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Saving Money on Meals

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A paper bag of groceries.

Food is a constant weekly expense for all families. There are ways to cut costs with smart shopping techniques, frugal meal ideas, using leftovers, and more. This is a guide for saving money on meals.


Solutions: Saving Money on Meals

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Article: My Frugal Life: Saving Made Easy

A pulled pork sandwichSince being a mother, I have found that there are so many ways to save. One of my favorite is by never wasting food. I love to reuse my left overs but in different ways. Even though we are having the same food it is different. Here are a couple examples:

Make a roast one night. The next you could either make pulled pork out of the left overs or even lasagna. You save by not having to spend so much in meats and you always make sure that your left overs are used.

By Teresa L S. from Campbellsville, KY

Tip: Add Ramen To Prepackaged Meals

I really like some of the prepackaged meal kits. I like to use them when I am in a hurry or just don't want to do a lot of cooking. The portions are too small for families, so just cook up several packages of ramen noodles and add them to the prepared prepackaged meals. This is a great way to stretch the meal kits and it is so cheap to add the ramen noodles. Easy and so good. Enjoy!

By dwedenoja

Tip: Three Meals in One

I have purchased chicken at the deli, it is usually a whole one roasted on the spit. Our first meal is to eat the roasted meat. Then I cut the meat from the bone, and use it in two other meals: one is a chicken pot pie and another is a stir fry. I feel that I get my money's worth and there is nothing, but bone left to go into the garbage.

By Denise from Tuscola, IL

Tip: One Chicken for Three Meals

We are a family of three. I like to buy a nice whole chicken (roaster or fryer, no matter) and then use as follows:

  1. Rinse it off, rub with oil and herbs. Stick some garlic in it. Make it tasty! Stick it in the oven in a casserole dish and set the oven to 225 degrees F, about 11:00 a.m. for a 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. meal. This is equal to a crockpot (which is 220 degrees F) but using the oven instead. I get a lot of roast chicken love when I serve this!

  2. Keep the best meat from the roasted chicken, and store in a container or bag in the freezer. Many times, there's plenty enough breast meat for a good casserole or some kind of noodle dish (like Chicken Alfredo). Add a vegetable and you're set!

  3. After separating the meat then I put all the bones with meat/skin on them, along with the copious juices that the roasting chicken releases, in a big pot. You can take it from here; add water, any herbs you like, carrots, onions, celery... anything you like for flavors. Bring to a boil, simmer for an hour or so and then the most tedious part, getting all the bones out. It's a pain but it's SO worth it! Makes the most delicious soup, seriously! Stir some noodles or rice in for more volume. It's basically almost a free meal!

    By Belinda S. [2]

    Tip: Combine Coupons with Ad Pricing

    When planning your grocery shopping trip, use coupons, but also read the ads carefully. General Mills will put on a special with their cereal and cereal bars. It is also spelled out in the store ad which came in the newspaper and was also available in the store as you went in.

    They had the box of 8 bars 2/$5. If you bought 4 boxes, $10 total, you got $4 back at the register. Then, we had $.50 coupons on 2 boxes, which the stores in my area double, so worth $1 each. The coupons were worth $2.

    So, this is how it played out:

    • 4 boxes of cereal bars (8 bars in a box) - $10
    • minus General Mills promotion - $ 4
    • sub total - $ 6
    • 2 $.50 coupons doubled - $ 2
    • paid $1 a box for 4 boxes (32 bars) - $ 4
    This promotion was great for the snack packs we make for the kids who go to Shriner's Hospital for treatment.

    By Betty from Williamston, SC

    Tip: Stock Up With Meat Sales

    I wait on our local Winn Dixie to have their "buy one get one free" sales on meat. This definitely saves our budget a lot of money. By Joyce

    Tip: Saving Money on Meals

    The best way to save money on meals is to plant a garden (even a small one). You control how it is grown, so you also can have higher quality ingredients. Plus, fresh ingredients taste better, look better, and are nutritionally superior to store bought produce! If you use heritage varieties, you can save seed from year to year, so you only have to pay for the seed once!

    Better yet, we raise our own chickens and turkeys as well. We pasture our birds so they live happier, healthier lives and we end up with healthier, leaner meat with more flavor and nicer texture (unlike mushy, confinement-raised chicken and turkey)!

    By zoelle from MA

    Tip: Turkey For Frugal Meals

    It's coming up on Turkey season, and so I'm saving back whatever I can from the grocery budget to get ready. Turkey is great for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but we eat at our daughter's. A whole turkey is a very good way to get poultry into our diets for very little or for free. Lots of grocery stores will give you a free turkey if you buy a certain amount of groceries. Go for the heaviest turkey you can find, because the proportion of meat to bone is much better. Then thaw the bird out and start cutting.

    Breast meat cut about 3/8 inch thick can be pounded between two sheets of wax paper with the flat side of a mallet. Then dip them in milk and flour and gently fry them. Use the pan juices to make gravy. Don't spend hard-earned money on jars of gravy. To the fat and pan juices, stir in 1 tablespoon of flour for each tablespoon of juices and fat. Stir it in well. Add a teaspoon of salt for each tablespoon of flour. Stir like crazy. Pour in three cups of milk and stir and let it bubble for 2-3 minutes. Taste for seasoning. You might like pepper in yours. You could also broil slices of breast. Dip it in a mixture of 6 Tsps. lemon juice, 1 Tsps. paprika and 1 tsp. fine herbs, if you have them. Baste once or twice during broiling.

    The thighs are really nice for roasting. One thigh will make a turkey salad for two or more. Chop roasted meat into small pieces. Do the same with a couple of stalks of celery. You can add mustard, pickles of all kinds, or olives. Pineapple tidbits are nice. Then add mayonnaise or half mayo and half plain yogurt to taste. Serve on a lettuce leaf if you have one handy. The salad is good with cooked, cooled pasta too. Bone out some turkey for stir-fries. Use leftover cooked turkey to make jambalaya.

    I can usually freeze about 20 packages for later meals. It doesn't have to be stuffed and roasted. It can be all kinds of different foods, especially if you freeze it raw instead of cooked. Use it like chicken. Barbecue it, or mix it into chili in place of beef. It cooks quickly and takes on the taste of whatever you fix it with. Now take the bones and bits of meat clinging to them. Put them in a big pan with enough water to cover, a peeled carrot, two stalks of celery and an onion. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon or two of vinegar. Simmer nice and slow for a few hours. When it's cooked down a bit, start tasting to see if it has the rich flavor you want. when it's right, strain out everything but broth. Cook veggies, turkey bits and some pasta or white beans in it for a wonderful, nourishing soup on a wintry day!

    By Coreen from Rupert, ID

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    Here are questions related to Saving Money on Meals.

    Question: Food TV Currently On "Economical" Kick

    For some reason this month FoodTV is doing a lot of recipes that are economical. Even if you don't have cable, go to One recipe I tried and was excellent was Osso Bucco Stoup (thick, but not too thick). I figured it costs about $6.00 for approximately 10 adult servings. It can be found in the show "30 Minute Meals". I know it aired at least on 2/26/05, but other times too, I'm sure. If you don't find it, I'm happy to submit it.

    CJS in Maine


    Most Recent Answer

    By Michael Carter [2]05/11/2005

    Food Network is great! In addition to 30 Minute Meals, there's a new show with.... I believe his name is Dave Lieberman, about great low cost cooking. (cooking on a budget).

    Question: Saving Money on Meals

    When it comes to saving money on groceries, planning makes all the difference! Planning your family's meals can not only save you money, but time and effort as well. Post your ideas for saving money on meals below.


    Most Recent Answer

    By diane szlucha [6]05/03/2011

    We often do a meatless meal at least once a week. We use beans, soups, eggs, and pasta meals. Soups can use a meat broth and lots of filling vegetables to be satisfying and served with a salad and a crusty bread, you will feel very satisfied with this meal. A hearty bean soup, again, I use a powdered meat flavor for the base to make my husband think meat had been used, and the beans and onions and carrots and celery give a filling meal. Tacos, enchilladas, and any type of wrap are good with beans as your base. I love scrambled eggs with lots of chopped up veggies and a lowfat cheese in them.

    You can make omelets, but I find that they are just as well loved as just scrambled eggs with vegetables and cheese. Add a potato patty or some home made home fries with onions and peppers and your meal can be complete. Be creative and see what is acceptable to your family. They may have ideas as well. We even do an omelet pizza, no not a breakfast pizza with eggs; we have no crust. We put many beaten eggs into a well greased pan with anything you would put on a meatless pizza (yep, even tomatoes and broccoli if you so like) we let them cook and start to set up without stirring and then pour on some pizza sauce, sprinkle on cheese and put a top on it all to melt the cheese and warm through the sauce. It's very good. Serve in the frying pan and cut into wedges just like a pizza!