• The Pasta Sauce Conundrum

    Two or three times a month, my family enjoys an evening meal that features pasta of some kind. We might enjoy spaghetti or lasagna or something else, depending on the mood. However, when I go to the store to buy pasta sauce, I absolutely cringe at the prices. The “cheap” sauces are loaded with high …

  • The Challenge of Frugality and Good Nutrition

    The other day, I went through a local grocery store flyer and marked items as either being “healthy” or “unhealthy.” I was curious as to whether items on sale were items that provided good long-term nutrition for people or not. Of course, the first problem is defining what “healthy” and “unhealthy” means. Part of the …

  • Seven Tactics to Avoid Wasting Food

    I was stunned by this article in the Washington Examiner that states that Americans waste 133 billion pounds of food each year. That adds up to about 400 pounds of food wasted per American man, woman, and child each year. If our family met that American average, the five of us would waste a ton …

  • The Fleeting Luxury

    I’m not a big fan of sweet stuff. I’ve always been the type of person that prefers savory flavors, and my favorite thing in that regard is cheese. I love trying new kinds of cheeses. Every once in a while, I’ll splurge and buy a chunk of cheese that I’ve never tried before. Extra mature …

  • The Ultimate Guide to Making Meals in Advance (with Five Recipes!)

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that a person can save a ton of money by preparing meals from scratch at home. Restaurant meals are incredibly expensive by comparison and even convenience meals at home can be costly compared to preparing them on your own. If you can get into a routine of …

  • The Slow Cooker Lunch Cycle

    It’s pretty easy to understand the desire to eat out in the middle of a workday. It can be really inconvenient to prepare a meal before you go to work, after all, and many of the meals you can throw together in a minute in the morning are pretty bland. The problem is that eating …

  • How a Slow Cooker Can Save Your Family Hundreds of Dollars

    This article first appeared on U.S. News and World Report Money. When most people think of a slow cooker, they think of a device of convenience. It saves time, after all. You can put your ingredients into the pot in the morning, come home from work, and find a meal already prepared for you, saving …

  • What Are You Buying? Another Way of Looking at “Cheap”

    You need some cheddar cheese for a recipe you’re going to make, so you head to the store. The cheapest block of cheddar cheese costs… let’s say, $1.99. It’s got the logo of a giant multinational corporation on it. You don’t know where it was made. You don’t know what kind of milk is in …

  • Four Simple Slow-Cooker Recipes Our Family Loves

    It’s no secret that I think a slow cooker is a great tool for frugal meals for a busy family. There are quite a few evenings where our family will be filled up with activities in the late afternoon and evening, so having a slow cooker with a meal in it ready to go when …

  • Meal Planning for Busy Families

    Five long years ago, I wrote a post outlining our process for planning meals for the upcoming week. It was mostly composed of six steps: Step 1: Get a Flyer Step 2: Find Sales on Fresh Ingredients Step 3: Do Some Recipe Research Step 4: Create a Week-Long Meal Plan Step 5: Make a Shopping …

  • Eight Tactics for a More Effective Grocery List

    One of the best tactics a person can have for cutting their food and household supply expenses is to always have a grocery list when they go to the store. If you go to the store without a list, you’re far more prone to buying things that you don’t really need. Here’s the thing: just …

  • The Salad Dressing Principle: If You Make Your Own, It’s Often Better AND Cheaper

    This is a post about salad dressing. The idea behind this post, however, is shared by countless things that we buy at the store, from paper towels to freezer bags and pasta sauce. Whenever I happen to look at the salad dressing options at a store, I’m always taken aback by the price. A bottle …

  • New to Cooking at Home? Start with a Few Basic Steps

    One of the easiest ways to trim your budget is by taking a serious look at your food spending. Let’s start with a few quick facts about how Americans eat: + At least 1 in 4 people eat some type of fast food every day. + Americans consume 31 percent more packaged food than fresh …

  • Dollars, Calories, and Nutrition

    In yesterday’s reader mailbag, a thoughtful reader asked about balancing food costs and nutrition costs. My response to him was a straightforward one: if you have dietary restrictions, then you start with those dietary restrictions as a foundation and use frugal grocery tactics within them. For example, if you wish to only eat organic produce, …

  • The Meal Express

    For about a year, I used to buy these really great salad kits at our local grocery store. They came in these nice little clamshell boxes, had a fork already in there along with some salad dressing, and the salad was usually a pretty good one. It was incredibly easy to grab three or four …

  • Smorgasbord Night

    Let’s take a walk through my family’s normal meal routine. For three days in a row, we’ll make some sort of meal at home. We’ll have spaghetti or a stir fry or some grilled fish or something else. As I’ve mentioned many times, the actual meals we have tend to depend a lot on what’s …

  • The Lessons We Teach

    Our children, like most children today, will choose something sweet when you give them a beverage choice. They’ll want fruit juice or a soda or something akin to that if I let the child make the choice. Thankfully, I’m a parent and I understand that it’s a terrible idea to establish a pattern that a …

  • Seven Ways We Effectively Reduce Our Food Budget

    Sarah and I have three children. According to the official USDA statistics on food costs, the monthly cost for our family to eat per month assuming we use their “liberal” food plan is $1,337.80. On the other hand, if we use their “thrifty” plan, our monthly food cost for our family drops to $686.60. In …

  • Building a Healthier “Flexible Casserole Recipe”

    Five years ago, I wrote an article about the “flexible casserole recipe” that I found in the wonderful book Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. In my original article, I lauded the flexible recipe as it enabled people to easily fit whatever ingredients were on sale into a simple casserole that would work for dinner. …