Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Save Money on Groceries

I’m a little unreasonable about buying groceries. I almost feel like crying every time I go grocery shopping. Prices seem to rise every week. Sometimes I don’t buy everything on my list because I think the price is terrible. I think that if I wait another week it might be on sale. It’s a gamble. Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose.

When I was in high school, I took a class where we had to plan a week’s worth of meals for a family of four using sale ads. We could only spend $30. (It was quite a while ago!) It was a fun game and with 25 people in the class, we all learned a few tricks. Treating grocery shopping and meal preparation like a game makes it a little more fun. The goal is to spend as little money as you can and see how long you can make your weekly groceries last while feeding your family tasty, nutritious meals.

Here are ten ways I save money on groceries:

1. I shop once a week and I use a list. I use an old envelope and I put my coupon collection inside and write my list on the outside as I run out of items or think of things I need. When I am ready to go shopping, I look through my pantry and refrigerator to see if I’ve forgotten anything and then put the envelope in my purse.

2. I search the Sunday newspaper and internet for sales and coupons from the stores I patronize. I clip coupons and save them in an old envelope to be used for grocery shopping that week. I use a different envelope each week.

3. I shop at discount stores like Aldi and Save a Lot. The quality of these stores is very good although you might find items that are not to your taste. The Aldis in my town have very good, cheap produce and bread products but my children do not like their frozen French fries.

4. I bought a chest freezer so that I could buy meat, vegetables, and frozen foods in bulk when they are on sale or at a wholesale store like Sims. It also gives me plenty of room to store leftovers, extra loaves of bread and rolls, and even potato chips and milk. You can buy one for less than $200 at Best Buy.

5. I buy generic and house brands. I especially like most of the generic and house brands at Meijer and Shop and Save stores. They are less expensive and some are even better than brand name items. My family does not like generic cookies, cereals, and waffles. You just have to try different items and see if you like them.

6. I keep my pantry stocked with fixings for cheap meals like spaghetti, noodles, tacos, chili, soup, beans, bouillon cubes, canned fruit and vegetables, crackers, and popcorn.

7. I make a lot of foods from scratch and try to cook breakfast rather than buy expensive cereals and frozen breakfasts. You can make your own pancakes and waffles from scratch: a simple recipe using flour, sugar, salt, oil, milk, eggs, and baking powder will make delicious pancakes and waffles in minutes can be found in the Betty Crocker Cookbook. Cooking from scratch takes a little more time but is more nutritious than using mixes or frozen foods and can save you money.

8. I try to buy milk, soft drinks, and even eggs on sale at gas stations and convenience stores. I also stock up on seasonal items at holidays. There are a lot of foods on sale during holiday weekends.

9. I keep a supply of freezer containers to store leftovers. Most foods will keep for a few days in the refrigerator and a few weeks in the freezer. You can make tasty soups, casseroles, and omelets out of leftovers.

10. The last few days before grocery shopping can be a challenge. You have to creatively use your leftovers and pantry staples to make ends meet. I usually end up serving canned soup and sandwiches, beans and wieners, a casserole, or sometimes even a breakfast meal of eggs and pancakes.

It is all in the presentation!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Comforts of Dog Days

Well, folks, it is the dog days of summer around here! Hot, humid, sticky, take your breath away weather. Comfort is hard to find. You will find yourself sweating in the coolest air conditioning and even the water in swimming pools is too warm to be refreshing. Could this be the hottest summer on record in your area? It is very possible.

The term “dog days” comes from the early Roman association of hot, sticky weather and the appearance in the sky of Sirius, the “dog star”. The “dog star” is the brightest star in the sky and is in the Canis Major constellation, which means large dog. In the northern hemisphere, Sirius rises and sets with the sun from about July 3rd to august 11th. It actually has nothing to do with heat and just coincides with heat and humidity in most regions.

Need comfort? Here are ten ways to seek comfort for those hot, sticky, boring days of summer:

1. Dress in light colored, lightweight clothing. One of the hottest places in the world is in the desert of El Azizia in Libya. The people wear loose linen clothes. Wear the least amount of clothing you can and choose loose, light clothing that breathes. I can vouch for cotton. I started wearing only cotton when I was going through menopause and it helps. There is also specially designed clothing for hot weather wear available developed by Nike and Adidas and other companies.

2. Drink, drink, and drink some more. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they are dehydrating. Drink water, lemonade, fruit punches, and decaffeinated ice tea and use lots of ice.

3. Eat light refreshing foods that are easy to digest and have a high water content: soups, salads, sandwiches, fruit, chicken, cold cuts, and cheese. Eat small meals and avoid salt.

4. Enjoy some ice cream, popsicles, etc. Make a root beer float or smoothie. A cool treat is very refreshing.

5. Visit a water park or swim in a pool. Getting wet cools your body temperature even if the water temperature is not as cold as you would like. It is the evaporation of the water off your body that cools you down. Take a swim or a lukewarm shower. Apply cool water compresses to your wrists or neck.

6. Go to a movie. Movie theatres are usually cool and dark and are a very entertaining way to while away a hot summer afternoon or evening.

7. Do your chores early in the morning or evening when it is not so hot outside. Save yard work until a cooler day. Use the microwave oven or crock pot for cooking.

8. Anticipate fall. Read up on the new fall shows on tvguide.com. Just thinking that the cool, crisp, fall weather is just around the corner followed by a possible cold and dreary winter can actually bring relief for summer misery.

9. Go shopping and enjoy cool air conditioning while preparing for back to school and fall activities. Looking at the fall decorations at craft stores and the fall clothes in the department stores can also remind you of the beautiful, cool, fall weather to come.
10. Hot summer days are an encouragement to slow down and relax. Read a book. Take a nap. Go to an outdoor concert or picnic. Have your morning coffee outside. Take an early morning or evening bike ride around the neighborhood. Breathe. Enjoy. Savor the last, shrinking days of summer.