Thursday, 19 March 2009

Marie's Thrifty Thursdays

Welcome to my Thrifty Thursday post. I wanted to talk about saving money on your groceries again this week. I have talked before about clipping coupons, buying in bulk and avoiding pre-cooked ready meals, but this week I wanted to talk about something a bit different. I want to talk about planning your meals around certain types of food or recipes, recipes which have always been known to be thrifty and economical.

One of the first things we must always do when trying to economize is to make weekly menus and plan our shopping lists around those and then when we do go to the shops, to buy only what's on the list and not to be tempted by other things that we might see as we are wandering up and down the aisles. (Hard to do I know!) I think I would save money if I sent Todd all on his own, as he is the type of person who goes in, gets what's on the list and nothing but! The only problem is he would invariably get the wrong thing and so it's just easier for me to do it and a lot less stressful!

When planning your menus there are several types of dishes that are economical and easy and quite tasty as well.

1. Pasta Dishes - Dishes that include pasta as the main ingredient, mean that you don't need to use a lot of meat, and in some cases like macaroni and cheese, you don't need to use any meat at all. Making your own sauces in many cases is a lot cheaper than buying a ready made sauce because you end up with more of it and can freeze some for a later date, and not only that . . . homemade is better . . . it tastes better, you know what's in it and you can adjust the fat and sodium levels to a healthy proportion!

2. Rice/Whole Grain Dishes - Dishes that include rice, Bulgar, barley, quinoa, etc. as the main ingredient also can cut down on the amount of meat you are using. When you combine them with lentils or beans you create a whole protein as well. Some ideas include making Spanish Rice and adding a bit of sausage or ground beef, cooking an Indian Dal and serving it with rice. Vegetarian Curries, using cauliflower and other vegetables are also very tasty and delicious when served on top of rice or Bulgar wheat. Myself, I love Chinese style rice. I chop up all sorts of veggies to put into it and a bit of scrambled egg, then you can add a cup or two of leftover meat scraps. It's pretty wonderful!

3. Stir Fries - These types of meals are really cheap and easy to do. All you need is a variety of sliced up veggies, a few scraps of meat and some sauce and seasonings to pull them off. I often don't use any special sauce at all. I just season my veggies and meat with lots of garlic, ginger and soy sauce. This is one way of making a small piece of rump steak or a couple of chicken breasts go really far.

4. Soups and Stews - This is a really easy way of making food in vast quantities (great for freezing for future meals) and often uses the really budget cuts of meat and or leftovers and bones. Soups are a great way of using up those tired vegetables in the veggie bin and make great meals when combined with some crusty bread and a simple salad. Stews on the other hand, are a great way of making a little bit of meat go a lot further.

5. Salad Suppers - While you may not be inclined to eat salads much in the winter, they are a wonderful way of stretching your food budget in the warmer months. Often we will just have a salad plate with some sliced cold cuts, a potato salad and perhaps a coleslaw and or green salad on the side. You can leave out the meat all together and just have some deviled eggs, or open a tin of tuna or salmon and just have some of that with the salads. Cheap, easy and in the summer months a lot cooler to prepare and to eat!

6. Egg Suppers - How about basing your supper on egg dishes. Have breakfast for dinner, or whip up an omelet or frittata. A Spanish Tortilla is always nice as well, and the leftovers are always delicious for lunch the next day. Let's not forget quiche!

7. Sandwich Suppers - Sandwiches and wraps are not just for lunch! We often have a nice grilled cheese with some delicious homemade tomato soup, or a ham and cheese toastie served with some homemade oven chips. Cold or hot, sandwiches are always a welcome change and quite easy on the budget as well.

I hope that I have given you some ideas this morning that will help you to stretch that food budget of yours just that little bit further. Eating can still be fun when you are on a budget and economical as well, with just a little planning!

One of the more popular meals in fast food restaurants is the fish sandwich. They are very easy to make at home though, and with a few ingredient switches you can make them a lot healthier and lower in fat as well!

*Catch of the Day Sandwiches*
Serves 2

From a typical fried fish sandwich to this delicious baked alternative, this is the perfect catch of the day! Here is a tasty alternative to the high fat restaurant version, made at home with lighter, leaner ingredients!

4 frozen, 97% fat free baked breaded fish fillets, fingers or patties
1/3 cup fat free mayonnaise
1 TBS finely chopped gherkins, or pickle relish
2 crusty sandwich buns, whole wheat or as you prefer,
split and toasted
2 slices of low fat processed cheese
lettuce and sliced tomatoes (as desired or optional)

Prepare the fish fillets as recommended on the package. In a small bowl, combine the mayo and the chopped gherkins, or pickle relish. Mix well. Spread the cut sides of the toasted buns with the mayonnaise mixture. Layer with some lettuce and tomato if desired, on the bottom halves. Place two fish fillets on top of the lettuce and tomato, and then top the hot fish with a slice of cheese. Cover with the top of the toasted bun and serve.

*Note - If fish is not your thing you can use frozen baked and breaded chicken patties instead. Just use some plain low fat mayo, or ranch dressing instead of the mayo/relish mixture and try adding a bit of cranberry sauce. Delicious!!

Stay tuned for tomorrow when I'll be announcing a lovely Spring/Easter Giveaway!


  1. What a wonderful and useful posting Marie. I try not to get impatient (truly I do!) when I hear people bleating on about "My kids have to live on sausage and beans" or "We have to make do with fish and chips most days.....". A bit of thought and forward planning, that's all it takes.

    love, Angie, xx

  2. Believe me when I had a large family all at home all those things were done. A meal always included at least one of those things. It does help spread the wealth as they say. I still find some of my favorites include pasta.
    Your tips are very timely as everyone is watching costs now adays. 'On Ya'-ma

  3. A really wonderful, thoughtful and well-organized post, Marie! I plan my meals around the mains you describe here. It's just so much easier planning the menus ahead and buying what's on the list only for each particular week. Last week I had a moment of weakness though and bought a packet of chocolate chip cookies--LOL! They were the good kind...But what's odd is I make a meanly-good choc chip cookie myself, but got lazy--ha! Oh, well...back on the wagon again! ;o) As a rule I very rarely deviate from the list though, and because of that it does save us money. Your fish sandwich looks sooo good. We have fish maybe once a week now, but it's ages since we did fish sandwiches. Thanks for the tip! Hope you are having a great week, dear friend. Talk to you soon! LOVE YOU HEAPS & HEAPS ((BIG HUGS))

  4. I am a menu planner and list maker too. I don't understand how it can be done any other way. It truly is economical, and you don't have to rethink your week as it comes time to prepare dinner.

  5. I loved this post Marie - I'm trying hard to be aware of cost and waste. I want to be better at cutting both of those! blessings, marlene

  6. Marie,

    I just found your blog through another's blog roll and I'm glad I did. What a great blog and love your post today. It was very well organized and written. I'm a planner as well but you said it better than I could!

  7. Mmm, that fish sandwich looks so delicious - better than any at a restaurant!

    I am trying to figure out the whole coupon clipping thing. Do you guys have coupons there? It's very confusing to me - double coupons, triple coupons, etc.

    Great post Marie!


  8. Instead of fish sandwiches, we love fish tacos! Homemade flour tortillas, a bit of sweet chili sauce and some shredded cabbage. Yum!

  9. I loved ALL your great tips to help us save money and still enjoy great food.
    I still clip coupons and was know as a queen of coupons raising our family... when you work for the church you have great benefits and most are not monetary!

    Todd reminded me of my own Sweet Mister B. He goes to the store and buys only what is on my list and nothing more...and seems to always buy a wrong item. I would love sometime if he just bought something that looked good to HIM!!!

    I so enjoy your posts, recipes and so glad I found you on Honeysuckle's and Jen's blogs.

    Hugs, Beth

  10. When you have had children Marie. I think we have all done these kind of dishes and been thrify I had to way back.Not just in todays day and age.Very good tips Marie and your Sarny look sbrilliant.I hope you realised it's th ePooter who's having the face lift LOL.So cannot catch you after Saturday until he has had his surgery and is back wihtme fit and well.Haaa.Take Care God Bless Kath xx

  11. I'm so glad you posted this! I'm making my grocery list tonight!

  12. Nice ideas Marie, at night many times I made pasta dishes, to Gerardito with bolgnesa and to Esperanza white sauce (she is veggi!) and salads is nice to eat all year I think, so nice your ideas and the sandwich look wonderful!! xxGloria

  13. This is such a good post for those days when you just cannot think of something for dinner or when you are planning your weekly menu and drawing a blank. Thanks so much and I loved your post from yesterday!


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