Frugal Day 1: Shop Smart!

I know I said yesterday that I wasn’t going to spend, but I had to if I was going to eat for the next month. It turned out to be a good weekend to shop with one of the bigger grocery chains in my neighbourhood marking non-perishables down to $1-$2-$3. Obviously not all were marked this low, but a good selection which allowed me to stock up at great prices with packed lunches, upcoming events and regular meals in mind.

pantry shelvesAfter a visit to three previously selected stores, with flyers in-hand and still spending less than $100 I feel that I’m set for the month. I’ll still need to buy a weekly batch of fresh produce, but my recommendation if you’re going to shop, shop smart. Don’t feel self conscious with the flyers, just remember that everyone else out early is there for the same reason, deals! And feel free to be proud when you snag one: for instance this morning at 8:50am I got the last 10lb bag of flour marked at $7.88… if that’s not a deal then I don’t know what is!!

I won’t do this everyday, but for today here are some random food tips that I use and plan to use to keep things economical and tasty. Starting with the tip of the day:

1) Buy in bulk and read the flyers! You can’t go wrong in stocking up a little when you can get things on sale and then being creative using what you have until you’re out of stock. If you’re a meal planner and list maker then head out to the stores prepared. (I’m not, but to each our own! I look forward to playing with the new stock of items on my basement shelves.)

2) Look at your dollar store for brand name grocery store products you would be buying anyway. I no longer spend more than $1.25 for packaged rice, various soups and spices. Just be sure to check the expiry date, the turnover may be different here and you want to be sure you’re getting a good product.

3) When you boil vegetables, keep the water you boiled them in. Store it in a tub in the fridge or freezer until you plan to make soup. Nutrients and flavour from the vegetables escape into the water as the veggies cook, making a healthy and easy addition to soup stock.

4) (This is an old one we did when I was a kid. Not sure if it’s still popular?) Once you’re at the end of a jar of pickles, toss in chopped carrots and cauliflower to make your own. Leave it in the fridge for a week before sampling and you’ve just got a second pickled product out of it!

5) Clean out your freezer once or twice a year and be creative with what you find.

6) Make an inventory of current freezer contents for ease of planning and so you don’t waste power with it being open too long.

7) Cook in bulk and freeze the extra for quick and easy reheated meals.

8) Find out what grows in the wild near you. Then spend a day picking (non-toxic mushrooms, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries etc.) There’s nothing wrong with free food!

9) Reuse your tea bag! While black tea and herbal teas are recommended only brewed once, did you know you can re-steep full leaf green tea 3 times; white tea 3 times, and rooibos tea 2 times before the flavour really fades away?

10) Consider going vegan, or having a meatless day of the week. There are lots of other sources of protein, and the chances are good that they are far cheaper than steak or any other carnivorous feast.

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