Keep in mind that someone has to be paid to slice, shred, chop, form, and package food items such as sliced or shredded cheese, pre-formed meat patties or veggie patties, cube meats, chop or shred veggies, etc. to make foods go farther. Convenience costs money. Personally, I prefer to pay myself and I found ways to do those jobs in MINUTES.
One suggestion that will help make foods go farther so that your savings grow much faster is to get the appropriate kitchen utensils and tools because you can save an enormous amount of money on a day-to-day basis if you cut your own veggies, grind your own beef, or shred your own cheese. You will need to make a choice at this point. Which way will you do this? Purchase the kitchen tools up front and reimburse yourself or make time to cut and chop, etc., and put the money aside that you save until you have the money to purchase the kitchen tools.
The equipment that you will need
Food processor (I use a mini)
Storage containers (BPA-free plastic, re-sealable bags, glass, etc.)
Cheese: Save money by buying blocks of cheese and shredding or slicing the cheese yourself. A tip I found by accident when I tossed a leftover block of cheese into the freezer before the cheese went bad, was when it thaws out, it crumbles. This is perfect for making a macaroni and cheese casserole or enchiladas or any other oven dish that needs shredded cheese. This way, you can stock up on blocks of cheese whenever it is on sale. (Remember to add the blocks of cheese to the freezer inventory if you do this.)
Meat: into bite-sized pieces and make stir fries, casseroles, soups, stews, etc.
Storage Containers: I learned the hard way that many plastic containers (including name brand containers) crack, show “scratch” marks, hold stains, the corners of tops/covers break, etc. I have been so focused on saving money on the food items, that I completely overlooked storage of the food (I am primarily talking about freezing in this instance)! Shame on me. I am slowly changing the way that I store frozen foods: double lock re-sealable plastic bags and slowly purchasing GLASS baking and storage containers (using all of my Super Saving Sleuth/Savvy Shopper Techniques).
Family Size: the packages are always cheaper. When you get home, open the package and divide the meat into several individual servings; label with what is in the package, date, and freeze
Build Your Menu to ensure that you use all sales items and servings (from family-sized packages) are included so that you use the food items within the safety zone of use.
Example: ground beef can be used for tacos, stuffed peppers, chili, meatloaf, cheeseburgers, etc. Chicken can be used for cacciatore, chicken & dumplings, stir fry, buffalo burgers, pecan crusted chicken salad, and a host of other items.
Make Ground Meats Go Farther: add oatmeal (which also helps reduce cholesterol!), wheat germ, breadcrumbs (make your own), grated veggies (sneaky way to get more veggies in every day!), or a variety of legumes.
Include Veggies in all Dishes: You can get even the pickiest of eaters to eat veggies if you camouflage them. Try cutting a yam or sweet potato into “French fry” pieces and sauté them right after you sauté the onions and garlic; shred carrots, zucchinis, winter squashes, etc., and add to casseroles or mix in with ground meat dishes.
Add Legumes: such as dried beans or barley, to make the recipe go farther and also to help everyone feel full longer because they are complex carbs, which means it takes your body longer to break down the legumes. Added perk: super foods are better for your health and help keep bad cholesterol levels down.
TAKE ACTION #1: Learn a variety of ways to make foods go farther and also get the family involved: ask each of them to look through recipe books, online websites, etc., to find some recipes that they would like to have included in this month’s menu. They will be more apt to be more accepting if they had a say in some of the recipes. MOST IMPORTANTLY: KEEP IT FUN!!! You want them to WANT to do this task.
TAKE ACTION #2: Go to a supermarket sometime and compare the price of:
– One 8-ounce block cheese to one 8-ounce package of shredded cheese
– One 4-ounce package of “baby carrots” versus a bunch of carrots (weigh the bunch to know how many ounces).
You may need to figure out how much an ounce costs of each because the packages of each rarely are sold in the same amount of ounces (that is done intentionally, which is why you need to know the cost per ounce).
NOTE: If you want to read about another one of those unexpected lessons from when I was teaching my son how to be independent when he was young, read this article: “Surprising Result of a Lesson of Independence“. It made this article too long to put it here.