By the end of March, I was committed to not making a trip to the grocery store to replenish my refrigerator and cupboards (I will admit to purchasing more coffee---it gets ugly around my house when there's no coffee). I started cruising the recipe sites (like Allrecipes), where I can enter the ingredients I have and want to use, and the site spits out a few recipes that might work for me. In this way, I was able to make it through March, and even made use of some items in the refrigerator that would have gone bad had I not used them up. . .
In any case, this end-of-month desperation not only resulted in my spending a bit more time in the kitchen, it also inspired me to search for other ways I could save money in and around that crucial room; after a search of my beloved internets, here's what I found:
- Challenge yourself. Last month, Money Saving Mom challenged herself to eat from the pantry for two weeks! With a husband, two little girls, and a little one on the way, going two weeks without a trip to the grocery store is the definition of a challenge, but she made it through! This is similar to what I did, although with just myself to feed, I think my challenge was probably a little easier.
- Make use of the freezer. I have three sad, BLACK bananas on my counter. I never ate them, yet I can't seem to throw them in the composter yet. A friend suggested making banana bread, but I think they're even past that use (these are some OLD bananas, folks). What I didn't know is that I could have peeled and frozen those bananas before they got really bad. Apparently, freezing fruits and vegetables is a time-honored way of preserving them until you need them, and there are many ways to go about doing this, according to this website.
- Apropos of that last bullet, growing your own fruits and veggies can be a great way to save money during the summer and fall months. And knowing how and when to freeze them is a wonderful strategy to enjoy your bounty throughout the year! I've started my seeds and am (im)patiently awaiting my first tomato of the season. According to this CNN article, many Americans are growing what's being called 'Recession Gardens' this year. I think this is one of the few positive reactions to our dismal economic environment.
- Don't forget the leftovers! Since I'm usually so busy during the week, I've been trying to make a large batch of something (lasagne, stir fry, a casserole, etc) on the weekend. That way I have a nice Sunday dinner, but more importantly, I have lunches for the rest of week, making it much less likely that I'll go 'round the corner to Chipotle for a $7 burrito!
- Mom was right when she told you to eat your vegetables. A diet that is lower in red meat and higher in fruits, grains, and vegetables is not only healthier for you, it's cheaper! You may even live longer, according to research. I recently came across an article that shows that people who eat proportionally more red meat are more likely to die from cancer and other diseases.
- Eat locally, and eat with the season. I can't tell you how many times I've paid three times more for a piece of fruit in January, that grows in my area (or at least the western United States) in the summer. Where is that winter peach coming from? Probably someplace very far south of Portland, that's for sure. So not only am I paying a premium for the fruit, my craving is adding to carbon emissions to get the darn thing here!