We’ve all had that moment were we open the produce drawer only to be confronted by a wilted, accusatory vegetable.
“You wanted me! You drove all the way to the store, wandered the aisles for an hour, and selected me to come home with you. Then you just forgot me?!?!!”
“Look, I’m sorry, Celery. I just got busy-”
“Oh, please. You managed to cook the squash and the broccoli! You cook all the time!”
“I know, you’re right. Look, let me make it up to you.”
“I’ll write a blog post all about how to use up celery in your condition, so that no celery ever gets wasted again.”
“….And, I’ll give you a bunch of dialog, so you can yell at me all you want.”
So here we are. As I said, I bought too much celery, only to find it limp and unappealing. What to do?
If the celery is not too bad, just on the cusp of “Oh crap, I better use this up right now”, cut it up for snacks! I’m very fortunate in that I can hand almost any food item to Hubby, say “I made you a snack!” and he’ll eat it up. Much like Joey on Friends when their fridge broke. You can always count on me for current pop-culture references!
When the celery is just a little wilty, cut some of the bottom off, then place it in a glass of water. It’s still a plant, and it will suck up water like a 3rd grader’s science experiment. If any of the leaves are gross, just throw them away, and clean the celery off. You can use the same trick with green onions.
Chop it up and freeze it. You can either cut it up by itself, or with carrots and onions, as I’ve done here. The next time you’re making soup you can just throw your pre-chopped veggies in there, and pat yourself on the back for your frugalness! Go you!
The only way to save money is not to spend it. One way to do that is to eat the food you already have, rather than buying new.
A friend of mine was recently asking how people save money on groceries. Me being the frugal guru I am, I of course had plenty of advice for her. As I’ve mentioned before, a price book can be a huge help with this. Here’s a link to mine, so people with access to HEB grocery stores can probably use this, but everyone else can use it as a template. A price book might seem like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. I generally add a couple items to it each time I go shopping. I didn’t run around the store with paper and pen writing down the unit prices of everything they stock. That would be madness!
- I don’t have to remember prices on everything.
- I can compare different items. For example, brown rice is waaaaay cheaper per pound than quinoa, so can I substitute that in some recipes?
- I can compare within items. How much cheaper are dried beans than canned? Is it worth the extra time required to cook them myself? (Hint: Yes)
- Is that sale item really a deal?
- Is the coupon worth it?
As you can see, I only shop at HEB and Costco. If I happen to find myself in a Target or Sprouts, I’ll glance around, but generally I’ve found that these are the two cheapest places, and they BOTH offer fantastic quality. Don’t forget to always look at the unit price when shopping. Often, the larger package is NOT more cost-effective. I noticed that with frozen corn this week.
If a price book seems too nit-picky to you, or while you’re in the midst of building one, you can use a few guidelines while shopping to reduce your costs:
- Produce for $1 a pound or less.
- Meats for $2 a pound or less (keep in mind if it has bones, you’re getting less meat).
- Only X number of snack items, or they can only cost X per ounce.
- If that thing you use all the time is on sale (For REAL on sale, not like a nickel cheaper) STOCK UP.
- Feel free to make your own rules. Only 1 item that’s not on the grocery list, or only 1 item under $5, or only items with <10 grams of sugar per serving, whatever you’d like.
- Keep an eye out for clearance or sale items you would normally buy anyway, or that will be a cheaper substitute for something you’d normally buy. If goat cheese is on sale for only $8, but you normally would have bought feta and only spent $4, you didn’t save money. You spent twice as much as you could have. However, if it’s on sale for $3, stock up!
Of course, dietary restrictions, personal preferences, and number of family members will all impact your spending. I’m shopping for 2 adults, 1 enormous baby, 3 ungrateful cats, and 1 spoiled corgi, so our bills are not as cheap as I’d like.
Other ways to save money on food:
- Use up what you have. Have a “clean out the fridge” buffet every 2 weeks or so. Maybe you’re eating cucumber slices, strawberry jell-o, and stir fry, but at least it’s getting eaten. Not every meal has to be beautifully plated or instagram-worthy. The important part is that it is getting eaten.
- Shoplift! Nothing’s better than free food! (I’m totally kidding, please don’t
- Use recipes that utilize cheaper ingredients, or substitute them yourself. Raisins are generally cheaper than dried cranberries or blueberries, so can you use them instead?
- Make from scratch when it’s more cost effective. A bag of dried beans is generally cheaper than canned beans, and it only takes water to make them. Look at some of your regular purchases, and consider reverse-engineering them.
Food can be pretty pricey, and it seems to take a lot of work to eat cheaply and healthily. Here’s a free, online cookbook for more ideas, and of course, my blog is chock-full of wonders and amazement. Can’t you just feel it radiating out of your monitor?? Good luck, Happy New Year, and stay frugal!
Happy 2014! I can barely even wrap my head around the fact that it’s not still 2007, but we’ll just pretend time isn’t accelerating past me at an alarmingly increasing rate.
Most people make New Year’s Resolutions each year. I don’t, because I’m already perfect, but I’m here to guide the rest of you on the pathway of Cleverness. Most people have money goals, so I’ll discuss those. Those of you with fitness goals, I can’t help. I don’t go to the gym, I’m just naturally like this.
Here’s a wrap up of my Money Basics series:
I’m sure there will be more to come, as I am constantly looking for ways to save money, and I can’t help but share my thoughts and advice with anyone who will listen. For now, I hope these tools will aid you on your quest.