Guest Post: Saving money and having fun with food

Mark Silverthorn

I am delighted to announce that Danielle Lorimer, the President of Comprehensive Debt Solutions, will be contributing a guest blog post on the Mark Silverthorn Blog on a regular basis.  The focus of Danielle’s guest posts will be on personal finance issues.  This is the first of what I hope to be many guest posts from Danielle.

Danielle Lorimer

 

Over the past few years I have experienced a significant drop in my annual income–as much as 50 percent.  This has actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  I have challenged myself to not only live on a smaller household budget but also to have fun doing so.

Many of you who are reading this blog post may have experienced a similar reduction in household income.  In my series of blog posts I hope to share with you my journey.

 

Saving money buying heavily discounted grocery items

I now save a boatload of money by purchasing heavily discounted items at the grocery store–not to be confused with weekly specials.  Each week at a no frills supermarket it is possible to purchase items in various departments which have been heavily discounted.

Taking full advantage of these heavily discounted items requires some strategic considerations.  Firstly, when purchasing clearance items at the grocery store it is helpful if a shopper is opportunistic.  Secondly, the availability of heavily discounted clearance items is going to dictate, to some extent, what is on the menu over the next 48 hours.  If you buy a quantity of brussel sprouts from the clearance shelf in the produce section then ideally you should have brussel sprouts for dinner that evening.

It is possible to save significant amounts of money purchasing meat which has been heavily discounted.  These items will often contain stickers with the phrase “Reduced for Quick Sale” or “Enjoy me Tonight”.  If you purchase one of these clearance items you don’t have to eat it that same day if you put the item in your freezer at home.  In order to maximize your savings on buying meat you can try to limit your meat purchases to those which are heavily discounted.

In the produce section of a grocery store there is typically a clearance cart on wheels with multiple shelves containing heavily reduced fruit and vegetables.  I will often buy from this produce clearance cart and use these items in my meals that evening or the following day.

Near the cash registers at many grocery stores there is often a section containing clearance items for non-perishable items.  It never hurts to look at this shelf.  You might find something that you need heavily marked down in price.

Many items found in a grocery store contain a BEST BEFORE DATE.  An item is not unfit for human consumption after the expiry of a Best Before Date.  A food item with an expired Best Before Date may experience some deterioration in flavour and texture.

 

Saving money eating at home

I enjoy eating out at a restaurant from time to time.  Unfortunately, there are several reasons why I prefer to eat at home.  Firstly, eating out can be incredibly expensive, particularly when you consider the additional cost of gratuities and H.S.T. imposed on restaurant meals.  Secondly, when I prepare a meal I know what ingredients are used and how it is made.  Thirdly, I find that I can often prepare a meal better than when I eat it at a restaurant.  Fourthly, I have found that the service at many restaurants leaves plenty to be desired.  Finally, sometimes the conduct of other patrons in a restaurant can prejudice your ability to enjoy your dining experience.

 

Developing a repertoire of yummy recipes

I am in my 50’s and until a few years ago I couldn’t boil water.  I didn’t cook my first Christmas turkey until I was 50 years of age.  I was able to get some books at my local library on basic cooking techniques.

Now I am using the internet to find potential recipes.  One of my favourite sites for recipes is allrecipes.com.  I would invite you to check it out!

I still remember my first culinary success using heavily discounted ingredients.  I prepared a light lasagna using ground chicken and ricotta cheese.  It was delicious.

 

How to make eating meals fun

At dinner I like to try and recreate the romantic ambiance of a restaurant at home.  This means the lights are turned down, using candles and no distractions, including having the television on.

Just to mix things up a bit sometimes we will eat a fun meal–burgers or tacos in front of the television while we watch some special programming.

 

I am too tired to cook tonight

I don’t feel like Julia Childs every evening.  In anticipatation of this, I usually cook enough food earlier in the week so that I have a homemade meal that I can reheat in the microwave.  I also keep on hand ingredients for simple dishes that can be made quickly.  This includes frozen pizza crusts and ingredients suitable for use as toppings on a pizza.

What are some of your tips for saving money and having fun?  I would invite you to share your ideas with me and they may appear in a future blog post.  You are welcome to send your ideas to me at dmlorimer1@hotmail.com.

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