Tips to stretch a dollar.

Jem

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I'm sure I don't need to give reasons...we all know that many places are facing incredible inflation, cost of goods/food/services have skyrocketed. And not to mention that there are shortages in many stores, so some things can be difficult to find.

So I thought I would start a thread so we can all share tips and ideas on how to stretch a dollar. What foods freeze well and how do you make use of usually discarded scraps. How can you reuse a certain product. Post your recipes that use not so pretty or too ripe produce. How do you make your home more efficient? How does everyone save/not waste money on everyday essentials?

The biggest thing I do is not buy anything unless it's on sale and I base my dinners for the week on those sales. I used to coupon but it's hard to do here...we just don't get good coupons often.

I head straight for the "50% off rack" everywhere I go first...

I also buy in large quantities if something is on for a good sale...This is where I wouldn't mind some advice on what fresh items freeze well...or don't.

We don't get coffee/tea at coffee shops as much anymore and make it at home.

I don't buy bottled water anymore, I just refill my reusable bottle.

I limit how much paper towel I use and use rags for most things.

I'll stop here for now...
 

denice

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I have cut back on meat. I have never eaten a lot of meat but have cut back even more. I have several meatless days a week. For the meat that I do eat I have gone back to that old trick from years ago and use it in casseroles. I have heard that is the reason for casseroles, people used to have larger families to feed and needed to stretch meat, so they came up with casseroles. I don't mind leftovers one bit and will eat the same thing several days in a row, so a casserole is not a problem for me. If it freezes well, I will cut it up into individual portions and freeze.
 
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Jem

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Yeah, I make casseroles often too. And I love leftovers as well. I purposefully plan meals so I have leftovers or can use a certain part of the meal a different way for a meal during the week. Like using the left over bits from a roasted chicken to make a chicken cesar salad or wraps. And if I have the time...although I should MAKE the time more often. I boil down the carcass to make stock and freeze it for later use.
 

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Meal planning is a big thing. Far too easy to fall back on convenience foods or takeout if you don't know what you're making.

Also, if you live alone, or with only one other person, don't buy in bulk if it's something that doesn't freeze well. Sure, you might get 5 times as much for twice the price of the little pack, and it might be a heck of a deal, but you aren't going to use that much, and it still costs twice as much! So unless you have a friend to split it with, don't fall for the false economy.

Sandwiches are a nice inexpensive work lunch, and you can put all kinds of crazy stuff in there.
 
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catapault

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Look for books that discuss planning for leftovers. My daughter used to have one meal a week for her and the girls called "The Week in Review"

St Patrick's Day is coming up in March. Stores always put cabbage on sale. Cabbage holds well in the refrigerator. It can be used for coleslaw, make a quick pickle with a little salt, a little sugar, and vinegar. Braised cabbage. Stuffed cabbage - and yes, you can freeze stuffed cabbage.

A baked potato served with several options for toppings - shredded cheese, a spoonful of chili - you get the idea.

A can of tuna fish can be tuna salad, tuna macaroni salad, there's even a recipe (found on the NYTimes of all places) for a hot tuna and pasta dish.

A hot sandwich toasted in a toaster oven seems like "more" than just a sandwich.

Soup and a sandwich can be lunch or dinner.

Canned black beans (drained and rinsed) with a can of corn (drained) are complementary amino acids that make a complete protein. Can be cold for a side dish "salad" maybe enhanced with a little diced red pepper and onion. Or hot as a side dish with chili.

When whole chicken is on sale learn to cut up, freeze some uncooked, use for different meals. Two wings, 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, two breasts, and yes, make stock from the carcass.
 

denice

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I cut my cable back to the cheapest plan. I looked into streaming services but the ones that have some life cable channels were not much cheaper than the basic cable plan. That is especially true since I get a $10 discount on my internet because I also have TV. I still find myself going to a channel and I don't have that channel anymore.
 
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Jem

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When whole chicken is on sale learn to cut up, freeze some uncooked, use for different meals. Two wings, 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, two breasts, and yes, make stock from the carcass.
I've tried a few times....I need more practice. :lol:
 

catapault

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If there is a small grocery store, something like the IGA near me, ask the butcher when is a slow time and could he show you how to do it.

Update: Here is a nice video with Melissa Clark of the NY Times on how to cut up a chicken:
 
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Willowy

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Bone-in thighs are super cheap so I've never bothered with a whole chicken :lol: . Unless I get a rotisserie chicken.
 

Neko-chan's mama

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Whole chickens are often cheaper than buying pieces. Chicken is easy to repurpose. Soup, open face sandwiches with gravy and cheese grilled under the broiler for a few minutes, in rice or pasta with veggies and spices, soft tacos with beans, cheese and veggies. Most soups and stews freeze well. If there are ethnic stores, check them out. The Indian and Korean markets near me have big bags of rice, beans and lentils for a great price and all them store well and last a long time because they're dried foods. Make your own spice blends. But whole spices (again cheaper at ethnic stores) and grind them yourself in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder. Do all your cooking over the weekend. If you get home and just have to reheat something and steam some veggies to go along with it, you're less likely to order take out.
 

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Giant just had chicken thighs and legs for .99 a pound. I bought a tray of each, took them home, and did the food saver thing. They're in the freezer in groups of 4 for legs, 2 for thighs.

I still use coupons, when I can find them. While I do look at B1G1F sales in the store, I also try to keep in mind how much something costs when it's not on sale. A lot of times the store will have peanut butter, for example, "on sale" for 2 for $4. But it's normally $1.99 a jar. You're not saving anything!

When I do a whole chicken, it's with the understanding that I will get at least 3 meals out of the thing. Roast chicken first, followed by deboning and chicken pie or chicken pot pie. Followed by chicken corn soup or chicken noodle soup. Chicken and waffles are wonderful in the winter. The carcass is always simmered for broth/stock. It's the law. Broth gets tossed in the fridge for the fat to rise, defatted, then thrown in the freezer.

Same with a beef roast. Depending on the type of roast, I'll divide it, either roast it, put it in the crock pot, or throw it in the NFG. Then it's hot roast beef sandwiches. Or a quick stir-fry. Sometimes a quick pot pie. Or beef wraps. Cornish pasties. Pork roast is treated the same way. I always buy a large pork loin and cut it into three sections, sometimes four. It's cheaper in the long run. And each section will give us at least two meals, sometimes three, depending on how I prepare it. It's just the two of us. We don't need that much meat.

Leftovers. Lord, I am so lucky that Rick loves leftovers! He loves breakfast for dinner.

Try to get a freezer, even a small freezer. It will pay for itself. You can take advantage of sales for all kinds of stuff. Find a second-hand freezer from a place you trust. (And yes, I know that, sometimes, that's easier said than done.) We bought our first freezer; when my parents passed away, we took their freezer as our second freezer.)

Have a bit of land? Plant a small garden. Our freezer is full of onions, peppers, tomato products, butternut squash, corn, green beans, wax beans, lima beans. We have a box of sweet potatoes in the basement that I'm using. I already used the white potatoes and we're going to plant a larger quantity of white potatoes this summer.

I'm retired, so I have time to bake bread, English muffins, hamburger buns, and bagels. We always have rolls and such in the freezer. It all helps with the budget. Cookies are always baked, with the exception of Oreos; Rick must have a package of Oreos every other month or so.

Since we retired, we started going for groceries once a month and we have found that, once a month, we actually save money. We used to spend $80 to $100 a week on groceries before COVID. Once a month, we spend about $300, after COVID and prices are a lot higher, and that has to see us through for the month. I keep powdered milk on hand for baking and cooking, we freeze milk, and I have evaporated milk in the pantry in the basement. But we also have the room, so it works out.

I'm still trying to talk Dear Richard into cutting the cable cord; it's not working, so I've given up for now. I think we could save about $75 monthly. He doesn't care. We don't get print newspapers; I read our local paper online.

I apologize for the chapter. But these are things that have really helped me stay within my budget.
 
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Jem

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I keep powdered milk on hand for baking and cooking,
Never would have thought of that! I'm going to look into it.

How well do peppers and onions do thawed? I'm assuming they can only be used in things where it's ok if they are a bit mushy...
 

Winchester

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Kat0121 Kat0121 He's being stubborn! He could go with YouTube and have most of the sports he wants. I think YouTube even carries the BigTen. And our local news. I'm letting it go; if he doesn't care, I don't. It's like talking to a wall.

Jem Jem I have actually used chopped peppers in a salad and no one knew. I do try to thaw them a bit and wipe them well with a paper towel. Frozen onions are good in pretty much any cooked dish you're adding them to anyway.

I always have a package of powdered milk on hand. I try to use Carnation though, not a store brand, although I'm sure a store brand would be OK. I bake a lot of bread and when the recipe calls for milk, I'll add the requisite water to the dough, along with the powdered milk that I need. It works out. My MIL taught me that.
 

denice

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One of the ones that I looked at was Hula plus Live TV and it $64.99, I forget the other one that I looked at, but it was almost $70 a month. I would need to add $10 because I would lose the discount I get on internet because I have a TV package. I really wouldn't save much if anything with streaming.
 

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I have streaming through Amazon Prime. I also have Discovery +, Hulu and Britbox. That's it. I had Showtime and HBO Max but cancelled them both.
 

susanm9006

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Shop the dollar store regularly. Lots of useful household items, like a pack of four 60 watt LED bulbs, and same snack selection as grocery except in smaller packages. I even buy all my reading glasses there so I can have a dozen pair to scatter and not feel bad when I break them. And also shop thrift stores of course. Not that you want to buy everything used, but you might find what you need in next to new condition.

I would also suggest buying a vacuum sealer which lets you seal items for your freezer so there is no freezer burn. I vacuum seal all my meat, which I only buy when it’s on sale, into individual serving portions so I don’t waste.
 

debbila

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I'm still trying to talk Dear Richard into cutting the cable cord; it's not working, so I've given up for now. I think we could save about $75 monthly. He doesn't care. We don't get print newspapers; I read our local paper online
I downloaded Netflix, got the best resoution for $19;99 a month. It has everything, t.v. shows, movies, news etc.
 

Winchester

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And also shop thrift stores of course. Not that you want to buy everything used, but you might find what you need in next to new condition.

I would also suggest buying a vacuum sealer which lets you seal items for your freezer so there is no freezer burn. I vacuum seal all my meat, which I only buy when it’s on sale, into individual serving portions so I don’t waste.
Bob (co-worker and friend with a cat) went to our local thrift store the other day and walked away with a Le Creuset grill pan for $28! Glassware, bowls, etc. are good buys at thrift stores sometimes. As well as some holiday stuff.
We have a food saver; we got it at QVC many moons ago. It gets used hard, esp during harvest time with our garden. I buy the bags either at Target or, sometimes, at Amazon, if I can find a good deal.
 

susanm9006

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Bob (co-worker and friend with a cat) went to our local thrift store the other day and walked away with a Le Creuset grill pan for $28! Glassware, bowls, etc. are good buys at thrift stores sometimes. As well as some holiday stuff.
We have a food saver; we got it at QVC many moons ago. It gets used hard, esp during harvest time with our garden. I buy the bags either at Target or, sometimes, at Amazon, if I can find a good deal.
During the 2020 COVID lockdown I bought a bought bags for the food saver off of EBay. Big quantity for a great price and the bags worked great.
 
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