Eat Cheap!

bookpileAmazon has greatly reduced the price on this quick and super-helpful read.  If you are wanting commonsense, practical ideas to reduce grocery spending as well as some handy recipes to help implement your new strategy, this little book can help.

Or, if you want a signed copy, you can order via PayPal under books on this blog.


Tip of the Day: Extend Some Grace

Americans are a hard lot to please sometimes. Do the best you can with what you have. When you mess up, extend yourself some grace with the knowledge that you are trying.

When the food someone else has prepared for you does not meet the expectation you have in your mind, perhaps you can extend some grace to your cook by looking them in the eye, thanking them for their efforts, and eating it anyway. I don’t know how many times my husband has done this for me, but I love him for every single time. He has set an example of gratitude for our kids AND he has made me want to go out of my way to show my gratitude for the way he has served me.

Tip of the Day: Think!

I run across women all of the time who tell me they simply cannot cook. Usually, they have not come to this conclusion all by themselves. Someone has reinforced this thought in their minds by complaining about or poking fun at their culinary efforts. If the cooking-challenged girl is not completely committed to preparing meals for her household, what usually ends up happening is that she just kind of gives up for fear of failure. The funny (or not so funny) thing is that she often winds up taking heat for ordering carry-out or spending too much money on convenience foods, too. She’s in a no-win situation. (Obviously, this dynamic isn’t strictly limited to women, but they are the majority of whom I see in my classes.)

If you have been guilty of verbally biting the hand that feeds you, perhaps it’s time to make some changes…after making an apology, of course. Think before you speak, and remember that you will almost always catch more flies with honey. Oh, and don’t expect things to change overnight. Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know.

Waste Not, Want Not Week

One of the ways our family lives from its abundance is by doing our level best to not waste what we already have.  Since so many people struggle with waste, I am officially dubbing this “Waste Not, Want Not Week” on my Eat Cheap! Facebook page (Eat Cheap! with Trista Hill). Each day, I will be sharing tips on how to make sure less of your money goes down the drain or out with the trash.

Today’s Tip of the Day: I often refer to the crisper drawer as The Graveyard (because it’s where produce goes to die). Way too many of us buy beautiful (and sometimes costly) fruits and veggies only to let them rot in our fridge. This is not good! Make a point today to check the contents of your crisper drawer to determine what needs used this week.

When I have veggies in danger of going bad, I often use them for a hearty soup. When I have fruits that need to be used, I often put them in smoothies or oatmeal.

A Thought on $3 Meals: Leftovers

One of my pet peeves as a home chef and cost-cutting momma is when “they” (magazines, talk shows, grocery stores, etc.) assign cost-per-serving or cost-per-meal to recipes.  This dollar amount is so very fluid, depending on where you live, how you shop and what your personal resources are.  I hesitated to even do the $3 Meals spot for IndyStyle because of that simple truth.  Reducing the cost of your meals is more about how you do what you do than it is about specific recipes.

For instance, we made pizza last night.  The crust was basically flour, water and a little bit of olive oil and salt.  Very cheap.  Sauce can be easily made from the tomato puree I canned last summer.  A little bit of onion, some leftover tomatoes, a mushroom or two and some leftover ham could all be toppings, covered with a two-dollar blanket of mozzarella cheese.  This huge and incredibly tasty pizza is pretty close to a $3 meal.


I did something similar with Monday night’s supper.  I made corn chowder with stock I made from last week’s Sticky Chicken.  I used corn and bell pepper strips I had frozen from last summer’s garden.  I threw in three or four diced potatoes, a couple of sliced carrots, a stalk of sliced celery, a chopped onion and a couple of cups of milk in addition to my seasonings.  My daughter made some rolls to go with it, and we had a feast for less than $3.00 of actual financial investment.

Leftovers are free food for me.  On our current budget of $200/month, that gives me about $7.00/day to feed my family.  This is important for me to know so that I can plan accordingly.  If I make Sticky Chicken from that $7.00/day, then use the leftover bones to make stock, that stock is essentially free food for me.  I’ve already “paid” for it from my budget.  The same goes for the ham I used in the pizza.  I had already “paid” for that meat out of my budget.  Using the leftovers is free food for me to use.  That’s an important resource when it comes to sticking to my budget.  Another important resource for me is last summer’s garden fare.  I understand that not everyone has this abundance, but most of us have access to some kind of produce during the growing season.  If we can “put up” that low-cost, healthy food in season, it becomes a welcome abundance for us later.

I think a lot of people are busy wanting more of something when they maybe aren’t using what they’ve already been given.  As I mention in my book, Eat Cheap!, my grandma once said that waste is arrogance.  It’s like us looking at what God has already given us and complaining that it isn’t what we had in mind.  Seems kind of silly if we want to be good stewards of our resources and live with grateful hearts.

So, the concept of $3 meals varies from household to household, but the strategy of thinking about what we buy, planning ahead for low-cost, healthy meals and using self-control are integral to saving money both in and out of the grocery store.

Holiday Tip of the Day: Research Gift-Giving Options

Some of the best gifts we can give cost very little money. Think in terms of experiences you want to give and relationships you want to build. Get a date on the calendar to take your grandma to lunch, scavenge around to find the supplies to build a simple treehouse for your kids, take your daughter to a cosmetology school for a pedicure, invite a veteran over for dinner with the goal of making them feel like a hero, babysit your niece or nephew for a weekend, handwrite recipes on pretty notecards to give to a new bride or set a weekly coffee date with a shut-in.
Tangible gifts often end up stashed in drawers or lining thrift-store shelves. Precious memories live on in the hearts of our loved ones.