Stretching Your Grocery Dollars

by Tammy Taylor

Everyone is looking for ways to stretch their grocery budget these days.  There are numerous ways to do this including using coupons to reduce prices of the things you purchase, buying generic products, etc.  But today I’m going to talk about using the food you already have in your home.  One of the main ways I save money on grocery expenditures is the cook-once-eat-twicemethod of cooking.  Basically you cook an abundance of one item and freeze it for future meals.  Let’s take meatloaf for instance.

Being Mindful In The Kitchen, You Can Stretch Your Grocery Budget. #TaylorMadeHomestead

We love meatloaf and enjoy it often, but I never fire up the oven for just one meatloaf.  I typically make 3-4 meatloaves at a time, we enjoy meatloaf for supper that night and the rest is divided into supper-time serving sizes and frozen for future meals.  A quick homemade meal is as close as my fridge.  Other than using the meatloaf as the main entree, the servings can also be cut into meatballs to be mixed into spaghetti or crumbled to go into quesadillas or any other ground meat dish – so versatile!

Being Mindful In The Kitchen, You Can Stretch Your Grocery Budget. #TaylorMadeHomestead

Using this method I’ve only heated up the oven once and the mess in the kitchen is only cleaned up once, yet several meals of this entree are waiting for me in the freezer.

Being Mindful In The Kitchen, You Can Stretch Your Grocery Budget. #TaylorMadeHomestead

Subsequent pre-made entrees are simply pulled from the freezer the night before they’re needed and placed in the fridge to thaw.  Then at suppertime I just heat the entree in the microwave and add whatever side-dish veggies we’re having.  In the summertime that usually involves a stroll to the garden to pick fresh veggies to steam.  Supper can be on the table in 15 minutes or less and cleanup is a snap!

Main dish entrees are not the only place the freezer can save you money.  Are you having a hard passing up that great sale on potatoes because you don’t think your family can eat them all before they go bad?  Go ahead and BUY THEM!

Being Mindful In The Kitchen, You Can Stretch Your Grocery Budget. #TaylorMadeHomestead

Here’s what we do:  I’ve dehydrated potatoes but sometimes it’s quick & easy to freeze them.  First I wash, trim and dice the potatoes into roughly 1/2″ chunks.  We leave most of the peel intact just because we like them that way.  Then I plop them into my large stock pot (I love this one our daughter bought us years ago)  I cover the pot, turn on the heat until the water boils then turn off the heat & leave the pot covered until the potatoes are soft.  Saves propane!

Being Mindful In The Kitchen, You Can Stretch Your Grocery Budget. #TaylorMadeHomestead

Then I drain the potatoes and mash them.  I don’t add any seasoning at all until they’re ready to be consumed.  I’ll bag them into serving-sized bags and put them in the freezer until needed.  Like the entree method above, I’ll bring a serving out of the freezer the night before they’re needed and warm them in the microwave.  Then I’ll stir in homemade yogurt that I use for lower-fat sour cream substitute as well as salt and pepper and they’re ready to eat.  You can also use the mashed potatoes in other ways such as thickening some kinds of soups, adding to homemade bread for that extra oomph, or frying up potato pancakes.  So many options.

Being Mindful In The Kitchen, You Can Stretch Your Grocery Budget. #TaylorMadeHomestead

How about this?  Recently we received several oranges from a family member.  We ate them fresh as often as we could but it was apparent we could not consume all of these oranges before they went bad.  What to do?

Being Mindful In The Kitchen, You Can Stretch Your Grocery Budget. #TaylorMadeHomestead

Out came our manual juicer and bada-bing, bada-boom –  the orange abundance was magically transformed into orange juice, my hubbies favorite beverage.  It only took a couple of minutes to juice all of those oranges.

Being Mindful In The Kitchen, You Can Stretch Your Grocery Budget. #TaylorMadeHomestead

I poured the juice in plastic peanut butter jars which I like better for short-term freezer storage.  I popped the jars into the freezer so we can enjoy fresh-squeezed orange juice at a later date.  No  waste!

Being Mindful In The Kitchen, You Can Stretch Your Grocery Budget. #TaylorMadeHomestead

What are some ways your family saves money on groceries?

~TMH~

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62 thoughts on “Stretching Your Grocery Dollars

  1. Leigh

    Ready-made food in the freezer is indeed a beautiful thing! So are cook once, eat many times meals. You’re speaking my language! Blessings, Leigh

    Reply
  2. Jamie @ Medium Sized Family

    I would never have thought to store juice in the freezer in a peanut butter jar. So smart! I’ll have to start saving them.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      I know many people successfully freeze in glass Jamie, but I’m just not willing to risk it. As much as I hate plastic, it’s the lesser of two evils to me in the freezer. PLUS we always have empty peanut butter jars so it goes along with my battle cry: “Use whatcha got!” LOL ~TMH~

      Reply
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  4. Colleen Anderson

    Thanks so much for linking up with the Independence Days Challenge. I’ve chosen to feature this post on tomorrow’s link-up! Hope to see you back!

    Reply
  5. Mel

    I like to stretch a dollar till it screams, I buy all generic and stock up on sales but I find the most economical wy is to use ingredients in more than one way, example plain white sugar in the blender becomes castor sugar, almonds from our tree (or bought out if season) can be used whole or ground and swap my fresh produce for what others grow, example my lemons for their eggs. I also make all my cleaning products. I never thought of freezing mash I should do that, the mice got to my potties and I had to throw a lot out 🙁

    Reply
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  7. Stephanie @ Six Figures Under

    Thanks for the ideas! I am all about saving money since we are working our tails off to pay off $130K of law school student loans. We’ve paid $35K down and have just over $102K to go! Any and all frugal tips are employed at our house! What a great idea to freeze potatoes. We have 200+ pounds that came out of the garden a couple weeks ago. They keep okay in the basement, but they get soft and start to grow eyes eventually, but we have some freezer space. I also love that they are pre-cooked! I love saving time when dinner rolls around.

    Reply
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  9. Kathy

    Great tips – we do cook some things in bulk – it does save a lot! I am delighted that you shared with Home and Garden Thursday, Kathy

    Reply
  10. Ashley @ PioneerMomma.com

    Great idea! I prep and freeze my fruits, veggies, and chicken stock. Makes it so much easier come dinner time! I’ll have to try making more than one of whatever I’m cooking, then freeze it. Thanks for linking up to Share Something Sunday Link Party , and you gained a new follower! –Ashley @ PioneerMomma.com

    Reply
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  13. Barb @ A Life in Balance

    Great tips! I happened upon a deal for organic apples a few weeks ago. Since we couldn’t eat them up fast enough, I sliced the apples and dried them. Thanks for linking up at Fabulously Frugal Thursday.

    Reply
  14. Claudine

    This is a great topic…I’m always interested in how to stretch grocery dollars! Last year I bought a dehydrator and it has become one of my favorite kitchen gadgets! Last week, there was a great sale on celery, so I bought quite a bit and dehydrated it all. Soup season is upon us, and I love using celery in my soups, but before I purchased my dehydrator, I found myself throwing away most of the celery I purchased. I also use my dehydrator to make fruit leather with either discounted fruit or fruit I may have that needs to be used up. Two more ideas to share….. My hubby and I love waffles–so on the weekends, I will make a batch (or two) and let them cool, then put them on a cookie sheet, put them in the freezer to get hard and then put them in Ziploc baggies squeezing out as much air as possible. During the week, if we feel like waffles, I simply take them out and put them in my toaster oven frozen—just like the Eggo Waffles–except they are homemade. I have kept mine in the freezer for 3-4 weeks–if we don’t eat them before then. I also have done this with cookie dough. I will make two batches of cookies; one to bake right away and the other I roll the dough into small balls and put them on a cookie sheet to freeze solid, once frozen, I transfer them to a Ziploc. Whenever my hubby and I feel like home-cookies, I simply take a few out, put them on the cookie sheet to thaw then pop them in the toaster oven…mmm…mmmm…..mmmm warm cookies on a chilly fall/winters night. Thank you for sharing! Claudine

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Claudine – planned leftovers – my favorite! How clever you are. And I love how you dehydrate veggies that would otherwise go to waste. Thanks for sharing. ~TMR~

      Reply
  15. Kelli @ The Sustainable Couple

    Stumbled across this post from the Homemade Monday’s hop! Great tips – some of these are new to me, going to try them out next time I stumble upon a surplus of groceries 🙂

    Reply
  16. Jess @ Homestead For Him

    Great tips! Simple and so obvious, but why haven’t I done them before ??? Thanks for sharing! Blessings, Jess

    Reply
  17. Jennie

    Great Tips!! I have a giveaway going on and today is the last day to enter, would love for you to check it out! http://thediaryofarealhousewife.blogspot.com/2013/10/sponsorship-giveaway.html

    Reply
  18. Nikki

    Visiting from Natural Living Mamma. Thanks for sharing your ways to stretch your dollar! I passed up a bag of potatoes recently exactly because I didn’t think we’d eat them all…

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Hi Nikki. I recently had a family member share lots of potatoes with me again and I experimented with dehydrating them. Success! I guess ya live & learn… ~TMR~

      Reply
  19. Lori Who Needs A Cape?

    Awesome ideas, anything to make life less complicated gets 2 thumbs up in my book! Stumbled on your post over at Feeding Big! Our readers would also enjoy this post, stop over to our SUPER SUNDAY Link Party which is live through Tuesday evening! Lori Who Needs A Cape? (Not Your Average Super Moms!)

    Reply
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  21. Mary@Back to the Basics!

    Fantastic ideas to stretch your dollars. Thanks so much for sharing at Back to the Basics! Stop by Saturday and “like” you favorites!

    Reply
  22. Lisa Lynn

    Thanks for sharing this on Wildcrafting Wednesday! I hope you can join us again today! theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/04/wildcrafting-wednesday-15.html

    Reply
  23. Lisa Lynn

    I love your ideas 🙂 During the winter we tend to do a lot of our cooking on our wood stove to save on electric. I butcher my old laying hens and make soup out of them. Eggs that have a crack are treats for the dog. We don’t buy bags of treats for him (except for the occasional bag of ground up rawhide strips)…instead he gets the fat or gristle we don’t eat. He’s a lot healthier without all those preservative laced treats. Thanks for sharing your ideas on The Creative HomeAcre Hop! So glad to have you join in this hop too!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Great ideas Lisa Lynn. I think we’re ALL a little healthier without preservative-laced foods. Although there’s a time investment, it’s returned in financial savings and health savings as well when you provide for yourself. Thanks for your comment. ~TMR~

      Reply
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  27. laura at tenthingsfarm

    This kind of happens for us anyway, simply because we’re a small family. If I make a big pot of chili (I don’t know how to make a small one, lol) I just freeze the extra in meal-size portions. I do mashed potatoes that way too, and whenever I make lasagna, I make three 8×8 pans – one for eating and two for freezing, and I don’t cook the frozen ones until we’re ready to eat them. They are better that way. I also do this with spaghetti sauce and quick breads. It’s just as easy to make three quick breads as one, and since I take one to church every Sunday, having a few in the freezer is a nice comfort for me.

    Reply
  28. Hannah

    Great ideas. Since starting to eat whole foods, my grocery budget died.. lol Thanks so much for sharing with us at Eco-Kids Tuesday! Hope to see you there again today!

    Reply
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  30. Alison at NOVA Frugal Family

    Those are great ideas!! When I juice the fruit to save, I also usually do a little zest and freeze that too!! I love making the broth from leftover bones. I also make big batches of enchilada sauce which I freeze to use. The other great one is to make a big batch of rice and freeze in individual servings for your family so that you can take out a bag and throw it in the microwave. It is perfect for brown rice because if you don’t plan early enough, you don’t have it ready in time for dinner. Plus it is always great to not get the pot dirty at every meal. My big money saver is freezing all of the bread that we don’t eat that gets a little crusty so that I can either make breadcrumbs or stuffing from scratch straight from the freezer 🙂 You reminded me that I really need to juice some grapefruits that I have in the fridge!! Thanks for the post!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Allison – Great hints. I also freeze our bread but I’ve never made stuffing withe it if it got crusty. (One of my hubby’s favorites is stuffing. Hummmmm….) Thanks for the great ideas! ~TMR~

      Reply
  31. Kathe

    Awesome and oh so timely! I was just thinking that next time I make meatloaf I need to make up the mix for 2 and use the second one for meatballs as we love meatball sandwhiches and meatballs in gravy and spaghetti and meatballs…you get my thought process lol! I found you at Fedding Big. I’d love it if you linked this and any other post you’d like up at my linky party on Tuesdays!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Kathe – great minds think alike, eh? Thanks for the invite, I’ll check it out! ~TMR~

      Reply
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  33. Heather M

    My favorite way to cook and that looks like my mom’s meatloaf recipe. I need to get on the ball and get more ready made HOMEMADE meals stocked in my freezer. One of the ways we save is going to food auction. My last greatest buy was 1.5 flats of seedless grapes. Sorting through them was a little messy and tiring but I ended up with 16# of grapes, most of which were frozen for yummy snacks and smoothies. Thanks for linking up another great post with Fabulously Frugal Thursday. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Oh Heather I wish we had food auctions somewhere close to us! (jealous…) Frozen grapes are the BEST snacks during the summer, as is slices of frozen cantaloup when the garden is giving you more than you can eat fresh. Thanks for your comment. ~TMR~

      Reply
  34. 'Becca

    These are great ideas! I use variations on them. I only have the little freezer above the refrigerator, but it’s remarkable how much will fit in there. I routinely buy a 2-pound block of cheese, grate all or most of it in the food processor, and bag 1-cup portions to freeze for later–grated cheese thaws out to its original consistency, whereas if you freeze whole cheese it becomes crumbly.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Becca, I also rely primarily on the freezer with my refrigerator. Using that small freezer can still be effective, it’s just that rotation has to be faster. But that in itself can save you money as things placed in the freezer and forgotten is still wasted money! It’s the saddest waste of money when you’ve purchased that food only to throw it away to buy more, quite the viscous cycle sometimes. Thanks for your tips! ~TMR~

      Reply
  35. Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

    These are such wonderful ideas! I wouldn’t have thought of squeezing the oranges and freezing them for juice at a later date. Pretty clever!

    Reply
  36. Barb @ A Life in Balance

    Lots of good tips! I need to get back into doing this. I’ve been struggling as I adjust to writing more.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Barb, that’s why the cook-once-eat-twice method works so well for me. The once-a-month cooking method just took too much of my time but the cook-once-eat-twice method doesn’t really add any extra time and saves bundles in the future. 🙂 ~TMR~

      Reply
  37. Liz

    We have a ton of citrus trees at home, so we make good use of our citrus juicer and the canning pot after everybody’s tired of eating oranges/grapefruits/lemons. Keeps them from going bad, keeps us from having to buy juice. Also, like someone else said, broth/stock. I’ve done chicken and beef/deer stock before, but yesterday was my first time making veggie stock. I’m pretty excited about this concept (my mom had to quit reading her book to listen to me rave about my excitement of veggie stock.) 🙂

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Awesome Liz. I had previously purchased stock and I remember how excited I was when I figured out how easy it is to make, store and use. And homemade stock is good for you and good for the environment. Great job on your veggie stock! ~TMR~

      Reply
    2. Lynn

      Liz, do you water bath can the oranges/lemons/grapefruit or freeze? I wasn’t sure if they are too acidic to water bath can those fruits. Thanks for posting, Lynn

      Reply
  38. Nancy Davis

    I do some of this on a smaller scale and love doing it! Great idea to save time and money! Nancy

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      A smaller scale really works for us here too Nancy. That’s why I do the ‘cook-once-eat-twice’ method – the Once-a-month cooking was just too much time blocked from other things, although it works well for other people. I made banana bread tonight for an out-of-town guest and you guessed it – I made TWO. Hey, the mess is made and the oven’s heated up so why not?? Thanks for dropping by. ~TMR~

      Reply
  39. Twisted Cinderella

    Great tips. I save bones and veggie scraps and freeze them. When I have enough, I cook them up and make a big pot of broth to use for future uses.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      YES MA’AM – great point about the broth! And it’s so much healthier for you to use this broth than the canned versions. ~TMR~

      Reply
  40. Jackie

    So great, I love this! The cook/clean once, eat multiple times idea just makes so much sense. More environmentally friendly, too, because fewer resources are used, as you mentioned with the propane. I like to make larger portions of quick or yeast breads and freeze them, but I’ve never thought to make more than one meatloaf! Just in time as I was going to fix some soon! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I agree, Jackie! Plus anything that takes away additional kitchen cleaning is a good thing, no?? 😉 ~TMR~

      Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I remember reading about the Once-A-Month cooking method years ago and just NOT having time for that while holding down a full-time job outside the home and also raising four active children. The Cook-Once-Eat-Twice method worked well for us then, and it still works well for us even through we’re now empty nesters! Thanks for stopping by. ~TMR~

      Reply

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