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How to Pinch a Penny

Sometimes I really impress myself. I know that sounds like I might be patting myself on the back a bit too much, but I always feel good about myself when I save money. Don't you? So I volunteered last week to make dinner for a new family that was moving into town (they're connected with my church somehow). I was expecting a family of four of so. Wrong! When I spoke with Pastor Brent, the pastor of the satellite campus I attend, he said eight.

Me: "Eight? Family members?"

Yes, eight. Four kids, two parents, and two sisters that are helping out. That's a big order, even for me. Why? Because there are certain factors to consider when cooking for complete strangers.

1) Dietary considerations: Think allergies, religious beliefs, medical conditions such as diabetes or Celiac disease, and so on. Thankfully, none of these were an issue in this case. 2) Portability: The food has to be transported somehow, and you don't want to risk catastrophe. 3) Reheat-ability: In this case, I planned on making the food the day before, so something that needed to be served immediately--like salad or fish--was out. 4) Nutrition: I may not have kids of my own, but I was raised on balanced meals. I believe it's important for both kids and adults to eat well and smart, so there needs to be a balance of taste and nutrition. 5) Serve-ability: This family will be living out of boxes for days to come. I can't be serving something that requires a full place setting plus carving knife and so on. 6) Expense: I was feeding eight people. That's a lot of mouths to feed, and, like anyone, I don't want to spend a fortune on a single, albeit very large, meal. Plus, I provided the recipe to the family in case they ever wanted to make it for themselves. They're probably concerned about the cost of feeding four kids too.

From that last item, you can probably see where I'm going with this. Here's the part I'm really proud of. Despite this surprise, I immediately had a great idea for what to make. Right after church, I drove down the road to Publix with a plan in mind. I made Noodle-y Stuff, featured here, and saved a bundle. Here's how I got everything I needed without breaking the bank.

BOGO: I am a BOGO addict! Most grocery stores have a weekly (or so) flyer to advertise what's on sale. Publix publishes theirs online and allows me to search by categories. One of those categories is BOGO and, having been a fan for a few years now, I know that pasta and pasta sauce is always on sale. I used two jars of Alfredo sauce and two boxes of pasta. I essentially got all four items at 50% off. All four cost me $3.68

Generic Brands: Do you know that Bird's Eye frozen spinach is $1.99 a box at my Publix? Can you guess how much Publix brand frozen spinach is? $.59 cents a box. That's a no brainer. I used three boxes of spinach.

Compare: This is the part that takes a bit more work. Sometimes, even when there's a sale on, it's still not always the cheapest option. Make sure to take a look at the unit or per pound price on items and compare. Thankfully, the boneless, skinless chicken breasts really were on a good sale. I don't know why they were on sale, but it looked like there was simply a surplus. Had the sale not been so good, I probably would have bought bone-in, skin-on thighs or something similar and just de-boned and skinned them myself. As it was, though, I saved $3.31 on a package of three breasts.

Coupons: I used no coupons on this trip. I usually don't unless I'm going out to buy a single, big ticket item. I don't have the patience for couponing, but Heather does and she has saved big bucks by taking the time to gather her little, paper friends.

In the end, a family of eight was fed on about $12.54. That's about $1.57 a plate. Now you see why I'm so proud of myself? I'm even happier because I heard back that they really enjoyed the meal. How's that to put a warm fuzzy in your heart? I hope this information is helpful to you all, especially those of you with little ones. I hear they eat a lot! :-)

1 comment:

  1. Good Job Dae!

    I still love noodley stuff, and I'm glad that another family gets to share in the awesomeness. :)