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So, once upon a time I was... not wealthy... actually, I was often broke for a week before my paycheck...   Which meant using my CC for buying groceries, and sometimes incurring interest. Not good.

 

The first thing I did was look at what I bought. 

That meant no more pr0n magazines. (This was before broadband became cheap, or even available in my area)

No newspaper subscription. (My office did subscribe, so it was available if I changed when I took my breaks)

I stopped buying 'ready made' frozen dinners and stuff like that. 

I picked a cheaper bread for breakfast and lunch. 

If anything I ate was on sale... I bought a lot of it. 

Half-price food with nearly expired dates... went straight into the freezer.

I started using more rice in my food, and not the 'portion' boxes, 'boil in bag' or other nonsense, but 4Kg sacks of Jasmine rice. (Bought a dedicated rice cooker, even. I'm on my third rice cooker now... )

 

I often made casserole dishes using a freeze-dried base, replaced the meat or minced meat with cheap sausages, and added extra beans, corn or dried peas. (dried goods is cheap, but will require soaking and a longer boil. Great to use as 'extender' )

Macaroni is another 'extender' that goes well in many dishes.

 

I took up fishing... 

(Here in Norway anyone can fish in the sea for their own use. There's a limit to how much tourists are allowed to bring home, though, but that's not interesting here) 

Check local laws for fishing. 

 

In the summer I pick berries in the forests and make jam out of.

(Check local laws. Also, for plants you aren't familiar with, ask experts. Poisonous mushorooms is a really bad way to die)

 

I used a lot of cooking oil when frying food... 

Now I use a spray bottle that I fill with oil to give the pan a light dusting. I probably cut the usage in half and the food even tastes better.

 

Mac&Cheese or Noodles?

Not for more than a few days if you're smart. None of that is particularly healthy. 

 

Did you know that yellow cheeses such as Edam can be frozen?

I often buy them when they're on sale(Edams are always on sale here before christmas...), divide it into 4 parts, pack 3 of them in plastic bags and place in the freezer. 

Just thaw them slowly, in the fridge or they go all squishy.

 

When I can find something in both whole and sliced, I always buy the whole version as I have a slicer at home. 

The difference in price can be staggering... And sometimes you can slice it thinner than the store-sliced stuff.

 

Eggs?

Biggest cartons available(usually 18 eggs) here in Norway. 

Bigger is cheaper. (Here eggs are good for up to a month after the 'use before' date imposed by some moronic EU directive or other)

 

Plan meals.

Wondering what to make for dinner is NOT something you do on your way home. It's best done the day before, or even earlier...

I make a casserole one day, and eat a portion of it togeher with a slice or two of buttered bread.

The next day I boil rice, which I dump a third of on my plate, then heat a portion of yesterday's casserole in the Nukemeister and dump on top. 

The rest of the casserole is frozen for another day... 

Third day... I may have a bit of sausage left over from making the casserole... cut into cubes and toss in the frying pan. Add the rest of the rice, and maybe a can of beans, or a chopped up onion, or whatever else I happen to have. 

 

Whenever I make something that takes a bit of effort (potato dumplings, fish au gratin and so on) I always make enough for a week's dinners at once, and freeze the rest.

 

At any time I may have 1 or 2 weeks of ready-made dinners in my freezer, and except for a few sale items, they're all home made. 

 

Once I happened on a lot of jars of 'Sweet&Sour' sauce, and I knew I had a few cans of ham...

Cook some rice, fry up strips of ham and possibly a few vegetables, and heat some sauce. 

Two cups of rice on the plate, strips of ham on top, vegs if you have, and pour the sauce over it. 

'Asian inspired' dinner... Tastes good, too.

 

Do you drive?

Could you get around by using public transport, walking or cycling?

I have a trailer for my EL bicycle, and can haul up to 30Kg on it... 

 

Dishwasher...

Do you run it every day?

Unless it's full, no!

If you do it because you're out of dinner plates, knives or whatever, consider getting more of what you most often run out of, or changing the menu a bit. 

One or two 'soup days' per week might result in a few days more between each wash. 

Pots and pans can easily be washed by hand if you remember to soak them immediately after use.

Just pour some hot water and a bit of dishwashing liquid into the pot and scrub away. No need to fill the sink, really. Not that many bacteria that will survive the next time its heated, anyway, so if the outside isn't perfect it won't matter all that much... 

 

 

EDIT: This post was written because of the comments in the thread about Reaper's 25 year anniversary and ways to save up money for all the 'free' minis that will become available in 2017.

Of course, if you NEED to use these tricks to afford those orders, you probably shouldn't order them anyway. 

Edited by Gadgetman!
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Dry staples; beans, lentils, rolled oats, flour, rice - can all be bought in bulk pretty cheaply and stored nearly indefinitely. Beans; rinse, soak overnight, cook, put into things until you run out of beans, wash, rinse repeat.

Lentils, same.

 

You know about rice already; although brown rice (hasn't had all the nutrients washed or processed off it) is likely a better choice and might be cheaper, depending.

A can of broth (or a couple of cups, if you made your own) makes some nice savory rice.

 

Speaking of broth.. saving your chicken carcasses after a meal (strip of meat, throw in freezer until you have two or three), makes nice broth. Toss into your biggest pot with a couple of whacked up carrots, some whacked up celery and whatever herbs you have handy (thyme, rosemary ..). I put rather a lot of garlic in mine. You may need something to strain it with, and in fact, for fishing the smaller bones out, it's a good idea.

You can do that with bony leftovers of all sorts. Excellent soup base.

 

If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, your own bread isn't hard to make; I found the trickiest part was finding a good place to let it rise until it occurred to me that computers throw off a lot of heat. So, Mr. Thorne's servers tend to end up doubling as bread-rising stations when I make bread. Yeast, likewise, is cheap; I buy mine in jars.

If that's not an option, consider raising your own sourdough starter; there are instructions all over the 'net.

 

If have a black thumb (herbs are a fairly easy window garden), and you don't already, buy your herbs in bulk, store them in a cool, dark place and they will keep for practically forever. Whole spices are ... hard to find. I get mine from Penzey's, but YMMV. If you have a little extra, they're worth the splurge.

 

I don't ever remember going hungry, although I do remember there were times when money was tight; my mother did most of these, and I learned from her, and it's kept Mr. Thorne and I from being hungry more than once.

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Rice can also be flavoured with some soy sauce....

(Anything but 'just rice'. )

 

For long-term saving, consider a small garden.

You can grow quite a few vegetables in just a square meter of soil.

If you don't have a yard, consider pots or crates on the porch or on a verandah. 

No outside area at all?

Try a Windowfarm. 

(Hydroponic gardening in your livingroom or kitchen windows. Most of it can be built using recycled items. A pity that the people behind the old .org site elfed up the KS and left the site to die.)

One day I'll restart my farm, but then I'll definitely NOT plant peas in it!

Just a few pots with lettuce can be the difference between a healthy and unhealthy lifestyle.

(You can break off leaves one by one for a snack without killing the plants)

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*  Slow cookers:  marvellous invention:  Make a big batch of stew in the morning, nice and hot and steaming when you get home from work.  

 

I use cheap cuts of meat (the butcher has sides of meat & whole cuts cheaply semi regularly so I get those & get them cut into stewing size chunks.  When I get home I separate them into slow cooker size quantities & freeze).

 

When I make a stew I freeze at least half of each batch in single meal size amounts (I live alone and it gets boring eating the same stew for a week).  Stews tend to have a base - mostly tomato pulp & a serving of vegetable soup, meat & vegetables.  I normally add some lentils when I get home to help thicken it up if its a bit liquid.

 

Winter vegetables make great soups and are very economical.  Make a big pot of favourite soups and freeze most of it in single meal size amounts.  Note:  Soups make a good base for stew also when you have extra soup :)  

 

Having meals in freezer helps save you from the temptation (and expense) of takeaways.

 

Its also easy to grab lunch out and heat at work :)

Edited by kay13
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 I buy three cans of store brand pasta sauce for $1 each, two packages of pasta for $1 each, a large onion and a value package of chicken thighs for under $10... I cook the thighs, pull all the meat off and cut it up into tiny chunks, then make a huge pot of pasta and sauce...

And I can live on that for almost a week.

 

For lunch I eat two packages of ramen noodles (12 for $3.40)...

 

For breakfast I eat four pieces of toast with peanut butter. (three loaves of bread - 99 cents each, jar of peanut butter $4.49)

 

I live on about $27 worth of food a week.

Edited by Mad Jack
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I dont know if this counts or not because it requires a special kind of being poor, but I spent about 2 years as an independent contractor doing CEMS dataloggers and specialty database work.  the money tended to come in fits and starts rich one month, scraping out the bottom of the peanut butter jar the next. 

 

So we went to the local meat market (or restaurant supply store) and bought a half side of beef or a lamb or a half pig.  all said and done the meat usually worked out to the price of hamburger and you got a lot of it.  but one purchase would last an entire month and, as we had a local slaughterhouse, it was pretty good flavor.  another trick was to buy at the 4H fairs in the spring and fall.  If you are willing to take 3rd or 4th place the auction is usually 1.20 to 1.50 after butchering.  You might want to get in with friends on this though, those beasties can be 500+ pounds of take home meat.

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If you live in a rural area that's pretty common.  Growing up my dad would keep one steer for slaughter and sell the rest.  1 will pretty well fill a 6ft deep freezer, but you get sooooooo much hamburger.  We ate so many hamburgers growing up that neither my brother or i really like them anymore.  You also get organ meat if you want it.  My grandparents were depression era so they had recipes to prepare brain, heart, tongue.. waste nothing.

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Heart is actually pretty delicious. The worst part about it is that, being a muscle that sees constant use, it's almost always tougher than the toughest cuts most people are familiar with. I was surprised by it a few years ago when I had heart for the first time, a deer heart, and it wasn't some terrible nastiness like I'd expected. A bit metallic in taste, but otherwise it was really tasty. I haven't yet had beef heart, though it's available to me just about any time I might want to.

 

I'm not a fan of liver either, but liver is a cheap, fairly nutrient-rich food that if prepared properly can be surprising in how it tastes.

 

One thing I'll add is that if you can find them, premade Japanese curry roux bricks are good and usually pretty cheap. Unlike Indian/Thai curries, Japanese curry is savoy and not a spicy dish. I can get the big boxes of Golden Curry, enough for about a 6qt pot, on Amazon for about $7, and I know I've seen the smaller boxes(half the size) at Walmart for about $4. Cut some carrots into chunks, slice or chunk some potatoes, slice up some onions, and add some cubed up beef or chicken if you want meat in it. Add soy sauce or other seasonings to customize it to taste, and serve over rice. One 6qt pot will feed me a meal a day for almost 5 days, and I don't eat small plates of the stuff. It usually takes me at least 4 cups of rice to go through it all.

 

Personally, I add a bit of tonkatsu sauce(like a Japanese version of brown sauce) and soy sauce to my curry, and for meat I prefer to dice up some chicken thighs. I also frequently add some red pepper flakes because I like it to be a tiny bit spicier than even their "hot" variety gives me. And I've found that it's best to precook the potatoes before adding them to the curry because they can make it too thick and starchy otherwise. Frequently I'll just buy canned sliced potatoes and add them at the very end of cooking, just long enough to heat them up, rather than using raw potatoes.

Edited by Unruly
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This sort of thing is where working in a restaurant, even as a part time side gig can save you quite a bit. Most places have some kind of shift meal policy where once per shift you get either a free or discounted meal (50-75% off usually). Also if you work the closing shift, leftover food that can't be frozen or refrigerated is usually up for grabs. People tend to underestimate the shelf life of almost everything and just because it can't be re-served by law doesn't mean it's actually gone bad. Getting in good with the cooks also pays off as you become part of the "abandoned meal rotation" consisting of orders cancelled at the last minute or things mistakenly made. Another benefit is that you have a complete professional kitchen at your disposal. I don't have a kitchen where I live so if I need to bake or deep fry something I can just show up during a slow shift and cook it up. Also cooks make the best guinea pigs if you're attempting new recipes, most are not at all shy about providing feedback and showing you where exactly you either got it right or screwed it up.

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Liver is pretty good if you know how to prepare it. 

Slice it up, cut out all the 'gubbins', and fry at low heat in plenty of oil. 

Cut the slices into small pieces for use in stews and such, or serve in a thick, creamy sauce with potatoes on the side.

 

Most people seems to think that high heat is the way to go, but then you only char the outside and leave the inside mostly raw. 

That might work with beef, but not with liver.

 

A packed lunch may be cheaper than eating in a cafeteria or cantina. 

And it doesn't have to be boring food, either... 

Sliced up leftover chicken or turkey... On mondays I bring a boiled egg - I always boil one or two extra on sunday - and slice that up.

Or bring a jar of jam... 

These days I have a small plastic basket of stuff that I keep in a fridge at the office(everyone has their own, labelled basket) where I can keep sliced meats, cheese and all kinds of goodies.(I buy a bread on monday morning and bring with me to the office) Not only does this mean I can have anything on my bread, even stuff that 'doesn't transport well', but if I have to head out on a job on a remote office, I can prep something 'to go' and not having to buy something to eat either on a ferry or a roadside cafe. 

 

My car...

I always refuel on Sunday evening or monday morning, even if the tank is pretty full because that's the time gasoline is cheapest here. 

(The difference can be as much as 4NOK/L, and for a 20L top-up, that can mean a saving of 80NOK, or about $10 for about 5Gallon)

Of course I try to use public transport or my EL Bicycle as much as possible. 

Car expenses aren't just fuel costs after all. A lot of the expenses with a car is dependent on how far you drive. 

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 I buy three cans of store brand pasta sauce for $1 each, two packages of pasta for $1 each, a large onion and a value package of chicken thighs for under $10... I cook the thighs, pull all the meat off and cut it up into tiny chunks, then make a huge pot of pasta and sauce...

And I can live on that for almost a week.

 

For lunch I eat two packages of ramen noodles (12 for $3.40)...

 

For breakfast I eat four pieces of toast with peanut butter. (three loaves of bread - 99 cents each, jar of peanut butter $4.49)

 

I live on about $27 worth of food a week.

 

Look at you, living large.  I bet I could cut that by 2/3rds and still get 12 hours a day of rockbreaking out of you.

 

Too many vitamins, that's your problem.  Makes you soft.  I bet you've never even had scurvy.

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I like to make meals that work well when served over rice; it helps stretch things out quite a bit. Also, I've been buying sausage more frequently than hamburger lately. I discovered (by accident) that in most of my recipes, I could use half the meat, and it would taste as good or better than when I used beef. Buying whole turkeys or chickens, cooking them, and then bagging the meat in meal-sized portions also works well, both for cost-saving and convenience! ^_^

 

Huzzah!        

--OneBoot :D

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A grocery chain here in Norway is selling sausages for 15NOK/800grams (about $2.25/Kg) with a limit of 3 packages per customer.

(Normal price here is $5/Kg for the crappiest sausages. These were not crap)

They have 3 stores in my area, all on my way home. 

And that's why you always leave some room in the freezer... 

 

Christmas cookies, bags of nuts and stuff like that.

Have anyone ever looked at the 'best before' dates on this stuff?

All this goes on sale in january, but most of it has a best before date a year or more later. 

I like Ginger cookies, and particularly one brand, which comes in a nice tin. But paying nearly $10 for it is not tempting. But buying 4 or 5 tins in january for half off, yeah, 

(Got to have some luxuries, and if I'm careful, that haul will last me a year.) 

Nuts needs to be stored dry, or you may get some serious issues with fungus.

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