Monday, September 26, 2011

Rollin' in the Dough (The Green Kind)

I don't know about you, but I kinda like money.  Wait, never mind, I do know about you -- you like it, too.  Now, before you get me wrong, I am not saying I am in love with it or need it for my happiness, but we must admit that the world we live in does run off it.  And being a member of the human race, particularly of the American species, I need money to survive.  I work so dang hard for it -- as do you -- and I just don't like the idea of throwing it away. 

When I talk to people about how much I try to spend on groceries each month a lot of people are blown away.  "Can you actually do that?" someone asked me this summer.  Another person, at another time, said, "But you don't get anything good, do you?"  Yes, and yes!  Yes, I can do that, and yes, it is good stuff.  Tasty stuff.  Fun stuff.  Just smart stuff.  This week I was asked by someone to share "my secret".  Well, I don't really have a secret; I am still learning and improving.  And if there was a secret, there wouldn't be just one of them.  I put some thought into it this week about what I do, and I came up with five ways I am able to spend a little but still  get a lot.  So, without further ado, here they are -- Tiffany's Tips to Saving Your Dough:
I know a lot of people don't/won't like this one.  Some are adamant that making a list makes you spend more because I guess... well... I don't know.  For me I find the exact opposite.  I make my list, plan it around things I already have on hand, and then buy ONLY WHAT IS ON MY LIST .  Yes, you read that correctly.  No impulse buys.  But that's OK, because I make sure to have things like Joe-Joe's (think Oreo's) on the list.  Or ice cream.  However, it is on the list.  As for the meals I plan each week, they go along with what is in my kitchen.  Have a half used jar of pasta sauce?  Better get some pasta.  Have some celery sitting in the bottom of fridge next to carrots?  Vegetable soup with dumplings it is.  The list, then, isn't too long, but just the things I am lacking.

What do I mean by shopping smart?  For me it is mostly Trader Joe's.  Lots of people look at it and think it is pricey, but I have been a price-tag-checker for quite some time, and for most things, a trip to TJ's will save you cash.  But it doesn't have to look like that -- it could be stocking up on commonly used items while they are on sale OR (and this is a big one) not buying things just because they are on sale.  (Seriously, just because that stuff that you never needed before is $1 off, you still don't need it.  I promise.)  Price check, guys.  Realize you have options, and go for them. 

I am not a vegetarian.  I was for several years, but I like meat too much.  And my husband?  Yeah, he is vegetarian -- from midnight until 6am!  But just because we eat meat doesn't mean we eat it every night.  We have this sort of plan worked out: Fish-ish meal once a week (salmon or tuna, it matters not), chicken or turkey once, red meat once, maybe a dish with sausage or bacon (usually chicken/turkey again), and then the rest are usually centered around other proteins.  Beans and nuts and mushrooms are great sources of protein, plus they taste great and are easy on the wallet.  Meat costs a lot of money.  Cutting back on it a bit saves some of that money. 

This is huge!  Leftovers = easy lunches and weekend meals.  We are a small family of two, but I cook for four.  You know how it goes, most of the time doubling a recipe doesn't cost twice as much, but a fraction of the price.  So I cook like there are four of us, and we automatically have lunch the next day or something to eat on Sunday night when I am too lazy/tired to cook. 

And last, but not least...
Yup, you heard me.  Except for our Joe-Joe's and the occasional carton of ice cream, we don't buy packaged food.  What am I talking about?  Chips, crackers, fruit snacks, etc.  I like 'em, but I don't need 'em.  And I am sure you could say the same.  When I want a salty snack I make toast with garlic salt; when I want something sweet I have a banana with peanut butter.  Not only does it save me money, but it saves me grief at the gym.  It's a win-win if you ask me.

So there you have it.  It may not be a perfect list, but it works for me.  I eat well, and still have money left over at the end of the month to live well, too.  All in all, I like it.

Have anything you would like to add to the list?


  1. Great post, Tiffany! I think you covered all the essentials. Meal planning, even loosely done, is so important. I've learned to check my ref and pantry to see what we already have, otherwise so much food can go to waste! We're not big ice cream people, but our essential packaged item is chips since the hubby is definitely a chips and salsa guy. They have some great whole grain kinds, which are even better on sale. :)

  2. These are really good tips! One of my friends sent me an article from a woman who cooks a lot of freezer-friendly meals. I realized that these kinds of meals are a good way to use up ingredients that are going to go bad soon, to save leftovers (esp. things like soups and sauces), and to have food ready for nights that you're too lazy to cook and tempted to eat out. I wouldn't want ALL of my meals to be frozen beforehand, but I think there are a few benefits.


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