Meal Stretching & Grocery Advice

October 19, 2012Holly Sosa

We are a one income family which means we live on a super tight budget once you factor in all of our bills.  By tight I mean tight.  Most people would be shocked to find out how much we can allocate for groceries in any given week.

Since I cannot work during my pregnancy, I strongly believe it is my job to create ways we can save money.  Clipping coupons, scouring store ads & coming up with creative ways to stretch our meals while also trying to stay as organic & natural as possible.

I thought I would share one of the ways I stretched our meals/leftovers in a super delicious & crazy easy way.

We have a grocery chain here called WinCo where you can buy a ton of stuff in bulk & at super cheap prices.  I got these vermicelli noodles in the Latino foods aisle for $0.50 each.  They also sell organic broths there for around $1.00-2.00 depending on what sales they have.  
I also frequent Fresh & Easy for our veggies.  I buy frozen mostly so that we can stretch them out without worrying about spoiling.  A bag of mixed California veggies at Fresh & Easy runs about $1.50.  This particular bag got us through two meals.  Fresh & Easy also has a rewards program where you earn points & can convert them to cash.  I once saved enough points for $25.00 & did all of our grocery shopping for a week there in just that $25.00!!!
Collin & Aiden love anything that has broth in it.  They are both into soups & this one is always a hit when I have the right amount of leftovers to make it.
I had some left over chicken broth that I used in my mashed potatoes the night before.  I also had these mixed veggies from a couple of nights ago.  And you can almost always find a bunch of pasta in my pantry at any given time.  Pasta = cheap, easy & you can almost always find a coupon for it.
I didn’t have a ton of broth left, so I filled my pot with the broth, added some water until I got the desired amount & then tossed in a small amount of bouillon since the broth would be watered down.  I boiled my noodles right in with the broth until they were tender.  Then I removed them from the heat & added the veggies.  The veggies were still cold, but the soup was hot & I knew the veggies would help cool the soup down a bit before giving it to the boys.  Voila!
The only item in this dish that was exclusively purchased for it was the vermicelli.  so this meal cost me a whopping $0.50!!!  And the boys ate it up!
Here are some other ways I save on our grocery bill & stretch our budget:
We almost never buy beef.  It’s pretty expensive & I swear to you that ground turkey tastes exactly the same once cooked.  Ground turkey is significantly cheaper than ground beef.  My turkey meatloaf is always a huge hit with J & the boys.  I almost never have leftovers when I make it.
Buy frozen veggies.  They are cheaper, you get more for your money & they last longer.  I sometimes forget when I have fresh veggies in the fridge or end up not using them in time before they go bad.
Don’t eat out.  We never eat out.  Period.  We don’t have the option since we live in such a rural community.  So I have to make sure that all of our food is purchased for meals & there is no such thing as, “I don’t feel up to cooking tonight, let’s go to McDonald’s.”  
Almost all meat departments will have meat on clearance.  Fresh & Easy is a big one for me.  They have a special clearance section in the back of their store with everything that’s about to expire.  Often times, food is 50% – 70% off!  Meat, produce, dairy.  You have to eat or freeze it right away, but usually grocery store expiration dates are super generous anyway & meat stays pretty fresh for a few days after the listed dates.  I once got whipping cream in the clearance section for $0.99!!! Whipping cream is crazy expensive, so I was pretty proud of that find.
Rewards cards may seem annoying, but they really do help you get more bang for your buck.  Especially Fresh & Easy’s program.  They often have certain foods worth more points on special weeks.  100 points = one dollar & you can load them on to your card once you earn $10.00.  It works just like a gift card.  I mean free food, people!  I ain’t too proud to beg!
Coupons, people.  Coupons can save you tons at the end of a grocery trip.  The downside to Fresh & Easy is that their prices are too low to accept any coupons, but they frequently email out $5 off $25 purchase coupons.  Those little suckers really add up at the end of the day.
Buy store brands.  Nine times out of ten you can’t tell the difference.  I think it’s silly to pay nearly $1.00 more for the same product that is a store brand.  It’s the same stuff, people.
Snacks.  We don’t snack a ton in our house.  Snacks are costly, typically bad for you & a huge way to help minimize your grocery bill.  I buy a couple boxes of store brand Ritz or Saltines & a couple boxes of store brand graham crackers when we shop & that’s it for snacks.  Sometimes we splurge if there is a sale & get a bag of chips, but only if they are on sale & if I have a coupon.  I will also get whatever fruit is on sale for snacks.  For instance, our last shopping trip, strawberries were on sale for $1.00 a box.  I picked up two boxes & sliced them up right when we got home.  That way, they were easily accessible for snacks or to add to the boys’ lunch.  Scour your ads & you can almost always find fruit at a great price.
I love sharing my ghetto recipes & I love getting them from friends, so if you have a recipe I should try out, let me know or link me to your blog post!


  • Joni

    October 19, 2012 at 8:41 PM

    girl i know all about cutting costs, i have to feed a ton of mouths! we have an aldi where we live and the prices on food are deeply discounted and save us a ton of money. i also use coupons but have a hard time getting into that extreme couponing. it is just too complicated for me and 9 times out of 10 the shit i have a coupon for isn’t on the store shelf because one of those crazy extreme couponers has gotten up at midnight to be the first to the store and wipe out the shelves. ever seen a grown woman have a temper tantrum in a grocery store? that’s me when i have discovered that i drove all the way to the store with the coupons it took me 8 hours to cut, only to see an empty shelf. gah!

  • ourhollydays

    October 19, 2012 at 11:46 PM

    Oh for sure, I definitely don’t go crazy, but I do take the time to see what store is having a sale so that I get the most bang out of my coupon. I can’t get into it that crazy.

  • Danni

    October 22, 2012 at 7:39 AM

    Isn’t Winco Auh-Mazing! I love shopping there!

  • ourhollydays

    October 24, 2012 at 11:38 PM

    WinCo is the BEST! We also get discounts for using reusable shopping bags there, too!

  • Fresh & Easy, F&Easy | Our Holly Days

    January 1, 2015 at 9:49 PM

    […] written about Fresh & Easy on my blog before because they’re so awesome & save me so much money.  I cannot say enough good […]

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