Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Making it Through a Barebones Week

When things were extremely tight for our family of 8, no matter how things looked, we always found a way to make it through.

Some things which helped were making pancakes for breakfast.  Who doesn't love a good pancake breakfast, and it costs pennies per meal.  Nowadays there are discount stores like Aldi and such that really can help things along all the more.  When my kids were real small we didn't have those.  Another idea was breakfast for dinner once every week.  No one complained about that one, which helps.  ;)

Homemade breads, biscuits, bread sticks or rolls are always a hit and help fill up with a portion controlled meal (AKA 3 oz of meat and any available veggies)
From scratch soups with a fresh bread nourish, warm & comfort, and allow a family to fill up pretty inexpensively (compared to more traditional meals)  One night was always soup/bean chili  night, and definitely for lunches, too.

Here is the link to the bread I first learned to make: 

When I was able to make a ham, or any other larger cut of meat, I definitely had to use some "up-front" portion control or the whole thing would have been gobbled right up and cost a fortune.  Instead I sliced enough for dinner, and set the rest aside to be diced and frozen in baggies as a base to other meals to come.  You can fry some up alongside eggs for breakfast, or use some for soup.  You can even make a sandwich spread by processing along with some mayo and a bit of relish, onion and celery. 

Potatoes can usually be had for a cheap price at this time of year and everyone loves potatoes.  Mashed, diced, baked and fried can be a friend to breakfast, lunch or dinner. 
Other cheap staples right now would be cabbage, carrots, apples that are just in season now, rice, (beans of course). 

Also, at times frozen veggies will be a better deal, dollar wise, than fresh.  They are picked at the peak of freshness and then snap frozen, so nutritionally they are a great deal. 

Diced apples fried in butter with some brown sugar make a sweet topping for pancakes as well.   It can make eating inexpensively seem like a treat.  Don't have brown sugar?  Molasses mixed in with some regular granulated sugar will do the trick (got that trick from Connie). 

A whole chicken can be stretched into 3 meals.  Here is a link that can explain that idea in more detail: 

Whenever you may have a couple extra dollars, even if you think you should hold onto it, think about purchasing a few staple grocery/pantry items more than you need right now (depending on what you already have currently).   Doing this helped me lower my grocery bill other weeks, and build up a pantry stock so that when there was no money, we still had food to work with.  I did this with canned items, and baking items especially. 

Back in the day there was a program where if you did a couple hours of community service a month, you could purchase a food box for like half price of what it would cost normally.  There were a variety of items in the box that you could plan your meals and other shopping around.  I cannot remember the name of the program anymore, but a little research could uncover whether there is a similar program in existence today. 

Also, at Farmers Markets you can buy "seconds" where I live for cheaper than the perfectly picked apples and tomatoes.  These are fruits that had fallen to the ground, but still very good, just not perfect anymore.  This is definitely what you want to buy for any canning you may want to do as well.  

Eventually I learned to make my own laundry detergent so that I could put that money into our mouths instead.  Here is a link to learn to do it the new fangled (and not dangerous) way: 

I devoured books from the library like The Tightwad Gazette for example that really uncovered some unusual and fun ideas for saving money and for making use of items you already have, and extending the life of items you already have as well.  It made for both entertainment as well as practical help to make it week to week.

I almost forgot!  Depression era searches online and books at the library can teach you to make desserts and such for a fraction of the price because they used alternatives to expensive butter and eggs.  Please check that out!  My kids thought we were doing alright during what were some pretty trying times when I could turn out a dessert like this.

One more thing before I close, price matching is a great tool for getting the most out of your dollar without having to cut coupons or drive around all day.  I will direct you to Jordan's blog to read a success story from a reader that lays it all out very well in an easy to understand way with helpful tips, just click here for price matching info!

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