Saving Money by Thinning Milk

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The following is a guest post from fellow Yakezie member, Edward Antrobus. Edward is a construction worker, blogger, tinkerer, and a househusband. He writes about frugality and occasionally rants about what he thinks the personal finance community gets wrong.


Recently, I embarked on a quest. Instead of getting ideas from other personal finance bloggers, I wanted to get the opinions of average people on the topic of frugality. I started asking friends and coworkers one simple question: what is your favorite way of saving money? When I asked Angie, she responded that she thins the milk with water.

I’ve talked to about a dozen people so far, but Angie easily had the most extreme answer of the bunch. But after I stopped to think about it, the answer isn’t as extreme as it sounds. I’m sure everyone has heard stories of grandmothers who made room at the table for unexpected company by adding more water to the soup. Angie just does the same thing to the milk to her grand children’s cereal.

That got me thinking. What other ways could I stretch my food with free or cheap additions. Could I even be doing it already without realizing it? It turns out, there were a few examples that I was already performing without thinking about saving money.

Meat

When I buy discrete cuts of meat, such as chicken breasts I look for the smallest net weight I can find for a specific number of pieces in the package. For instance, the family size package of chicken breasts at my local supermarket always come with 5 breasts. The total weight of the meat can vary by as much as half a pound. Since I’m always eating 1 breast for a meal, I’m not going to notice an ounce and a half missing. So I get the smallest package with 5 breasts and save myself a couple dollars per month on meat.

Milk and Water

Adding a little extra milk or water to a dish that already calls for those ingredients will not be noticed, but can add an extra serving to a meal. I actually have a humorous story about Hamburger Helper and added milk.
Back in high school, my cousin and I were left on our own for dinner one night and we decided to make some hamburger helper. When it was done cooking, it seemed awfully thin (because it thickens as it cools, oops!), so we mixed in some corn starch to thicken the sauce. Of course, by the time we served ourselves, it was thick enough to hold the spoon upright. Back in the pot it went with some added milk to thin it out. We added too much and were back to thin sauce. More corn starch. Too much. More milk. By the time we ate, we had turned one box of Cheeseburger Macaroni into half a gallon of food!

Vegetables

Speaking of hamburger helper, I always add frozen veggies to mine. Adding a cup of peas to the dish and you can feed another person. Sometimes, I’ll substitute the meat in a one pot dish entirely with vegetables. Frozen broccoli costs HALF as much as ground beef!


For more posts from Edward’s Saving Money Series, check out - http://www.edwardantrobus.com/saving-money-series

How about you all? What tricks do you use to help stretch your food purchases a little further? At what point would you draw the line between wise-frugality and being too cheap?

Share your experiences by commenting below!

    ***Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/tillwe/60825340/sizes/l/in/photostream/

    Comments

    1. John S @ Frugal Rules says:

      I remember my Mom doing some of these when I was growing up. One way we try to stretch our grocery budget further is by freezing milk. Having three kids, we go through a lot of milk. When it goes on sale ($.99/half gallon) we buy a ton of it. We store it in our deep freezer (which we put up to 16 gallons in it) and pull it out a gallon at a time when we need it. You simply put them in a sink of cold water over night and it's thawn.

      • Edward Antrobus says:

        I never tried freezing milk before. How did it taste when it had thawed? Growing up, there were times when we were so poor we just couldn't afford to buy milk, but we had this huge case of powdered milk we had once gotten. It tasted awful, so we only mixed up a half gallon of it when we absolutely had to.

    2. John S @ Frugal Rules says:

      @Thomas – As long as you freeze it the day you get it, it will last the normal amount of time a week to ten days. Although it never sticks around that long in our house.

    3. First @ John – I have never heard of freezing milk. Once it is thawed how long will it last?

      As that was a very funny story on the hamburger helper but that had to be some of the thickest noodles ever considering they tend to absorb the liquid. I don't really have any secrets hopefully i can learn some from the comments.
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