Thursday, August 1, 2013

Menu Planning and Cooking

I started out this post thinking about how cooking in bulk and in advance could save you money, but in reality that's a better time saver than anything.  So, this is *mostly* about menu planning with some cooking advice thrown in.

Have you ever gone to the grocery store hungry?  Have you ever purchased items only to throw them out because you didn't use them?  I think everyone is guilty of doing this. 

To eliminate food waste, here are some things you should do:

1. Don't shop while you're hungry.  I know, this is a cliche, but it's true.  When I shop while hungry, I spend more money on food that I don't eat, and it's a waste of money, and a waste of food.  You can save yourself even just a little bit of money by NOT shopping while you are hungry.

2. Make a list, and stick to it.  Sit down before you go grocery shopping and write down everything you need.  When you go to the store, by the items on your list.  If you start veering from the list, the money can really add up. 

3. Plan your weekly menu before you go shopping.  By doing this, you will also be able to stick to your list, because you will know exactly what you are eating for the week.  Make sure you add a variety of items to your menu.  It is important to get variety even while saving money.

These items can help you save money on food in the long run.  Something else you can do to save yourself some TIME is to cook in advance.  For example, take a look at your menu and check what you'll be eating Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Cook the meals for those three days in advance.  You can freeze the items and pull them out the morning of.  You'll have time to do other things on these days instead.

Now, what are you waiting for: get out and plan those menus ;)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Eating out...

Okay, show of hands: How many of you love to eat out?  Come on, I know you're out there!  Yep, I like eating out, too.  Here's the thing though, eating out can really add up!

Let's say that you go out with you husband or wife or girlfriend, boyfriend, partner or on a date with the cutie who lives next door to you.  You figure, hey this'll be fun!  Eating out with someone I like (and eating out can be a social experience, after all.)

So, you get to a restaurant that you both like that also happens to serve great vegetarian and vegan food.  You think, "Hey, an appetizer would be nice."  So you spend, let's say, $7 on your appetizer.  Your order a bottle of wine because you think it'll go well with supper.  The bottle cost $16.  Then you order your supper.  Let's say that you order an entree that costs $12.99 and your date orders an entree that costs $11.99.  Let's add that up:

Appetizer: $7.00
Wine: $16.00
Entree 1: $12.99
Entree 2: $11.99

Total: $47.99

Adding in tax, you've just eaten a meal that costs roughly $50.  Now, you add a tip, because the waitress did a good job and you're feeling generous.  So, you give her $10.  That means you just spent $60 on a meal out.  That's a lot of money, right?

Now, let's assume that the average single person living alone is like me: You spend about 40 to 60 a week on groceries.  If you have two people at home, I think that it's safe to assume that jumps to roughly 80 to 100 a week on food.  If you have kids, you probably spend 150 to 200 a week on food depending on how many kids you have and how much they eat (because, really some kids seem to have a hollow leg don't they?)

So, unless your Bill Gates, you probably don't have tons and tons of money to spend on eating out a lot.  It also takes money out of what you could be spending on food to cook at home!

So, save yourself a dime, go to the grocery store and cook at home!  It'll taste great, and you'll save some money.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The {Not So Secret} Garden

Gardens, really, are a great way to save money as a vegetarian or vegan.  You can grow your own produce and save yourself a ton of money, because we all know produce at the market doesn't come cheap!

Some gardening ideas:

*If you have a house, take up a plot in your yard.  You can determine the size based on how much space you have.  Grow whatever plants you feel like growing over the summer.

*If you live in an apartment with a balcony, consider doing some container balcony gardening.  It doesn't take a lot of space, and you can still get some awesome, great tasting veggies when you're done!  Here are some cool photos of container balcony gardens:

*If you just don't have the space, ask a friend if they'd be willing to share some yard space with you.  Afterwards, you can share some of your produce with them!

After your fruits and veggies start to grow, you may find that you have too much for just one person.  You don't want the fruits of your labor to spoil!  SO, get some freezer bags (or those vacuum bag things) and store the leftovers in your freezer.  You can take them out and use them as you need them.

And there you have it: a great way to save money and still have great tasting fruits and veggies!