Ten Tips for Tuesday: Money Saving Round Two

1. Save oodles of money by preserving seasonal produce! When berries are in season you can get them for a steal- same with citrus. I bet if you look around in your area you’ll find that prices drop to unbelievable prices on certain produce in the appropriate times of year. That’s because of a huge increase in supply. Yes, you can buy berries in the middle of December and you can get good quality if you get frozen because they are preserved at the peak of ripeness. Either way, it will still almost always cost you more. This year I found strawberries on sale for 98 cents a quart. It’s only July and they are already up to $1.78 at our cheapest grocery store. I made it a point to buy extra strawberries when I knew they were at rock bottom prices so that I could pop them in the freezer and have them all year round for the best price possible. I just found another good deal at our local restaurant supply store and stocked up on even more. When citrus comes into season this coming winter I’ll be canning mandarin oranges. Whenever something is in season, I make a point of preserving as much as I can in whatever way we like so that we can have it whenever we want for as little money possible.

2. Many people don’t even consider making your own pet food but it’s such a money saver and it’s SOOO worth it. Not only does making your own dog or cat food allow you to control what goes into your pet’s food, it saves you money in multiple ways. Besides the fact that your cats and dogs will begin to eat less over time because they are getting what they need in concentrated form (because most commercial brands bulk up their foods with fillers like corn, rice, and potatoes) they’ll also cost you less in hygiene and veterinary care over their lifetime. Feeding cats and dogs a natural, raw, and healthy homemade diet improves skin conditions, gives shiny coats, and increases health over an animal’s lifetime reducing necessary veterinary care costs as your pet ages.

3. Of course making your own lunch meat is healthier than what you buy from the store, but it’s also cheaper. Buying spices and herbs in bulk, or growing them in your garden, and buying roasts and chicken breasts raw all save you money. It’s also incredibly frugal and wise to invest in a good quality meat slicer. You can buy excellent models for around $100. The slicer allows you to cut your own lunch meat, cheese, and even vegetables to your liking. If you don’t want to spend your time and energy making your own lunch meat the slicer is still a good investment. Go to local restaurant supply stores or wholesale clubs and buy whole loaves of lunch meat. Slicing and packaging at home saves you money and allows you to use healthy and cheaper packaging methods.
4. Store bought granola can cost a pretty penny and it’s hard to find truly GOOD granola at the store. For me personally, they never have everything I want in it and there are usually lots things that I don’t want in it. Instead of buying it at the store, make your own! The possibilities are endless and it’s so incredibly easy! Some of my favorites are cinnamon, pumpkin seeds (shelled), golden raisins, dried blueberries and cranberries (or your favorite dried fruit), walnuts, flax seed meal, and coconut!

5. Baking can give you such a sense of accomplishment. Yeast, at least for me, can be so intimidating! However, when I bake something for my family it is so rewarding to see a bunch of simple ingredients turn into such yummy treats that comfort my friends and family and that create lasting memories. By making your own mixes, breads, and pastries you can control what the people you love most are eating and it cost so much less than buying premade or premixed products.

6. It seems so obvious, but for some people, buying in bulk never occurs to them. While there are traps, buying in bulk can save you vast amounts of money. Whether you buy only what you want in the bulk section at your local grocery store or buy from a wholesale club, buying in bulk can allow you options typical shopping experiences cannot, be it variety, savings, or just being able to try a little of something without spending a ton of money on a product you may never use again. Don’t just think inside the typical bulk box. Consider buying in bulk from local farmers when freezing and preserving. Think about buying a whole or a share of an animal for meat. You can even buy things like fabric and home office supplies in bulk and you’ll end up saving tons of cash in the long run. One completely viable but seldom thought of option- buy land in bulk. If you’re looking for a plot of land consider buying a large plot of land. You can keep and use what you’d like and have the rest parceled and sold off. Buying such a large amount of land, especially if you can find a great deal, will allow you to pay off a mortgage faster and control what your neighborhood will look like. For instance, if you don’t want your nice plot of land to be surrounded by suburban sardines section off the land to be sold in large enough, but small enough, plots to make them undesirable to developers. Instead, they’ll appeal to families that are looking for their own little piece of heaven just like you. You can use the gains you make off of selling the excess land to pay down your original mortgage ahead of schedule reducing the amount you’ll pay in interest.

7. Freezer cooking is becoming immensely popular these days, and for good reason. When I was younger and living on my own I used to cook an entire week’s worth of dinners on Sunday afternoons after my weekly shopping trip. I’d keep half the week in the fridge and half in the freezer and then pull new meals when I needed. I’m getting back into freezer cooking but I’m taking it to a completely different level. I hate fast food and my husband is a total addict. Unfortunately for me, we fall into the trap that is fast food all too often because of Chris’ hectic work schedule and our constant problem of having to eat dinner at 10 pm because he had to work overtime. That being said, I’m putting an END to it!!! I’ve been inspired to go back to freezer cooking to provide healthy and quick meals for my family. They aren’t necessarily ‘quick’ meals but they take no time to prepare because I do as much prep ahead of time as possible. For instance, say we want a classic steak dinner in the summer with steak, salad, and corn on the cob. For one, our glass stovetop (gotta love living in rentals) takes literally 20 minutes to boil water so making corn can take FOREVER! To prep this meal as much as possible I shuck and blanch entire ears of corn and freeze them in gallon Ziploc bags. I also put whatever rub or marinade on our steaks and lay them flat inside a separate bag, squish the air out and toss them into the freezer. The night before our meal I put the steak and corn into the fridge. When I get home from work I wash spinach, chop veggies, and make salad dressing. Then when Chris calls to let me know he’s on his way home I pull the steak and corn from the fridge so they can come to temp and grill the steak and corn while he showers and give the salad a toss with the dressing. The table is set and dinner is on the table just in time for us to sit down and have a nice meal together. I also freeze things like cookie dough, cinnamon rolls, muffins, red sauce, pulled chicken, slow cooked pork shoulder, and so much more that turns an hour or more cook time into 15 minutes and makes breakfast on hectic work days possible.

8. Save on your heating and air conditioning bills by circulating the air in your home. In the summer months, running fans in your home maybe second nature. In some places, they completely replace air conditioning. However, it is seldom that people consider running a fan in WINTER but it makes perfect sense. Nearly all homes have rooms that stay cooler or warmer depending on the season. We keep doors open to let air circulate from room to room in our homes but why not give it a hand. I’m not saying turn your fan on full blast in the winter. Instead, turn it on low and place it in the doorway or the hallway of your warmest room or area of the house. This will gently pull the warm air away from the room and push it into the desired part of the house. If you spend most of your time in a living room that gets very little heating or air conditioning you may be prone to crank your thermostat in your desired direction but by using a fan you circulate air that’s already to temperature to the areas of your home that you need it in you reduce the cost of further heating or cooling the air.

9. It seems like prices at the pump never cease to climb and summer can hit your wallet hard. Give it some relief by fueling up in the coolest part of the day. The warmer the weather the more fuel will end up costing you at the pump. It’s not just about the price either. It’s because as the weather warms liquid gas turns to vapor and you literally end up pumping more fuel to fill your tank. However, when you fuel up while it’s cool your gas stays liquid and it takes less to fill up your tank meaning you keep more money in your wallet.

10. I’m sure you’ve heard it 100 times from one source or another but BRING YOUR REUSABLE GROCERY BAGS WITH YOU! Make a habit of taking them back to the trunk of your car the second you finish unloading them. For those of you who choose not to carry bags for the sake of being green here’s some incentive that may persuade you to carry them nonetheless. Many grocers will give you a discount for each bag you use in place of taking a paper or plastic bag from the store. There are times when I go on large grocery runs where I save more from bringing my own bags than I do with some coupons.


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