Today’s post came from my biggest supporter in life – Mrs. T! Here’s her frugal ideas on how to cook great food while staying on a budget. Enjoy! 🙂
Bob finally asked me to write a guest post for his blog! He asked me which frugal ideas I could share with you and I immediately thought about my biggest passion: Food!
There are so many ways to cook great foods on a budget and there are also many ways to completely overspend on your grocery budget and dine out budget if you don’t keep track of what you are doing.
In our family we have a few tips on how to get the most out of our groceries. Even though we aim to buy a lot of organic produce it doesn’t break the bank.
Growing own produce
For starters we do grow some of our produce ourselves, and I know that not everyone can or will do this, but it does help significantly on the cost of groceries each month, and you can actually grow quite a bit of food in small spaces.
We have invested in a greenhouse this year, which is now sitting next to our kitchen garden, so we can grow a variety of crops. If you don’t have a garden, you can grown your plants on a patio or even indoors. It is all about being creative with whatever space you have available.
Some of the things we grow in the garden are herbs such as rosemary, thyme, parsley, dill, chives, coriander, sage and mint. Just think about how much a small bunch of herbs are in the supermarket and think about how you use it if you buy it. Do you use the whole bunch in one go? Do you use half and save the rest for later, but end up having to throw it away because it has gone bad? We have spent a small amount of money on the initial seeds and now we mostly take seeds from the plants we have, so we don’t even have any expenses on most seeds anymore.
Kale is also a staple in our garden alongside garlic and onions. Beets, carrots, zucchini and pumpkins are grown in smaller quantities but will produce well and supply out fall and winter meals. Some of these we will also take seeds from and use the following year, but seeds are pretty cheap, so once in a while we stock up on new varieties.
Fruit trees and bushes are also part of our garden as well as our greenhouse crops: tomatoes and cucumbers.
There are of course other expenses such as fertilizer and water, but the enjoyment of having the garden as well as having the produce on hand when you need them vs. having to go to the store first, is a great plus.
I think the biggest difference for us when it comes to growing our own foods, is that we take better care of it. We have less waste, meaning that we use what we have before it goes bad, simply because we have grown it ourselves and feel a different responsibility for the produce vs. the produce we buy.
Make a meal plan!
Yes you have probably heard this before and either you love or hate it. I admit, it takes a bit of getting used to, but once you get the ball rolling, you can keep it up very easily.
The best way to make a meal plan is to write down what you like to eat, look at the season and find out what is available, combine the two and find recipes that you enjoy making with the ingredients available. Make it easy for yourself.
You can then make a week or a two-week plan based on your favourite foods. Remember to plan for extra food for lunches, which will save you money in the long run too. Say you end up with 15-30 recipes you really love to make, you already have a months worth of meals planned out and the best part is that you can just repeat, repeat, repeat till you get tired of the dishes and want to swap them out or once new produce is available.
I find it, when we make a meal plan, that there is a lot less waste too, because we only buy what we need for the week and use it up before buying new foods. Plus everything that grows in the garden can usually keep as long as it is still growing.
Freeze & repeat
Our last tip is to make larger batches of food and freeze for later use. For example if you are making a pasta sauce or soup, and you don’t feel like eating the same thing every night for a week, then you freeze some and save it for next week. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!
Remember to only save freezer foods for a certain period as it can get freezer burns. You will have to check how long your ingredients will freeze for, depending on what you are making.
And to make sure you utilize your frozen foods, keep a sheet of white board sticky paper on your freezer with a list of the content and date it was frozen. That way you can see what you have and how long it has been in there, without even opening the freezer. How great is that? Remember to update as you remove or add new items.
Christmas Giveaway Contest!
Last but not least, we would like to share with you our most loved recipes. And what better way to do that than hosting a give-away?
As you may know, we have written and published two cookbooks with dishes from our personal lives. Our first cookbook: “Three More Bites presents Cozy Cooking” includes recipes from Taiwan and Denmark, as we are sharing our native backgrounds. Our second cookbook “Three More Bites presents Three Weddings and a Honeymoon” is all about our wedding dishes and our beautiful honeymoon in Italy with all the delicious foods we had on our journey.
All of the recipes are easy to moderate to make and most of the ingredients are available in grocery stores. Both cookbooks even have a few videos of us explaining various techniques and tips for the cooking process.
We would love to give two of each book to a total of four (4) winners. To participate in the contest please complete all 5 steps.
- Sign up for Tawcan newsletter
- Like Tawcan on Facebook
- Sign up for Three More Bites newsletter
- Like Three More Bites on Facebook
- Tell us in the comments below why you should be the lucky winner of one of our cookbooks.
Entries must be submitted before Nov 30th, 2017. Winners will be randomly selected on Dec 1st, 2017 so contest winners can get their book before Christmas.
I hope you have enjoyed the tips for saving money on one of the most important factors in our lives: FOOD! We need good nutrition to live a healthy life, so this is an area that should be prioritized high on your list.
We are looking forward to hearing your thoughts and maybe you have a tip to share as well.
Mrs. T (Ayoe)
11 thoughts on “How to cook great food while staying on a budget & Christmas giveaway contest!”
Thanks for sharing these tips! Planning ahead really does help and growing your own herbs and veggies must make a big difference.
Your food and plating look so perfect. I started square foot gardening this summer. Harvested a ton of tomatoes, cucumber, and squash. I also had some eggplants, squash, snow peas, capsicum, carrots, lettuce and brussel sprouts. I didn’t expect that my garden would turn so well the first year. Since I didn’t know much cooking, I grilled most of the veggies and gave away the rest to friends and families. I believe your cookbook will be a great guide to turn my fresh produce into gourmet meals. My plan next year is to cook more at home which will help me reach FI quicker.
Wow, thanks for the chance to win.
I’m a recent Tawcan fan. I first found you through your excellent spreadsheets and comments on Millennial Revolution. I love food, but don’t make as much time to cook as I should, so these books would inspire me to make new, healthy, delicious dishes for our family, including two little kids.
P.S. We recently got back from Taiwan. Love the Yehliu geopark. My family visited Denmark when I was in middle school. Mostly, I remember Legoland and the fact that Scandinavia was painfully sunny.
Cool. I went to Yehliu when I was a young kid. A very cool place for sure.
I would love to get either cookbook because it introduces and blends different cultural cuisines. I also come from a culturally blended family, so I love cooking from many different cuisines.
I adore cooking and getting creative in the kitchen. I think your cookbook would be an excellent addition to my collection.
Wow. Your gardens are impressive and beautiful. The food looks delicious and I think Mrs. T has a bright future in blogging. 🙂 Tom
Love the food Mrs. T! Has me drooling all the way down here in Washington State!
We do a lot of the same things to eat like a king on a frugal budget. In general, our family of four eats for about $500/month (in USD)
Had no idea you guys had made a cookbook!
Thanks Mr. Tako. We actually made 2 cookbooks, not just one. 🙂
It’s pretty easy to eat like a king on a frugal budget.
I think I could one of the books because I am a bachelor who mainly subsists on steak and kale.
My wife and I bake cookies for the homeless folks every Christmas. Like your family, we also enjoy baking and cooking and this book would be excellent to have as a collection (but only if you guys sign it for us)!