make from it, just get on the Internet. My favorite web site is I simply type in what I have (lets say potato) and it will give me a ton of recipe's. I simply check each one out and see if I have what they call for. Super easy! Remember, you don't have to follow each recipe exactly. You can sub or leave out anything you want. Don't like onions? Just leave them out. Have no black beans like they want but have pintos? Just throw those in instead. Get creative!

Store. Remember you can store food anywhere in your home no matter how big or small. Our old house was so tiny that I stored cereal and boxed food under our benches at the dinner table. Get creative and don't forget where you put everything. Lets say you are at the supermarket and they have box's of cereal discounted so low that you simply cannot pass them up. Maybe the package was banged up or they were discontinued the product. No, you really do not need cereal right that second but if you buy it now for that super low price, you save later. So never turn down a good deal. My pantry is well stocked all year. Were not attached to any brand so I save even more this way. My pantry is filled with canned tomato's, tomato soup, flour, cereal, oils, bulk food, all my dehydrated food in jars, jams I made, and any snacks I might have bought on super sale with coupons. One would say its boring (my sister) but not me. My pantry is full and we could live off it for a year. No joke. Just think of yourself as a squirrel gathering food for the winter. lol

Have no meat or little of it? No problem. Currently I have no packaged meat in my home. I have a package of bacon. This needs to last my husband and I for 3 more days. How can I do this? Its so easy.
Bacon idea's
bacon gravy. Who doesn't love gravy? Especially bacon gravy! Make a simple white flour gravy and add some bacon crumbles. Pour over toast and you have sh!t on a shingle as my mom would call it. lol
Baked potato's with bacon crumble
Breakfast muffins. Make a simple muffin and leave out the sugar. Add scrambled eggs and bacon crumbles and bake as usual. Mmmm these are good.
Save the bacon grease and use it later for making meals. This is what my mom would of done. This grease will have a great smokey bacon flavor. Use this instead of olive oil when you make saute veggies over rice. Use bacon grease while making pancakes....mmmmm memories of my childhood come to mind. I can smell the bacon now...

No bacon? Maybe another piece of meat? No problem. All the idea's above can be made with any meat.
No meat at all? Just use beans. If you buy dried beans(I recommend it!) you can make any dish and sub with the beans.

The point of this is simple. If you have no money, don't go to the store and charge anything on your card. You may save money but will pay it later with interest. Use what you have and get creative. Make it your challenge. You will thank me later when you have no credit card bill with added interest on it.

Another great money stretching idea? Check out my blog on Facebook or Twitter!
I have freebies daily as they come in and links to lots of money saving blogs.

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