Thursday, April 18, 2013

Rationing- Bulk Shopping

Hello all,

One very important tip on how to successfully eat clean on a budget is to ration. Once you figure out how to stretch the food you have to last you for weeks (if not months), then eating clean on a budget becomes easier. For example, I found a really good price on salmon 2 months ago and immediately cut the filets up into 1 size portions and froze them. Due to my planning (meal planning and college ingenuity) I still have 3 filets left in my freezer. My trick you ask? I only eat salmon on Sundays. That way, I get to spoil myself with a really good meal at the end of a long week and still remain cost effective. Below are some more tips:

Produce: Once you have gone to a grocery store long enough, you eventually become familiar with the prices-therefore you know when a sale they are having is actually a good deal. Take this time to stock up on produce now so that you can freeze and use it later. I would also get familiar with the prices of frozen produce as well. At my local HEB, the price a bag of frozen mangos, spinach, and brocoli is always cheaper than buying the fresh alternative. So what do I do? I stock up on 73 cent bags of brocoli and $1.95 bags of mangos!
  • Anything "fleshy fruit" can freeze easily- berries, mangos, peaches, bananas, papaya, apricots
    • In my experience, apples, plums, and citrus fruits don't freeze to well but you are more than welcome to try it! Frozen grapes make a great substitution for ice-cubes!
  • Here is the link to a very good and comprehensive chart to vegetable freezing Vegetable Freezing Chart
  • If you do not want to freeze your produce and plan to use it within the next week, then you can simply wash and store the produce as is.
I got a really good deal on a head of red leaf lettuce for 98 cents. As you can see, I was able to ration out the lettuce into 6 equal "salad" bags. This method is not only creative, but it is cheaper than buying salad packages that are already cut and washed for you- since the prices tend to range from $2-$5.

Here, I pre-sliced some golden potatoes, red onions, and green bell pepper. Total, this purchase cost me less than $1.50, but after chopping the onion and peppers, I had enough peppers to last me about 3 recipes and red onion to last me about a week and a half- a much cheaper alternative to buying pre-sliced vegetables at the store.

Meats: This one is easy, simply buy in bulk and freeze in Ziploc baggies. With chicken drumsticks, I like to season/marinate them already and then pop them in the oven for about 45 minutes! In fact, all animal proteins can me seasoned, frozen, then cooked!

Buy in Bulk: When you notice a good deal (or when you are on a coupon binge) then stock up on some good pantry items. (I found a great sale on organic mac n cheese for only $1 a box!) Generally, the whole grain pasta varieties sell for the same amount as their enriched, processed counterparts do. So for the same dollar, you could have purchased whole grain pasta and brown rice. Whenever I go bulk shopping, I make sure to buy a couple boxes of spaghetti, elbow macaroni and a 2 bags of brown rice. Why? I know that I will not finish 21 servings of pasta immediately but it sure does feel good to say that you have 3 weeks of spaghetti, amiright? The same can be said for bagged/canned beans as well. Each can generally serves 2.5 people so you can plan you meals around having leftover beans. Yesterdays side dish can becomes today's chili! Lastly, tortillas and bread can freeze just as well as produce can. However, I am not a big bread eater. I usually only buy bread when I am in the mood for sandwiches so at most I will purchase 2 loafs of bread in a semester. However, after couponing and watching sales, I was able to snag a $4 loaf for a mere dollar. What did I do with that spare loaf? I froze it!

Voila! Here is a picture of a meal you can make from "stored food". The meat was already browned and frozen and the vegetables were chopped and stored before hand. All I had to do was reheat the beef and enjoy! These tips at first will be very expensive but you WILL find yourself making less frequent trips to the grocery store. Whenever I go shopping now, I am mainly stocking up on perishable items that I need such as milk, eggs, and produce that I cannot freeze (grapefruits, apples, cucumbers, baby carrots). Once you have mastered- or at least understood- these tips, then you will surely be on your way to easy and efficient menu planning!

-Eating Clean in College

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