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Today’s Guest post is by Erin at $5 Dinners. I’ve had this blog on my blogroll since I discovered it just a few weeks ago. It is an EXCELLENT source of healthy, nutritious meals. This is a must read blog! She was kind enough to do a guest post for me this week while I’m away from my computer. (Let me tell you how great her recipes are – my picky husband told me THIS was the best crockpot meal I’ve ever cooked alltime!)
Typically, the most expensive part of my $5 Dinners is the protein. As grocery prices in general continue to rise, the budget gets tighter and tighter. I have been looking at ways to cut grocery costs, but still provide healthy proteins for my family. I try to vary my proteins throughout each week. I normally serve a meal with chicken, then fish, another with pork, the next night with beef, a “breakfast for dinner” with eggs and finally, combination of incomplete proteins. This ensures variety and helps me keep costs in check!
Here are my suggestions for how to keep “protein” costs to a minimum:
- Protein Portion Size. The size of your palm. Keep that in mind when cooking and buying proteins.
- “Manager’s Special.” Look for the special sticker that your store places on the meat products that need to be sold quickly. Grab them and put them in your freezer to use in a future menu!
- Store Coupons – If your grocery store sends out mailers with coupons, SIGN UP! You can use these with sale items and manager’s special items to get more bang for your buck!
- Shortcuts.com – This website allows you to load “e-coupons” to your store’s reward card. Lately they have had several “e-coupons” for $2 off Organic Meat and Chicken. I now have 2 packages of organic drumsticks in my freezer. One cost $1.15 and the other cost $1.48! You can also access these and other e-coupons on the Kroger website. (Briana’s note: Also check Bargain Briana for weekly coupon match ups & best deals at Grocery Stores like Meijer, Marsh, and Kroger.)
- Don’t just use “boneless, skinless”!!! I did for many years! I am finding that other cuts are both cheaper, but also tastier. Of course, “boneless, skinless” is easier to use for meal preparation, but it puts holes in your pockets. My new favorite cut of chicken in “bone-in split breasts”. When I buy them, I take breast meat off the bone, put it into the fridge or freezer. Then I take the bone and boil it to make a nice broth for an upcoming soup (it’s just about soup season!). I pour the broth into a freezer bag for easy, “no space” storage in the freezer. This saves you the cost of buying a can of broth that’s loaded with preservatives and sodium! Cook a whole chicken in the crockpot, use the meat for 2 or 3 meals and save the broth. A $6 whole chicken then only costs $2 for each meal if you can divide out the meat! Same goes for a pork or beef roast.
- Make “breakfast for dinner” once a week. Make a meal with eggs, bacon, or sausage!
- Explore other protein sources. Such as soy products, tofu, and TVP. Since we have soy allergies, I do not use these products. Just thought I’d add them to the list!
- Use alternative sources of protein! Animal proteins are considered “complete” proteins, i.e. chicken, beef, pork, eggs, and cheeses. “Incomplete” proteins are found in plants and grains. Milk is also considered an incomplete protein. When combined in certain ways, 2 incomplete proteins become “complete”. Combinations: rice and beans; milk and wheat cereal; corn and beans; milk and peanuts; milk and beans; potatoes and cheese.
For more on protein, here is an excellent explanation of complete and incomplete proteins.
Erin’s Video Tutorial – Buying Proteins
***Information about complete and incomplete proteins summarized from the book Super Baby Food, by Ruth Yaron.
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