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Thread: Need to cut expenses, tips welcome, watching food budget so close is taking any fun..

  1. #1

    Need to cut expenses, tips welcome, watching food budget so close is taking any fun..

    Here's the deal, my consulting work has taken a major hit due to the business climate/industry, so let's just say my cash flow isn't flowing so strong. And, I'm job hunting too.

    Even before this, I didn't really live that extravagantly (at least I didn't think so) except I do live in an expensive city, so high cost of living in terms of rent, and general expenses.

    I have the usual expenses of rent, utilities, cable (pretty basic, no real bells and whistles), insurance, food, public transport etc.

    No gym, never had Netflix or DVR, no vacations now (except to family), no magazine subcriptions, don't buy any books anymore (love my libary to get my book fix), Amazon (what's that), not a coffee drinker, very infrequent manicures and that type of thing, cut eating out except sometimes to meet a friend, no gadgets/fun tech toys, rely on public transport and have cut back on that a bit. Haven't done any real clothes shopping except really needed a new pair of sneakers, and a few things for job hunting. Cut coupons, try to stock up a bit if an item is a great price, look at specials etc.

    I can't see where else I can cut my fixed costs (with the exception of looking into canceling my land line, but then I would need another internet provider), so I will be taking a look at phone, cable, internet bundles. I will be looking at my expenses again so perhaps I missed some items that I can trim.

    So the amount of money I spend on food etc is an obvious place to cut. I know one can eat well and have variety on a budget (of course depends on the budget), but since I'm being super careful to watch my expenses its taking all the "fun" out of food shopping and menu planning. And, I don't think I was excessive there in the past, I shop at TJ's, Whole Foods (but mainly for chicken, very little meat, fruits/veggies (but do watch costs so often pass on things), rarely buy their prepared food. I also shop at my local supermarkets for canned goods, basics, but I do find their fruits/veggies often lacking in quality and not that cheap to boot but I will take a closer look at their costs and might give it more of a chance. I don't have access to a Costco type retailer.

    I would say that before I really tightened my belt, I would spend a good part of my food bill would go to fruits/veggies, and I probably could have bought them a bit cheaper if I shopped around. But even then, it wasn't like I was buying something super extravagant. But it all adds up..... that English cucumber, that package of strawberries, grapes etc.

    I think I'm just getting into a rut and need to add some variety. I'm even getting tired of eating some of my favorite budget friendly foods, that I was happily eating for years because I enjoyed them (and being a good deal a bonus). Some of that might just be in my head.

    Sometimes I see something that I want, but figure, oh, you can make a cheaper alternative for dinner. Pass on such and such, and go for this. For example, I don't need to get some fresh broccoli, I have a huge bag of frozen broccoli (which are night and day in terms of taste) in the freezer.

    I think I'm just in a funk this week, it just hit me hard this week. All this financial stress is makig me go .

    I was just cranky from the get go today, I stopped off to go food shopping this evening and was so overwhelmed and stressed I could barely make up my mind and left with a quart of milk and a couple of other items. Fun times.

    Long winded post boils down to, any favorite budget tips, and how to keep one's enthusiasm/variety to food shopping, menu planning ideas are certainly appreciated. And/or tips on saving money, eating on a budget, fav budget meals are welcome. Any ideas on how not to cry in the supermarkey from stress is welcome (that's a joke, but I was ready to be pushed over the edge today). Oh, did finish off the chocolate I got as a gift.

    Sorry for the whining and rambling post. Just need a bit of my mojo back.

    Last edited by frenchtoast; 11-13-2012 at 07:40 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Baja Manitoba
    So sorry you're going through tough financial times. Hopefully you will have luck on the job front soon.

    A few pieces of financial advice: first, if you're not doing it already, make a budget and track it by writing down everything you spend. This will really help you feel more in control of your money. Second, try finding inexpensive or free fun things to do. Check out your library for books and DVDs. Do your own manicures. Check out free concerts. You get the idea.

    Regarding food: try planning a weekly menu around grocery specials (you can find store fliers online). Use websites like epicurious, allrecipes, and myrecipes and search by ingredient so nothing goes to waste. You may find some new favorites along the way.
    The motive power of democracy is love. ~ Henri Bergson

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Our cash flow dried up 3.5 years ago now so yes, we have some experience.

    The biggest change for me was instead of making a list at home of what I wanted I'd go and shop sales - which often meant shopping seasonally - to come up with menus. Also bought different cuts of meat, different produce. Then learning how to cook that.

    And stop shopping at Whole Foods for anything.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Houston, TX
    I am so sorry for the funk you are in. Feeling the budget pinch is not a fun thing at all, especially when you are already living a trimmed down lifestyle and don't have a lot of "fat" to cut.

    One food suggestion would be to look at various ethnic cuisines, especially those that are vegetarian oriented. Stir-fries, curries, pastas - all are heavy on relatively inexpensive ingredients and light on costly animal proteins. The distinctive spicing of ethnic cuisines can make ingredients like frozen veggies more palatable. If you have access to ethnic groceries they are often cheaper for some ingredients than more mainstream sources, especially for things like beans, peas. lentils and spices. Also, check out the bulk bins, even at Whole Foods. At my Whole Foods, bulk quinoa is about 1/3 cheaper than the boxed stuff.

    At your regular supermarkets look for a "priced for quick sale" section in the meat department. My local Safeway always has a ton of stuff like chicken breasts, pork ribs, steaks, roasts, even kebabs, marked down 30%-50% because the use-by date is one or two days away. In to my freezer it goes! One time I even found lamb shanks 50% off and their "all-natural" pork tenderloins 30% off.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Heading WEST!!
    I am so sorry you are dealing with this stress.
    I have been unemployed for almost 2 years now; DH is retired, so we are on a fixed income but we are managing. I keep seeing food costs go up and up and up and I constantly freak out.

    Not sure if my tips will work for you and some may be mentioned but here goes:
    1. Shop bulk if you can (costco for items I use regularly and especially if they don't expire or have long exiprey dates: toilet paper, coffee, DH's blueberries, cheeses, butter, etc.)
    2. Watch the circulars and stock up. We love flank steak and when I find it for 3.99/pound, I stock up. Same for salmon...Dh can occasionally catch some fish but clearly not all the time..when sockeye goes on sale for 6.99/pound, frozen, I stock up.
    3. Not the season to do this, but in summer, can you pick your own berries or in the fall, get apples from orchards?
    4. I try to clip coupons but most of it is processed junk, so I look on the internet if I can...then just try to buy what is on sale.
    5. Not all canned goods are icky. I have some that I use regularly and easily stock up if it is on sale.
    6. I make some of my cleaning product/sprays (vinegar, baking soda, essential oils, etc.) and I try to clean regularly on the bathrooms and floors so that I don't need as harsh a product.

    Cat food is killing me. The cost is unbelievable. I don't want to buy junk for my babies and i confess any extra $$ I have, I put towards continuing to buy the same food rather than cheapen out; they can't help it and I am unwilling to give them up.

    I don't have anything to dry clean; haven't bought new clothes in ages; get my hair cut as cheaply as I can (great clips if I am in the area).
    Miles are a huge drain out here, so I try to plan as much as I can in a single trip.

    Sure hope things look up for you soon.

    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2006
    I'm sorry you're going through such a challenge right now. Not sure this will help but here's a couple suggestions from my experience a few years ago.
    • Try to use up what's in your pantry (that was hard for me, to use up stored food, but you may have lots of building blocks for meals in your pantry and it can be a mini-challenge to yourself to find good ways to use them up).
    • pick a cuisine that you'd like to know more about or that you enjoy, get some library books, and start cooking from that cuisine. It may seem that it would be more expensive to do this but other cuisines can be very thrifty. Think chinese, italian, etc
    • try inviting your friends over for a potluck instead of going out for dinner - that could be cheaper and you get to spend more time together
    • know what you are or aren't willing to compromise on before you go shopping (for me, I wouldn't compromise on fair trade coffee, but I would compromise on tons of other things)
    • don't cancel your internet, you can get great ideas and inspiration online
    • If you have time try to make more frequent shopping trips (shop for 2-3 days instead of 1 week), that way it may feel less overwhelming and you waste less (use up all your fresh ingredients before buying more)
    Once, during prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water. W. C. Fields

  7. #7
    You guys are great --- thanks so much. I really appreciate the ideas and encouragement!

    ClaraB -- Great ideas. I'm already writing down my daily expenses when I pay cash, but I don't write down when I charge say something on my credit card, so I should make it a habit (at least for awhile) of writing it all down. I should make a formal budget. I had one a few years back but I should update it. I can rattle off all my expenses and come super close to the actual amount, except I don't really know how much I spend on food on average (I just never added that part up). Hmmm, intentional perhaps.

    Fantastic suggestion to use epicurious etc more. I think it will really make me feel better and make it more interesting if I try new ways to cook things. Although I'm often faced with recipes that call for ingredients that I don't have on hand so that puts a wrench in things, but out of the tons of recipes out there, I can certainly find some new recipes that use basically what I have on hand. Today instead of cracking open a jar of pasta sauce, I made some spaghetti sauce --- it used up an onion etc. So I got to try a new recipe, which made it a bit different from opening a jar of Classico. : )

    ChristyMarie -- Thanks for the ideas. I am definitely going to try some different foods, new ways to cook things, and I might some new favorites. I think that will definitely help get out of the food funk, instead of so much of the same old thing, making it the same ol' way. Let's just say I'm often using the "less than 10 item" check out at Whole Foods. This week I bought a quart of milk (cheapest I found in my area), 2 packages of whole wheat pita (had a buy one, get one free) and a few things from the bulk aisle. I spent less than $7, I should frame that receipt.

    SoupandStew --- Thanks so much. Oh, and I should try some new soup recipes too. And, I've never made stew. Ha. Great idea on making stirfries, I haven't made them that often and as you said just calls for a small amout of protein..... so a great way/and not too expensive to shake things up by using different proteins. Hello, shrimp stirfry.

    Wallycat -- Thanks so much. So sorry to read that you are feeling the pinch. And, hope you find a job that you enjoy. I can tell that you would be a fantastic add to any organization. The cost of many things I buy all the time are going up, often by quite a bit. Sometimes I find financial stress quite overwhelming -- and since I'm single, it all falls onto me. Do you hear the violins in the background.

    I could be better about looking at the sales. I'll check the flyer when at the store, but typically don't schedule my shopping trip around it (except perhaps with WF, since I sometimes check their sales online, and will try to go if I see a good sale price, and might stock up and buy a few more if its a pantry item or I could frezee it). And, I check the WF flyer (the one that is like a mini magazine since that has coupons, recipes too, and their one page sales flyer.

    Jadenegro -- Thanks for the ideas. I'm going to look through some of my cookbooks that I've certainly been neglecting, and might pick up a few at the library. And, love the idea of trying a new cuisine. I'm real good about using up what I have on hand, especially recently. Plus, I hate wasting food regardless of finances.

    Thanks again! Great ideas everyone! I don't really talk about my financial stress to people IRL, so this helps a great deal! I just keep it all inside and let it stress me out. I was lucky not have any financial stress in my 20's and 30's, and consider myself very financially responsible. I also did my share to help my local economy by buying shoes, winter coats, trying new restaurants etc. But the economy the last few years certainly took a bite out of things. And since I'm not 25, I certainly look at things differently, especially when retirement is no longer 40 years away.

    Thanks so much. This BB is fantastic!

    Off to look at a cookbook for some inspiration.
    Last edited by frenchtoast; 11-14-2012 at 08:30 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    In my heaven on earth
    Another thought is baking your own bread. I've very recently started and cannot believe how easy it is and much less expensive. It takes a bit of time and/or planning but I also find the kneading process therapeutic.

    "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself" ~ George Bernard Shaw

  9. #9
    My life has been one long cash flow crisis since I retired from full time work.
    You didn't mention a freezer. I spotted a compact freezer at Lowes that was a great bargain and bought it to prepare for Xmas cooking. I swear I saved the whole cost of the freezer by taking time for a month preparing meals and desserts rather than relying on prepare foods. After Xmas it became my Weight Watchers freezer and I stocked it with meat, fish and frozen veggies as well as meals I prepared.
    At Thanksgiving I put away several turkeys on sale. Using the weekly ads, I stock up on meats and fish on sale.
    Having done a few catered events for family, and figuring a budget, I found the condiments or flavoring ingredients cost more per person that a pound of meat. For instance, I made Italian beef and prudently scoped for great beef chuck sales. Then added Good Seasons Italian dressing mix and Au Jus to the pot. I could have had pounds more of beef for the cost of those ingredients! I now try to keep a battery of homemade mix recipes on hand.
    Years ago before Windows was out, my ex-husband wrote me a data base program that helped me list my "favorite price" for all ingredients and then crunched the numbers on how much my recipes would cost per serving. Nowadays with Windows, Excel and other software we could almost write that ourselves.
    I was surprised to hear homemade bread costs less than commerical. We calculated it and found yeast was the most expensive product in the recipe so I started making my own yeast cakes.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    North TX
    I wanted to mention that has an ingredients search function. You can enter what you have to work with, and it will provide recipes containing those ingredients. It is fun for me to start there when I want some new ideas for how to combine what I already have on hand.

    For new recipes with spices you don't have,the bulk spice section is very economical. Sometimes I get what I need for a recipe for 10-25 cents. That beats the 5-6 dollar bottles in the spice section.

    I was a student for a long time, and it was tight for years then. I used a lot of dried or canned beans, frittatas with veggies added, and I loved eating leftovers. I often made soups or stews that would last for several days. I always packed a lunch. Actually, sometimes I just carried in a loaf of bread and some peanut butter...busy times back then.

    My nephew works at a local box store and is careful to buy his meats on Mondays, I think, which is when the mark-downs happen, like margeslp mentioned in her post.

    My DH has always run a large Excel spreadsheet for our household budget--10 years now. We were very tight on money when we met. It was a mental relief to me to know that I had XX to spend at the store, and it would not break us. Back then, we set aside a tiny amount for "walking around money" for each person so we could buy a little treat, knowing it was OK and not bankrupting. I remember that was a comfort, too. He has helped a lot of friends get comfortable with their finances and, as he puts it, "be able to sleep at night."

    Best wishes for your business.

  11. #11

    Inexpensive Recipes

    Here are a couple of recipes I like to make........inexpensive and we enjoy both of them:;

    Subject: Lentil Casseroles
    Date: Tuesday, August 08, 2006 8:45 AM

    Best Lentils
    1 1/2c lentils
    2c water
    1c chopped onions
    1clove minced garlic
    1/4c olive oil
    1 1/2c grated cheese
    1 beaten egg
    1 tsp parsley flakes
    1/4 tsp thyme
    1 tsp salt
    Rinse lentils and simmer in water til soft (about 25 minutes). Do not drain.
    Saute onion and garlic in oil til soft. Mix all ingredients together and pour
    into a sprayed baking dish. Bake at 375° for 35-40 minutes.

    Lentil Cheese Supper
    1# lentils, rinsed
    2c water
    1 14 oz can tomatoes, undrained
    1c chopped onion
    2cloves garlic, minced
    1 bay leaf
    2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp pepper
    1/8 tsp each marjoram, sage, thyme
    2T chopped parsley
    2 sliced carrots
    1 green pepper chopped
    1 stalk celery, sliced
    2c shredded cheddar cheese
    Preheat oven to 375°
    Combine all ingredients down to carrots in a sprayed casserole dish.
    Stir well, cover and bake for 30 minutes. Add veggies and bake 30 minutes
    longer (until carrots are tender). Top with cheese and bake til cheese melts.

  12. #12
    A few things...One note really related to your food question.

    We cut out our cable about 2 years ago. We were paying $150/month for the "normal" cable channels. We hardly watched them. When I called to cancel, it was cheaper for us to keep the basic cable (the first few stations) and bundle it with our internet. Cut our bill to $60 when we did that. Then we decided to start Netflix and Huluplus. Not everyone loves huluplus, but its been good for us. There are trade offs. No more shows at "real time". We have found that we really don't miss TV. I occasionally miss the foodnetwork, but I don't miss it enough to pay $90/month.

    For the food thing, look into international markets/ farmers markets. We have a great place around here where things like spices are dirt cheap. Not the greatest quality, but when you are pinching pennies, you have to make some sacrifices. Fruits and veggies are also inexpensive as long as we stick to seasonal items.

    Some other items we use to extend our food budget: dried beans rather than canned. Frozen foods are often cheaper than canned as well. If you can find the time, baking bread is far cheaper than buying it (and tastes better too). I will do all of my baked goods on a weekend and freeze enough for a month. I do have the luxury of a lot of freezer space. You may also be able to trade your neighbors for some things. I love making apple butter in the fall. I have a neighbor who raises bees and harvests the honey. I trade her a case of apple butter for a few jars of honey every year. Works for both of us. You also might be able to trade someone some fresh baked good for something they grow in their garden in the summer. Who knows...

    I know a lot of that is happy, pie in the sky stuff. Our real budget savings come from crazy planning. I try to plan 6 weeks of menus at a go. This includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I plan on a big calendar with sticky notes. Then I shop sale ads. I can move my planned meals around depending on what's on sale that week. This works for me. Then we shop. Leftovers can get tiring, so if I'm making something with a lot of servings, I make sure its freezable. Then we have a few quick meals around for those emergency days.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Chino Hills, CA
    For us, shopping and cooking on a tight budget means making more foods from basic ingredients. Dried beans versus canned. Grinding grains to make breads. Putting together homemade versions of cleaning supplies, cocoa/brownie/biscuit/spice blends/whatever mixes, etc. has been kind of fun to learn and experiment with (budget friendly as long as you are willing to eat/drink/clean with the results even if less than stellar). They take some of the time-consuming aspects out of doing from scratch on a daily basis. Homemade soups are yummy, smell fantastic while cooking, and make the most of the end-of-the-week veg and protein supply.

    Somehow, for me, finding a way to make new things with inexpensive basic ingredients works as a creative outlet. I've learned to enjoy the process.

    Another thing I did not see mentioned (although not food oriented) was calling companies of fixed expenses to see if you can get a better price. I did that a few years ago with our cable, auto insurance, etc. Most companies would prefer to work with you than lose a customer.

    Good luck in the journey. Hope it eases up for you.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Lone Star State
    Been there. I second the shop what is on sale -- which will most often mean you are shopping seasonally and take advantage of the best fresh produce and not pay the highest prices for the stuff that comes half a globe away. Get the fresh broccoli when it's on sale -- use the frozen when it's way too high or in recipes where it is going to be cooked more or chopped finer and the difference doesn't matter so much such as soups, quiche, fried rice. Don't give up on fresh produce -- just take advantage of the best and wait for things that are out of season. Right now, apples, pears, cranberries, citrus, yams or sweet potatoes, green beans, broccoli and such should be seeing sale prices. Enjoy them and buy extras of things that keep like cranberries (frozen) and sweet potatoes. Try cooking new things when something you haven't tried is on sale -- adventure at a bargain!

    Soups can be good ways to make budget meals and ways to throw together something different from leftovers.

    Definitely remember beans, eggs and other non-meat protein sources. The Latin cultures use a lot of beans and corn or rice to provide complete protein -- meat and cheese can be optional proteins. Rice and beans are easy to cook and have on hand to throw together -- or scramble and egg and fill a pita or tortilla.

    Think about breakfast for dinner options. Most breakfast dishes are not as expensive to prepare.

    You can shop for meat reduced for quick sale. Generally that means it has to be sold that day and you will want to use it or freeze it that day. Check packages to make sure they don't look like they have been opened and resealed, don't have an off odor and don't look funky.

    If you want to make bread, yeast bought in tiny packets gets ridiculous. At least buy the jar if you get past the first strip of packets. I buy in pound packages at Sam's or Costco. Maybe you could share with one or more friends. You can even mail it this time of year.

    Also consider ways to generate extra income while your business is slow. This is a great time of year to pick up some seasonal work or to bake for friends who don't cook and would buy things at the store or bakery anyway.

    Maybe it's time to find a use for some of that broccoli and clear room in the freezer for sale items and not let it keep hanging over your head.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Kenmore NY, near Buffalo
    Check with your energy/electric company to see if there are better rates available to you if you keep your usage to specific (off-peak) times.

    For water, try putting a washed, water filled two liter bottle in your toilet tank (after flushing, when water level is low); it keeps the water at level with less water consumption.

    Buy the same veggies as always, but switch the cuisines-- like, I keep buying black beans, but instead of tacos, burritos and soup, I've been going more Mediterranean with them.

  16. #16
    I had a similar situation a few years ago when I went from a full-time position to a part-time one. A budget was definitely eye opening. I also started eating a lot of beans, lentils and rice. Chili and beef stew both became staples. If I found stew beef on sale, I'd buy a 2 lb package (around $7 if I got it at the right time!) and with a few cheap veggies (onion, potatoes, carrots, celery, frozen corn/beans) I could get 4 quarts of it easily. I make a stuffed cabbage soup as well - canned tomatoes, cabbage (cheap!), rice, bit of ground beef. Makes a little meat go a long way. Chicken potpie if you are tired of beef. ;-) Roast a large, cheap piece of meat and use it for sandwiches, alongside a rice dish, a few veggies. Make your own granola. Blocks of cheese and shred it yourself. The tip about ethnic is great - Indian, Mexican...

    Hang in there! There are definitely ways to get through without resorting to ramen noodles!

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    South Lake Tahoe, CA
    What great suggestions. I've learned from them too!

    Non-food. Don't know if you are a smartphone fan. If all you want is basic cell, the Jitterbug is very inexpensive and has outstanding customer service. I had it for two years and the number of minutes I wanted plus voice mail was only about $20 per month. No contract either, and the phone itself was less than $100.

    Food. When we entered a "save money" mode a couple of years ago, I looked closely at my spending for items I bought at the grocery store. I discovered that I wasted quite a bit and started using leftovers more efficiently (freezing them instead of throwing them away).

    I don't know if you ever eat lunch at home, but I cook rice in quantity and freeze it in serving size portions. A small amount of meat or poultry (usually a leftover) along with onion, celery or whatever, can be added and you have lunch.

    Cleaning supplies and paper goods are often less expensive in stores other than grocery stores.

    I second checking cookbooks out of the library. I did that for many years and discovered many things I didn't know.

    Is there a way you can grow some of your food? Herbs at a minimum, possibly some veggies?

    Good luck!


  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    I don't know if you have gardening space (gardens produce a lot of food for a few packets of seed) but even a few pots of herbs and salad greens can really cut the grocery expenses. As other posters have mentioned, scratch cooking - baking bread, making your own pasta sauce, cooking dried beans - all help the $$ spent on groceries. Austerity is tough but can be a real creative challenge.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Baja Manitoba
    Quote Originally Posted by margeslp View Post
    I was surprised to hear homemade bread costs less than commerical. We calculated it and found yeast was the most expensive product in the recipe so I started making my own yeast cakes.
    Yeast is very expensive if you buy it by the packet, but you can save significantly if you buy it by the jar. I buy shrink wrapped packages at Sam's Club and keep it in the fridge, saving even more. I get a year's supply of yeast for about $8. Way cheaper than buying bread (and much tastier, too).
    The motive power of democracy is love. ~ Henri Bergson

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by ClaraB View Post
    Yeast is very expensive if you buy it by the packet, but you can save significantly if you buy it by the jar. I buy shrink wrapped packages at Sam's Club and keep it in the fridge, saving even more. I get a year's supply of yeast for about $8. Way cheaper than buying bread (and much tastier, too).
    Aha! My bread making was way before big box stores existed. No question that homemade bread is tastier. That was part of our problem. The loaf disappeared before I could use it as sandwich bread

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    nearly Austin, TX
    Quote Originally Posted by margeslp View Post
    Aha! My bread making was way before big box stores existed. No question that homemade bread is tastier. That was part of our problem. The loaf disappeared before I could use it as sandwich bread
    There's something about that fresh baked bread smell! Since most recipes yield two loaves, I cut each loaf into two or three chunks and freeze them as soom as they cool off. It's not sitting around to eat quite as easily and I'm not baking all the time.

    I don't have much to add for budget tips, but the "crying in the supermarket from stress" thing? Yeah, been there. Be really careful about insulating yourself so much that you recede from the world. Make sure you get out at least several times a week-look for those free things like museums and art galleries. I don't see references to where in the world you call home, but if the weather permits, at least get out for a walk. If outdoors isn't reasonable, walk at the mall or the local museum.

    Volunteer at the food bank. Some food banks offer classes in preparing healthy meals from the kinds of products that their clients receive. Perhaps you have a way to help there. If not there, volunteer somewhere in your area based on your interest. When I moved to Austin, I pulled weeds at a local Nature Center. It gets you out, it looks great on your resume and you get conversation started with people you might never be lucky enough to meet any other ways.

    Don't let yourself sit at home waiting for a phone call or a job offer. When your friends call and say, "So what have you been up to lately?" You want to be able to say,"I met the funniest young man the other day. He was so inspiring" Or, I've been learning to Rumba. I've been thinking of trying out for DWTS."

    Real friends will understand that expensive restaurants aren't on the agenda right now. They'll meet at the park or the zoo or a coffee shop and be glad to see you.

    Does your transit system offer a monthly pass? If so, perhaps the lines outside of your usual area may go to places that would be fun to visit.

    I guess what I'm taking a really long time to say is make sure that you're having some fun. I'm guessing that if you find ways to enjoy this time that the food enjoyment will return. I wish you great success in your job search.

    With all of our running and all of our cunning, If we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane...
    "Changes in Attitude, Changes in Latitude" Jimmy Buffet

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Appleton, WI
    How is your sauce-making repertoir? We have been on a majorly limited budget for a few years now, and I've become quite adept at turning a few bits of nothing into a grand dinner- and the biggest key to doing so is being able to make a sauce. If you can make a Bechamel sauce, you can mix that in infinite ways with pasta, rice, and a myriad of cooked meats and veggies. If you can make a marinara sauce, you can use that for pasta, polenta, pizza, or even as a base for a vegetable soup. A simple mushroom sauce can glaze a meatloaf, top a chicken breast, or become a base for a delightful hamburger stew. Learn to make the mother sauces, and you can turn the tiniest bits of leftovers into something truly spectacular.

    I highly recommend the book Sauces by James Peterson if you need a brushing up on making sauces. I know my library has a copy of it, I've borrowed it many times after I passed my copy on to someone, and then wished I had not done so.
    Merry: I don't think he knows about second breakfast, Pip.
    Pippin: What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper? He knows about them, doesn't he?

    Still food blogging, just not as often. Tummy Treasure!

  23. #23
    I'm so sorry it took so long to reply to the additonal posts.

    First off, a BIG, BIG THANKS to everyone that posted and gave me such great ideas and encouragement.

    Robyn -- I always wanted to try my hand at bread, and its time to finally give it a try. If nothing else, it will be fun, and if its a hockey puck, oh well. And, my first try might be work out great. And, love the smell of bread baking.

    Margslp -- No room for another freezer, but certainly trying to freeze an extra meal or two when some protein on hand.

    Lantana -- Thanks for the tip for allrecipes. I think it will definitely help me in my food rut if I just mix things up a bit and that site will help. So this week, I tried two new soups, rather than simply making an old recipe again. I made some new salad dressings etc.

    Tutalady -- Thanks for the recipes. I don't think I've ever had lentils. Time to change that.

    Ladywild -- Thanks for all the tips. I agree, calling cable, phone etc often results in some good savings.

    Dawna -- I've never used dry beans, but I will take your suggestion and finally give it a try. Not only cheaper, but I don't have the waste (and weight) of canned. I try to call the companies that I deal with and often save money. I have a few companies to call once my "long time customer discount" is about to expire. Now if that only worked on my health insurance. Ha.

    Beth -- Thanks for all the ideas. I agree, buying what's on sale/in season is key to get the best bang for your buck.
    I had a frittata today and used up some of that frozen broccoli.

    HH -- Thanks for the tips. Good thing that since I rent, I don't pay for water (already have a low flow toilet), or heat (except for the electricity to run the central air). But still reasonable. In fact, I haven't needed to even turn on my heat yet. Great tip on trying new cuisines. As you said, trying new things/cusines etc will bring back some fun to cooking.

    I'm having a problem with my dishwasher today, sooooo nice to just go downstairs to my bldg mgt and submit a work order.

    I'm New Here-- Great tips. I did add a few servings of soup to the freezer. Love that convenience of just heating something up. I've never made chicken pot pie but a big fan -- just added that to my list of "to try".

    Kay Henderson -- Thanks for the ideas. Can't grow any veggies in my city apartment, but I did buy a few basil plants to get my thru the summer etc. And, I made pesto with some leftover. It will be nice to use some pesto during the winter.

    Anne -- You are right, I just need to think of it as a challenge. I think I was just getting into a bit of a boring food routine, just eating the same ol' same ol', even if costs wasn't an issue. I wasn't realy trying any new recipes/cooking methods --- and I need that to add some variety to my meals. Grilling chicken the same way gets a bit boring.

    Patt -- Great tips. You are right about getting out/seeing friends. Today was a balmy 60 degrees (didn't need my gloves today) in December, so took a walk. Great for clearing my head and getting in some exercise.

    Mrswaz --- I haven't made that many sauces but I agree its a great way to switch things up. Thanks for the book suggestion. I will go on Amazon and order it (only joking ). I will see if my local library has it, and if not I'll just request it. Getting books at the library is a great way to "treat" myself at no cost. I have "How to cook without a book" (or something like that) and I think they have a section on sauces. I will take a look at that too.

    I will be taking another look at my budget since its been awhile since I looked at it. I basically can rattle off all my expenses except for food/toiletries etc. I have started to track it since I've always been curious on how much I spent.

    Again, THANKS AGAIN EVERYONE. This BB is great!!! I hope I didn't miss anyone, if so, I'm sorry if I skipped anyone.

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