Monday, January 24, 2011

National Creative Frugality Week - Week Four

In case you've been following the calendar postings, this week marks a week that everyone could/should be getting into the spirit of--National Creative Frugality Week. Not by accident that this week happens to fall in National Save Your Money Month. We talk a lot about cutting down and cutting out, but sometimes and for some people that is easier said than done.

What are some ways that we can be creatively frugal? Obviously one way would be to substitute less expensive ingredients for more expensive ingredients in our cooking. But a straight substitution of that less expensive ingredient for the more expensive one usually will give you a change of taste as well. What do you do if you want the taste of the more expensive ingredient while you want the cost of the less expensive one?

Okay, one suggestion. Ground beef is way more expensive than ground turkey is. Yes, there is a taste difference between the two. So, take one one-pound package of ground beef and one one-pound package of ground turkey and mix them together well--this may take a few minutes. The resultant mixture will taste like ground beef (beef has the stronger flavor and the flavor will dominate), look like ground beef, but will cost less than a pure beef package will cost. As an added benefit, it will have less fat than the pure beef would have. This works for straight grilled hamburgers and is particularly useful when the beef is sauced, such as in spaghetti with meat sauce or in meatballs.

Let's say you are preparing those ground meats for freezing. Let's also say that you have four pounds of the ground meat. That should mean four packages for the freezer, right? Nope, that will be five packages to the freezer. Reduce the amount in each package--five meals for the cost of four. If you feel the bulk will be missing in the recipe you will be using the mixture for, add in some frozen or fresh vegetables into the sauce and the bulk returns while still giving you beef flavored sauce. You can also add in some beans to bring up the volume--red-colored beans work particularly well with beef dishes.

So, a savings all around: a lower cost per meal, less fat, more vegetables in your diet, more fiber (if you add the beans), ready-mixed packages waiting in the freezer with no more work than defrosting the package.

A lot has been written about how the amounts recommended on laundry products are far more than is necessary to use. It has been recommended that for both detergent and softener you can use half the amount suggested. It's still too easy to overpour these products or to forget to halve them. Instead, when you empty a bottle of detergent, rinse it out and then take another full bottle and pour half into the empty bottle. Now, add water to both bottles. Now you can go ahead and pour that full cap in without having to wonder if you've put in too much or too little. Do the same for softeners. This works particularly well when there is more than one person doing laundry in a house--one person may remember to halve the products and one might not. This way no remembering is necessary.

What ways have you found to be creatively frugal? Please share.


Lissa said...

Does it matter if it's white meat or dark meat turkey? And would ground chicken work also?

Simi said...

A frugal and healthy tip. When I buy any snack items in large bags I check just how many servings there are supposed to be in the bag. Then I take small snack size bags or sandwich bags and divide the larger bag into the right number of servings. No more just grabbing some handfuls which might be way more then one serving. The bag lasts longer because no one gets more then one serving. Also easier to pack school snack for the kids. Works for pretzels and cookies and crackers and anything that is more then one serving in a bag. You end up buying less snack stuff if you're only eating one serving worth.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter how you dress it up with words like creative frugal is about being cheap and having less or having less better.

Abba's Rantings said...


we've been doing this for little while. some people also cut their ground meat/poultry with bread crumbs, etc.


"is about being cheap and having less"

yeah, less fat