Lord knows these days we can use all the help we can get to stretch our dollar (gas here is hovering just below the $4/gallon mark, grocery prices are skyrocketing, new clothes seem more of a luxury than ever).
Here are some of the penny-pinching strategies my Mom taught me:
1. Eat seasonally. If you can’t grow your own veggies, visit your local Farmer’s Market or other farm-to-you food source Cut out the middle-man any time you can. We frequent two local Farmer's Markets here in town (one on Sunday mornings, one on Wednesday morning) and there is a great truck farm we go to on Saturdays where they pick the corn in the morning and bring it from the field to the produce stand, all within your eyesight. Now that is fresh!
2. Cook once, eat twice. If you’re making chili, make a double batch and freeze some in individual containers for a quick lunch later on. Ditto for soups, stews, etc. Two (or more meals) and only one cleanup!
3. Waste not, want not. We save everything! If we have a roasted chicken for dinner, the carcass goes into the crockpot along with your usual suspects — carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic. In the morning strain and freeze in one cup freezer containers. The next time your recipe calls for a cup of chicken broth, run to your freezer where it’s free (and so much better than canned!). We use it to cook rice in, instead of water. Great soup base of course. Too many ripe tomatoes (come on, that’s like being too rich or too thin!)—core, cut them in half, place cut side up in a large pan. Drizzle with EVVO. What else do you have in the garden or pantry? Sliced onions, diced peppers, summer squash, garlic. Season to taste with salt, pepper and herbs (we swear by Pampered Chef Italian Seasoning.) Roast uncovered at 400 for about 45 minutes. We like it tossed with pasta, or my personal favorite, as a topping for toasted french bread slices.
4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We don't buy individual bags of chips or other snacks. Buy the large economy size and bag them yourself. You still get the advantage of portion control without the added expense. Or better yet, use reusable plastic containers that you can wash and reuse. Pass clothing down from one child to another, or one family to another. Take advantage of websites such as Freecycle or Craig's List. Frequent yard sales. You paid good money for those cans and bottles at the store, recoup that money by recycling them!