SAN ANTONIO - A $5 meal for a family of five might have been something your mom or even grandmother could whip up a few decades ago regularly, but today’s produce and meat prices would make it an improbable task.
Now there is a whole website devoted to the pursuit of the $5 dinner deal, and a local woman who makes it her job to find them is sharing her secrets.
Erin Chase, 34, began her savings program after realizing that her stay at home job of trying to live on a shoestring budget was giving her easy and meaningful ways to make her money work for her.
She turned her goal of a better life on a budget into a resources online. Her first advice is the front page of the grocery store circular.
“I think the key to spending less is to look at the store circular before you walk into the store … and develop a plan of attack,” she advised.
Her motto is that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
At the HEB store in Lincoln Heights, she’s thrilled the circular is announcing $1 cantaloupes, organic apples for $1.47, and a family pack of pork chops for $1.97.
“We are at $4.98, plus about five minutes to get the apples and pork chops into the slow cooker and you’ve got a meal that’s going to cost you $5,” she said.
She envisions the cantaloupes to be served with homemade Thai chicken pizza to accommodate the chicken sale price and the red peppers which she called “ridiculously low-priced."
Chase’s other tips include:
Couponing for toiletries and cleaning materials are crucial to keeping your checkout price down.
If fruit is on sale, buy it. It’s better for you and you can freeze strawberries, blueberries, bananas and corn easily.
Take the pantry challenge and see if you can plan a week’s worth of meals out of what is already in your pantry and freezer with only maybe a $25 trip to the grocery store.
Empty your freezer every couple of months to eliminate clutter and ensure you are not wasting your bargains.
Use websites like www.savingsnation.com to find inexpensive recipes and strategically plan your entire week of meals BEFORE you go to the store. Make sure you have the grocery story circular already in hand when you do so.
Chase’s website has hundreds of recipes, that concentrate on fresh produce and meats.
It also has tips on buying such as how to study unit pricing and seasonal trends.
Also, www.savings.com is a coupon website that can help you find more discounts at the cash register.
She will be revealing many of her secrets at a $5 workshop on March 30 for Savings Nation at Alamo Heights United Methodist Church at 825 Basse Road in San Antonio. You can register at www.savingsnation.com.
Chase promises attendees will walk away with shopping strategies, couponing strategies, meal planning and workbook to put it all together.
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