Monday, February 4, 2013

Organized SAHM: Saving Money In the Kitchen

I still have no idea what I'm doing.

Recap: My friend J wrote me an email, asking for advice because she's a new SAHM and wanted advice. This is my second attempt at sharing my wisdom. Last time I emphasized that I don't have an accurate picture of what I do as a SAHM. Today I emphasize that again, but share what ideas I have acquired about saving money.

A few years ago, I wrote about saving money before you quit your job.  A little after that, I graded myself on saving money as a SAHM, in general. Today, I present some tips on saving money in the kitchen.

1. Think healthy. Chopping fruit and vegetables and making meals from scratch is extra work, but fresh foods are cheaper than packaged or frozen.

2. Think about specials. I still dislike reading the newspaper flyers. What I don't mind is flipping through coupons and sales on my smart phone. My local grocery store has a shopping app, and it shows the current flyer, along with coupons I can add to my shopper's card. I still organize my paper coupons, but this app helps. It even has space for my list. Very convenient - and when I buy specials, often in bulk, I use my deep freezer. 

3. Think combination. Tons of recipes are on the Internet. Most of them are delicious. Most of them also want special spices, and fancy pasta.

My kids, and probably yours, enjoy most dishes with a side of ketchup. Some day you will have time to travel to different grocery stores and discover new spices from other countries. I don't have time now.

What works for me is making one dish, a combination dish. Some kids may not like it, but mine do not mind if I throw peas, noodles, chicken, and cheese all in one casserole. What makes this approach inexpensive is that I  can substitute corn for peas, chicken for turkey. (I also have a hunch this is what leads to beloved family meals that kids come home from college to eat. Let's hope I create one).

4. Think like a school lunch lady. You remember wising up to those school cooks. One day you have "breakfast for lunch" complete with sausage and eggs. Yum. The next day - sausage pizza.

Working all the time, my household once trashed tons of food, mostly leftovers. Use those leftovers. Add cooked vegetables into a cheesy rice dish. Create pulled chicken/ any meat sandwiches. Turn spaghetti meat sauce into the base for a homemade pizza. I do this (at least) twice a week, which means I am not "buying big"- so I'm saving money.

Those are some simple ways that I save money in the kitchen. Any additional tips SAHMs? Share in the comments!

Update! Part Three is up, about organizing time as a SAHM!