My first requested post! Oh goodness, where do I begin (there is going to be math, simple math, but math)! So, in the comments on our facebook page I had a request to write a post about the cheap meals I’ve been making lately and how I go about it. Now, a lot of people I know are on a super fixed budget, and if you’re like me, it’s not always cheap to eat super healthy. You may notice that a lot of the dished I post are pasta, rice, or noodle based. This is because those three things are cheap when purchased in bulk. Take for example:
That’s 25 lbs. That’s about .55 cents a pound. Which is fantastic. I’m more than willing to spend $14 on a bag of rice that will last between 3-5 months. It’s cheaper than minute rice, even if you need to put a little extra work into it. A lot of the time, when people make rice, a large portion of it get burned to the bottom. This is where a rice cooker comes into play. It may cost a pretty penny, but it is worth it. Once you wash the rice and the water you are washing with runs clear, less of it is going to burn to the bottom. Lack of that extra starch saves the rice from burning. So, that’s a cool tip, washing rice is important.
Noodles! I love noodles! Mostly ramen noodles. At .20 cents a package, you get 5 meals for a dollar. And then once we jazz it up with other ingredients we’ve purchased, it will only run us about $.85-1.20 depending on what we do. Pasta (not noodles, totally different), is usually on sale. Today there was a great sale, buy six and get them all for .49 cents. So, let’s look at an average shopping trip for the Half Ginger.
So, we show up to the store, coupons and list in hand.
These are two very important things that I forget all the time (and yes, my list is written on the back of my 1-a-Day learn Japanese calendar). Those are deals I wrote down to keep an eye out for. I follow the online ad for my local Smiths, and write down things I could make into other things. Sometimes when I get to the store, a different brand is cheaper, so I will purchase that. Which happened on this trip. Which happens on a lot of trips.
I will always try my best to get a tiny cart, because when I have a tiny cart I buy less.
So, when I get a tiny shopping cart (and the correct google search terms) I will only ever fill the top half of the cart. Keeps things cheaper.
At the beginning of my local market, they have their big sale items in bins. Which I find useful. Usually it’s beans, crackers, gummies, stuff like that. I always take the opportunity to browse. This time, it’s where I found the pasta on sale (6 packages cost me $2.94) flour tortillas (2 for $4, I only purchased one), and some pudding (10 for $10). I didn’t need the pudding, who ever does, but it was 4 cups for $1 and for .25 cents I think it’s worth it. (Not all the time. Just sometimes.)
In produce, they had avocados for 4 for $5. As I had already picked up the tortillas, and I had purchased black beans on a prior shopping trip (.89 cents a can), I figured I could use half of one per some burrito I figured I’d take full advantage of the sale. Since they are smaller tortillas, I can use 1/4 to 1/2 of each avocado for each dish and have some leftover for other meals. Most of the time it’s a quarter, which means I’ll have 16 quarters, when you price it out that’s .31 cents per avocado servings. So far I am under a dollar for 10 meals.
Nothing else in the produce section sparked my interest, and I wasn’t sure how I’d incorporate any other produce into this clever plan (except when I left I thought about tomatoes) and I moved on to the meat section. This is of course after I walked by the bakery to smell the bread.
Meat is always a tricky purchase. Expiration dates, price per unit, and so on. Beef is expensive, but when on sale can be worth it. Pork and chicken are where I usually keep it. Ground pork runs about $1.99 a pound on average where I live, which is awesome, because you can make a lot of meatballs with a pound of pork. Pork steaks go on sale a lot too, so I like to buy them when they do and then freeze them. But also, in the meat department, my favorite thing happens.
See that awesome sticker? That sticker means that the meat is discounted. Some may be wary of this kind of thing, but play your cards right and you can save quite a bit. With the discount of 1.46, that is .18 cents an ounce. Instead of .24 cents an ounce. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but if I divide the 23.2 ounces that I purchased I can make about 5.75 meals with it. So, that’s super peasy!
I also purchased a pack of chicken tenderloins for $5.41. They aren’t the most economic meat, but given their small size, and that I can divide them up into portions and freeze them. Smaller than chicken breasts, not as much work, and just as tasty.
Near the meat department, there is the discounted produce section. This section is great for a few reason. I don’t buy a lot from there, mostly because I don’t use a lot of produce all the time. Mostly because I’m terrible at remembering it. For .99 cents you can get some good deals. Today I saw organic bell peppers, eggplants, turnips, potatoes, just to name a few. It was great. I didn’t pick anything up, like I said, but it’s definitely a good place for bargains.
These are my main two departments that I hit up. For the burrito idea, I grabbed a bag of cheese that was on sale for $3.50 /lb ( the one on my list was tiny and I didn’t want to have to buy six of them). Jumping down the tuna aisle I grabbed 4 cans of Starkist Tuna for $2. I’m not a fan of tuna mac, but it does fill the stomach and I can make a huge batch of it and eat it over time.
I grabbed a loaf of bread on the other side of the store, some sour cream, and a bottle of frank’s red hot. That was not originally something I usually buy, but I used the last of it in the house. Guess what? It was on sale, and I had a coupon. WOO!
Got through the line (after leaving my wallet in the truck again), bags in the truck, drove home, AND BAM, I found this:
DAMN! Maybe next time! But, check out my receipt!