Did you know that food is like…. really expensive? When I was just feeding myself, I didn’t even have to think about my food budget. I could very easily pay for all of the lunches, dinners, drinks, and coffee that I felt like without ever having to worry about not making my other financial commitments. Feeding one person (who is often pretty happy to just eat various veggies all day every day) is much different than feeding two people, one of whom has a pretty voracious appetite.
So, needless to say, I have had to make some pretty serious adjustments. As a wife, I take a lot of pride in being able to keep my husband well-fed, with tasty and filling dinners. I want to make sure that the meals that I’m cooking have lots of protein, but also lots of veggies and stuff that is good for him. Once in a while, I want to be able to include a dessert in there too.
After some experimenting, and a lot of time spent wandering around the grocery store trying to figure out what sorts of things I can cobble into a meal, I’ve come up with some guidelines for good ways to save money and still enjoy really rich, hearty dinners with your hungry hungry husband.
1. Keep and eye out for proteins on sale, and freeze leftover portions for the two of you. Very often, grocery stores will sell proteins that are nearing their sell-by date for a pretty significant discount. Do not be afraid of buying meat close to the sell-by date! Obviously – use your judgement – if the meat looks/smells funky, don’t get it. But, most attentive grocery store butchers won’t keep that on the shelves in the first place.
When I get lots of meat t the store, one of the first things I try to do is to separate it into portions. Normally, these portions will be what I use for a given recipe. I put these into individual freezer bags, and immediately freeze them. For example:
Ground beef = 1lb per package
Chicken breasts/thighs = 2 or 3 (depending on the size)
Sausage (chorizo, italian, etc) = 3 or 4 links
Roasts = all or nothing. Freeze it or use it.
This way, when you get a package out of the freezer, you’ve got the amount you need.
2. For veggies – don’t forget the canned and frozen sections! Fresh fruit and veggies can be pricey, especially when they are out of season. However, canned or frozen veggies can be incredibly delicious. For example – my freezer right now is FULL of frozen green veggies. Peas, green beans, corn (not a green vegetable, I know), and edamame are all examples of frozen veggies which can basically be subbed for fresh, once they’ve thawed.
Spinach and other leafy greens can be thawed also, but at that point they resemble wilted versions of their fresh selves. So substitute accordingly.
I really enjoy canned beets, beans, chickpeas, and corn, in things like salads. Canned tomatoes can be used in virtually ever application that involves cooked tomatoes (diced, stewed, steamed, pureed, crushed).
Fresh veggies are still great additions to your grocery list.
3. Keep a few inexpensive starches around for variety. Potatoes, rolls, rice, or other interesting grains can be really great and cheap additions to a meal. Adding some nice steamy potatoes can make a meal feel a lot homier and fancier. Rice is so versatile, it can go with so many different dishes as a really great side.
Taken together, you can put together a nice solid meal that can be satisfying and inexpensive! And there can still be room for dessert 😉