Single parent here where things have gone from dire to ok in the last year. I scrimped for months to get a fund together. I also had xmas money and my parents paid for an activity for us (ziplining). My cost was $900. It was a huge amount to come up with, but I did it and we went and actually had some pay off for our hard work during the year. Kids have to get up early and get home late so I can work 55 hour weeks (near minimum wage). We did lots of activities and even swung a meal at a restaurant at the end.
Now I need to buckle down and keep paying off debt for the next year. I hope to be debt free bar the mortgage by the end of it.
How I did it: 1 year timeframe: Got a job working more than 40hrs pw. Cut out some insurance payments because they came with the job. Paid off a car loan and a water bill, cut netflix. Got ahead on my bills with the extra wiggle room ($150pw). Thought f-it, the kids deserve a holiday. Got mad that I hadn't managed it in over a decade. Starting saving $100pw + what I could from the food budget by eating through the overstocked freezer - I had a lot of preprepared soups and things in there that I had made when covid started in case it hit the household. I'm in New Zealand so it turned out to be unnecessary but took up heaps of space.
No regrets on the money spent. Now I'm planning another couple of domestic holidays for the next few years.
I recently purchased a chest freezer after a successful whitetail season. Initially it was a hesitant $300 purchase because I only needed it for my venison. What I've since discovered has been an unintentional frugal marvel.
Realizing that I had excess space, I began purchasing meat I didn't intend to eat anytime soon, but could one day enjoy, whenever I saw it on deep discount. After a month or so, I realized I had enough meat to last me for months, and I'd never spent anything even approaching full price.
Because my supplies are never low, I literally never have to pay full price for meats. I won't even buy at 25% off, because I don't have to. If I don't see a serious discount, I've got all the time in the world to wait until I do.
This then translated to more than meat. Literally everything freezable I eat is now only ever purchased at deep discount, because I have sufficient supplies waiting at home to last till I find a price I like. My most recent entire pork shoulder was $5.56, I bought a half ham for $3.20, and I stocked up on NY strips when they were 60% off. Previously I'd have had to pass up these marvelous deals because my tiny apartment freezer shared with a roommate was so limiting. Now the world of discounts is all mine.
I also waste less food, because if I'm concerned about something approaching expiration, I can just chuck it in the freezer until I have time to cook and eat it.
Another added revelation was meal prep benefits to avoid eating out when I work 12-15 hour shifts. If I find myself bored on a quiet winter lockdown evening, I can just get to cooking like 20 meals of different varieties. And I've got all the space in the world to keep them fresh. Previously, I could only prep like 4-5 meals tops at any given time due to space limitations. When I ran out I'd piss money away getting takeout during work. Now I can fill dead lockdown time being productive AND save even more money.
Tldr: chest freezer changed my life. And it can change yours too. Thank you for reading.
My example. My wife and I use this trick to organize our freezer, and our vacuum sealer and cheap meat purchases to stretch our grocery budget.
Edit: Test a small area for removal/staining.
After I was done laughing, I explained how I was saving up vegetable scraps to make soup stock.
Then I explained this group and how I am going to save us a ton of money, and now he’s excited about the bag of garbage.
Next up, figuring out where to store all the bulks items I’m buying. We have a very tiny house. One fridge with a very tiny freezer.
I wonder if there’s a group for eating cheap and healthy in a wee little house?
P.S. I am incredibly grateful to everyone who takes the time to post all the detailed info!!!!
P.P.S. Extra thankful to the person who posted pics and details of 7 days of food. The ground beef with pickles and feta and rice is genius.
We are 41st in the country in administering available vaccines, at only 34.4%
Whenever I buy cilantro, the bunch it comes in is way too much for me to use at once. Instead of letting it go to waste, I was it, dry with paper towels, chop it up and freeze it! The flavor decreases slightly, but it works perfectly well for sprucing up quick meals, and saves a lot of time to have them prepped in the freezer! I honestly wish I knew this sooner, I wouldn’t have had to throw out so many herbs (and lose $$).
Don’t know how well this works with other herbs!
Edit: I use the frozen herbs to top off soups, rice, tacos, omelets, pizza, chowmein, literally everything. It works fine for my lazy college student taste buds although i get that the limp texture might make it unappealing to some folks! Freezing in olive oil or some other liquid sounds like one of the preferred methods and though I wouldn’t be able to grab and dump cilantro on pizza that way, I’ll have to try that method out!! Lots of different ways people store their herbs!! thanks for all the tips y’all!!
Edit2: Some redditors mention that Rosemary, thyme, sage, basil, parsley, dill, lemongrass, and curry leaves work well frozen too! One person mentioned that mint may not work well with this! Other solutions also include vacuum sealing them before freezing, drying herbs by leaving them hanging at room temperature for a few days, flash drying them in the microwave, putting them in a cup of water with a plastic sandwich bag over the top, or growing them yourself if that method is accessible to you. Another user had success with putting a dry, flat layer of herb in between paper towels, rolling that up, and storing the rolls in a ziploc bag in the fridge until needed. Also freezing as pesto in ice cube tray or freezing as an herb butter is an option, as well as making vegetable stock from herbs and other vegetable cuttings. Non-herb stuff that some folks enjoy freezing include ginger (unpeeled is ok! or minced), the juice and zest of lemon and lime, minced garlic, chillies, tomato paste, canned chipotle in adobo sauce, peppers, and onions! That’s a short summary in case you don’t want to scroll through everything! I’m reading every new comment and updating the summary with new info!
Edit3: To clarify, I store mine in a ziploc bag in the freezer! Didnt mean to imply to put them straight in (: Literally so many unexpected things can go in the freezer, like cheese, tofu, baked goods, rice, meats, curries, nearly all fruits and veggies, it’s worth mentioning that next time you have someth... keep reading on reddit ➡
I thought people might want a "fix it and forget it" quarantine plan in their freezer. Don't try to sustain on only this, but it would certainly be a good thing to have 30 healthy meals in the freezer if you ended up in quarantine.
2 cups uncooked brown rice
4 (15oz) cans black beans
2 (15 oz) cans pinto beans
1 (10 oz) can whole kernal corn
1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 lb shredded pepperjack cheese
30 burrito sized tortillas
Now for the optional stuff:
2-3 diced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, if you like warmth or heat, more or less to taste (no reason why you can't taste this filling as you go)
1 diced bunch cilantro, if you grow it or can get it cheaply
chili powder, cumin, and oregano to taste
zest and juice of 1-2 limes
a can or jar of salsa (don't be afraid of the cheap canned stuff the the mexican section)
Make rice, mix everything up in a really big bowl. Roll up burritos. I wrap them in plastic wrap and then put them in gallon sized plastic bags. To reheat, you can microwave after removing the plastic wrap for a minute per side, or heat them up in the oven.
I have made many versions of this over the years, but this is the base recipe. It can be made cheaper with dried beans, and modified any way you want if you'd like to add something to it.
okay, so this happened to my dad. when he was a teenager he used to work at a mom & pop pharmacy that would deliver prescriptions to people that couldn’t get out of the house (too old/no car). he normally had a route & saw the same people regularly. one day, at the end of his shift, he had a delivery kinda far out from where he would normally travel. at almost dark he pulls up to the house and the screen door is open, with one light on in the back of the house. so he knocks & hears someone yell from the back of the house to come in. he’s already really creeped out because he says there’s no furniture in the house, but the house is filled with deep freezers. wall to wall, but there was a tiny pathway to the back of the house, which was the kitchen. so he goes to walk into the house & he said the carpet was so gross that his feet were sticking to it. he goes down the hallway to the kitchen and still doesn’t see anybody. the money was on the table and he dropped the bag of medicine on the table, went to nope tf out of there & when he turned around to leave he heard a loud raspy voice yell “DON’T LOOK IN THE FREEZERS!” so he ran out and told his boss he never wanted to go back there.
he’s told me that story since I was little, and I’ve always wanted to know what was in those freezers lol. maybe not super creepy, but it was always really creepy to me growing up. he’s even taken me by the house before.
I have 5 giant commerical boxes of chicken nuggets and chicken sausage in my freezer... No idea what to do with them. They taste good though. Any ideas?
Edit: I didn't steal them haha
Edit again: Thanks for the awards! I didn't think this would get this much attention. I just figured I'd get a few recipes or ideas to donate. I appreciate all the recipes and suggestions!