Saturday, February 12, 2011

Buying fewer groceries

People have often asked me how the heck I can feed my family of 5 (or 6, depending on if my oldest is with me or his dad) for about $30 a week on average.  Well, to begin with, I garden.  Even in our tiny trailer park lot, I'm able to grow quite a bit, and I'm sure this will be a topic of many blog posts to come, so you can learn from my several years of accomplishing this.  Plus, I glean goodies from my parents' garden and I know someone with chickens that I can usually get free eggs from.  I often make my own bread as well (although probably not as often as I should.  I'm still working on this).

The fewer groceries we have to buy, the less we have to spend, right?  And the less prepackaged stuff we have to buy, we can spend even less and probably improve our health as well, since we are in complete control of what goes in the food, right?  Sounds great when talking about basic things like meats, eggs, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, even breads.  Any of those are pretty easy to stick to the basics and get ingredients that it is easy to identify the source of, or perhaps even create them ourselves (with the help of animals in some cases).  But, when it comes to how to prepare some of these things, that's where a lot of people get tripped up.  For a long time, even I was buying things like canned sloppy joe sauce, taco seasoning, and cocktail sauce (popcorn shrimp is one of my guilty luxuries that I allow myself from time to time!).  I noticed however, that my daughter would have severe behavioral problems after eating tacos, so I needed to figure out a different kind of seasoning for them that I knew she wouldn't react to.  And then once I forgot to put cocktail sauce on my shopping list so had to improvise at dinner time when it came to that night...and discovered a super easy, inexpensive alternative.  And then there was that time when I got a craving for some sloppy joes, but didn't have any sauce, so I figured out how to make that as well.  Today, I'm going to share these money saving recipes with you.  I'll admit, a couple of these recipes involve a fair amount of ketchup.  That is one thing I haven't started making myself yet, but I have seen a recipe that looks promising in the book Nourishing Traditions, if you want to truly start from scratch on these recipes.  First the recipe that doesn't contain ketchup:

Taco Seasoning Mix

2 tsp minced dried onions
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cornstarch (optional, if you want it to be a little thicker)

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container or use right away just like you would a store-bought package mix (brown ground meat, drain off fat, add seasoning + 1/2 cup water, simmer about 10 minutes)

Cocktail Sauce
leftover shrimp & cocktail sauce ready for someone's lunch

1/2 cup ketchup
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp honey
1/3 tsp salt
pinch of black pepper

Thoroughly combine all ingredients in a cup or small bowl.  Chill for an hour and serve.

Sloppy Joes
1 lb ground meat 
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup water
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp red pepper
1 tbsp Worchester sauce

Cook the meat, onion, and green pepper together in a skillet until the meat is browned and the vegetables have started to soften.  Drain off any excess fat.  Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer until desired consistency.  Serve on hamburger buns.

See how easy saving money can be?

1 comment:

  1. I make my own cocktail sauce with horseradish, ketchup and lemon juice.:)