Friday, February 18, 2011

Budget Cookbook Series by Tomato Mama

We are on a strict grocery budget here at the Tomato household. I try to keep a close eye on how much we spend on groceries. I use everything I can to help keep the grocery bill low. I coupon, stockpile, buy loss leaders, mark-downs, and comparison shop. It's a lot of work, but I've been doing it for awhile now and can see how much of a difference all of it makes to bank account.

I also have been collecting and concocting budget friendly meals for a few years now. It is important to me to feed my family as many healthy options as I can, but it is incredibly difficult to keep things tasty and interesting on a shoestring budget. While browsing at my local library, I came across the "budget friendly" cookbook section. I grabbed a bag full and have been impressed with what I found! 

What I'm looking for in a cookbook like these are new ideas. I want some ideas on how to use the food already in my pantry and freezer and I don't want to have to buy tons of new ingredients to make them work. 

Tomorrow I will post my first cooking experiment with a book called EatingWell on a Budget (EatingWell).  I'm trying a few recipes from this book and can't wait to share them with you! 

In the meantime, here are some ideas for saving money on cooking and getting your grocery budget healthy...

1. Know how much you can afford to spend on groceries and stick to it! The Tomato household grocery budget is currently $250 a month. I do not include toiletries and household items in this list right now. 

2. Make a meal plan! By looking at the grocery store ads and coupon blogs I plan about a week of meals at a time with the deals I find. I write down 7 dinner ideas, lunch ideas and breakfast options. I make a loose plan for what day I'm going to make each meal, but I'm flexible. 

3. Cook once, eat twice. When possible I make a double batch of a meal and freeze half of it for another night's meal.  One of my favorite meals to do this with is stuffed shells, but I also cook rice and waffles in large batches for freezing. 

4. Use coupons if you can. Not only that, but go to a grocery store that doubles your coupons to get the most bang for your buck. Not all areas get great coupons in their Sunday paper, but there are a lot available online as well. I do not use as many coupons as I used to, but they are still a big part of my shopping trips. ( More on this in a later post.) 

5. Look for markdowns at the grocery store. Every time I go to my local Meijer I find markdowns on meat, bread, pastries and fruit.  

6. Shop your local Farmer's Market. Duck Momma and I are lucky enough to have an indoor, year round market in our town and are planning a trip soon. We will show you how we did in an upcoming post!

If you missed it, here is a frugal meal idea I posted a little while back. It's one of the Tomato Family faves! 

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