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How to cut your food budget and eat well!

Updated on January 26, 2009
Apples can cost more than meat today. How can you keep enough fruit and vegetables in your diet?
Apples can cost more than meat today. How can you keep enough fruit and vegetables in your diet?

For the Long Term

If you are looking at the possibility of job loss or financial trouble from cut hours, you may need to prepare for a time when you could cut groceries off your monthly expenses altogether for some months. I read a comment on another hub where someone said they'd stocked up on nonperishables like breakfast cereal to tide them over.

That's a good idea, stocking up on enough nonperishables that you can go for months without buying food if necessary, or without buying very much food. It's a bad idea to put breakfast cereal on that list because it's overpriced even on sale and it's empty calories. It lacks serious nutritional value compared to something much cheaper.

Oatmeal. The non-instant kind in the big cans that you cook on a stove and garnish with a bit of brown sugar or whatever. Oatmeal has protein. Some types of oatmeal are more nutritious than others -- those big cans are not the top quality, steel-cut oats in very large quantity from a health store may be more of an initial outlay but contain even more protein and nutrients than processed oatmeal.

The list of nonperishables to store in large amounts begins with whole grains.

Oatmeal, steel cut oats boil up to a better texture and don't get as gelatinous when cooked. They have a better flavor too. My daughter bought a 50lb sack of steel cut oats, another of whole wheat, another of whole barley. Get a variety of whole grains in big bags. Brown rice is good too.

Potatoes are incredibly nutritious if you also eat the skins. Store them in a cool dark place and eat them often. They can be prepared in a wide variety of ways and people can actually survive on potatoes, beans and milk.

Beans are another good bargain to stock up on in large quantity -- serious ten or twenty pound bags of your favorites. Dried beans last a long long time and are chock full of protein.

Then there are some other essential ingredients to get. Powdered milk, a couple of the giant storage boxes of powdered milk cuts costs by a lot. It's not as tasty for drinking for those who like drinking milk but it is just as good for cooking and most recipes take some milk. Most of all, you're not out of milk if you have to go a week without buying anything fresh.

Flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder are all important to have big boxes or bags. Whole wheat flour has more protein and is tastier in bread and pancakes. Pancakes are one of those easy cheap foods that are downright tasty and feel special.

Ground meat and butter or margarine goes in the freezer. Break up big family packs of ground meat into smaller ones for meal-sized portions and thaw it out later. Buying it in small packs every day or two is the most expensive way to get it. Don't forget that ground pork, ground turkey, sausage and other meats are ground meat too -- vary what meats you get.

Whole chickens, cut them up at home and put the parts in freezer bags. They can be boiled or put in pot pies, roasted, prepared in many ways. Turkey is a great bargain meat, if you roast a turkey and use all the meat on the carcass in soups and stews and sandwiches you'll get a lot out of it. Freeze some of the cooked turkey after you clean off the carcass to make soup, or freeze bags of turkey soup so that you're not eating it every day for two weeks when you do it.

Canned fruits and vegetables are important, especially when you can get them on sale. Consider getting big restaurant sized cans of everything from yams to pineapple or green beans, don't forget canned fish like salmon or tuna. You can open a big can and pour it into reusable small refrigerator containers in order to have more variety by alternating which ones you eat or cook with.

Pasta is inexpensive and all right for some of it. Balance it out with the whole grains and whole potatoes though, it hasn't got as much nutrition. Don't make pasta or white rice the biggest staple, they're variety and good for just that. Same with ramen if you like it. It's cheap but it hasn't got much nutrition at all compared to the whole grains.

So treat that as variety rather than essential, but get enough of those things to suit your tastes and have them maybe once a week or so.

Think of home baked treats. Cocoa powder can be used to make everything from hot cocoa to chocolate candy to cake or flavoring your oatmeal, it's the cheapest way to get chocolate. If you love chocolate, get a lot of cocoa powder and make sure you have big bags of white sugar, powdered sugar, brown sugar and other dry ingredients for making cakes and cookies. Watch for sales on mixes though.

Getting dried egg powder is sometimes possible at army-navy surplus stores and some stores. Check the cost versus just buying eggs, especially on sale. It may or may not be cost effective but if you're stockpiling for the long run, having some of it on hand may help with preparing things that need eggs. There are also some recipes for egg substitutes for baking in The Tightwad Gazette that can work well.

Be sure to have plenty of vanilla, other flavorings and seasonings. Look for large containers of spices and seasonings, sometimes you can find the big containers cheaper than the small ones from well known brands. On vanilla, if you purchase a bottle of vodka and one actual vanilla bean, you can soak that bean to have real vanilla flavoring for everything and then grind it down for use as a garnish after it's been used to make a huge quantity of extract.

Use real things like the vanilla bean rather than the cheaper substitutes. It tastes better and means when you fall back on these reserves there are still some treats and some good things to look forward to. My daughter saves so much on things like using our bread machine that for garnishes she'll buy high quality like real maple syrup. It's healthier than the corn syrup anyway.

Look for a grocery sale on butter. Real butter is more nutritious than margarine by a lot, and the trans fats in margarine are dangerous. So we use real butter all the time and buy it on sale at its lowest prices, then store it in the freezer. If stocking up for months, get lots. If buying margarine for cost, look for the ones that say No Trans Fats.

If you have a large freezer, consider talking to a local farmer and purchasing meats in bulk. My daughter invested in a giant freezer last fall and we now have plenty of pork, beef, poultry including lots of turkey to eat well regularly even if she's pulling a month's budget tight for some particular reason.

All that took some initial investment. The results of that investment are that she makes those major purchases once or twice a year and does not need to shop that often for groceries or spend that much when she does.

Fruit doesn't have to be expensive to be healthful.
Fruit doesn't have to be expensive to be healthful.

In the short term

From the time we moved into our house till now, my family has been stockpiling nonperishables and freezer food. We already have the big freezer and the rancher's deal for pork, beef, turkey and chicken. We have fifty pound bags of whole grains and even luxuries like big bags of freeze-dried raspberries, strawberries and blueberries add flavor and nutrition to our pancakes and boiled grain meals to make them a treat rather than a drag.

Large quantities of powdered milk and other ingredients mean we could get by without any shopping at all. But over the long run, we still do some shopping for perishables after the great year's worth of food goal was achieved. She just doesn't spend very much on it. Even adding in the investment in nonperishables in restaurant cans and big bags, averaging it per month my daughter spends less to feed three adults and two children well than I would get in Food Stamps for one single man.

I never bothered to apply for Food Stamps because my food's covered in my monthly expenses. I pitch in my share and she feeds me better than I could eat on my Food Stamps allotment -- especially since I'm disabled and would on my own have to eat less nutritious, more expensive packaged and convenience foods. I'm not physically capable of cooking.

So once the big bargains are established, set aside some cash budgeted for nonperishables. It doesn't have to be a lot. Then look for two or three categories of super bargains even when things are very tight.

Eggs are cheap protein. They are used in making pancakes and making pie crusts or cakes or various types of food. You can make all sorts of things with eggs and stretch them, they are healthful and if you're physically active they won't kill you -- especially if you cut back on refined white flour and refined sugars and corn syrups.

Honey is expensive compared to sugar, but she invested in fifty gallons of it and my son in law makes mead. So we are now stocked on honey for a year too and use that in place of sugar in a lot of healthful foods. That's a luxury and we know it, but one that helps counterbalance having all that real butter and eggs in our diet.

When the cost of all the empty calorie convenience foods including packaged bread most of the time dropped out of our budget, we had room for butter and honey without winding up wrecking the budget. These treats mean a lot when you have to actually spend time cooking and storing homemade convenience food. For reasons of time, they usually spend Sunday doing a big cook-off and then put several different dishes in the fridge so there's a choice of foods to rewarm any given day.

In regular shopping for perishables, Kitten always looks through the discount produce. Fruits and vegetables get chosen for what got marked down -- and everything gets marked down when it's in season. We had pomegranates and pears as well as bag apples and oranges. Fruit is essential for children, fruit gets them into treats that are healthy rather than cheap candy in large quantity. Candy is rare in our house and apples an essential -- but watch for those packages of bruised ones or just off date ones.

Bananas are a good source of potassium. Get them when they're cheap and if you get too many to eat, then make banana bread or something with the brown ones. If you live in New Orleans or other Southern climates where banana trees grow, look around for the stems of bananas that grow on what peolpe think of as weeds. They are free good food, fried or eaten raw or used as an ingredient. Let the green ones ripen till they're tasty.

If you live down there, think of keeping a couple of banana trees in your yard for that reason instead of pulling them out.

Kitten also looks through the day-old baked goods trays and picks up various baked things at random for treats. We don't ever pay full price for those things but sometimes the fanciest ones get marked so low it's irresistible. She got in that habit. These treats are very good for being able to live on a low food budget for a long time without the frustration of never having any of our favorite coffee cake or whatever. She's even found baklava in that tray sometimes.

The other thing to watch for in the short term at supermarkets is the Loss Leaders. Supermarkets will mark down some foods, often fancy ones, way below even their own cost. Go in and buy the loss leaders whatever they are. This is part of how for years and years I was keeping up a good stash of canned fruits and vegetables because I'd buy the maximum amount whenever I saw a loss leader sale on black olives or pineapple or other favorites.

She still buys loss leaders and in nonperishables, to the maximum amount. Butter is often a loss leader -- so that's when to buy as much as you can and stash it in the freezer for when it's full price later.

This process maintains that "keep a year's food around all the time against emergencies" habit both my daughter and I thrived on when we lived down in New Orleans on things like selling art or tarot reading or crafts or odd jobs. We were so far under the poverty line we had to crick our necks to look up at it -- and lived high on the proverbial hog by not wasting money.

The supermarkets use those loss leaders to get people who shop in normal weekly fashion to come in, get those and buy expensive packaged foods like breakfast cereal since they're there. It evens out for the store in the long run. Focus on those and you start trimming your food bill to minimal.

And really, even if you are in a good financial position, your job isn't at risk and life is picking up for you against the tide of what most people are going through -- doesn't it make sense to spend less on food in general and be able to afford that new widget, tool or HDTV without having to use a credit card?

Frugal living is not just to get through this crisis. It's a way to live well without ever really running out of anything important except perishables that can be done without if you don't feel like bothering to shop.

One of the biggest risks in this recession is that people forced to budget food for the first time in their lives will wind up obese and sick. Poverty fat is on the rise and going to rise farther - because many of the cheapest foods are the least nutritious. If you live on pasta, ramen and breakfast cereal, you will start having vitamin deficiencies and your metabolism will adjust to that partial starvation by storing every empty calorie that comes in -- nutrients necessary to turn food into energy come up short and the pounds stick without ever coming off without major deprivation.

I should mention here that my daughter the cook with the fancy tastes is actually thin, has had two children and still wears the first evening gown she ever bought for a high school dance. It's a classic style that made her look older at fifteen and she's grown into the look in her thirties. My son in law was chunky when they got married, and I have noticed his bulk migrating up from his middle into muscular shoulders and arms from good diet and the amount of physical activity he does.

So don't lay on the flab with sugar sodas, pasta, ramen and empty calories. Look seriously at your nutritional needs and just find ways to get healthy foods cheap in bulk or at a discount.

One of the best things any homeowner can do for fruit and vegetables of course is to actually grow them. Gardening gives you good food and free exercise while you're making it happen.

Berry bushes are a long term investment, perennials that won't bear much the first year but start paying off in the second year and thereafter bring all these luxury berries that you'd pay $5 a tiny pint in for free, just for occupying part of your yard. Tomato plants when well cared for at all wind up inevitably fruiting so much that people who grow them have to give bags of them away at the office. Same with squash, cucumbers, peas, beans, oh all sorts of things grow well depending on where you live. Choose local varieties and don't waste money on pesticides and you'll have that expensive health-store organic produce to fill out your diet.


Fruit juices, tea, coffee are a lot healthier than sugar-loaded sodas -- and can be cheaper!
Fruit juices, tea, coffee are a lot healthier than sugar-loaded sodas -- and can be cheaper!

 Staple beverages for the long term start with coffee, tea and herbal teas. If you want to be very healthful, sweeten with honey rather than refined sugar -- it'll metabolize better and help metabolize other foods instead of interacting badly with animal fats and meat protein.

Peppermint is the big freebie. Plant it in a pot if you live in an apartment. Mint grows like a weed because it is one, it will become a giant bush in practically no time in any growing zone. Pick some branches, dry them and put them in a jar. Presto. Free peppermint tea, high on any health food list of good beverages.

If you're not good at growing plants from seed, actually pay for the little seedling and it'll pay for itself when it grows up. My daughter's a good gardener, I'm not. Peppermint survives even my brown thumb though.

Tea and coffee are a lot cheaper than sodas. Plain tea, like Lipton in those boxes of 100 teabags, is my absolute-bottom-of-broke beverage of store-for-brokeness. Sometimes you can get those boxes for a dollar on sale. Stash a couple of those for the hard times and drink tea as often or little as you like.

Coffee is more costly but I like it better and our whole household does. They have a coffee grinder and sometimes for treats get the whole bean good coffees on sale. Regular coffee in big cans is cheap on sale and that gets stored unopened till used. These are both things to stock up on for "year without having to buy groceries."

Fruit juices are cheapest on sale in those frozen little paper cans with metal ends. Watch for the loss leader sales, they may sometimes be going for a lot less than retail to hook people in. They are good. They take a little more effort to fix in a pitcher than buying the milk-carton fruit juice but it's still fruit juice.

A fruit juice cooler is very easy to fix if you get tired of full strength fruit juice. Just mix half and half with water and serve in a large glass.

Unless the water quality in your area is terrible, bottled water is a luxury. Even if it is, getting big industrial-size bottles of it is better than the fancy brand little bottles.

I used to be very fond of diet sodas and have drifted away from them over the years as I got used to the healthy eating habits of our household. I wind up drinking more coffee, fruit juice and tea and get a soda maybe a couple of times a year for a treat. Many people regard it as a necessity.

It's one of the big contributors to Poverty Fat if it's not diet, because you're basically drinking a lot of refined sugar without counting it as part of nutrition and it hasn't got other nutrition to recommend it. Ah, but it is cheap compared to fruit juice if you look at the fruit juices that come in those faux milk cartons from big brand names.

It's not if you get the juices in those big or little cardboard cans and stock the freezer well with them.

Choose canned fruit packed in real juice over packed in corn syrup. The reason being that you don't throw out that pineapple juice. You put that into a pitcher and mix it with some water or a different flavor of frozen fruit juice and got added value in the same can.

Coupon clipping is something that I've known of people who took it to the extreme and wound up by paying attention to every sale and sorting all of them, buying hundreds of dollars in groceries for a few dollars. The catch with that for me was that many of the coupons just mark down foods that aren't nutritious or are overpriced in the first place -- you have to be careful about whether the bargain is really a bargain.

So check the coupons and use the ones for loss leaders more than anything -- they rotate through every item sometimes and if you buy strategically it can bring the cost of anything and everything down. In general, homemade food is a lot cheaper than eating out and good ingredients can be had cheap if you use strategy and buy low.

I hope this Hub helps you manage your budget easier. Stockpile now and if you do lose your job, at least you won't have to worry about food while budgeting to make the mortgage and utilities.


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    • Misty May profile image

      Riley Clark 

      8 years ago

      This is an amazing Hub and reminds me so much of my family! But don't forget hunting! Getting a hunting licsense is worth it when you end up with a big elk, deer, bear or any game you catch. It's also healthier than the hormone injected meat from animals who were fed god only knows what.

    • tmbridgeland profile image


      8 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

      Potatoes are really easy to grow and produce a lot. All you need is dirt. This is a good hub. We think alike. We buy food in large quantities, 50 pounds of rice, at a time.

    • FirstStepsFitness profile image


      9 years ago

      Welcome to HubPages ! Great Hub very well written , a lot of useful ideas too :)

    • kj8 profile image


      9 years ago from Australia

      Great hub topic I have always been a fan of buying bulk. I know this hub was about food, but I will mention that washing powder is a must for buying bulk, so many people buy small packages every week it is crazy, buy big I say. I always grow vegies too and my kids are always involved in this and the shopping I make them look at prices and see who can tell me where we are getting the best value and we only buy in season fresh produce. If I suggest takeaway food as a treat(or because I am feeling lazy) my middle child down right refuses and acts as if I am trying to kill him.

    • robertsloan2 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Thank you, Capricious! I hope so. One thing that I noticed after our family got rid of cable (no one was watching it) was that without a constant stream of television commercials, none of us had as much inclination to overeat or crave junk food as often. I wrote another Hub about this specifically.

      I'm not advocating you stop enjoying video entertainment, after a hard day sometimes just relaxing with a movie or show is the best way to unwind. What may be more cost effective though is to get rid of cable, which has as many commercials as broadcast now, and download shows by way of Amazon, rent movies or buy them, try Netflix. Healthy homemade foods actually taste better, but you'd never know it from what gets advertised.

    • capricious_d profile image


      10 years ago from The Northwest

      Great hub! Very informative, helpful and easy to read. Knowledge is power and I think you helped a lot of people by writing this. Thanks ~

    • robertsloan2 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Understandable. Where you live affects what good foods are locally grown and cheap, lapak2000 -- is brown rice easy and cheap to get there? I'm writing from an American point of view but there are probably a lot of people in your country who know recipes and nutritious foods that are local. One of the big things in the general idea is to eat local foods rather than things that need to be shipped a long way.

    • lapak2000 profile image


      10 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Good ideas that you have here. Potatoes though is not popular in my country.

    • robertsloan2 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from San Francisco, CA


    • BetsyIckes profile image


      10 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I loved your colorful drawings too. It added a nice personal touch! Great hub!

    • robertsloan2 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from San Francisco, CA


    • Kulsum Mehmood profile image

      Dr Kulsum Mehmood 

      10 years ago from Nagpur, India

      Very detailed and great tips and ideas about cutting food budget and eating well.

    • robertsloan2 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Thank you! I read your hub today and enjoyed your story -- it makes a huge difference and you may be surprised at just how far your food budget can shrink while actually *raising* quality. I know I have been. My daughter and son in law feed three adults and two growing children on less than I used to get in food stamps for one disabled man.

      Even when I couldn't prepare my own food and had to rely a lot on canned goods and things that could just be warmed up, I had good shopping skills and always had food stamps left over for treats. Not just the real butter and eggs but things like steaks for a treat, or good cheeses. I would watch for what was on sale to get as much good stuff as I could, that was part of it too.

      Brown rice is a bit better than white, but it's cheap in bulk and it's a good base for so much.

    • marisuewrites profile image


      10 years ago from USA

      great tips and information, I'm keeping this as I think we'll need it sooner than we think. We've had so much for so long, it's hard to realize the shape our country is in! We might need to learn more about getting by on less and still eating nutritionally, maintaining our health! =)) good hub and the pics are wonderful!

    • robertsloan2 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Thanks! Yep. Years before I even got Food Stamps, as soon as I did my own shopping, that was when I understood how some people on Food Stamps or Welfare got real butter and steaks -- if you are not getting breakfast cereal or anything prepackaged, you can afford the butter and an occasional steak especially when it's marked down.

    • profile image

      Susan M 

      10 years ago

      Thank you so much for this comprehensive and amazing hub! I agree with you that we can budget and still eat healthy without resorting to pre-packaged or fast food. I do most of my cooking from scratch and I find it relaxing and a way to be creative in the midst of my hectic week. I also agree with using real butter - we have never used anything else. Looking forward to your next hub!

    • robertsloan2 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from San Francisco, CA


    • Sexy Health profile image

      Sexy Health 

      10 years ago from Portland, OR

      What a great article! YOu sure do have a lot to say about it. Thanks for the long and informative HUB.

    • robertsloan2 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Thanks! Oh that local Sunday market sounds great. It helps the farmers and it is always better eating, you can't doubt the freshness.

      Thanks for a good suggestion, Jewels. I might consider it, especially as an ebook. Best way to keep it low cost.

    • Jewels profile image


      10 years ago from Australia

      Thumbs up to your hub, I hope it becomes well read. There was a news item on TV only last night informing that McDonald's profits were up. Said that often when times are tough people gravitate to junk food - which is firstly bad for health, secondly bad for the wallet. I was concerned that this craft of growing your own, and wise purchasing without lack was going to be lost. Need more people like you to pass on this craft. My grandmother came thru the Depression, my mother and her brothers and sisters are pretty apt at the self sufficiency thing, and I've got a bit of nouse to see the benefits.

      I've made a habit of going to our local Sunday market which sells in season fruit and vegies which is directly helping the farmers who are being cheated by the large supermarkets. It's a much better way of eating, and I go to the supermarket much less and save more.

      You have the makings of a small book there. Make it simple, low cost and easy to navigate. $$$ - timely.

    • robertsloan2 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Oh yeah, that stuff. I didn't buy it before because I didn't like the flavor -- in terms of flavor I liked the presliced white bread best and it's still a treat. The homemade wheat bread tastes a lot better because it doesn't have that bitter flavor from mixing wheat flour and wihte flour, nor does it have any grit in it.

      Great going, Christa! Yeah, it makes sense to stock up for the long term if you have to travel that far to shop. Wow.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Yes I buy whole grain bread, which costs more, but even so, the factory-type kind that comes presliced in a plastic wrapper is between $3 and $4 a loaf depending on which kind you buy. We have a bakery in town but they charge $4.59 for a whole wheat loaf!

      The white stuff isn't worth eating. It's not really bread, it's glue, in slices.

    • LondonGirl profile image


      10 years ago from London

      200 miles? Blimey, where do you live?

    • Christa Dovel profile image

      Christa Dovel 

      10 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Thank you for the hub. I have long been a frugal shopper, but it is always good to have another perspective. We currently keep 6 months worth of non-perishable food around, just to leverage our shopping trips, since they are 200 miles round trip. We grow a garden, but it has not been as successful as I would like to see. Baking my own bread and sprouts are the biggest $ savers I have found.

    • robertsloan2 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      You're right about looking for the percentage of real juice vs. sugar in the frozen drinks. The cheapest aren't always the most cost effective, it's easier to get sweetened water by thinning it from the pure-juice ones if you want to do that.

      Chest freezers pay for themselves in the savings, it made a huge difference to the amount of meat in our diet when they got the freezer and could store meat for longer.

      Thanks for mentioning plastic storage too. Those inexpensive tubs and storage containers from dollar stores are good enough, or you can go to thrift stores and look for attractive glass canisters too. It's not just mice or bugs either, humidity gets into things if you don't have them well sealed.

      Sometimes having the large Sterilite tubs can do for holding a lot of boxed goods together at the same time in a way mice, bugs and moisture can't get in at them. They're cheap enough they'll pay for themselves in one go.

      Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. I will be doing more frugality tips now and then as ideas strike me.

    • RiaMorrison profile image

      Ria Bridges 

      10 years ago from Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

      Awesome Hub! I've been really wanting to look into stockpiling recently. My roommate and I have been considering getting a chest freezer so we can buy meat when it's on sale and actually store a decent amount of it for future consumption, because our current freezer is rather small. Plenty of cupboard space to store grains and legumes and whatnot in, though I definitely recomment making sure one's house/apartment doesn't have a mouse problem before storing things in bags or cardboard boxes that can easily be chewed through. For such things, if you can't fix the mouse problem, it might be best to invest in things like Rubbermaid containers (or something like them) to store things without risk of animals getting into them.

      (I say that only because we have the occasional mouse in this apartment. The cats usually find it and scare the poor thing to death before we even notice it's running around, but sometimes I do worry about spoilage and contamination if it gets into any of the cupboards.)

      The biggest thing I'd watch out for in terms of the frozen fruit juice is that a lot of it is more of a fruit drink than fruit juice. The sugar in a lot of them is off the chart, and while they are quick and cheap and good in a pinch, if you're eating healthy it might be best to pay a little extra an buy frozen drinks that advertise they're 100% fruit juice (a rarity here, but they might be more common in your area) or just buy the cartons. The cartons can br frozen just as easily, even if they're not concentrated and thus take up more room in the freezer, but at least you can guarantee that you're not just drinking flavoured sugar-water.

      I love reading your Hubs! Keep writing more! :D

    • robertsloan2 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      That is awesome. Fresh basil and mint taste so much better anyway. :D

    • LondonGirl profile image


      10 years ago from London

      We don't have a garden or balcony, but have basil and mint growing perfectly well. They are fine indoors, as you say.

    • robertsloan2 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Thanks, LondonGirl.

      It's funny, but for most of my life hardly anyone noticed that what's locally grown is cheaper. It may also be cheaper at farmer's markets where you aren't going through a middleman to get it. Also, if you don't have a yard but your apartment has a balcony or porch you can sometimes grow food in pot gardening. Tomatoes grow in those conditions and herbs will grow even indoors in a window.

      Spices are very expensive but stuff like chives and basil are tastier if you pick it right before you use it and some of them are strong houseplants. Mint survives as a houseplant well sometimes. I was doing the mint indoors thing in half the apartments I ever had and I've got a brown thumb like you wouldn't believe.

    • LondonGirl profile image


      10 years ago from London

      great hub! I agree that growing your own is great if you have the outdoor space to do it.

      Buying fruit and veg which are in season is always cheaper than buying stuff which has to be flown halfway round the world.

    • robertsloan2 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from San Francisco, CA


      Yikes, Pgrundy, regular bread is up to $4 a loaf? I remember getting mad when it went over a dollar. A bread machine is a good investment, one that'll pay for itself in a week or two at that rate. I think that recipe of yours for no-knead bread dough to keep in the refrigerator and bake as you want it sounds like a great idea for a Hub.

      Mighty Mom, your mother in law's recipes would make another great Hub. You make a great point -- there are many people I knew all along in this country who have never had to scrimp or save for food, who found it intolerable if they had to pinch their budgets to cut back on eating out let alone worry about how much groceries cost. Sadly, some of the people I've known over the years who wound up on Food Stamps couldn't figure out some of this stuff, a lot of them. Potatoes rock, I love them and they are seriously nutritious.

      PeacefulWmn9, thank you! I mostly write on art topics and my site is on an art topic -- http://www.explore-oil-pastels-with-robert-sloan.c... -- so I am very glad you like my art. One time when I did literally starve and have to go without food for a couple of months, a friend gave me an apple. I drew it before eating it, knowing it would be gone so fast once I did and that it'd taste so wonderful but not wanting to forget its beauty.

      That experience was incredible. The apple tasted better than I imagined all through the process of drawing it and when I ate it, it was the best one in my life. Thereafter, apples were never ordinary, or pears, or any of the bright fruit that show up in still lifes. To this day I enjoy food a lot more than I ever had because I went through that rough patch having to wait six months to get food stamps after an interstate move and making one month's allotment last for three.

      I'm not on Food Stamps now because my daughter and son in law are so thrifty and so good at cooking that I don't need it. Let it go to someone who needs it more than I do.

    • PeacefulWmn9 profile image


      10 years ago from Michigan

      Great ideas...and good artwork, too. : )

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 

      10 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Agreed. Very thorough list that makes so much sense. Not having lived through the Great Depression or WWII we never had to scrimp and save on food. Now it the time when tips such as yours will really come in handy, along with some of the great penny-pinching recipes my mother-in-law developed to feed her family during WWII.

      Thanks for writing this. And thanks for including potatoes! You've made one Irish lass (me) very happy!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great suggestions! We put our first vegetable garden in last summer. We got started late, but we still ended up with enough to fill the freezer. This summer I want to get started earlier and plant a better variety. I also saw a book recently that tells how to make bread dough you don't have to need and keep it in the refrigerator. You can bake your won bread daily just by pulling a chunk of it out of the fridge and baking it. I keep meaning to do a hub on that--you can skip the $4 bread loafs all together and make your own. It's not that hard. Thank you for this hub, these are great practical ideas.


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