Monday, June 15, 2009

Frugal 101

Last Friday I taught a mini-class I called "Frugal 101" at our annual women's retreat.

Since it covered so much of what I try to practice in my own family, I thought it would be a good thing to post and see if anyone else found it useful!  It's kind of long, so I'll publish it in a series.   (The food section is the longest.) 

Enjoy!  (Oh, and you DO want to follow those links to The Chow Review.  Seriously good food over there!)


Frugal Food

The first thing that comes to mind to save money on food is coupons.  They can definitely save you money, but they can also ruin your budget.  Remember- manufacturers want you to buy their product, and they want you to buy a lot of it.  If you have a "great" coupon for something that wasn't on your list, the remaining price is money you didn't intend to spend and probably shouldn't have.

Good sources for coupons are newspapers, online, and community coupon books.

So, the first way to save money is coupons for things you already intended to buy.

The second way to save money on your grocery bill is to NOT spend money on overpriced processed foods.  Packaged and processed food is one of the most expensive methods of getting calories and nutrients, and the least healthy.  Focus on purchasing ingredients, in their most natural state.  The less packaging, marketing, product-placing, cooking, shipping, chopping...the better!  

The best to way to save money on food, that I've found, is to buy real food.  Most coupons are for boxed, packaged, processed food. 

So, the second way to save money is to not purchase processed foods.

The third way is to buy in bulk.  Our Relief Society has talked a lot this year about food storage, and how to rotate and use it.  We've talked about "pantry meals."  Make pantry meals your BASIC meals.  Things like wheat, white flour, canned tomato products, rice, noodles, and pinto beans.  

The cannery is open for bulk purchases without an appointment- call for hours.  Other bulk items can be purchased at local stores.

So, our third solution is to purchase basic ingredients in bulk and use them as the basis of your meals.
Fourth, eat less meat.  It's very expensive!

In the "Word of Wisdom" the Lord tell us:

12 Yea, aflesh also of bbeasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used csparingly;
  13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be aused, only in times of winter, or of cold, or bfamine.
  14 All agrain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;
  15 And athese hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.
  16 All grain is good for the afood of man; as also the bfruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground—
  17 Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.

Eggs and fish are healthy alternatives to four-legged animals, and very budget-friendly.  In addition, beans and rice both contain partial proteins that, remarkably enough, complement each other perfectly to form a "complete" protein when eaten together.  

Here are some other complete protein combinations (source:

Sources of Complementary Proteins

BarleyBeansSesame seeds
BulgurLentilsSunflower seeds
CornmealDried peasWalnuts
BuckwheatChickpeasPumpkin seeds
RiceSoy productsOther nuts

Combinations to Create Complete Proteins

Combine Grains and LegumesCombine Grains and Nuts/SeedsCombine Legumes and Nuts/Seeds
Peanut butter on whole-wheat breadWhole-wheat bun with sesame seedsHumus (chickpeas and sesame paste)
Rice and beansBreadsticks rolled with sesame seedsTrail mix (peanuts and sunflower seeds)
Bean soup and a rollRice cakes with peanut butter
Salad with chickpeas and cornbread
Tofu-vegetable stir-fry over rice or pasta
Vegetarian chili with bread

   Also, by adding small amounts of animal protein (meat, eggs, milk, or cheese) to any of the groups, you create a complete protein. Here are some examples:

  • Casserole with a small amount of meat
  • Salad with beans and a hard cooked egg
  • Yogurt with granola
  • Bean and cheese burrito
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Oatmeal with milk

So, our fourth method for frugal eating is to "eat meat sparingly" and include varied plant proteins in our diet.

If our #3 way of saving money is to not buy processed foods, our fifth method is to build skills to feed your family.  Learn to make basic breads, goodies, soups, stews, stir-fries.

Learn to make some of your own dairy products.  Yogurt is expensive at the store, so take about 10 minutes of hands-on time to make some at home.  (Warm milk, stir in a little store-bought plain yogurt with active cultures, then set in a warm place over night or until thickened.)  You can sweeten and add fruit, or use this as a marinade for chicken, or add to baked goods.

Ricotta cheese is expensive, and also very easy to make- the basic process is to make a simple farmer cheese with milk, salt, and lemon juice.  After you've strained the curds out and set them aside to drain and press, you re-process the leftover whey.  You're "recovering" the remaining proteins, which is why it's called ricotta cheese.  

Basic white cheeses (paneer, mozzarella) are very easy to make at home.

Granola cereal is another very expensive grocery item, often "over packaged" in very small containers and over-priced too!  With some bulk oats, your favorite dried fruits, a little sugar, oil, and salt, and some spices like cinnamon you can make very good and inexpensive home made granola.  Make a large batch on a Saturday morning- it will need about an hour in the oven, so choose a time you'll be home for about an hour.  And remember, granola with yogurt is a complete protein!

Bread is another over-priced item at the grocery store, and often filled with unnecessary preservatives, sugar, and salt.  Bread is very easy to make- I make bread every other day for my family with an extremely simple recipe: flour, salt, sugar, yeast, oil, and water.  

Bread freezes well, either as dough or as a loaf.  There are almost countless ways to make bread, but once you get the hang of what a dough should look like, you'll be comfortable making almost any bread recipe.  Wish a basic bread recipe you can make plain loaves or fancy loaves with add-ins like seeds, nuts, cheese cubes, fruit, cinnamon and sugar, jalapenos, or anything you can think of.  You can shape it into rolls, twists, pizza crust, or filled braids.  With the bread, you can make sandwiches or eat it hot with butter.  Remember, wheat bread with peanut butter is a complete protein!  

Specialty breads are a great place to save money- english muffins, bagels, french bread, and crusty artisan loaves are all simple to make, and cost less than a quarter of the worst tasting factory-produced kinds!

Day-old bread is perfect for toast, french toast, and bread salads like panzanella.

If you have any left on the third day, you can make croutons or bread crumbs to thicken soups, sprinkle toasted on beans, make breading for meat, or add to meatballs or meat loaf.  To me, wheat truly is the staff of life!


Aunt LoLo said...

Great job, Myrnie! I'll be linking up.

Su said...

Oh Myrnie,
I'm going to have to save this post and reread and reread and.... you get the idea!
I have so much to learn from you.
I think.... I'm going to buy a bread making machine instead of making my bread from hand like you, though!!

Casey said...

What a great class you taught! Thank you for sharing the info. :)

Andrea said...

Great tips, thanks!

Debbie said...

Look at you! Great post and tips. And thanks to your sister, I now buy my yeast in bulk. God bless good friends that you've never even met in real life:)

Teresa said...

It's always good to find ways to save money- great tips- thanks.
Have a great day.

Alexandra said...

That's a great protein sub. list! That sesame seed paste(AKA: tahini) is easy to make...I made a bunch for some ethnic meals a while back.