By Bianca Carter
MORE than ever, moms these days are looking for ways to save and make their dollar stretch. They’re sticking to or creating budgets for their family like never before.
Nothing breeds thriftiness more than necessity. In fact, I think being thrifty these days is totally trendy; that’s a trend I don’t mind following at all. Apps like Pinterest make it super easy to DIY (do it yourself) any project you have in mind. If you’ve got the patience for DIY, you must try it, it will save you money and make you oh-so-proud of your latest creation. With school back in full effect, here are a few of my savvy budget-friendly food tricks:
- Leave the plastic in the store
I must admit, the thoroughly-washed, ready-to-eat packaging calls my name too. It’s just so convenient, isn’t it? It’s not as friendly on your pocket though. Here’s how I make peace with not buying the plastic, bagged, ready-to-eat stuff. I wash all of my fruits and veggies and put them ready-to-eat in my fridge. It’s a pain sometimes, but so worth the extra time. And yes, once in a while I do grab a bag of pre-made stuff, just most of the time I prefer not to. Most of the time, I’m happier knowing my manicure and pedicure piggy bank is stacking up.
- Beans and legumes are ‘Wonder Women’ food fixes
Packed with protein goodness, you can substitute rice and pasta for beans or legumes. They make an awesome addition to hearty soups and are equally amazing with a fried egg on top. Unlike the previous tip, you have to buy these in the bag, not the can. If you compare what you get in a can with what you get in the bag you will be amazed at how much more you get in the bag for less in price (in addition to wanting to avoid canned goods as much as possible). If you buy the bags, just soak the beans for a few hours or the night before cooking; it’s that simple. The awesome thing about beans and legumes, like lentils, are that you can fix them up with whatever other stuff you like – veggies or meat – just get creative with it and of course you can spice it up.
- It’s hot, but make soup
It really doesn’t matter what weather we’re having, I make soup year-round. Soup is one of those dishes that you can have for breakfast (like we do here) lunch or dinner. One of my favourite soups is homemade fire-roasted tomato soup with a grilled-cheese sammie (like Chef Rachael Ray says it.) Soup is one of those foods that offer comfort in a good way as opposed to other, unhealthy comfort foods. The cost-saving thing about soup is you can make the ingredients stretch to make a huge pot that will last for a couple meals. I like to get a few fresh veggies like spinach and kale, zucchini, pumpkin, onion and garlic, then I add left-over shredded baked-chicken, some beans or lentils, and done.
- If it’s on special, get it
Providing the expiration date hasn’t arrived, sometimes you can get more bang-for-your-buck by cooking it and then freezing it. Frozen veggies are also a good idea for so many reasons; you can put them in rice, pastas and soups. Stock up on them.
- Buy the right whole grains
Brown pasta and brown rice can be a bit more expensive, but they are better for you and make you fuller so you don’t need as much. Oatmeal is also a great, high-fibre grain that you can use with dried fruit, like raisins and cranberries for a sweet, healthy, kid-friendly snack. It’s so much cheaper to make your own granola. Get an air-tight container to fill it up and stack in your pantry for snacks or to put on-top of yogurt for breakfast.
If you’re interested in some of my go-to recipes, I’ll share some of my favourite ones in this week’s Bun in the Oven blog, so check us out.
Love and hugs!
• Bianca Carter is a certified lactation counsellor (CLC), founder of Bun in the Oven, and weekend radio personality on Y98 radio. For more information, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com. Follow BITO on Facebook at babybunintheoven, and check out the BITO Blog every Monday and Thursday at http://babybunintheoven.com.