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SAVE YOUR CASH SAVE YOUR TIME SAVE YOUR SANITY!
Perfect for anyone who wants to buy smarter, spend less on food, and get the best nutritional and economic value for their...
SAVE YOUR CASH SAVE YOUR TIME SAVE YOUR SANITY!
Perfect for anyone who wants to buy smarter, spend less on food, and get the best nutritional and economic value for their buck, Instant Bargains offers more than 600 tips and tricks from Coupons.com family savings expert and mommysavers.com founder Kimberly Danger. No time for coupon clipping? No room to stockpile? No problem!
* Harness dozens of ways to save online
* Use technology to make menu planning and shopping easier
* Shop and cook efficiently by spotting inexpensive ingredients
* Create homemade versions of your favorite grocery items like sauces
* Make the most of leftovers
* Use couponing in a way that works for you
* Beat supermarket marketing tricks and capitalize on loyalty programs
* Eat healthier while spending less
A must-have collection that fits in your purse, Instant Bargains features one-stop shopping for savings ideas you can use today.
Table of Contents
1 Get Organized to Save
2 Shop Smarter: Grocery Shopping Strategies
3 Where to Shop for Savings
4 Eat Healthy for Less
5 Stocking Your Kitchen
6 Cooking Frugally and Efficiently
7 But I Don’t Cook!
8 Family Foods: Feeding the Little Ones Affordably
Appendix A: Food Assistance Programs and Charities
Appendix B: Ingredient Substitutions
Appendix C: Measurement Equivalency Charts
About the Author
Excerpt from Chapter One
Organization is the key to saving money in many areas of your budget, and this is especially true in the kitchen. Before you set foot in the grocery stor...
Excerpt from Chapter One
Organization is the key to saving money in many areas of your budget, and this is especially true in the kitchen. Before you set foot in the grocery store, it pays to have a plan. A weekly menu and grocery list are a great place to start.
Organized and efficient shopping starts with a menu plan. Don’t let a lack of time get in the way of sitting down to write out a plan. Once you get organized, it takes just a few minutes and ends up saving you loads of time (and money) in the long run. Additionally, you’ll be able to offer meals with better nutritional value to your family.
You’ll see that many of these general shopping tips will be expanded upon later in the book—we’ll just start with the big picture and work our way toward the details.
Start simply so you won’t be intimidated by the process.
If compiling an entire week’s worth of menus seems like too
daunting a task, aim for three or four. You’ll be inspired by your success and want to build on it.
First, decide how often you want to visit the grocery store.
A weekly menu plan works well for most families because you will always have fresh produce and you’ll be able to take advantage of weekly grocery store sales. (Refer to the weekly menu planning worksheet on page 6.) By making only one trip to the store each week, you’re saving time and gas, but an even bigger benefit is that you’ll be avoiding impulse purchases, which, according to sociologist Paco Underhill, can account for two-thirds of all purchases. As you become more adept at organizing things, you may want to try a biweekly or even a monthly plan.
Grab your calendar.
Decide how many meals you’ll be responsible for in the time between visits to the grocery store. Which days will you eat breakfast and lunch at home as well as dinner? Will there be nights when you won’t be at home, or times when you’ll have more people to feed than your immediate family? Take time constraints into consideration when planning meals. Having a slow-cooker meal on a busy night makes sense if you don’t have time to cook.
Take an inventory of what you have.
Take special note of any perishables nearing their expiration dates. Incorporate them as much as possible when planning meals to avoid wasting food. This is also a great time to clean out your refrigerator.
Toss anything that is no longer fresh, and give the shelves a quick wipe-down.
Stock upon staples.
If you’re running low on things like sugar, salt, flour, eggs, and milk, make sure you add them to your list.
Be specific in writing your list. Using general terms such as “pasta” or “cheese” leaves a lot of room for interpretation. How many boxes of pasta do you need, and what size? What kinds and varieties of cheeses? Sometimes even planned purchases can get out of control. When you create your list, be as specific as possible.
Next, see what’s on sale at the grocery store.
Search for recipes that combine what you have on hand at home with the best deals at your grocery store. For example, if you have potatoes and carrots on hand and beef roast is on sale this week, add a pot roast to your menu plan.
Plan your protein.
Since this is likely the most expensive part of your meal, plan it first. Keep in mind that you don’t have to serve a big slab of meat with each meal. Consider main courses such as stir-fries or one-pot meals that use meat as part of the dish but not the main focus. Or consider using beans as a meat extender or in a casserole.
“I’m a firm believer that menu planning saves both time and money. Before the start of each month, I get out my index box of recipes and plan our meals for the next four weeks. I start with a blank calendar and start plugging in the food. To ensure variety, I plan a different type of meal for each day. Sunday is Crock-Pot or sandwich day, Monday is chicken, Tuesday is breakfast for dinner or Italian, Wednesday is Mexican, Thursday is beef, Friday is fish or pizza, and Saturday is an easy, on-the-go meal.”
—Sonja Goodchild, East Troy, Wisconsin
Include frugal meals each week.
Good ideas are a planned leftovers meal, a time-crunch meal (one that’s premade and stored in the freezer or a slow-cooker meal), a meatless meal, a soup-and-sandwich night, and a breakfast-for-dinner night of pancakes, waffles, or even cold cereal. Use the menu planning worksheet on page 6 as a guide.
When perishable food is on your list, plan multiple ways to use it up. If you’re going to be buying a bag of celery for one recipe, how can you incorporate it into others on your menu plan?
Does your menu plan include a variety of foods such as pasta, rice, beans, fish, poultry, and red meat as well as fruits and vegetables? Does it include a variety of textures and flavors? If it doesn’t, chances are you’ll get bored with what you have on hand and be tempted to return to the store for something else.
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Expand your recipe collection.
Avoid eating the same meal more than once or twice per month. Build up your recipe collection to include at least fifty family-friendly meals that include a wide array of main dishes, sides, and healthy desserts to avoid frugal fatigue.
Don’t forget the snacks.
Meals take the most planning, but you’ll also want to include some healthy snacks on your shopping list too.
Before going to the store, compute the cost of each meal.
Computing the cost of homemade meals can be a huge eye-opener. Sometimes more expensive cuts of fresh fish and meat, when paired with a simple vegetable, cost the same as—or even less than—prepackaged frozen meals or casseroles with a lot of thrifty ingredients. Additionally, simple meals like this usually involve much less prep time and fewer wasted ingredients. Being aware of the cost can help you make well-informed buying decisions. Compare the casserole meal here with the fresh fish meal on page 8.
Who is Kimberly Danger?...
Who is Kimberly Danger? Kimberly Danger grew up going to garage sales, clipping coupons, and living the frugal life. In 1999, she took that knowledge and turned it into a career when Mommysavers.com was launched. She enjoys showing parents new and unique ways to live well for less. Kim lives in Minnesota with her husband and two kids.
She is also the author of the book: Instant Bargains: 600 Ways to Shrink Your Grocery Bills and Eat For Less.
I loved this book. Its one you cant put down if you love to save money, and we are all looking for a cheaper way to shop right? Loved the size of this book too- handy enough to pack in your purse.
Although there was alot I did already know, ( only because saving a $$ is my life), I did love reading all the tips and thought there was a great deal of value in the book.
Instant Bargains offer you hundreds of tips on saving,cooking, eating healthier for less, where to shop for those great savings and how to strategize to shop.
As Kimberly Danger, author of “Instant Bargains: 600+ Ways to Shrink Your Grocery Bills and Eat Well for Less,” points out, the average family of four spends $8,513 a year on groceries, according to U.S. Department of Labor estimates. To combat needless overspending, she founded www.mommysavers.com in 2000, when she became a mom. The mission: to live well for less. Her book is an extension of the website.
Chapter one starts with the basics: getting organized by planning menus, avoiding waste and incorporating sale items into your recipe repertoire. While the accompanying worksheets take time to complete, Danger believes its worth every penny; she gives an example of the cost of a casserole ($10.35) by breaking down every ingredients price. Then she compares it with a tilapia and broccoli meal, coming in at $7.28. As she aptly points out, its not about buying cheaper but about shopping smarter. She arms people with a plethora of websites that can help people save money and find new recipes. She also provides pages comparing common product prices at Whole Foods, Cub Foods, Aldi and Walmart, which is helpful if you shop in Denver, but not so much in Summit.
The book provides excellent ideas, tips and resources, but its quite a time commitment to create things like a price book, which tracks prices of complete meals, components, inventory in your pantry and more.
Still, the book is worth reading, because its packed with details that most people dont consider, such as, the more colorful the packaging, the more expensive to produce, or when grocery stores change their layout, its often designed to make shoppers linger and thus spend more. She warns against scanning mistakes, which add up to $2.5 billion a year. And, she reminds shoppers that ethnic stores can be less expensive, or at least offer better quality food. Also, knowing that caked-on food on oven coils cause the appliance to work harder to regulate temperatures is quite useful.
She challenges shoppers to devote a half hour a week to coupon clipping and see how much they save. I did this, and I saved $24, but it took me almost three times as long to shop. Im sure Id become more efficient with practice, and I did have fun, feeling like I was on a bit of a scavenger hunt.
One of the most inspiring chapters focuses on healthy eating and points out that its actually cheaper than most people think. The U.S. Department of Agriculture looked at 154 different fruits and vegetables and found that more than half cost 25 cents or less per serving.
And, a particular useful chapter for me included information on how long food, like dried beans and lentils, or eggs last. The test for eggs: Drop an egg in water and see if it floats. If so, its bad news.
“Instant Bargains” is part tips, part recipes (especially ways to revive leftovers), part resource lists and part inspiration. Its a perfect guide for making it through this current economy.
Length: 7 in
Width: 5 in
Weight: 11.00 oz
Page Count: 304 pages