In our current economic crunch, it is always wise to save a buck if you can. Along this line, I thought I would pass on some tips I have found that help keep costs down.
When I buy tomato product, I try to buy an all-purpose one. Usually I buy crushed tomatoes, as they have a more saucy texture than puree or sauce. I use these for everything from base for sloppy joes, to pizza sauce, to extend one jar of more expensive spaghetti sauce. I also use it to make my homemade tomato soup. I discovered recently, that buying a couple of tiny cans of tomato paste may be even more frugal--store brand crushed toms are 1.39. Store brand paste is .59.
Scour your local dollar store. I have very specific things I buy at the dollar store. I buy all our paper goods (not very much), toothpaste($1 a tube), most personal items (shampoo), and a select variety of dry goods. I like to get evaporated milk there (85cents), dish soap (85cents for Palmolive!), and recently, I purchased something called Cocoa Butter Creme for 1.65, that is a very rich, creamy lotion. That has pure cocoa butter, lanolin, etc. And it smells like chocolate!
See if you can discover an Amish or Menonnite store nearby. Even if it is not nearby, it maybe worth making an occasional trip. I buy from an Amish woman near us, who sells 10# of bread flour for 4.80. I buy all the sugar, bulk spices (1# of cinnamon for less than $2), some hot and cold cereal, cornstarch, dried fruit, cocoa, choc chips, nuts etc. for substantially less than the grocery store!! She also sells large cheese chunks like Mozzarella for 2.20/lb(groc store is 3.99/lb)
I also discovered an Amish farm selling apples for 7.50/bushel, already picked!
In the meat department, and our local grocery is great about having meat on sale all the time, I find ways of stretching a minimal amount of meat. Did you know that a family of five can make a meal of one boneless, skinless, chicken breast?? Cut it up and toss in a casserole or saute with spices, and add rice for chick and rice tacos. Mix with cottage cheese, all diced up, and some pimento and minced cucumber and spices for a sandwich salad. A large ham steak can go far too. I buy one large uncooked ham steak(about $4.50), with a bone, and can make up to three meals. I dice a bit up for soup, use some for casserole, throw a bit in some scrambled eggs. I frequently do the same with loose sausage. I buy on sale (1.49/lb) and package some of it into 1/2 lb bags for use in breakfast dishes where you don't need much.
We also eat a lot of hot cereal. We eat grits, cornmeal mush(fried), oatmeal, oatbran, no wheat products, cause of my wheat allergy, but they would certainly be an option otherwise. I can buy three pounds of cornmeal at my Amish store for $1.50, and use 2 cups of it for mush that I cool overnight, dredge in flour, and fry in oil. We top with butter and syrup. How much do you think it all costs?? Maybe $2.00 to feed all of us?? (as opposed to cold cereal in which we use almost a whole box in one sitting to feed all of us for 3 or 4 bucks.)
I avoid laundry detergent. I buy borax powder, washing soda, amonia and bleach and can usually combine something to get out most stains (ecxept bleach and amonia--bad idea!). I don't use laundry sheets or liquid softener. Use white vinegar instead.
I will be trying Charlie's Soap very soon, which, at $20/3# bag, sounds expensive, but will do 80 wash loads, and so breaks down to 4cents a load. Pretty cheap!
I mentioned above that I buy very little paper products. This is very true, sometimes to my dismay...However, they eat up the budget, and if I have to choose between paper napkins and food, I choose food. We only buy tissues when we are all sick. Otherwise, we use hankies--I know, some think that is gross, but I don't haul a dirty hanky around all day, I use one up all at once, and put it in the laundry. I keep a huge pile of rags on hand for cleaning and wiping up. I mean little ones for doing the mirrors, and towel rags for cleaning up spilled food. That way we don't waste $ on paper towels. I occasionally spring for napkins, but rarely, and then we only use them when the meal is really messy. Ya'll know I use cloth diapers, and wipes.
My, my--I certainly have been rambling!! Any tips that work for you-all, that I missed?? Hope these help!