Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn is a must have on any new bride, family, even a single person's shelf. The book is designed for families but the techniques aren't limited to just families. If I had to give this book a star rating it is 5 stars. You all know how picky I am about books. This one is a keeper, and it only costs 17.95 USD new (printed in the US if you wanna know). My MIL technically bought it for me so Thanks, Mrs. W!
The first part is all about ways to save money when it comes to eating, and the second part is recipes that help you do that. I've tried a few. They are awesome. Mary Ostyn would know how to work a food budget; she has 10 children. For this evening's addition, I'd like to outline some of her techniques about getting the most out of the food you eat/buy.
The biggest thing she says is to make a goal for yourself. What do you plan on doing with that extra money you are saving? Would you take your family on vacation? Would you be a stay-at-home mom? She says there's no point in trying to save money if you don't have a goal, a reason to do so.
Secondly, she says to make a list of items before going into the store. This would include staples and what you plan on having for dinner for the week. She says that will keep you from going to the store multiple times in a week and spending it on things that you already have or don't really need.
Thirdly, she suggest keeping a price book. She gives more detail as to how to create one, but a price book is basically a list of common items that you usually buy and what the lowest price you've seen has been and from what store. For example, I've recently noticed that I can buy Hubby's cereal and our bread cheaper at Target than my grocery store. Since Target is next door to the grocery store, it's no big deal for me to park my car in between the two stores, stroll into Target to pick up my two items, and then go into my grocery store for the rest.
And lastly, she talks about meal planning. She says some people go nutty over meal planning and even plan the details about the sides. What she does (and incidentally what I already do) is come up with 3 or 4 meals for the week. I keep a list of my meals on the white board on my freezer door. If I want a quick easy meal, I can pick one from the list. If I'm in the mood for chicken, then I can pick that meal from the list. It's less stressful that way because I can always say "I'm tired. Let me just pull something from the freezer or let's just eat left-overs" and I won't worry about not cooking chili on Thursday. Her point is that you do need to plan something, but not make it too stressful for you to follow.
There's a lot more to it than that: watching store ads, how to buy something cheaper (for her chicken thighs are cheaper than chicken breasts), what's the shelf life of perishables, how to freeze meals, etc. But I don't want to plagiarize. I will say that I buy dried beans now instead of the canned variety and that I learned that cottage cheese is a great substitute for ricotta in lasagna (and cheaper too).
In the second part, I'll talk about some of the recipes that I've tried from the book.