One of the best ways to save money when grocery shopping is to go to farmers’ markets and buy whatever is seasonal. Right now, since the main harvest is over (at least here in Canada), that means that we eat a tonne of squashes and root vegetables. Give it a couple months and most squashes will be going for $2 a pound or more, but right now they’re practically giving them away. If you have a freezer, you can keep the savings going by buying your vegetables when they’re in season (and therefore cheap) and freezing them yourself. Growing up, my mother kept 6 kids well fed mostly by taking advantage of this. We always had two large chest freezers in the garage packed full of veggies that she grew herself or had purchased at rock bottom prices. I’m not quite at her level yet (and since I’m only feeding two people, probably never will be), but buying a stand-alone freezer was one of the first big purchases I saved up for when I had my own house. It’s an investment that will save you thousands of dollars over the years.
So today, in addition to cooking for the next work week, I also spent some time chopping, bagging, and freezing 4 large squashes. Yesterday I made another triple batch of bolognese sauce and froze that as well, in addition to making a baked penne (about $11.50 in total for the sauce ($5), cheese ($3) (half a box of noodles ($1.50), and a cauliflower ($2) to bring down the carb/calorie count) with leftovers for 2 days.
I also took 4 large chicken thighs out of the freezer ($8). Two of them were combined with 2 cans of coconut milk ($3), 1 litre of chicken broth ($0), 3 packages of ramen noodles ($1.50), carrots ($2), bean sprouts ($.50), and a bunch of miscellaneous spices and seasonings ($1) to make a Thai coconut chicken soup. I’d link to the recipe, except that I bastardized it so completely that my end result isn’t anything similar to the original. For example, I didn’t think I had enough noodles for the 6 portions that I wanted so I threw in a can of white beans ($1). Still, overall that turned into 3 dinners for us for $13.
At the same time, I pan-fried the other two breasts with an onion ($.50), two orange peppers ($1), and some taco seasoning. I diced and roasted a squash ($1) in the oven with more seasoning till it was crispy, then mixed everything together to get 4 more meal portions.
$31 for 4 days’ worth of food for 2 people- the price of 2 cheap meals if we were eating out. I’ve also got more cheap food in my freezer to help negate the higher costs of food in the winter. Not bad for half a day’s work!