Stretching Your Grocery Dollars Without Using Coupons Part 2

To see part 1 of this series, go here.

This week I implemented two important strategies to save money at the grocery store.  For one meal this week, I was planning on using the sloppy joes I had in the freezer that I made during freezer cooking two weeks ago.  I needed buns.  I was also planning to serve french fries and spinach.  I saved on this meal in two different ways.

1.)  Buy a multi-purpose food.  When I looked at the hamburger buns, they were all around $2.99 an 8 pack, which is much more than I was willing to spend.  However, English muffins were on sale for $1.49 for 6.  I bought those instead.  We toasted them up last night for dinner and used them as our buns for sloppy joes, and they were good.  Plus, the leftover English muffins can be used at breakfast.  (It would be cheaper still to make my own buns, but I haven’t found a recipe that doesn’t contain dairy.  If anyone knows of one, I would love for you to share it!)

Consider buying foods that serve multiple purposes.  Instead of buns, why not English muffins?  When looking for breakfast food, use oatmeal instead of cereal.  While cereal is generally used only in that form (with the exception of cereals like Rice Krispies and Chex), oatmeal can be used as oatmeal, or it can be used in muffins, cookies, granola bars, etc.  This ingredient stretches much further than cereals, and it usually carries a lower price tag.

2.)  Make your own.   A bag of frozen fries runs about $2.50 if I can find it on sale.  I managed to find a 5 lb. bag of potatoes on sale for .99, so I made my own fries.  I already shared this on Facebook, but for those of you who missed it, this is how I make them:  I take 4 of the potatoes, scrub them and slice them in sticks.  Then, I drizzle them with vegetable oil and sprinkle them with seasoning.  I generally use garlic or onion powder and Italian seasoning.  Mix all the ingredients (I do it right on the baking sheet), arrange in a single layer and bake at 450 for 18-20 minutes. 

Making my own french fries doesn’t take that much more time then dumping them out of a bag.  However, because I know there will sometimes be those kind of nights, I made up a huge batch of these fries and packed them in separate bags in the freezer.  For my meal, all I had to do is dump them onto the pan and reheat them.  The substantial cost savings (not to mention nutritional value) was worth the extra bit of time I had to spend.

Comments

  1. Question. When you froze your fries, did you bake them first? If not, how did you keep them from getting discolored in the freezer?

    • Yes, I bake them first at 425-450 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Then I freezer them after they are cooled. I reheat at 425 for 10 to 15 minutes.

  2. THANK YOU!!! I’ve been looking for ways to save on the french fry issue and I just couldn’t figure out you have to bake your potoates first!!! I so appreciate you and your blog!!!

    • Glad it helped! They are so easy to make, it is an easy way to save, especially if you cook them all in bulk on a weekend. Then you just have to pull them from the freezer on a busy night.5

  3. I did the same thing with potatoes a few months ago. http://savingthosedollars.blogspot.com/2010/11/make-your-own-frozen-french-fries.html

    great tips! I would have never thought of using engish muffins as hamburger rolls. I have finally found a recipe I like to use for buns, but it does have butter and milk in it.

    http://savingthosedollars.blogspot.com/2010/10/home-made-potato-rolls.html

    You could always play with it and try water in place of the milk and just no butter?

  4. I’ll definitely be trying the fry trick while I’m home over Christmas break. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I’m not very good at couponing, either. Thanks for the tips.

  6. When you make your own food, it just tastes better, don’t you think so. Plus it is always healthier. Like home made fries, I am sure they are much more healthier than fries from a Burger King.

  7. We have started making our own fries too. I thought my husband was weird when he wanted to try this but it worked and my kids liked them better. Now to cut cost I need to convince him to grow potaotes in the garden. Free fries. mmmmm.

  8. Great ideas (I’m getting ready to go read part one!)! I sliced up a bunch of potatoes (both in fry and disc shapes), stuck them in freezer bags and froze them. When I need potatoes for a baked dish, these work great!

    Also, I don’t know if you have a specific allergy to dariy, but I can find name-brand loaves of bread, hamburger and hotdog buns at our local Dollar Tree for $1. I load up and then wrap them in tin foil and stick them in a Ziploc bag and put them in the freezer. I’ve pulled them out up to a year later, thawed and used and they taste great!

    • Great idea, Carrie. I don’t think we have a Dollar Tree near us, but I could check out the discount bread store. Then I am not at the whim of the prices that fluctuate at the grocery store.

  9. My wife and I often make our own frieds. They taste awesome and a 5 pound bag of potatoes seems to last forever! It’s definitely a money-saver.

  10. thanks for the tip on fries! the hubby always asks why he gets homemade when at my mom’s house but not ours. 😛

  11. My son is dairy allergic…I am so glad I found you! =)

  12. Just another bread “switcharoo” that I use: I often find hot dog buns marked down to 50 cents at our Kroger store. I throw these in the freezer and they work great to make garlic breadsticks to go with spaghetti or whatever. Just open them up and put on a cookie sheet or baking stone cut sides up. Spread with butter or margarine and sprinkle with garlic salt, parsley flakes, and parmesan cheese and put under your broiler till brown. They are really yummy and my kids love them.

  13. If you need dairy free recipes you can easily convert ones that use dairy. Substitue rice milk for regular milk and butter flavored Crisco for butter. I do these all the time and it has worked for everything I have ever tried to make.

  14. This is our favorite recipe for homemade rolls/buns that contain no dairy. It does make A LOT (about 4 dozen!), so I usually half the recipe.

    Mix and let stand for 15 minutes: 3 1/2 cups warm water, 1 cup oil, 1 cup sugar, 6 TBSP yeast.

    Add 1/2 TBSP salt, 3 eggs (beaten), and 10 cups flour. (When I use wheat flour, I use some dough enhancer as well).

    Mix well for 5 minutes (I use my Bosch mixer, but you could knead by hand). Roll and shape immediately. I roll about 1/4 inch thick and just use a round biscuit cutter to cut them. Let rise 10-20 minutes. Bake at 400* for about 12 minutes.

    I use just a bit more flour than the original recipe calls for. Adjustments may be needed for elevation and humidity. This is a very soft dough that produces thick, soft, hearty rolls and buns. We use it for rolls, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, and mini pizza crusts. 🙂

  15. PS: I also use these to make “hot pocket” type sandwiches. I simply take the roll dough that has been cut, roll it out pretty thin, add the toppings, bring the edges up and around, pinch them shut, and bake. They freeze really well. My husband thaws one in the fridge overnight and then heats it in the microwave for 45-60 seconds for breakfast.

    We’ve used scrambled eggs with chopped ham or cooked/crumbled sausage or bacon, pizza type fillings (without the sauce – we serve the sauce on the side for dipping), chopped chicken, broccoli, and cheese (although that does add the dairy factor). Pretty much any combination is good in these, and they are so fast, portable and YUMMY!

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