By Rayne DeVivo
Besides shopping sales and using coupons, another way I’ve cut my grocery budget is to do more work preparing food into convenient packages at home. It’s universal at the grocery; the more convenient it is then the more expensive it will be. I am sure I have bought the following in a two-week period: two pounds of deli ham for sandwiches, a pork shank for pinto beans, and cubed ham for quiche. The total for all that hovers around $20.
Kroger (in Normal, sorry) recently had bone-in, non-sliced hams 50% off. I got a 7-pound ham for $7. I sliced off three pounds of lunch meat, more than one pound of cubes, about one pound of chunks for the kids to snack on, and saved the bone with the remainder of the meat in the freezer for beans. Fifteen minutes of work resulted in $13 saved.
Some of our closest friends eat a vegan diet and last month learned the same lesson. They spent two hours cooking three pounds of seitan, a meat substitute, which retails for $8 per pound. Seitan is gluten-based and can be made from wheat flour, water, salt, and a heaping helping of elbow grease. Even using organic vital wheat gluten flour and veggie broth and other flavoring for the boil, the home cook spends 1/8 of purchasing ready-made seitan.
This week’s meal plan is based on Meijer’s current sales. The best deals are red grapes, split chicken breasts, Hillshire Farm smoked sausage with coupon, Athenos crumbled feta, bulk almonds with mperks coupon, Simply Orange juice, Tyson chicken nuggets with coupon, Progresso soup with coupon, Beechnut baby food, and a deal for a $5 Meijer coupon with the purchase of $50 in Applebee gift certificates.
There are multiple layers of saving at Meijer:
• Shop the sales. Be savvy about Meijer’s Buy 10 for $10, get the 11th item free sale. Some food included on that sale has a regular price between 0.89 and 1.00, so you may not get a deal if you choose haphazardly.
• Clip coupons from the paper, online, or both.
• Enroll in Meijer’s new mperks program. Mperks improves every week! Coupons for organic and regular produce are new this week.
• Do you have student loan debt? If you enroll in U Promise, you get additional income to throw at your loans PLUS if you obtain a Meijer loyalty card there are extra coupons you can download to your loyalty card. For every coupon you use at the store an equal amount is applied to your loans. Anyone in your family or friends can register their loyalty cards tied to your student loans and get the same coupons.
• Day 1: Bulk cooking + chicken enchiladas + roasted zucchini, peppers & onion
• Day 2: Chicken salad sandwiches + green beans + cantaloupe
• Day 3: Greek Salad
• Day 4: Quick pizza + salad
• Day 5: Dirty rice + steamed broccoli
• Day 6: Easy baked fish, baked potatoes, frozen veggie of your choice.
Rayne DeVivo is an attorney and a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law. A Hoosier by birth, Rayne has lived in central Illinois for 15 years. She currently stays home with her two sons, Henry and Quinn. Rayne’s hysterical tale of taking her sons grocery shopping is one of the most popular chambanamoms.com articles of 2011.