Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Dipping Dollar Does Not Mean Deteriorating Diet

A lot has been made of the declining dollar. I don't like it either. In fact, I hate it. Vacations cost more, clothing costs more, food costs more. Everything being imported will have a higher price tag.

Because of my single mom history, I have many tips for saving money and as a change of pace, thought I might just might write a few blogs about this topic. For example, never leave your dentist's office without your free toothbrush, sample toothpaste, and floss. You can amass quite a stash, There are loads of options for free or reduced price entertainment. Many websites offer free samples. Start mailing away. And of course, there are coupons, coupons, and more coupons...worth the effort.

Having said all that, I hear the most complaining about, and will therefore begin some of my thrift blogs by writing about food prices. Yes, prices have gone up significantly. However, there's much you can do to lessen the impact. Not only that, it requires very little effort and planning. There will be excuses. There are always excuses. Unless you live in the far reaches of our provinces, in Nunavut, or the Yukon (and those are totally different stories), I don't buy the excuses. It's easier to complain than to try.

My most essential first tip is, stay out of expensive food chains and specialty food stores if at all possible. I won't mention any by name, but you, and they, know who they are. I go into to some from time to time but with a specific purpose in mind. Read on.

Today, I heard about the dollar dropping once again. So I decided to make my usual rounds a little more frequently in the future.  By usual rounds, I mean I make a stop at a grocery store no matter where I'm headed. We have several and there's always one enroute to wherever I might be going. Then, I pick up produce from the reduced displays. Sometimes, reduced items are piled in boxes, sometimes on metal or shopping carts. Most stores have them.

My best discovery was a few weeks ago at the end of the produce aisle in Walmart. They have a rather generous sized cart. One day, it was full of tomatoes, onions, potatoes, kale, lettuce, bananas, avocadoes and lemons.  All were in bags and labelled one dollar. Jackpot!

Sometimes, the pickings are slimmer...a cart full of grapes or masses of slightly ripe bananas. Nonetheless, good for some loaves of banana bread. Mostly, the items are very fresh, having been moved there to empty the regular display for newer produce arrivals and to avoid mixing the older and the newer. Makes sense.

Here are a few of today's bargains to be used or combined with meals in the next few days.
Meat and breads are usually discounted in the mornings in many stores...meats that have impending due dates, and breads that are day old. It requires a trip. It means effort. It pays off in money saved, and unless you are amongst the world's 1% of richest people who probably don't care about prices there are most likely better things on which to spend money.

Tuesday is chicken night at Metro. Along with our $7.99 chicken tonight (you can't buy a whole chicken and cook it yourself for that money), we will have a small salad, and half a squash stuffed baked potato.

Many times I am forced to create in bulk so we will usually have enough left over for another one or two frozen meals, and some doggy dinners. So for under $10, a dozen dog meals PLUS three dinners for two or two dinners for three or one dinner for six OR one dinner for a teenager (fill them first with some of the day old rolls, or aforementioned banana bread, they don't care...then there'll be enough for others).

***NOTE - The chickens weren't ready at Metro, so hubby brought home eight huge chicken legs at a total cost of $5.00. That drops the total cost even lower.

Here's a good way to make a potato a little bit less evil.   Squash Stuffed Baked Potato

I found this bargain butternut squash at Giant Tiger (I know, not every store is available to everyone, but I live in a small town and I manage). I cut, sliced, removed seeds and skin, and boiled. Microwaving is optional...some people prefer it. I mashed the cooked squash (it only takes few minutes, don't overcook). Meanwhile, I washed and baked some potatoes. I used four but should have probably used six since I had stuffing left over at the end. I prefer using the oven  for baking rather than microwave as it makes the skins crispy.

After mashing the squash, I added a speck of butter, a few bits of grated cheese (whatever kind you have around, although cheese not essential), season to taste (big fan here of a shake or two of cayenne pepper...again, not essential). Once potatoes are baked, slice in half, cool for a few minutes to avoid burning yourself. Then carefully scoop contents into bowl with squash mixture. I use a grapefruit spoon. Mix together. When mixed, scoop back into potato halves and place in casserole dish to reheat briefly. If you wish to decorate with paprika or chopped chives/green onions, that's fine too...added vitamins.
Voila, only half a potato is necessary for a meal but some people like an extra half once they taste these yummy squash stuffed potatoes.

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