Saving on Groceries – Make Do With What You Have

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Saving on Groceries By Making Do

Saving on Groceries – Make do with what you have

Often, the first question I am asked by reporters and readers about saving on groceries is, “How do I save at the grocery store?” They are usually expecting the common answers like “use coupons” or “try warehouse shopping” and are very surprised when I say my biggest savings come not at the store but before I leave for the store, after I get home from the store and, as in the case below, when I don’t even go to the store.

This is just one brief excerpt from our Groceries On A Dime ebooks. I hope it gives you some ideas to work with.


Save on groceries by making do with the food you have.

Control your trips to the store. Not only does it save on time and gas, but money too. You know you always buy more than the one item you needed.

Every once in a while, you might even try to skip a week and not go to the store. You will find that by doing this you are using up a lot of food that would have spoiled or gotten old.

Even if you run out of something like bread, see what you can use in its place. Maybe the kids will have to take soup and crackers in their lunches instead of sandwiches. They might find that is a nice change. I have been without milk and bread at the same time before and I was shocked at all I was able to create without either one of those. For example:

  • For breakfast – We had oatmeal, cream of wheat or scrambled eggs instead of cereal.
  • For lunch – Instead of sandwiches, we would have soup and crackers, a bowl of chili or cottage cheese and fruit.
  • For dinner – Instead of mashed potatoes (We had no milk to mash them), we would have boiled or baked potatoes, although in a real pinch I have used buttermilk or sour cream to mash my potatoes and both were yummy.

I had a scratch bread recipe that didn’t call for milk or eggs so, if I had nothing but flour and yeast, I could still make bread. (You can find this recipe in our Dining on a Dime cookbook).

If you are out of bread and can’t bake any, here are some other things to serve:

  • For breakfast – Make biscuits (from baking mix), shortbread, pancakes or waffles. If you don’t have baking mix, check out your copy of our cookbook for a recipe to make it.
  • For lunch – Try peanut butter and crackers, cheese and crackers, stew or a chef salad instead of sandwiches.
  • For dinner – Make cornbread, muffins or biscuits.

All of these things are pretty common foods. Often, we fall into a rut. Certain things become habits and if something interrupts our routine, we don’t use problem solving skills to solve the problem. We need to learn how to change those habits and think of different ways of doing things so we’re not running to the store every time we run out of one item.

We become lazy or relaxed in our thinking about cooking. We automatically think if we change the routine and try different things it will be harder. It’s easier in our mind to run to the store and get bread than to try and figure out how to substitute something else for it.

I know that at first it may seem hard to make yourself change if you feel you can’t think of anything, but the brain is an interesting organ– the more you use it, the more creative you become. Like all the other muscles in our bodies, the more you use them, the stronger and better they get. We have just allowed our brains to become weak (lazy?? : ) in certain areas so we have convinced ourselves we can’t do something.

What we really need to do is exercise our brains more. Like with any exercise, start slowly. Start byย planning only 2 meals a week. Then when you get that down, plan 3 and keep going. We are often told to plan a week or 2 weeks of menus, but because many of us are not used to doing that, we become overwhelmed and quit. So start slow. One or two planned meals a week is better than none.

Now hit the gym (your kitchen) and start exercising. : )


PS. People often ask what kind of things are in our books and e-books, especially the Dining on a Dime cookbook. It includes lots of recipes to use to make things you may run out of like baking mix (Bisquick), sweetened condensed milk, pizza sauce, ketchup and ranch dressing. There’s also a whole chapter on substitutions, so you might want to check it out.



  1. Anonymous says

    I find it a fun challenge to use what I already have to make our meals. We recently had a power outage that lasted for 6 days due to heavy winds that took trees and power lines down. We fired up our Coleman camp stove and made chili, corn cakes, beans, rice & sausage etc. Most grocery stores were without power so we used what we had and ate really well. It distured me to hear the people on the news complaining about how the power company didn't make them a priority and they weren't getting hot meals etc. People need to depend on themselves instead of waiting for someone to take care of them.

    Stepping down from my soapbox!
    Kathleen Welch

    Love your site, keep up the wonderful job.

  2. Lori G. says

    I go to the store once a week or so. I use it as a day to get out of the house. Of course, the store is 60 miles round trip, as are restaurants. I am miles from the nearest neighbor, so there isn’t much socializing. Everybody says that the meals are much better when we are getting closer to store time. Because of this, I keep 2 lists on my refrigerator. One is the main shopping list. The other is for if I catch a ride to town during the day, and can go the specialty store downtown (I usually go to a Super Wal-Mart on Sunday, when the downtown is closed). You can make do with what you have. You just need imagination.

  3. Judy says

    Chicken broth is great to add to mashed potatoes too!

    I live 25 miles from town so I made do with what I have on hand, even if I forgot to buy something, like milk!

    I also keep dehydrated milk in the pantry for emergencies too.


  4. Margaret says

    We eat a lot of flour tortillas instead of bread, and they freeze well too. We make quesadillas, tortilla pizzas, and use up leftover meat wrapped up in a tortilla.

    • marilyn McCormick says

      Keep tortillas on hand for emergency meals. Tortillas are easy to freeze, cheap and can be used in a lot of ways.I recently made about 20 burritos using all leftovers from a party. Taco meat, leftover dip, chopped onion, guacamole and assorted cheese. I rolled each one up and put them into small baggies; then all the baggies into a large freezer bags. Heat and eat as is, or place several into a baking dish, pour picante sauce over and bake them. Top with cheese. Sometimes I make a breakfast treat by buttering a flat tortilla and sprinkling it with cinnamon & sugar. Place under the broiler and see it puff up. Turn and do other side. Delicious. Cut a stack into strips—bake till crisp and sprinkle on a bowl of soup if you don’t have crackers.

  5. Anonymous says

    In making do with what I have, I found there is also the element of not overbuying.

    For instance, while the unit price of larger packaging may give you a better deal, it is not the deal you want if you find you are not making use of the whole package of a perishable item before it goes bad.

    I have changed my buying habits a little, especially when it comes to produce. Instead of buying a whole bag or bunch of carrots, I buy just a few; the amount that I am likely to use within a week’s time; same with celery stalks.

    I also tend to buy lettuce from the salad bar at the grocery store, That way I can buy only the amount I need. The other day we had blt sandwiches, which only used a grand total of 30 cents worth of nice fresh iceberg lettuce.

    I also buy just a few all purpose potatoes at one time…for the same reason. This principle can apply in smaller households like mine, or in larger ones.

    Take a look at what produce or other fresh items you may be throwing out between shopping trips. It may be that you are tossing and rebuying the same things week after week.


  6. JohannaB says

    I used to think it was fun to cook from other folks stockpiles when they were absolutely certain they had nothing to make a complete meal from. I should think more like that now and cook from my own stuff.

  7. Bea says

    I think people that have to dig in garbages to find something, (ANYTHING) edible, like in India, would find it very hard to understand it when they look in our full cupboards, refrigerators and freezers and hear us say we have nothing to eat.

  8. says

    I borrow help from It has a feature that lets you search for recipes based on ingredients you do (and don’t) have. I’ve come up with so many things to make that way when times were tight, I don’t know what I’d do without it.

  9. says

    I had an eye opener a year ago when my new daughter in law and my son came home for a few weeks from China.
    I thought I was a fairly frugal use everything type of cook and shopper. Boy was I wrong in terms of the Chinese life style.
    She was amazed at all the jars and containers I had on my open shelves (for ease of access). she thought I had the grocery store stored there. She was shocked when she saw my pantry.
    She also said I threw out too much after a meal.
    She told Danny that wasn’t it a waste of money to have all that food sitting when the store was so close. He explained that I couldn’t always get to the store since I can’t walk and carry things too often so I kept what I need in the house.
    She said we didn’t eat enough vegetables though I did try to serve them with meals in different ways. And we ate way too much meat.
    Since then I have tried to cut down on meat but when you live with a carnivore that is kind of hard but now we eat more fish and chicken and less steaks and burgers. I roast vegetables since that is one way my husband will eat them. I serve lots of salads so the produce doesn’t sit and get old and wilted.
    Try looking at your kitchen the way someone from a different culture would and you will find ways to change your cooking and eating habit. I have been trying different vegetables and cooking more authentic chinese things so she will feel more at home next summer when they come for a visit.
    Even a trip to the grocery store was fun to see her expression at the sizes of the containers.
    So yes I now shop less and buy more of what I need than lots of things I might find handy at some point during the week.

    • Jan says

      Yes, this really is an eye opener. I thought I used things pretty well, too, but then I got very busy outside the house–I have a wild schedule–and found myself neglecting to use certain items when I had to cook in a hurry. Then I would throw things out, which I hate to do. So, re-thinking is going to be necessary again, and your post really helped.

  10. Ruth Palmer says

    Several years ago I travelled to another city to stay with my daughters family while she was in the hospital with a new baby. She left for the hospital before I arrived and I had her two older children in my care plus her husband who was a University student ate breakfast in the morning and came home at dinnertime at night. It was about 3 days before she was released to come home from the hospital. My point is that when I got there and looked for food to feed the family there were a few staples and not much else. I knew they were poor college kids and didn’t want to embarass my son-in-law by asking him to buy some groceries. I had a little money of my own but no grocery stores near by and no transportation to get to one. Wow, did I ever have to get creative but somehow I fed everyone. On the day my daughter was coming home some ladies from church came bringing dinner and wanted to put it in the refrigerator. I asked them just to set it on the table because I was ashamed to have them see how bare the refrigerator was. As it turned out my daughter had planned to buy groceries before going to the hospital but didn’t have time. She asked her husband to go to the store and get some things but because there was always food on the table he assured my daughter that I was fixing wonderful meals and we were doing great. So when push comes to shove I found out that yes, with a little imagination we can make some pretty good meals with what we have on hand. But I’m not sure I could have made it through another day. Ha! PS: Those church ladies looked like angels when they brought that dinner in!

  11. Bea says

    Here is a recipe for frosting that can use up some leftover mashed potatoes. The frosting is deliciously smooth and creamy. It’s called, “Potato Fudge Frosting” and the ingredients are: 1/3 cup (2/3 stick) soft butter or margarine, 2 squares (2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate, 1/3 cup cold, smooth, mashed potatoes, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla, 3 cups confectioners sugar, about 2 tablespoons milk. Melt butter or margarine in a saucepan. Cook until lightly browned. Add chocolate and stir until melted. Add next 3 ingredients and mix well. Add confectioners sugar alternately with milk until frosting is of a smooth-apreading consistency. Spread over cooled cake of choice. “Spiced Potato Fudge Frosting” adds 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves to the potato mixture.

  12. barb~ says

    Last Sat. morning a good friend treated me to a pumpkin latte and scones at Starbucks. I was stunned when the total for two drinks and two scones was $15.00!!!!
    I have thought about the pumkin latte and would like to make my own version, only budget friendly. Does anyone have a recipe? It was a yummy hot treat on a cool Fall day and I would like to make them for the holidays.



    • says

      Barb one thing you might watch for was last year at this time they came out with a bunch of pumpkin flavored creamers and flavored coffees which you can find at Wal Mart and other places. Also we have a bulk spice store and sometimes in season you can buy pumpkin flavored coffees which are pretty reasonably priced. You could mix any of these up with your regular coffee too to make it stronger or weaker as you like.

  13. barb~ says

    Jill and Rhonda, Thanks so much for the ideas! It will be so worth it to find a copycat version of this pumpkin latte. It is wonderful!!! It will be even better to do it on a dime!!!!:)

  14. susan says


    I have gotten to the point that I am now only going to the grocery store once a month! I have found that using canned milk for cooking and keeping frozen bread in the freezer has saved me a lot of time and energy! I make my list to last one month. and I find I am still not spending that much more money. Its all in the planning and finding those sells items! God bless you all for doing such a good job!


  15. Tracy says

    I can agree with your article
    When i was younger and my son was younger we run to the park spend money with my gas card and pick up a few snacks etc After a month of our daily runs to our park
    My gas card had a big bill to pay
    So we instead packed a cooler and save my money that way
    But now having a teenager I have followed your grocery e
    -book for a while i shop once a week
    I used cash and preplan a week of our weekly meals ,have a price log of items i buy from my receits
    Both my son and husband take lunch and buy lunch
    which we buy and bughet for in our monthy food bill
    and if i run out i do without or make something different
    As you had mention kids needs only a few cups of milk
    and we drink allot of water and our family drinks small size glasses of orange juice each morning
    I found a store that sells a gallon of regular orange juice under 4 dollars and milk under 4 dollars
    We liked receiving your info keep up the great work with your web site

  16. Jennifer says

    Re: Make do with what you have. We have so much.
    A couple of years ago when I re-read The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder, it made me think how good we have it now. They had to wait until almost Easter for the Christmas turkey they ordered.
    Right now I’m downsizing from having had young adults in my house to just myself, and trying not to spend food money for a month or so while I adjust. My son and his friends moved into the basement suite so I gave them the big stuff (sacks of rice, etc). It’s amazing how many meals I can make from staple ingredients. Where I run into trouble is when I run out of cat food! Kitty won’t eat beans and rice or pancakes or edible weed salad, but there are mice outside if he’s hungry enough. When I go for a walk before lunch I try to find edible greens for a salad or the last few berries and fruits for “fruit medley jelly” (rose hips, quince, apples, cherry laurel berries, blackberries, fall raspberries, a bit of elderberry here, oregon grape there…add rhubarb, etc.). I live in a city so have to be careful to take only free food, branches hanging into the alleys, weeds in parks, etc., not from the community gardens or anyone’s yard. I’ve learned which blocks have apples as street trees, where they bounce off cars or land on the grass and you can fill a basket in no time (good cooking apples if not too bruised). My own apple harvest this season was small, and although my garden improves year to year, it didn’t produce much. I love your advice and economizing, hoping I can eventually get out of debt too.

  17. rose says

    barb .. looking at the date of the $15 starbucks snack .. it is almost exactly one yr ago today you posted that .. i am curious if the prices had gone up for 2 coffee’s and scones much in the one yr? ..
    yesterday i went to chic fil a for 1 lg bowl (actually, for us its one small bowl) of soup, 1 small salad, 1 large lemonade and 1 chicken breast patty(no bread, no salads stuff no mayo .. just the patty) and 1 small coleslaw…
    it came to $14! .. i almost died .. and the only reason why i went there is bc i didnt make any soup for hubby and he wanted some .. and the chic fil a was close to there and son wanted the lemonade and daughter wanted the patty and coleslaw .. i thought “well no more than $10 should do it” .. huh! .. i was wrong .. i was in a hurry and ran out of the chicken noodle soup (cans) i normally have stocked for him (it settles his stomach)… never again! .. never ever again … i was so upset (mainly at myself) and well .. i know things are high but come on! ..
    and just to let u know, i was told the soup they serve is homemade so i thought that would be good for him (normally i give him the cans of soup or i make it myself)..
    its a lesson learned ..
    just like another thing happened .. my son and daughter went to denny’s .. they know their dad loves the chicken noodle soup there .. so they are eating dinner and ask for 2 cups of soup to take home for their dad .. normally for the price denny’s charges for takeout soup is rather high compared to the container BUT .. and i mean BUT .. not only did the price stay the same but the soup was served in a container half the size smaller than before .. same soup, same price but much smaller container .. sad .. but true .. and i inquired about that too .. those huge bags of soup they get (where u just add like 10 cups of water or so ..might be less than that) is only $15/their cost .. i told my kids never again .. if they want to buy their father soup .. go to walmart and buy the cans of soup . if u want to buy soup already made (as a treat) . go to bob evans .. $6.99 for a quart of beef vegi soup .. homemade! .. or the bean/ham or chili or potatoe ..
    never again .. another lesson learned ..
    sorry to be rambling .. i know things are high .. and prices arent going down …
    sorry off of my soap box ..

  18. rose says

    on the bright side tho .. i havent turned on my oven yet (well only for 1 full hr since march 1st.. and that wasnt at one time, it was for a time here and there .. but it equaled to one full hr.. ๐Ÿ˜€ ) .. and i do love chicken and buy the rotisserie chicken but for the price i pay, $7.39, i normally get 3-4 meals out of it .. mainly 3 meals.. so for roughly $2.50/meal i am doing well … and if i get a chicken at walmart then its much cheaper ($4.99/chicken) so the savings is much better ..
    and i didnt use my electricity to cook the chicken in .. ๐Ÿ˜€ ..
    just wanted to share .. and yes .. i am making homemade soup today ..its in the crockpot .. ๐Ÿ˜€ .. hubby wanted me to tell u .. after yesterday’s fiasco/meltdown of the $14/meal .. ๐Ÿ˜€

  19. Grandma says

    Jennifer, your lifestyle may well suit you BUT letting your cat out to catch its own dinner is not a good idea.
    Mice eat poison not enough to kill them just make them sick until they come back for more.
    This can also make your pet sick or kill it.
    Also cats running free do not make good neighbours.
    I had to garbage all my leaf lettuce because cats would use it as a litter box. Didn’t realize it until I brought some into the house and my kitchen reeked of cat pee.
    My neighbours cat almost killed me last winter. It was the day after an ice storm, I went outside to feed the birds and the cat ran under my feet. I went down cracked my head and was out cold, for about 5 min. I couldn’t get up even after that and if my other neighbour hadn’t come home unexpectedly and helped me into the house I would probably have developed hypothermia.
    Now that is going to sound like I hate cats which is so far from the truth.
    I have now 2 indoor cats who are 17 and 21 years of age. They are not allowed out of the house unless they are on leashes and I am out in the yard with them.
    They love my husband and I unconditionally so we return the love by caring for them to the best of our ability.

  20. Grandma says

    I don’t think a regular stove and oven would not work from no use.
    But it is possible if you have one the ones with computer technology may need to be cleaned properly if the circuit board gets dust or grease on it and is left over time.

  21. Jaime says

    Jill or Tawra,
    Please post a list of “staples” that you think everyone should have in their kitchens or pantries. This would be a good starting point for people who were never taught to cook or are just starting out on their own in their own house or apartment. This would also be great for college students living in dorms.

      • Janet Giachetti says

        This must be an older list. I can’t find meat anywhere for $1.99 and very rarely cereal for $1.50. I only buy meat on sale. Haven’t had any beef for a long time because I won’t pay the prices. I live in New England. so maybe prices are higher here.

        • says

          It is a little older although I bought name brand large boxes of cereal for $2 last week – Cheerios, Cinnamon toast crunch.The prices are a little more in New England but the average income is much higher there then it is here. That is why I say even though prices on certain things are higher (we can pay $4 for a pint of blueberries) or lower with groceries I find usually the incomes in the area are higher. Another example is in Colorado housing is off of the charts compared to Kansas but their groceries many times are less and they have less on some of their utilities.

        • Andy says

          Have you tried shopping at alternate stores such as Family Dollar or Dollar General? They seem to have lower prices for things like eggs & milk.
          As for buying meat, I shop the clearence meat & cook it on the same day. In the fall, I plan ahead & buy a huge roast(beef or pork) & cook it in the crock pot with just a little water. Once it’s done & cooled I portion it into ziplocks for use in things like BBQ sandwiches & fajitas & stew.
          I also take advantage of buy one get one sales with a friend. We split the bill & the stuff.
          Hope this helps.

          • says

            Yes, we use Family Dollar and Dollar General all the time. I prefer to shop there over Walmart. I hate Walmart. I would rather walk in and pick up my stuff than have to hike all over the place so I love those stores!

  22. Jaime says

    Thanks Tawra. This is exactly what I was talking about. This is a great starting point for those people who have no clue what to keep in stock in their pantries. College students should take note of this since school has just started up again.

  23. rose says

    grandma .. you said it right to jennifer .. my mom lost her beloved cat, midnight, due to mice they had in the one house her and husband (at the time) lived in.. it was in nj .. and b4 she realized there was mice in the attic (she lived on the 2nd floor of the house), she couldnt understand why midnight wasnt eating any of the cat food she would set out (she even bought all different kinds of cat food bc she thought the cat was getting picky) .. and then when she found midnite with the mouse, she immediately took the cat to the vet .. (midnight started regurgitating very badly) .. the vet ran some tests and well .. she ended up putting the cat down bc the owner never told them they were putting that poison out and trying to get rid of the mice..
    my mom’s cat was such a sweetie, too .. we get mice in our neighborhood esp in the wintertime .. and well .. i know pets like them (some to snack on) .. but i would protect my cats/dogs at all costs .. rats/mice carry disease, rabies … and well bc the whole neighborhood does put the poison out all the time .. and well all that poison does get in their systems and can get into the cat’s/dog’s systems .. i am not a sciece expert .. but this is how i feel ..
    jennifer .. you can go to the dollar store and get a bag of cat food for $1-$2 .. and if u have a place that helps people in need of food, sometimes if u ask, they might even have pet food/litter .. i know they do here where i live .. its not a big assortment but it does help .. or if u have a harvest time in your location they do have pet food/litter for very cheap ..
    and the stove .. well i did clean it b4 i “shut it down” for the summer .. but since its fall season (not cold enuff tho yet) to use, i will be giving it a really good cleaning again …
    thanks jill and grandma .. ๐Ÿ˜€ ..

  24. rose says

    just called the library .. and they are taking in food/cans/pet food/litter/female items for the local food banks in our area ..
    they normally do esp this time of year with the holidays coming ..
    so, if anyone is interested, by all means, call your local library and see if they have something like this in ur area ..
    also, my brother used to be a postman and he said, the last few years the postal people have taken in food for the local food banks in the area’s he worked in .. just call your local post office and inquire ..
    i know several churches offer this too .. (and some are even the local food bank of the area) ..
    just some info sharing .. ๐Ÿ˜€ ..

  25. Anne Davis says

    I have enjoyed reading these comments. I am used to spending around $400 plus a month on groceries for my husband and myself and sometimes guests. Then I had to stop work because I became disabled and our finances were greatly cut. My husband is trying to pay off all debt as quickly as he can so we have cut the grocery budget to about $200. Some months I don’t go at all except for milk and bread, although I do also make homemade bread. I have been surprised how long I can actually go between trips. We do live in the country about 10 miles from the store and I have always canned and frozen food. We have 2 freezers and 3 pantries!! so I should always have something to cook. I have been trying to stockpile because prices are going up and I believe we are headed for a great depression! BTW My mother’s father left them when she was 8 years old and it was during the great Depression and they ate pears 3 times a day because there was a tree in their yard! Hope for the best and prepare for the worst!

  26. Cat says

    This article could not have come out at a better time.
    The company I worked for let all the temps go, so I’m once again job hunting. Things were tight, now it’s going to be a real challenge. The first thing I did was declare no grocery store until all the cans, boxes, and little forgotten bags of food in the freezer have been consumed.
    The hubby was sure we would starve to death (lol!) because he didn’t see anything in the pantry. He’s been really impressed at how well we have been eating this week, plus all the cookies, breads, and dessert I was too exhausted to make before. I got my news on Monday and I broke down today and bought sugar (that last bag we had like a year) to put in his iced tea. I’m now trying to wean him off pop. I know it’s a hard addiction to overcome, but I did it myself a few years ago. I learned over the years that coupons and bulk buy stores only cost more money in the long run. Stocking up also wastes money if you don’t use what you bought. The only things I will stock up on is beans, rice, and baking supplies because they last for a real long time on the shelf. I also didn’t tell the hubby some of the boxes were expired by a few years. hee hee. They cooked up just fine. I’m glad this happened because I think we are finally on the same page when it comes our grocery spending. It’s hard when one person is miser-erm frugal and the other not so much. He had taken over the cooking since I started working nights. We had pizza quite a bit when there was ‘nothing to eat’ I just feel grateful and thankful for all I do have. God really does provide and this time around I’m putting my trust in Him. Thanks again for this website and to all the regular commentors. I ‘ve learned a lot and have gotten many great ideas!

    • says

      Way to go Cat and thanks for mentioning that you used some things that had expired. Years ago you didn’t have expiration dates on the them so you would use your food unless it had a dent in the can years after we would say it was expired now. Most canned goods and things don’t really go bad they just start losing their flavor and that sometimes doesn’t happen until a couple of years or more after their expiration date. I know I will get a lot of flack for saying this but it is true none the less.

      Even the poorest of us now have enough money to be what I call “fussy” about our food but if ever you have really had to do without and not sure where you next meal is coming from you find you eat what you can get or afford.

    • says

      Cat to help with the weaning off pop, try making flavoured teas.
      My husband likes pomegranite and rose hip.
      I enjoy the hibiscus flower and rose hips.
      both turn a lovely colour and are good hot or cold.
      Sometimes the colour is enough to curb some of the craving something like pop.
      I used to drink a case of 12 cans a week and my husband drank 2. now 12 lasts me 4 weeks and and we are spending a lot less.
      Oh yes loose leaf has a better flavour and costs a lot less than the bags.

        • says

          We have been traveling to the city which is 3 hours away to a store called the Bulk Barn.
          But we may change and order it from a new store that has opened 20 hours away.
          My brother and his wife have just opened a tea shop in their city and since I love my brother and have no connection with the bulk barn I think if they have or can get the teas we like we will switch.
          Simple to email him an order and then they ship it up in the mail. Nobody has to travel far.
          We like the bulk barn as it is reasonably priced and fresh. 2 other places in the city have tea that looks like it has sat there for a year after being in the back room for 2.
          They also know that we buy in bulk because it is a day long trip there and back so they vacume pack it for us.
          We go to places that make you feel like your business means something.

        • says

          They sale loose leaves at many grocery stories now just check in with the teas. It sometimes comes in cans. We also have what they call Spice Merchant where they sell spices and teas in bulk. Loose teas are so popular they are getting much easier to find although you can order them online too.

    • says

      One thing about weaning off of pop or anything is to remember that your body craves the thing you have been giving it the most of. For example I drink water all the time and crave it too. I sit down to a meal and even if I am going to have tea or coffee with it (which I normally don’t have) I will have to have a glass of water too. If someone drinks 10 pops a day maybe substitute 2 cans with water, tea or what you are changing to for a week or so then the next week make it 7 pops and 3 waters. You should eventually get to the point of actually enjoying or wanting water, tea etc.

      • Sherri says

        I went to a weight loss seminar several years ago. They made a big point about dropping soda, regular or diet, and drinking water. Even diet soda, that uses the fake sweeteners, makes you crave sweets. They are empty calories and really do not relieve your body’s need for rehydration. Just last week on the news a guy had consumed ten regular cans of Coke a day for thirty days. He felt sluggish without the added caffeine in his system until he drank more. He gained weight over the thirty days too. After the seminar, I cut out all soda and lost 100 pounds. I’ve kept most of it off too, but made the mistake thinking I could drink soda in moderation and not regain the weight…. So I’ve again, dropped the soda and added the water.

        • says

          It isn’t just pop that causes weight gain. Many people drink juice and milk think they are drinking something healthy and but those have a huge amount of calories in them. I remembered when I first got married I had always drank water with a meal and my husband liked to drink sweeten ice tea. Since we usually shared a glass to save on washing dishes I started drinking the tea. I gained 10 pounds in just a couple of weeks. That was the only change I had done in my eating habits. I stopped and immediately when back to my original weight.

  27. Rachel says

    I saw on the news this morning that groceries are up 10%. Anyone who has been to the grocery store lately knows this! I am using less meat, a half pound of hamburger in spaghetti, chili, etc… And having breakfast one night a week, eggs and grits and toast, maybe some bacon if we have it, if not, okay. tuna fish is a good staple. We do not care for tuna casserole, but many do. We make tuna fish sandwiches, and sometimes I make tuna patties that are similar to salmom patties. Yes, I do believe that food costs will only go up. I have been married 32 years and raised three children, and this is the first time I’ve had to leave items like cookies in the store because we could not afford them.

    • says

      Yes prices are going up but to help people put things in perspective that even though we are maybe having to tighten our belts we still aren’t in as bad of shape as generations past. Let me give you an example. Taking the price of eggs and the average income in 1910 a person would have to work 2 1/2 -3 hours to pay for 1 dozen eggs. Fast forward to now we have to work about 30 seconds to pay for eggs.

      Food was scarce and very expensive and until pesticides came along they were at the mercy of mother nature. After pesticides and a few other things came they were able to produce more food thus making it so much cheaper.

  28. Marie says

    August looked like it was going to be a budget buster month.
    We never eat out unless we are out of town which is about every three months, but we had three family affairs and two doctor appointments to go to. Each trip cost a $50 refill of gas and one or two meals to eat at about $18. Fast food places are getting too pricey. The best place is a two for twenty and drink water. Next trip,we are going to take a doggy bag and bring planned leftovers home for another meal. At drive ins we super size a meal and share it. Two weeks I did not go to the store, but we ate up all the old stuff with frozen milk and salad makings from the garden.

  29. Cat says

    Thanks, Grandma for the flavored tea idea. I bought some peach flavored tea from Aldi’s. I’m still having trouble getting ‘Mikey’ to try it though. LOL! He has switched to Aldi’s pop. On a happy note I start a new job this morning. I’m still sticking to my guns on the cleaning out the pantry/freezer though. Besides the sugar & pop, I spent about $20 at Aldi’s to buy milk, flavored tea, butter, eggs, evap milk, mayo, ketchup,several loaves of bread for the freezer,fishsticks and a couple bags of chips. I’m not going back to the store until the freezer is empty.
    I also bought some of that ‘kool-aid’ type drink mix in a packet of 10. Back in the day we had all sorts of pop for guests if they didn’t want coffee, tea, or water. I thought that might be a suitable and chea-erm frugal alternative.

    • says

      Cat I remember when I was young you didn’t keep tons of pop on hand but you would just have a pitcher of tea, lemonade or kool aid to serve. Now everyone thinks they need to serve pop. I keep a pitcher of powdered lemonade or kool aid in my fridge and the grandkids love it because it is something different. One thing I haven’t gotten use to is they come to visit and carry in their own pop or large convenience store cup they brought with them. I guess things change.

      Also when you do the flavored tea I don’t know what recipe you are using but to save even more and people seem to like the flavor even better is when I make flavored tea I use 1 flavored tea bag to 2 regular ones for 2 quarts. The flavored tea can be more expensive so this saves money but also the flavor is more subtle for those who don’t like a strong flavored tea.

  30. Cat says

    That is a good idea on the tea. This time I just bought some of the Adli ‘Fit & Active’ powder. 1 packet eqauls 2 quarts. It’s not bad, but I love real tea much better.
    When I was a kid, pop was only a special treat or for the occassional times you went out for a hamburger. When I struck out on my own, I lived on Diet Coke. My Grandma used to tell me that it was not healthy to drink it with meals, not to mention so much of it. I figured it was all right because it had no calories. I realised later she was right. I do feel much better now that I drink more water and not so much chemicals and artificial sweetners.

  31. Barb~ says

    I have given up pop this year, too. Now I drink mostly water. If I want something a little sweet, I use slices of lemon, or lime, and sugar-basically it’s lemonade/limeade over ice. You can even use the bottle lemon and lime juices instead of the fresh. It’s very refreshing and costs SO much less than pop!

    In tea I add cinnamon or other spices. It’s good either hot or cold. Sugar is optional.

    The grocery prices are killing me right now! I am going to begin stocking up on canned items, including canned things that are a full meal. I’m not crazy about canned food, but I think with the economy and the unrest around the world, we all need to take precautions.

    • says

      I love lemonade too like that Barb. I especially love it in the winter because I drink it hot. It is a nice change from coffee, tea, cocoa (all of which I love and drink) for something different and it is good for you. I happened to see a doctor the other day on TV say that you need to drink lemon in some warm water because it is good for cleaning out your system. They keep coming up with these “new” ideas but I remember my grandma having hot lemonade every morning and telling me to drink it when I had a cold or was sick.

  32. Marie says

    Barb, you are right to stock up on non-perishable food. You never know what calamity might happen. I use about to expire food on my no spend week and replace them when those items are on sale.

  33. Shannon says

    I found this idea about 3 years ago, and started using it. I was using a missing component of my normal “meal” as an excuse to get take out. So things like spaghetti, I can used plan tomato sauce and season it myself, or crescent rolls in place of sour dough bread, I now have a great easy pizza crust recipe I use for bread sticks in a pinch. Orange juice in place of pineapple juice in my favorite sweet and sour sauce recipe, I tried homemade tortilla’s and while they where okay, it was a lot of work, and did not taste at all good reheated! I managed to cook dinner almost every night now, eating out is reserved for the rare away from home dinner.

  34. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    Because I want to defrost the freezer I’ve been eating up all the food in eat for three months now. Looks just as full as ever! I’d better get cracking if I want to get it done before cold weather.

    I’m also giving some of the food I don’t like so much to the food bank to clear out the pantry.

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE Pepsi but gave it up because the sugar is not healthy. Instead I drink raspberry and persimmon tea without sugar.

  35. Ellen H says

    To use what you have and to stretch the budget:

    1) leave ingredients you don’t have out of the recipe, and add more of the other stronger flavored ingredients (this hint from America’s Test Kitchen). So if you have no cilantro, either use parsley or not, and use more garlic or whatever the stronger flavor(s) is/are.

    2) Make meat an accompaniment, instead of the star of your meal. Add more salad, fruit, or bread.

    3) Once a month or so, we have a meal of fruit and small vegs and wonderful cheeses (our local 4 star restaurant charges a mint for this meal), another one of oatmeal with fruit and cinnamon and maple syrup, another one that features eggs. Once a week it is leftovers, made intentionally. We enjoy these meals as a break from the routine and the cook is happy not to do much cooking.

    4) When my 5 kids were growing up, when I had little time to cook a full meal, I made a Yorkshire pudding with sausage or other meat added for a main meal, adding fruit for dessert (like baked apples in the already hot oven); a very quick and easy and healthy meal. They loved it.

    5) Once a week or two I make “garbage soup” – small amounts of meat or veg leftovers are frozen from other meals plus whenever I chop vegs for a salad I add a few to the big soup jar in the freezer. When the jar is full, the soup (made in a crock pot) includes the jar from the freezer, chicken or beef broth, herbs, a bit of hamburger if I have a tiny pat leftover, any sad looking vegs that can be added from the fridge, and beans or lentils (or cooked or leftover pasta, at the end). It is often the best soup ever. When my kids were little, I always made a nice dessert to go with the soup and to make it all fun. Kids love pudding and it is easy to make it from scratch.

    6) today raspberries were 99 cents at my store; I bought 5 and popped them into the freezer for future muffins. Do that once a week on the loss leaders, if you have a freezer. By winter you will be happy not to go out for something special. If not, invest in a dehydrator for the same savings on the fruits and tomatoes, to use with muffins, crisps, pizza.

    7) I buy cheese in bulk and grate my own (already grated cheese has unappetizing and unhealthy, IMO, fillers to keep it separated), but I also cut back 1/2 on the cheese used in dishes. 50 years ago, cheese used in casseroles was much less than today’s use. I halve the pizza cheese but use strong flavored spices/tomatos/vegs/ onions/pepperoni/garlic. People love it but don’t miss the heavy cheese.

    8) you only need one star of the meal to impress company; the rest can be rather ordinary provided the ingredients are good. So make one entree that is special, add olives and pickles to the table plus ordinary biscuits with real butter or a bread of your choice, and jam or apple butter, salad with homemade dressing, and a simple dessert (brownies and ice cream are good but easy) – you’ll be appreciated.

  36. says

    Great article, and I enjoyed reading the comments too! :)

    My grandmother canned a lot, and another woman I used to know bought a lot of canned goods at the store, and these foods helped them weather the Great Depression. I know some people are concerned about cans today, but my feeling is that it’s good to have a few on hand, not make it our primary everyday food, but use it when we are pressed for time or in an emergency.

    • says

      I enjoyed your comment Margaret.Great minds must think alike because about an hour ago I was working on a post about homemade soup and this is what I wrote as part of it.

      “Grabbing a can of soup to use is not the greatest sin known to man even though some treat it as such. That canned soup saved many of our ancestors lives literally in times past. They didn’t look a gift horse in the mouth and we shouldn’t either. I really do try to learn from my elders.

      Now that being said please don’t e mail me and tell us the horrors that are lurking in that can of soup. If people are capable of reading this post they are perfectly capable of reading their own labels and unless they have been living under a rock for the past 20 years they know to read labels. Be careful. I just don’t want you to die early from a heart attack caused by being stressed out trying to warn the world what is in those cans of soup.”

      You can see why I was getting a kick out of reading your comment so close after writing this. : )

  37. says

    Crepes are fairly easy to make (although they’re better when the batter has time to sit) They don’t require much milk, and you can use powdered milk and not affect the flavor.
    They’re good warm, cold or room temperature & you can stuff them like a tortilla.

    And I agree with what everyone said about being self-reliant and doing more canning. I need to get better organized!

    And thank you for the challenge. I need to start cooking up what I have in my overfull cabinet.

    • says

      I do love crepes too so much. I do not know why I don’t make them more often because like you say they are so easy to make and you can put some many different things in them too. If any one needs the recipe for them there is one in Dining on a Dime for those of you who have it.

  38. Tara says

    I have really enjoyed reading all of these comments. I agree with all how much grocery prices have gone up. I have 3 kids and a picky, carnivore husband. I garden some, buy on sale and in bulk, stockpile, skip shopping as long as I can, and freeze as much as possible. I use my Food Saver, pressure canner, and dehydrator as often as possible. I make minimum wage so a dozen eggs would cost me 15 minutes of work (not seconds).But thankfully, I have a few layers so no store-bought eggs for me. I hope to get a milk cow soon and eliminate all the store-bought dairy, too. I know I’m one of the lucky ones, not every one has this option. I try to cut food corners when I can, but they don’t always work out. I do LOVE the internet for recipes, Especially when I’m out of something! We have breakfast for dinner once a week and every Thursday is make-your-own night, usually leftovers. Homemade pizza can be made super cheap every Friday. I work in fast-food so I get soda drinks free at work, so I don’t need them at home. And I am extremely grateful I never picked up a coffe habit. I have only had Starbucks 2 times ever. It was AMAZING but I would never, ever be able to pay those prices (no offense to anyone, that’s just me)! Hubby takes lunch to work so that saves a bundle every week.
    My point is There is almost ALWAYS ways to cut back or eliminate. If it wasn’t for my husband, the kids and I could live off sandwiches and fruit. Throw in some beans and rice and we’d be set, and for about $20 month!
    Keep up the good work and all the great ideas!

  39. Sherri says

    I used to do “once a month cooking” when my kids were little. With a family of four, work, volunteer activities,… time is at a premium, but all you hear is “what’s for dinner?” I’d have one shopping day, buying bulk sales and planning the meals and deals ahead of time. The next day was cooking day, which usually was a full day. You know, it takes the same time to make two casseroles as it does to only make one, so why not stock the freezer? My kids have grown and on their own a few years now, but making double dishes still works for two! Actually, most recipes are for 4-6 so I can really double up!


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