Anyone who has been to my website knows that I almost had a heart attack when I realized that my family was spending nearly $1000 a month on groceries, eating out, baby formula and hot school lunches. Our goal for 2006 is to cut that amount to $300. (The baby turned a year old in December 2005 and went on whole milk which saved nearly $100 a month right off the bat in baby formula.)
One of the easiest ways to save money on groceries is cut back on meat. One of my readers, Katie Magnan (you can visit her at http://frugalveggiemama.blogspot.com) has given me tons of information about vegetarian cooking. She's a vegan, but even one vegetarian day a week saves money and is good for your cholesterol!
I've found that cutting back on meat has significantly cut our food bill. And without a lot of hassle. I cook about half as much meat for a meal as I used to. Meat makes a wonderful condiment, just a taste of it in a rice or pasta dish can be satisfying.
Some of my family's favorite vegetarian meals include beans and rice, beans and cornbread, pasta with marinara sauce, and homemade cheese-less pizza.
Here's our very favorite red beans and rice recipe:
Red Beans and Rice
Brown the bacon in a large skillet. Leave the crumbled bacon and about 2 T fat in the pan. Add one can of beans and heat through. Use a potato masher on the beans until they are broken up. Add the second can of beans, water, sugar and spices. Heat through.
Mix the cooked rice with butter and spices.
To serve put beans in the bottom of a bowl and top with rice.
This is also good using bacon as a condiment, just 1/4 pound crumbled is enough for the whole batch.
The biggest money-saver when it comes to meat that I've found is buying in bulk, but only cooking exactly what my family should eat in one sitting. This keeps my teenagers from eating more high-fat protein than they need, just because it's there. (Instead, they can eat all the salad, rice, potatoes and other vegetables that they want.) They get the protein they need, just not all that they can eat!
$1000/month??! How many kids do you have?
I have two teen boys, and we have meat/dairy daily, but I average $500/month. That includes non-food items, like soaps and toiletries. And I don't "coupon", except for CostCo's (which usually are either significant $ off or "2 for 1" types).
I could probably knock another $75-100 off if I had to, by not getting snack items (mostly for school lunches) and some of the "semi-convienience" type products like frozen meatballs, and not get their favorite cereals or ready to drink juices, but then I would have less time to do other things needing to be done and have to "fight" with hubby and the boys over the resulting menus....
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