Thursday, May 10, 2012

Save money! Buy Cheetos!

This is a continuation of a long thought process that has been brewing for a couple of weeks.  Part 1 was all about how to have the right philosophy of spending when it comes to food.  Part 2 was all about how I save money by carefully choosing where I shop and Part 3 is all about how to save money by how you eat. 

We buy a lot of food in bulk in our house.  I simply cannot keep enough ingredients on hand in my pantry if I have 20 cans of black beans for a single family meal so I keep 1lb bags of black beans, soak them overnight and can feed 8 of us (with left overs!).  An organic 16oz package usually costs well under $2.

For dinner we usually have
- a starch/carbohydrate
- a protein
- a healthy fat (FYI healthy fat is good for you BTW)
- fruit / vegetable

We drink nothing but water - usually and at the rate we go through milk we use it ONLY for cereal and/or recipes - never for drinking.

By keeping 10lbs of brown rice on hand along with bulk quinoa (which is gross, don't eat it unless you must), GF pasta, cornmeal for corn bread and organic potatoes we try to cycle through several grains and starches for diversity.  By  buying organic grains in their ingredient state instead of a processed/prepared state they are still pretty cheap.  I also buy a variety of GF flours and mix them myself so I can do traditional baking when we have dinner pancakes and other things requiring flour.  (Commercial GF mixes are mega expensive and very sparse on nutrition.)  If I had a grain mill I would use it and save even more.

A serving size of protein for an adult is equivalent to the palm of your hand for a female and two hands for a male.  We buy whole chicken, frozen chicken tenders, frozen chicken breast, ground turkey, and ground beef.  If a recipe calls for any other kind of meat I'm kind of lost though I can make a decent pot roast and pork ribs and the occasional brisket or ham.  I wish I was more diverse here.

Fat is good for you.  You need it.  Read about it here if you don't believe me or do your own research.  We use oils in cooking, nuts, avocado, flax seed meal to fulfill this need.

Fruit / veggies:
We buy local organic from Rutiz Farms in A.G. and non-local bulk organic veggies from Costco.  For the most part I only buy organic if it means the difference of a couple of bucks per pound.  If it is on the dirty dozen list and I can't afford to buy the organic equivalent I don't buy it very often.

To make things fancy I keep a well stocked spice cabinet and to keep us out of a rut I try to get cookbooks and magazines from the library when I run out of ideas.  I'm too ADHD when I search online - I lose my train of thought or go out and buy all the ingredients but forget where I found the recipe.
But one thing that I just found that promises to help out a lot is Ziplist.  You can menu plan and build a shopping list from hundreds of different online recipe sources and use the smartphone app when you shop to make sure you get everything.

So what does cheetos have to do with anything?  Despite hours of online searching I can find nothing that is a practical shape and size for keeping our bulk dry goods in.  My kids love me for it.


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