What to Cook for Dinner?
Saving money doesn’t have to be complicated or hard. It can be as easy as changing the way you shop and what you shop for. I know even with my grocery shopping, I could make some changes to save us even more money. Sometimes I purchase convenience foods, but when you really think about it, those items really can cost quite a bit more.
There’s nothing wrong with getting a little help from the store in the form of convenience foods. This is really true when you choose a convenience food over going out. But to save even more money, making your own convenience food or substituting a less expensive food is a good way to go.
We go through quite a few chips at our house. My husband takes tortilla chips in his lunch every workday. My kids like to have potato chips at lunch with their sandwiches. While having chips on hand makes getting lunches done much easier, when I stop to think about the cost per pound it really makes me feel a little ill.
Price Per Pound on Convenience Foods
I can purchase a 10 pound bag of potatoes for the regular price $2.48. That works out to about $.25 a pound. Not too bad at all. Now consider the price of potato chips. A bag of chips on sale is usually around $1.78 and that’s for 10 ounces of chips. Which works out to be $2.84 per pound! That’s quite a bit for potatoes with a little oil.
I have made my own potato chips before. They were a lot less greasy and tasted really good. I was able to take two potatoes and make enough chips for my kids and myself to go with our sandwiches for lunch. It took me more time than opening a bag of chips, but I think they were much healthier for us too.
Another item I purchase that I could save quite a bit on would be lunchmeat. I can usually get a 9 ounce package of lunchmeat for around $2 either with a sale or coupons. That works out to be $3.55 per pound. I can usually purchase chicken or ground beef for $2 per pound. If I take the time to make my own lunchmeat I can end up cutting the cost almost in half over the lunchmeat.
Make Your Own Convenience Foods
Just a few weeks ago I wrote about how I make my own granola to save over the store-bought granola. My frugal granola recipe only cost $.18 per serving or just a little over $3 for 18 cups. When you compare that to a 12-15 ounce box at $2 or more it’s easy to see you can save by making your own granola.
I also make my own granola bars or granola bites instead of purchasing granola bars. I usually will only purchase granola bars at $1 a box or less. I can usually find this price at the discount grocery store or by using coupons with a sale. So I don’t save as much by making my own but my family really likes the homemade granola bars over the store-bought. Not to mention the homemade ones don’t have the added ingredients I can’t pronounce.
Freezer Cooking Can Help
If you want to cut down on the amount of convenience foods, you use you might try doing freezer cooking. By having a few items in the freezer, for those busy days when you just don’t have time to cook, can be a real lifesaver and help you cut down on convenience food.
You don’t have to cook all day to have a freezer stocked with ready to heat and eat meals. It can be as easy as making two batches of what you are eating this week and tucking it away for a busy day.
Batch Freezer Cooking
I like to batch cook to stock my freezer. If I’m going to brown a pound of hamburger, I might as well do five pounds and put the extra into the freezer. When I make meatballs I make sure to make extra and portion them into meal sized packages. So when we are ready to use them, it’s as easy as heat and eat.
I will also buy and process 20-40 pounds of chicken breasts at a time for the freezer. I make them into meal packages. Which is basically the chicken cut up and put into a marinade or sprinkled with seasoning, so it’s ready to cook after I thaw them. You can see my freezer cooking recipes to get an idea of what I make for my freezer.
I have a long way to go to eliminate all the convenience foods for our diet, but little by little each year, I have been able to successfully reduce the amount we use, which in turn helps to save us money. The next item I want to try to stop purchasing and start making on a regular basis is cookies.
What convenience foods do you usually purchase? Do you have a homemade alternative to try?