Friday, September 18, 2009

Frugal Friday: try something new

I am going to try to be consistent about the Frugal Fridays tips hosted by Life as a Mom.

I don't know if it is just me, but I find it is way too easy to fall into some cooking ruts.  And those are usually reasonably expensive ruts to be in.  Convenience foods, are, well, convenient.  Not necessarily healthy, not necessarily inexpensive.  But definitely convenient.

So if you are trying to cut your grocery bill, what is one little thing you can try this week?

I've been trying to incorporate new things into our diet, with an eye towards healthy and money-saving.  Getting the chance to review a Sue Gregg cookbook definitely helped with that.  As a result, we've found a couple of things that work really well for our family.  And a few that didn't.

So, one big change in our life is that I started cooking with lentils.  I can buy a pound of lentils for just over a dollar, and for a main dish, one pound seems to work quite well for my family.  Most of the recipes I have used have called for a half-pound, but I end up doubling that.  (And I'm sure, if I go looking around, I can probably purchase lentils in bulk and save even more... but I'm not sure I want a 25# bag of lentils around.)

We had lentil chili as my "try something new" idea.  And it was fabulous.  Everyone liked it, the leftovers tasted even better than they had the night before, and it was cheap.

So, having discovered that lentils aren't poisonous, we continued on to expand our lentil repertoire.  A friend shared a recipe for lentil tacos that was delicious.  I googled for more recipes, and have a stack of casseroles, mostly, that we will be trying over the next month or two.

I figure that if we can eat a lentil meal once a week, that is at least a $5 per week savings.  With the chili, for instance, I would usually use 2 lbs of meat (usually around $3/lb) and 3-4 cans of kidney beans (I shoot for $0.50 a can).  Instead, I can buy a bag of lentils for a buck.  And it is far more healthy, which is good for all of us.

Other changes I have tried include sprouting, and learning how to use dried beans (I have to soak them longer than every recipe I've seen suggests.  Does altitude affect soaking times?  I thought it only impacted cooking times).

You don't have to change everything all at once.  What is one thing you could try this week?  I'd love to know, because I need some more ideas too.

1 comment:

Niki Jolene said...

I agree with trying new things to save money. We have done quite a bit of bean recipe experiments. We also like to try new ethnic meals because they tend to use less meat (or none at all) compared to American dinners.