Thursday, February 27, 2014

Terrific Thursday : what to do with what you got

Yesterday, we had a stirfry and rice.  I cleaned out the vegetable bin.  Safeways has chicken for a buck a pound.  I can get a roast chicken dinner, a chicken pot pie, BBQ chicken and chicken noodle or vegetable soup out of a five  dollar chicken.  Ot takes ten minutes for me to put a chicken in the oven to roast.  The savings over a deli chicken are remarkable.  Never buy a chicken under three pounds 4.5 to 5.0 is better.  The ratio of bone to meat is at break even at three pounds,  the heavier from there the better.  We always want more bang for our buck!!LOL.

Chicken would be my batch cooking protein for the week.  You will need to adjust the quantity of chickens to your family.  I am working on a scenario of two adults and two school aged children.
We actually have three adults and a toddler.  Probably about the same amount of protein  used.  Casseroles, pot pies, tacos and soups all use pieces of meat.  They will stretch your food dollar more than having a slice of meat.  We need four ounces of meat a meal.   If you have something with less than four ounces ( you use less than a pound for four people) then augment the meal with other sources of protein.  Taco dinner can have some refried beans or rice with some salsa in the rice  water.  Chicken soup can be paired with cheesy biscuits.  If you have a vegetarian meal without protein, augment the meal with a protein rich desert.  Being flexible and creative goes a long way to stretch your dollar to maintain a thrifty budget.

I always stock cheese.  I get it when it is 2.50 a pound.  I have seen it as much as eight dollars a pound.   I make Mac and cheese by making a white sauce ( or use the basil recipe starter that I got for free) and adding any bits of cheese I have in the cheese drawer.  I usually use several different kinds.  Last time I used some pesto cheese with the basil sauce.  Grocery outlet is a good source for unusual cheeses and most of the time  they are reasonably priced.

There is a whole generation of children that think Mac and cheese comes out of a box with dried cheese powder.  It's not that hard to make  scratch Mac and cheese.  Unfortunately, recipe starter is almost gone from the dollar store.  I am now seeing coupons for a pouch version, so I'll be going back to white sauce when this stock is depleted.  The recipe starter was free or nearly free and it made it cheaper than homemade white sauce.

Using up leftovers is a key to saving and not wasting. The best tool you can have is to KNOW YOUR PRICES.  If you can't remember, keep a small notebook on your purse, or make a spread sheet , update it regularly and carry it in your purse or coupon binder.

My mother used to have the expression, some people wouldn't know a bargain if it got up and bit them in the butt.  Don't be one of those people!

It would be nice to say that you can make everything from scratch.  I make as much as I can from scratch and make my own mixes often.  Sometimes it is cheaper to get something made than it does to make it from scratch if you find a good sale and use a coupon.

Case in point.  Salsa is on sale for 2.99.  I paid 1.50 with a coupon.  That's 1/2 price.  Making it from fresh tomatoes this time of the year would be prohibitive.  Making it from a full price can of diced tomatoes would cost more than the 1.50.  I scratch cook when it is worth my while.  It either has to taste better, or be cheaper.  We buy few ready made or mixes, but sometimes it is not to your best advantage to scratch cook.  It's a balancing act.  Remember almost every ready made or mix has preservatives in it  and the closer to scratch you can make something the better off we are. Most of the time scratch is more cost effective and better tasting. Sometimes not.  Do the math and see if it's worth it and weigh the cost and time vs the store bought version.  I, not talking about a hamburger meal box.  But things like salsa, tortillas, refried beans, and pasta sauce bear a second look.  Pasta sauce at .78 or lower is cheaper than homemade.

The concept of virtual pay is not a concept that everyone can grasp.  I ran that by a co worker.  She just didn't get it.  She also refuses to use a computer unless she has to use the cash register at work.

If you want to know of making something vs buying it is worth your time do the math.  ( there are more concerns than time, I realize.  Sometimes it is just cost prohibitive, or the nutrition is not what you want, salt and sugar, fat? )

Price the ready made per pound, slice, etc.
Price the scratch.
Find the difference.
Calculate the time you took to make the product
Divide the time by the money saved.
This is how much you are virtually making an hour.
If it is under two bucks, you are better off buying it.
Many times it is more than I have ever earned in  my life.

When you plan your shopping trip and find the RBP and match coupons for things you would normally buy anyway, you will find your savings will net you a pretty hefty wage.  Often I find I have made 75.00 an hour.  The savings are real. The wages are not!   Darn!?!!!

That's all I have time for.
Thanks for stopping by
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