Cost Saving Ideas for Everyday

Gas is going up.  Milk is going up.  Everything seems to be increasing – at least a little at a time – except for incomes.  Cost of living increases will need to 10% just to catch up (although I’m not holding my breath).  It’s really tough for the self-employed.  Giving ourselves cost of living increases just isn’t feasible.

As one of the self-employed (with three boys to boot), I have to stay organized to stay on the budget.  That means that I not only plan the meals – but when and how they will be served.  For example:  Mondays is choir practice over an hour from our home – right about supper time.  Either I have to stop and buy something at a fast food place or else I have to plan a portable meal.  These are the days I LOVE my sandwich maker.  It seals all the goodness right up.

There are a few things you have to do to make this work:

1.      Make a calendar of ALL the activities you and your family members have going on.  Sometimes it helps to color coordinate (have a different color for each member).  It is extremely important that you include times for the events (from start to finish).  You will need to know where you are going to be and for how long.

2.      Make a list of all your favorite meals (and get the family involved).  Ideally you will need at least 21 ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

3.      Fit the meals into your schedule.  If there is a day that you will be gone most of the afternoon, but home for dinner time then you will need a crock pot meal or some other quick and easy meal.  If you will be gone in the evening, then fix a picnic for you and your clan (it can be sandwiches, or hotdogs, or leftovers).

4.      Use the outline to make a meal calendar.  Plan what you will cook, but also any prep work for upcoming days (like thawing meat).

5.      Check the pantry for ingredients and then make a shopping list.  Cut coupons or print coupons from online services to go along with your shopping list.

6.      Plan a day to do your shopping AND precook any ingredients that you can (brown meats, chop ingredients, boil eggs, etc).  If you want, take it to the next level and prepare casseroles and other one pan meals that can be stored in the freezer.

7.      One last tip.  Get some canned foods or packaged foods that will last in the pantry for those days when everything goes wrong.  (Sunday, I had nothing ready for lunch.  I opened two cans of “lasagna,” added shredded cheese, and topped it with pepperonis and black olives – presto, pizza lasagna.

Just because the entire consumer world is going nuts doesn’t mean that you have to follow in line.  By taking some time to get organized and putting some thought into your day, you will be able to save money (even without a cost of living increase).

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  • Hello Kathryn, You gave me an idea to share a new trick that’s great for breakfast, brunch and more over the holidays. I like to make muffins, lately pumpkin-raisin-nut, and have always broken the task up into two days – like the measuring out of ingredients, combining what’s possible (like the dry ingredients together, the eggs-oil together, for instance) and just having all the various ingredients ready to go in various containers.

    Okay. But here’s a extra littlel trick that makes it Even Easier (And I must credit Mary Hunt at Debt-Proof Living for this one): First, as per usual, spoon the batter into muffin pans and use paper liners. Then, put the muffin trays staight into the freezer. When the little globs of batter are frozen solid, transfer them to a plastic container to free up pans and space. Then, when the day arrives that you want those muffins, just fire up the oven, put x-number of frozen muffin globs into the muffin pan and bake them. Amazing but true, I’ve tried this – bake them just the normal time at the normal temp and they come absolutely perfectly, in like 30-some minutes. Point being, effortless on serving day.

    Yum….you know, I could have some pumpkin-raisin muffins in about 35 minutes too. Kinda tempting…and it IS almost time for breakfast…! (EE)

  • I like tips like that. The only thing that makes them bad is that I rely on them too much (I don’t have to make breakfast, I can just reheat, toast, warmup, defrost, etc) 😀

    This is definitely one that will make its way into my freezer.