Food

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 …

Categories: Food, Frugality

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, …

Categories: Food, Frugality

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 …

Categories: Food, Frugality

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 …

Categories: Food, Frugality

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 …

Categories: Food, Frugality, Parenting

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 …

Categories: Food, Frugality

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. …

Categories: Food, Frugality

Five Tactics for Cheap, Healthy Eating

There are a lot of tactics that you can use to save money on food – coupons, comparison sales, and so on. The biggest problem with many of those tactics is that they work best – or they only work – on items that aren’t particularly good for you. My doctor has two simple rules …

Categories: Food, Frugality

Buy Your Groceries Sensibly

I live close enough to the Des Moines area that I often shop in the city for groceries. In Des Moines, unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of grocery competition. You can find all kinds of grocery stores there, from Whole Foods to Hy-Vee, from enormous grocery stores to tiny little out-of-the-way shops, from expensive stores to …

Categories: Food, Frugality

Food and Vacation

Over the next two months, our family is going to be doing some vacationing in various places in the Midwest and Great Plains. The longest trip in that period will be nine days spent in South Dakota and Wyoming with my wife, my children, and my parents. Vacations can be a lot of fun, but …

Categories: Food, Frugality, Travel

The Vegetable Train: How To Save Money on Produce

For the last twenty months or so, I’ve been switching back and forth between a vegan and vegetarian diet for health reasons (also occasionally eating fish). Sarah has more or less adopted the same diet, although we do often make vegetarian and non-vegetarian variations of the same meal. The result of all this is produce …

Categories: Food, Frugality

Does a Basement Greenhouse Really Save Money?

When I was a child, my father used to grow plants in our basement all year long. I remember going down there in the middle of the winter with several inches of snow outside, only to find tons of tomato and pepper plants thriving under an array of grow lights. I remember how the basement …

Saving Pennies or Dollars? Canning Beans

Saving Pennies or Dollars is a new semi-regular series on The Simple Dollar, inspired by a great discussion on The Simple Dollar’s Facebook page concerning frugal tactics that might not really save that much money. I’m going to take some of the scenarios described by the readers there and try to break down the numbers …

The Soup Kitchen

From about mid-October to roughly the end of March, we have some form of soup for dinner two or three times a week. It’s incredibly easy to make, has infinite variations, and is really inexpensive. What’s not to love about it? Here’s exactly how we do it. The Basic Tools Obviously, the most basic thing …

Categories: Food, Frugality

Some Thoughts on Dinner With My Family

For most of 2011, I’ve been posting a regular series entitled “Dinner With My Family” on Friday afternoons. In those posts, I’ve discussed inexpensive homemade meals that my family has enjoyed for dinner. Some of these meals were also incredibly quick to prepare, and I made an effort to try a variety of meals to …

Some Thoughts on How to Deal with Thanksgiving Leftovers

Instead of a “Dinner with My Family” this week, I thought I’d discuss how to deal with the mountain of Thanksgiving leftovers that many families find themselves with today. Each year, my mother takes charge of preparing a huge family Thanksgiving meal. Each year, there’s a small mountain of leftovers to deal with. I know …

Categories: Food, Frugality

Saving Pennies or Dollars? Whole Chickens

Saving Pennies or Dollars is a new semi-regular series on The Simple Dollar, inspired by a great discussion on The Simple Dollar’s Facebook page concerning frugal tactics that might not really save that much money. I’m going to take some of the scenarios described by the readers there and try to break down the numbers …

Dinner With My Family #37: Ratatouille Pot Pie

Ratatouille Pot Pie Recipe Our garden is producing a few last-minute things – well, mostly onions at this point. Along with that, we have our ongoing crusade to use up all of the things in our pantry and freezer, including such items as cans of diced tomatoes and premade pizza crust (as I mentioned before, …

Dinner With My Family #37: Curried Chickpea Stew

Curried Chickpea Stew Recipe My wife loves this recipe and finds reasons to make it often. It’s helped by the fact that we had a giant harvest of squash this year, so we had to find lots of ways to use it. I like curried soups and stews, so that definitely contributed to my desire …