Thursday, June 3, 2010

ladies who lunch?

I am calling on all you ladies who lunch, breakfast, dinner, snack, etc. We are having a bit of a food spending crisis. This year we have really been watching the Smith budget, because when we don't, trouble comes a calling :)

Okay, not trouble exactly, but when I think about what I used to spend money on? Ay yay yay. Bad news. Anyway, one thing I always want to cut back on is food spending. I have a bad habit of not planning meals in advance and running to the grocery a few times a week. It adds up. So does all of the eating out we do in these damn charming city restaurants, not to mention the food we end up throwing away.

So, I am asking you what you do. How do you plan? What are your go-to meals and ingredients? How do you force yourself to use what you have but not go crazy by eating a soon to expire jar of pasta sauce on orzo? Has anyone tried a meal planning service like eMeals or something like the Dinner Affair?

Leave a comment and I will randomly choose a winner. I have the CUTEST foodie prize to give away.


Jess said...

I try really hard to put it in the freezer within 3-4 days of buying it. This helps avoid the waste. However, after a year of doing this, we ended up with a freezer that would barely close, so May was "Freezer Challenge" month, and we had to take one thing out of the freezer every day. We made it 28/31 days. You can freeze almost anything, including that opened sauce. I also will take whatever ingredient I need to use up, and just pick the easiest recipe that "" provides. Paula Deen has never steered me wrong.

Also, no joke, clipping coupons, or printing them online can save a few hundred dollars a year.

Courtney said...

Since we've moved into a city, I've had to be super organized with this stuff because I don't like to drive, which means grocery trips need to be planned out well.

But, it also can't be an overly time consuming process. I have this pad of paper and we try to plan out a week or two. There is also a meal planning one, as well. I do my shopping list on the back of the page for the things that we just go through (yougurt, crackers, etc...mostly stuff for B).

Shop your farmer's markets, because the produce is fresh, and will last a LOT longer than anything that you. I have some sweet potatoes that are from mother's day, and still fresh and edible. Plus, you're supporting local business, which is awesome.

I like to have quick things on hand for the nights when we'd throw our hands up and go out to eat.

We definitely eat out/get take out too much, as we adjust to bizarre schedules, but if you pick one (or two...whatever your needs are) night that is your go out night (we spend WAY too much on weekend brunches. I love the art of brunching...), and try to stick with that. I have a friend that, quite literally, has cash for going out. She has to make it stretch...and part of the fun is choosing if you want one nicer meal, or a couple of cafe-dinners.

Babbling, but you can see big savings with small tweaks.

Oh, and we've been slackers for the last couple of weeks, since we were both traveling over the weekend, but Andrew ALWAYS packs a lunch, and we usually cook extras so that it's easy for him to do so.

Good luck!

Courtney said...

Oh, and the epicurious (free!) iPhone app is amazing for finding new recipes. It lets you save them to favorites, share them, and will add the ingredients to a shopping list that you can email to the hubs as he's coming home from work.

JuneBug said...

i am also very bad at meal planning. i go thru phases where i do well but for the most part we make it up as we go. usually trips to the store 2x a week. with the kids i try to make meals that will last 2-3 days so i don't have to cook as often. keith is a throw everything together make do with what you got kind of eater so i don't have to worry about him being picky. if i liked beans more we'd do more beans and rice type dishes. soups are a great cost cutter and make do type meal. whatever leftover veggies you've got - cut them all up and throw them in a pot with some chicken stock (oh yea, roasted chicken is a good one too - then you can make about 3 Qts of stock!). soup is great with just a little bread and cheese. good easy recipes are key - so sometimes I'll take an hour on sunday and go thru a few cook books or magazines and choose 2 new recipes to try that week and usually that gets us through 4 days and then eggs or spaghetti the last day of the week(days).

one thing i notice... i don't love leftovers so if i stagger meal items it works best for instance:

Sunday veggie Chili with Chips and

Monday leftover Chili with new cornbread

Tues Pan fried chicken with leftover cornbread and broccoli

Wed Leftover chicken and brocc with rice

Thursday veggie fried rice using all leftover rice chicken brocc and whatever other veggies.

Friday make do with what you got

Watching Food network for a couple days in a row always inspires me too!

emr said...

i have to agree with the coupons - living on unemployment forever equaled learning how to save wherever humanly possible without going crazy, and knowing that i was saving 12 dollars or more on my groceries definitely made me feel like less of a hobo.

i think one plus is buying items that can be used multiple ways so you can avoid food ruts. rice, different kinds of vegetables, buying proteins when they're on sale and freezing them for use later - all things that helped. plus i just had this driving urge to never waste anything, so sometimes weird combos would get experimented with in my kitchen.

Along the Ausable said...

Buy the weekend paper for some coupons, but be careful not to use it if it's something you wouldn't normally buy just because you can save 50 cents. I like looking through the grocery store flier for deals and jot down sale items I like or buy frequently and start making a list. When I see chicken breasts are on sale... that's what we'll have for dinner one night and then leftovers for lunch.

Like June, I try out magazine recipes. I have so many magazines, I make myself try out 1 or 2 recipes from each one before I put them into the recycling bin.

For grocery shopping, I make a list with all our basics and come up with about 5 meals and there's always a frozen pizza and frozen ravioli in the list. I do love my carbs. I prefer doing a big shop after work for the week so I'm not wasting time on my day off.

Always eat breakfast at home before work. English muffins with peanut butter, cereal, oatmeal, etc.

Bring your lunch and snacks to work! I usually have the same things and surprisingly don't get bored. Here's a sampling: part-skim cheese sticks, raisins, apples, bananas, yogurt, granola bar, pretzels, last nights leftovers.

Good luck! Keep us posted.

eyeheartorange said...

These are such great, detailed ideas! Loving it, thanks!

L said...

I'm just starting to try to plan ahead, but for now I mostly rely on a set of go-to recipes that always work, are quick, and only require cheap staples. A pasta dish with goat cheese, olives, arugula, tomatoes, garlic; a thai chicken recipe; marinated seared tofu and baby bok choy.

I've also successfully started growing potted herbs (the AeroGarden is in the closet for the summer). You can drop $2.99 on a bunch of basil around here, so being able to grow our own herbs really does add up. Plus, now I can go look for some cute flower pots -- I do realize that negates the whole money-saving element. Ah well.