Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Saving on Your Food Budget, Part II

...continuing on Part I of this subject. These are some of my favorite ways to save money on food. I'm hoping they'll be of help to you, too.

*BOGO, sales, markdowns.  Have you checked the clearance bins? (That should be a regular stop - it only takes a minute or two.) Look for a salvage store -- my own favorite is the Fri/Sat Store (near Arvada Center) in Arvada, CO. (Yes, it's only open on Fridays and Saturdays.) 
*Nothing wasted –“bits and pieces” angle. I hate knowing that now and then, greens go black and food goes bad in my refrigerator.  Good ways to minimize this: soup, smoothies, and crumbing breads (or making croutons) after they go stale. (Chickens are also a big help in getting rid of uneatables...they honestly don't care.) 
     One of my favorite ways to use this idea when asking friends for dinner -- I will serve soup and rolls, a good salad or fresh fruit first. An appetizer or first course fills guests up nicely before the roast or other expensive protein dish comes out. 

*”Will volunteer for food." I enjoy sharing with friends on group projects -- and often these have something to do with food. If you're helping out by setting up/cleaning up, or in the kitchen, you invariably will be offered leftovers to take home. Do it! This helps the event organizer, but it also gives you freebie extras for future meals.
    One final thing: tithe your good fortune. If you see a fantastic bargain on fresh apples -- and they're out there right now -- buy extra, and give them to a friend who could use the help. (Or encouragement.) Don't forget the librarian who's helped you, the pastor who listens to you, and the neighbor who is so reliable.
     Kindness is important in itself -- but kind actions often have unexpected results. 
                           You will never regret doing them. 

BARGAIN RECIPES   (generally serve 4…but can often be stretched to serve more)

Willo Auger’s Caramel Corn:  6-8 cups popped popcorn, poured into a paper bag. Mix ½ cup butter, ¾ cup brown sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1 cup corn syrup – nuke for 3 min. until bubbling, then stir in 1 tsp. baking soda until foaming. Pour carefully onto popcorn, fold bag over and nuke twice, 1 min. each time, punching bag to keep popcorn loose. Pour into large bowl, mix in 2 cups chopped nuts (or not), enjoy!   Options:  For a lighter version, double the popcorn mixed in. Makes an excellent Christmas present, wrapped in cellophane with a ribbon tie. Good for gift baskets!
Peanut Butter Cookies (no gluten!): 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. vanilla. Mix together and form into balls – bake at 350 degrees for 10-11 min. 
Cup Cookies:  in one large mug, mix 1 egg, 3 Tbl. brown sugar, 1/4 tsp. vanilla, 1/3 cup flour, 1 Tbl. butter, 1 Tbl. chocolate chips. Microwave 1 ½ - 2 minutes, eat while still warm. (Can be doubled, then poured into 2 mugs.) 
Davy’s Delight Brownies:  Nuke ½ cup butter until bubbling, then add 1 ¾ cup sugar, 6 heaping Tbl. cocoa, 1 tsp. vanilla, ½ tsp. baking soda, 1 Tbl. olive oil. Stir in ½ heaping cup flour quickly only until mixed, then spread in greased 8” square pan. Sprinkle with nuts or choc. chips – any extra ingredient is a “crank.” Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 min., until set to the touch. Cool a bit before cutting. Easily doubles – substitute ½ cup applesauce or baby prunes for low-fat version.

Helpful Books:  Tightwad Gazette, More-With-Less Cookbook, Cookbook for Poor Poets, Good Cheap Food, any Depression era cookbooks or memory books

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