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Vegetables are good. Even if you’re the type who shudders at the thought of salad or hide a grimace when you’re served green beans at a dinner party, there’s got to be at least one or two vegetables you absolutely love!
Vegetables can seem pricey, even frozen ones. One of the most common complaints from people who are watching their budgets are that veggies cost a lot per pound. In my local grocery stores, a SALE price for a single bell pepper is $1! Often they’re $1.50, even for a green pepper, which are usually cheaper than red or yellow peppers! If you do catch a decent sale on some vegetables, you will want to use every last bit of them. If spinach is on sale, don’t buy it JUST because it’s $0.50 per head, but will sit in the back of your refrigerator until it goes bad because you don’t know how to cook it. Instead:
Buy vegetables you like. Maybe the produce you buy isn’t as varied as you’d like to it be, but if you are used to and are comfortable cooking onions, for example, you’re more likely to use them in recipes you will eat before they go bad.
Make soup. Soup is amazing in that you can basically make up a recipe and it will generally taste good, and since you cook it for a while, veggies that are not-so-great can get thrown in there. Celery starting to go soft and your kids hate it when it’s not crisp? Chop it up and throw it in a soup! The soft texture is right at home in a soup!
Use every last bit. After making dinner, you might have a pile of carrot tops and onion ends sitting on your counter. Don’t throw them out—they’re still useful! Do you have a garden outside? Compost them! Do you make soup a lot? Freeze your veggie ends and pieces until you have enough to boil for a broth, and make homemade broth! There are plenty of things to do with vegetables that don’t necessarily involve eating them. How else do you use up everything you buy?
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Of course, the easiest way to save money on buying meat is… to not buy any meat at all. Beans and rice are cheap and tasty, a dietary staple in many cultures around the world. But if you consider yourself and your family to basically be “obligate carnivores” as my family does, you may struggle to keep meat in your diet while keeping money in your bank account as well. Here are a few tips on how to buy meat on a budget.
Buy large portions. Large pieces of meat generally cost less per pound than smaller cuts—after all, there’s less work involved in wrapping up a whole roast, compared to chopping it up and packaging several steaks in multiple containers. You may end up spending more money up front, but if you can freeze what you don’t mean to eat right away, you will spend less in the long run.
Buy discounted meat. Use some caution here, but this is generally a good tactic in chain supermarket stores. When unsold meat gets about a day away from its “sell by” date, supermarkets often mark down these packages to sell them quickly. If the meat is still unsold on its “sell by” date, those packages are marked down even more, 50 or even 75% off. The supermarket would rather sell the meat cheaply and still make a little money instead of having to dispose of it! If you buy meat on its “sell by” date, be sure to use it immediately, so it doesn’t spoil.
Buy ends and pieces. Not making a centerpiece meal for your company’s CEO any time soon? Often, markets and delis sell “ends and pieces” at a discount. These might be irregularly shaped bits of bacon, or the round ends of deli meats that won’t be on a magazine cover any time soon, but are still perfectly good to eat. And if you are just stuffing them in a sandwich or chopping them up to put in a stew anyway, no one will even notice!