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Food


  • Can a cash grocery budget save you money? (63 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    As I mentioned in my last article, I experimented with paying cash only for my October groceries. I had only one goal in mind: Spend less on groceries so I could save more money each month. Well, my little experiment opened a whole can of worms. The Experiment Basically, I always try to keep my grocery spending in check, but I usually don’t limit quantity or variety…

  • Will canning your food save you money? (44 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. When I was a child, we lived on a farm that had a grape arbor loaded with Concord grapes. Each September, my mom would can jars upon jars of grape juice, and I have fond memories of evenings around the kitchen table as our family ate popcorn and drank that delicious stuff (which doesn’t taste like anything I’ve ever purchased from a store). Well, apparently, nostalgia set…

  • Dinner ideas — cooking “flexipe” style to save money (41 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. I’ve been cooking for years. Although, if you ask my husband, I’ve been screwing up fried eggs for just as long. (His secret: Fry them on low to avoid cooking the egg too quickly.) So I am no genius in the kitchen, but I am getting better. Flexible cooking I used to follow recipes exactly, afraid to deviate at all. (Didn’t have all the ingredients? Find another…

  • Starting a garden to pay off debt: Really!?! (86 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Some personal finance advice is just plain ridiculous. I’m talking about the kind of advice that’s great for filling up a webpage but that had neither saved nor made anyone money ever. Or maybe you could follow it and save money, if you wanted to hate your life. I’m not entirely innocent, I admit. I’m sure I’ve espoused my share of well-meaning-yet-impractical advice in the last seven years….

  • How to eat on $4/day (55 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. I spend a lot of money on food. (More than I spend on my mortgage.) Part of it is need, of course. But much of it is want, because I’m both an enthusiastic cook and a health nut. I view food as a cross between health care and hobby. And I know I’m fortunate to be in a position to buy things like freshly pressed olive oil…

  • Eating healthy on a slim budget (72 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. I spend almost as much on groceries as I do on my mortgage. Now, before you spit your coffee all over your keyboard, you should know that my mortgage is pretty low, lower than what some of my friends pay in rent. And for me, “groceries” includes all of the extras one buys at grocery stores, like paper towels and soap and the latest issue of the…

  • Cutting grocery bills: Aldi and bulk-food stores (66 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. No matter what I do, we’re still spending more on food each month than I want to be spending. Two of my weapons in the battle to lower my food bill that I haven’t talked about yet are Aldi and bulk-food stores. One thing I don’t like to do is stop at several different stores, so I don’t shop at all stores every week, or even every two weeks….

  • Reader Story: My grandmother’s home remedies (54 comments)

    This reader story come from SB, a regular reader and commenter on GRS. SB writes about personal finance and personal development topics at One Cent at a Time. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. This is my second guest post at this…

  • Do expiration dates make us wasteful? (68 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Before I dig into this topic, let me just put this out there: Expiration dates are important and you should always consider them so you don’t get food poisoning and end up in the hospital or whatever. Please don’t interpret this post as my arguing that expiration dates are total bull. That being said, expiration dates are total bull. Just kidding! Well, kind of. I recently came across…

  • How to meal plan and save some cash (62 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. Few questions are as unwelcome or unanswerable (at least in my house) as “What’s for dinner?” Every few months, I make futile attempts to meal plan or grocery shop smarter. I spread out cookbooks, I write down recipes, I make shopping lists, and then everything disappears (it seems) and I am back to my usual chaotic “It’s 4:45 and what are we going to eat again?!” In…

  • Reader Stories: On money and happiness (45 comments)

    This reader story is from a longtime GRS reader Sumitha, who blogs at afineparent.com. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. Ever miss the good ol’ days when life seemed so much simpler? When happiness was a lot easier to access and contentment seemed…

  • Reader Stories: How a healthy lifestyle saved my money and my life (64 comments)

    This Reader Story comes from Gunnar, a filmmaker, a computer geek, a traveler and most recently an entrepreneur, who has launched the blog Wosla to inspire others to get healthy and save money. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. Until recently…

  • A wine guide for frugal folks (31 comments)

    This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. After a year off, J.D. is once again writing here at GRS. His non-financial writing can still be found at More Than Money. Kim and I first connected on a wine tour 18 months ago. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that we’ve continued to build our relationship over glasses of chardonnay and carménère and (especially) Champagne. We enjoy wine, and we’ve had…

  • ‘Fallen Fruit’ and the concept of sharing abundance (32 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. I was recently reading Lauren Weber’s book, “In Cheap We Trust: The Story of a Misunderstood American Virtue.” On page 16, I got a little excited: “…www.FallenFruit.org, maps out public fruit trees in Los Angeles and encourages reader to gather up the bounty.” A-whaaa? I jumped out of bed and onto the Internet, where I discovered Fallen Fruit is much, much more than a bunch of maps…

  • My teens spent $400 on fast food last month (and how I learned to deal with it) (104 comments)

    This guest post is from Naomi Mannino. Naomi is a freelance consumer personal finance and health journalist who reports on health, medical and personal finance news and how it will affect your life today. You can follow Naomi on Twitter @naomimannino. My 19-year-old daughter came to me sobbing and wanting to borrow $20 for a concert because she didn’t have any money. I simply said, “Nope.” That made the sobbing worse. Now, before you accuse…

  • Why my garden won’t replace my CSA subscription (36 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. I told the checker at the grocery co-op where I shop that I didn’t need a receipt. “I don’t want to keep track of how much I’m spending on my garden,” I told him. My modest cart had carrots and apples and popcorn — staples! — and tomato, lettuce, basil and lavender starts. The reason I don’t want to know: I’m worried it won’t pencil out. If…

  • Save money by cutting food waste (44 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Lisa Aberle. I barely brushed the surface of combating food waste in a recent article, but the comments added so much to the article that I thought I could stop at just one. And then I found some more statistics. In the U.S.: We waste 40 percent of edible food It costs $750 million just to dispose of the food we waste And when you consider the extra costs of packaging, transporting,…

  • Decrease your budget’s bite by saving money on meat (68 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Lisa Aberle. J.D. has already covered ways to save money on food. But this time, I wanted to focus on animal protein. According to a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, meat makes up over 22 percent of our at-home food (not out-to-eat or alcohol) budget. Obviously, you can cut your food budget by decreasing your meat consumption. But if you want to eat meat, how can you do it most…

  • New recipes on the cheap: The Pinterest strategy (78 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. When I became a vegetarian 10+ years ago, I bought two cookbooks: a 20-minutes-or-less cookbook and a five-ingredients-or-less cookbook. I was trying to keep things simple. I got by on these two cookbooks for a long time, mostly because while I was cooking as a student I lived in places with antique gas stoves. I was afraid to use anything but the stovetop, my toaster oven or the microwave…

  • The sneaky sales strategies of your local grocery store (97 comments)

    It’s Thursday, and I’ve been to the grocery store five times this week. This isn’t normal for me. Usually, I take the time to plan and list what I need and get everything in one frugal, fell swoop. Not this week. Nope — this week I battled with work, deadlines and 14 days’ worth of laundry. They all won — I surrendered. In fact, after I write this, I’ll be making yet another trip to…

  • Food fight: Waging a war against food waste (93 comments)

    Back in December, I decided to eat more fruits and vegetables. No matter what, I was going to eat more of them. And that’s saying something, especially since I’ve created a few excuses to avoid eating healthy food. Even though my main excuse wasn’t the expense, it’s still an obstacle to healthy eating. At least, that’s a common excuse I hear when eating better food comes up in conversation. And I wanted to know if…

  • Preventing freezer burnout (87 comments)

    My husband and I get along well with few disagreements. That’s why it was a surprise to both of us when something came between us a couple of weeks ago and, of all things, it was our freezer. And things got downright frosty for a few hours. I had a long list of things to get done when I got home from work – and cleaning out our stand-alone chest freezer wasn’t one of them….

  • Once-a-month cooking made easy (76 comments)

    Stephanie Cornais found a cooking method that saved time and money, but it left her exhausted. Stephanie, who blogs about parenthood and healthy living at Mama and Baby Love, would cook a month’s worth of meals in one day, then store them in the freezer. It’s an idea that’s been around for awhile. In fact, J.D. wrote about it back in 2007. By batch cooking, not only do you have healthy, home-cooked meals when dinner…

  • Ask the Readers: What is your favorite ‘no-money fun’? (89 comments)

    This is a guest post from personal finance writer Gwendolyn Pearce. While I’ve never seen J. Lo. wearily balancing her checkbook in the “Celebrities are just like us” section of the tabloids, I assume most of us deal with frugality burnout occasionally. And even though we know that we’re supposed to budget for fun and allow some wiggle room for the sake of our sanity, I know far too many people right now who say…

  • Spending in depth: the bagel budget (108 comments)

    This post is by new staff writer Honey Smith. One of my goals in taking a hard look at my budget is not to do too much at once. I want to make sure my changes stick and avoid making repaying debt an obsession. You can read about the first budget category I examined, life insurance, here. That one tiny change ended up being instrumental in my quest to pay off my credit card debt,…

  • Which is Cheaper: In the Kitchen (87 comments)

    Until the end of this week, we’re sharing “audition” pieces from folks interested in being new staff writers at Get Rich Slowly. Your job is to let us know what you think of each of these writers. Pay attention, give feedback, and after a couple of weeks we’ll ask which writers you prefer. This article is from long-time GRS reader Sarah Greesonbach. Her first audition piece was about surviving student loans. Here at GRS, we’ve…

  • The Benihana Effect: Lifestyle Inflation in Action (60 comments)

    Although it seems strange to be noting this in a header, this article is from J.D. Roth, founder and editor of Get Rich Slowly. There are still plenty of staff writer auditions remaining, but I wanted to post this while it’s still timely. Kris turned 42 yesterday. And as we’ve done for 24 consecutive years now, we celebrated her birthday at the Japanese restaurant Benihana. This year was different for a few reasons. Most obviously,…

  • The Reckoning (or, What Mint Revealed) (298 comments)

    For the next week (or two), we’ll be sharing “audition” pieces from folks interested in being new staff writers at Get Rich Slowly. Your job is to let us know what you think of each of these writers. Pay attention, give feedback, and after a couple of weeks we’ll ask which writers you prefer. This article is from Honey Smith, who says she’s at the beginning of her debt-reduction journey. Honey’s first audition piece was…

  • (Yes, You Can) Learn to Cook (188 comments)

    For the next week (or two), we’ll be sharing “audition” pieces from folks interested in being new staff writers at Get Rich Slowly. This article is from popular GRS commenter, El Nerdo. Your job is to let us know what you think of each of these writers. Pay attention, give feedback, and after a couple of weeks we’ll ask which writers you prefer. Most of us know from learning about personal finance that reasonable DIY…

  • Thinking Outside the Lunchbox: Brown-Bagging Without Boredom (101 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Frugal Cool blog for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. A few years ago I challenged MSN Money readers to carry their lunches two to three times a week for a month, and then figure out what they’d saved. The most common reaction? Shock. The most common refrain? “I just never added it up before.” When…

  • Stepping off the Foodie-Go-Round (258 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a daily frugality blog for MSN Money and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. The marvelous Elayne Boosler once joked that she planned to open a restaurant designed for single folks. Rather than have tables and chairs, she’d set up a series of kitchen sinks over which her customers would stand and eat. Nine nights out of 10, I eat…

  • Want to Save on Groceries? Cook like a Peasant (144 comments)

    This post is by staff writer April Dykman, who just discovered the wonders of walnut sponge cake. Ever notice how most cultures have their own take on rice? Risotto in Italy, Spanish rice in Mexico, dirty rice in New Orleans, paella in Spain — all filling dishes that can satisfy a family with just a few ingredients. In fact, it could be argued that some of the most famous (and delicious) meals were invented by…

  • Questioning the Norm: Storing Fruits and Veggies (123 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Tim Sullivan. In France, they peel apples. When I worked as an au pair, the kids would ask me to peel them. I’d sit there wondering why anyone would ever peel an apple. One morning, I grabbed an apple out of the fridge, took a bite, and the mother said, “Oh, don’t you peel it first?” They don’t store butter in the fridge, nor eggs, nor milk, before it’s…

  • How to Stock Your Liquor Cabinet on the Cheap (108 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Tim Sullivan. It’s Friday night. A few friends and I are debating whether or not to go to the college bars down the street to get a drink when my friend Steve chimes in that his apartment is just up the way, and says, with his chest slightly puffed, “I have a fully stocked liquor cabinet — something for everyone.” Steve obviously likes to keep his apartment ready for…

  • Wine Online — Savings Tips for Frugal Sips (40 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. Since she just found out she is going to be a grandmother, expect to be bombarded with cute-baby anecdotes about seven months from now. More than one million wineries currently operate worldwide. Each produces at least three different wines, and plenty of them stomp out 20…

  • Reader Story: The 30-Day No-Restuarant Challenge (136 comments)

    This guest post from Michelle is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. This seems like a natural follow-up to Friday’s reader question about when to start a family. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. My family just finished a month-long hiatus from…

  • How to Keep Your Thanksgiving Budget Thankfully Low (52 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. We’re all skilled in the ways of the holiday budget; most of us start thinking about it in the fall, with most attention paid to Christmas gifts, feasting, and New Years’ celebrations. And if we’re traveling to visit family and friends for Thanksgiving, that budgeting has already occurred. But few of us give much thought to a Thanksgiving budget. (This is born out by the few responses…

  • The GRS Garden Project: October 2011 Update (22 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for October 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) This installment was written by Kris while J.D. is traveling in Peru. Our gardening season is complete for 2011. After an initial burst of cold and rain, our October weather was…

  • The Great Cost of Halloween Chocolate (185 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. Halloween is a big expense for many Americans, with national average estimates for 2011 topping $70 per person for costumes, decorations, and candy, up about $6 from last year to over $6.8 billion nationally. For a family of five like mine, that means $350 (though I doubt my husband in Kuwait for the Army will spend any money, Halloween is also the beginning of care package season…

  • The GRS Garden Project: September 2011 Update (32 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for September 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) This installment was written by Kris while I was packing for Peru. Our late summer this year meant that our crops were delayed, but when the sunshine came, it came on…

  • A Minor Mistake: Shopping While Hungry (87 comments)

    I often write that I still make financial mistakes, but it occurs to me that I don’t share them here as much as I once did. After April’s story earlier this week about the cost of healthy food, now seems like a good time to share a mistake I made on Tuesday. Generally, I work out in the morning. I get up at 5:15 and am at the gym for the 6:30 Crossfit class. On…

  • Food Fight: Does Healthy Food Have to Be More Expensive? (285 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman, who recently wrote about taking apple turnovers to the next level. Last month a food fight erupted when Anthony Bourdain, chef, author, and host of the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations”, was asked by TV Guide to give his opinion of a handful of celebrity chefs and cooks. Of cooking show host Paula Deen, he criticized how unhealthy her food is, saying, “If I were on at seven…

  • The GRS Garden Project: August 2011 Update (34 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for August 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) August finally felt like summer here in Portland. The entire month was sunny and warm, and there was very little rain. The garden rewarded us with productivity. Our harvest in August…

  • The GRS Garden Project: July 2011 Update (29 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for July 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) We had a strange July in our garden. First, the cool weather lingered longer than it ought to have. It wasn’t cold and wet, but the days were cool. Then we…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Food? (399 comments)

    Five years ago, I posted the first-ever “Ask the Readers” question here at Get Rich Slowly. “How much do you spend on food?” I asked in a short post (the likes of which one never sees around here anymore). For five years, people have been posting their food budgets for others to see. Shauna wrote earlier this week asking for an update: Would you consider doing an update to the “How much does your household…

  • The GRS Garden Project: June 2011 Update (40 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for June 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) Summer is finally here in our corner of the Pacific Northwest: The birds are chirping, the insects are humming and the garden is producing. June started cold and wet but has…

  • What to Do with Fresh Produce (47 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. During the summer, there’s an abundance of high-quality fruits and vegetables. You get better quality for lower prices than you do buying off-season produce during the cold winter months. I always want to freeze this moment so I can enjoy the fruits of the season all year long. So I do. Every year, I freeze some…

  • Best Sources for Summer Produce (50 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. The summer harvest season has finally begun here in Boston. Near my house, Farmers’ markets are popping up, brimming with fresh greens, ripe strawberries, and luscious radishes. Our first CSA share delivery of the season arrived last week. And my garden has started to cough up a few plump berries and herbs. Make friends with the…

  • My First Garden: What I’ve Learned So Far (45 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jenny Sandman, who writes at Broke Foodie. This summer is my first attempt at full-scale gardening. This is the first year I’ve lived in a house with a yard; previous gardening efforts were limited to containers of herbs and the odd tomato plant, on windowsills or apartment patios. To complicate matters, it’s my first year living in New England, so the climate is new (and frightening). We had an…

  • The GRS Garden Project: May 2011 Update (41 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for May 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) In my mind, Oregon has mild springs: plenty of rain, sure, but also lots of sunshine and hints of the summer to come. Since we started the garden project, though, that…

  • Breakfast on the Fly — and on the Cheap (145 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money. She also writes about frugality, intentional living, and life in general at her own blog, Surviving And Thriving. Everybody talks about the cost of lunches out. But what about breakfast? How much are those bagels or egg-and-cheese burritos costing you each week? The first meal of the day can be challenging. Some people aren’t hungry when they…

  • The GRS Garden Project: April 2011 Update (39 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for April 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) After a long vacation in February and a wet, dreary March, Kris and I finally were able to do a little work on our vegetable garden in April. Sort of. The…

  • How to Grow Your First Garden (32 comments)

    This guest post is from Jane Sanders of DebtManagement, a writer whose two biggest passions are gardening and personal finance. Starting a vegetable garden can be one of the most rewarding hobbies you ever pursue. Gardening is a source of relaxation and exercise, while yielding hundreds of dollars worth of fresh and delicious produce. It’s also extremely rewarding to watch the seeds you plant and care for grow into mature plants. If you’re ready to…

  • American Cookery: Magazine Ads from 1939 (26 comments)

    My wife knows me pretty well. At a recent garage sale, Kris picked up the November 1939 issue of American Cookery magazine. She wanted it for the recipes. But after she was finished, she handed it off to me. “You’ll want to look at the ads,” she said. She was right. Fun trivia: American Cookery magazine was originally called The Boston Cooking-School Magazine. The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book was first published in 1896 and written…

  • The GRS Garden Project: March 2011 Update (30 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for March 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) March is usually a time for Kris and me to get back to work in the garden. The weather warms, and we get to watch as our first sprouts poke through…

  • Recipe: Spicy Pickled Carrots (37 comments)

    This guest post from my wife is yet another installment in her ongoing quest to grow and preserve food for our household. I’ve had the canning bug pretty bad for the last week or two. But although Spring has officially begun, our garden is months away from producing anything worth turning into jam, pickles, or other home-canning treasures. Plus, farmers’ markets and produce stands are still closed for the season. Summer harvests can be beautiful….

  • The GRS Garden Project: February 2011 Update (53 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for February 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) Spring is around the corner. I think. After spending three weeks basking in sunny skies and temperatures of 20-30 degrees (yes, I’ve taught myself to think in centigrade!), it’s something of…

  • Compound Returns in the Garden: How Long-Term Planning Pays Off When Growing Your Own Food (52 comments)

    A lot of folks have been asking if my wife and I will be doing the Get Rich Slowly garden project this year. That’s the plan! After a one-year hiatus, Kris and I intend to track our spending and our profit for the food we grow on our land. January saw no spending and no harvest, though. To get us started, here’s a guest post from my wife about the long-term rewards of gardening. What…

  • Fight Rising Prices by Building Your Own Food Bank (102 comments)

    This post is from new GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Living With Less personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food prices are expected to rise as much as 5.5% in 2011. Those prices aren’t likely to go back down. So why not invest in food futures, i.e., your own pantry? Put it this way:…

  • Beyond Tupperware: Frugal Food Storage (100 comments)

    This post is from new GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Living With Less personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. To hear the storage industry tell it, every kitchen needs plastic containers in a dozen sizes. You need specialized storage, too: triangles for wedges of pie, say, or deviled-egg sarcophagi with little divots to cradle each demi-oeuf. Oh, and lots of foil,…

  • Live to 100 — For Cheap! (34 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, what will you toast to? Health? Long life? Those are common toast themes, but simply clinking glasses and sipping champagne at the beginning of the year isn’t likely to lead to health and longevity. I recently read an article about Sardinia, the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea southwest of Italy, that has one of the highest…

  • Wine on a Budget: How to Get Good Deals on Wine (72 comments)

    The holiday season is upon us, the time of year for family, friends, food — and wine. Yes, it’s true, I associate the holidays with alcohol. It never used to be this way (probably because I didn’t drink), but for the past five years, I’ve spent late November stocking our wine rack. There are several reasons for this: From mid-November to mid-January, the local supermarkets have huge wine sales. Every winter, Consumer Reports lists holiday…

  • Waste Less Food, Save More Money (79 comments)

    Coming home after more than three weeks in Europe, our refrigerator was practically bare. Kris and I love food, and our fridge is usually filled to the gills with tons of good stuff, so seeing the vast emptiness was almost shocking. But in a good way. One of the drawbacks to keeping a full fridge is that we sometimes lose track of what we have on hand. It sucks to dig behind the smoked salmon…

  • The Joys of Home Canning (53 comments)

    This guest post from my wife is yet another installment in her ongoing quest to grow and preserve food for our household. Making jam makes me happy. Okay, that’s only partly true. I’m also happy making jelly, preserves, and syrups — and I’m pretty darn pleased with conserves, marmalades, and most things pickled. No matter that I could never eat everything I make — even with J.D.’s help — the mere process is somehow satisfying…

  • Reader Story: How I Save Tons of Money by Grocery Shopping Once Every Three Months (99 comments)

    This guest post from Jenny Sandman is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. Jenny blogs about frugal gourmet cooking at Broke Foodie. When my husband and I got engaged, we knew we were going to foot…

  • How to Use a Food Dehydrator to Preserve Your Harvest (36 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. It’s been a long time since she chimed in around here. Have no fears: She’s the frugal heart of our homestead, and she’s always looking for ways to grow and preserve our food. As Get Rich Slowly readers know, J.D. and I have a thriving garden with maturing fruit trees, monstrous berry plants, and an annual vegetable garden. Much of the time, I turn the garden bounty…

  • Save Money by Baking Your Own Bread (64 comments)

    Ah, at last: The sun has arrived in Oregon. It’s not hot, but it’s warm, and we’ll take it. The coming of summer means I can stop whining about the rain, and it also means that Kris and I have started baking bread more often. (During the winter, our house is too cold for the dough to rise.) We’re still using the easy and cheap home-made bread recipe we stumbled upon a couple of years…

  • Save Money by Carrying a Water Bottle (63 comments)

    I’ve intended to begin featuring entries from the recent GRS video contest, but things keep getting in the way. Let’s change that! Starting today, I’ll use Saturdays to highlight some of my favorites, both winners and not-winners. To begin, here’s a tip that didn’t win a prize. Austin from Foreigner’s Finances is teaching English in Japan. He says that one of his favorite ways to save money is to always carry a water bottle with…

  • Extreme Personal Finance: Eating Well on One Dollar a Day (74 comments)

    Last Thursday, Ron Lieber (who writes the “Your Money” column for The New York Times) posted an innocuous little tweet: This person will have book deal & Today show slot in 5 minutes. RT @marypilon Personal finance blogger eats on $1/day. http://bit.ly/aeGlmC To translate into plain English, Jeffrey from the Grocery Coupon Guide blog undertook a little experiment last month. In response to a challenge from his sister he “ate well” on just a buck…

  • Get Kitchen Gadgets for Less at the Local Restaurant Supply Store (24 comments)

    My pal Chris Guillebeau is out of town on another one of his around-the-world jaunts. While he’s living the high life in Equatorial Guinea, his wife Jolie (the artist behind my Kermit painting) is left to entertain herself here in Portland. What does she choose to do? While away her hours with me and Kris. On a whim, yesterday the three of us made a trip to the local restaurant supply store. This wasn’t my…

  • The Savvy Shopper’s Guide to the Farmers’ Market (48 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Shopping at a farmers’ market is a great way to eat healthier and support local agriculture, but if you’ve ever been to one, you know that the food isn’t cheap. When you’re used to fairly inexpensive tomatoes from the supermarket, the price of locally-grown, heirloom tomatoes can be a bit of a shock, leading some consumers to wonder what makes the market tomatoes so much pricier….

  • The GRS Garden Project: April 2010 Update (39 comments)

    Kris and I aren’t repeating our annual garden project this year. We’re too swamped to take the time to track our expenses and harvests. In fact, our garden will probably be a bit smaller than usual this summer because we just won’t have the time to care for it. Still, the yard is an important part of our daily lives. Plus, there’s a certain segment of the GRS community — the die-hard gardeners, I guess…

  • Four Cheap and Healthy Grains (43 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. We all know that cooking meals at home can save money. For some (like me), it’s a lot of fun, too, but it’s easy to get in a rut — which is where I found myself last year. Brown rice was my go-to side dish, but there are only so many ways to cook the stuff before your taste buds get bored. That’s when I discovered…

  • The GRS Garden Project: January 2010 Update (28 comments)

    It’s been a l-o-n-g time since Kris and I gave an update on our garden project. I’ve been too wrapped up in writing a book to pay attention to anything else. Now that I’ve pulled my head out of the sand, I can finally devote some time to other projects — like the garden. To be honest, we’ve done nearly nothing in the yard since October. Literally. We haven’t found time to cut back the…

  • The Art of the Potluck (36 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. Today’s my deadline for turning in the manuscript for Your Money: The Missing Manual (which has an official cover now!). I still have to finish the retirement chapter, so I’m hunkered down in the word mines. While I’m spending all of my time at the office, Kris came to the rescue with an article about one of our favorite frugal pastimes: potlucks with friends. J.D. and I…

  • Five Festive Christmas Cookies to Share with Family and Friends (33 comments)

    What’s Christmas without cookies? A plate of warm Christmas cookies can help you bond with the neighbors, and taking a tray to the office is a sure way to win points with your co-workers. Christmas cookies can also be a fun part of frugal holiday gift-giving. Every year, Kris and I assemble holiday gift bags to give to our friends. We fill these with candy and cards and candles and books and other small things…

  • The Best Pot Roast Ever: A Frugal Recipe for November (48 comments)

    “It’s been a long time since you shared a recipe at Get Rich Slowly,” I told Kris last week. “What about that pot roast recipe?” she asked. “You love that.” “Yes. Yes, I do,” I said. This guest post from my wife may be the best thing I’ve ever shared at Get Rich Slowly. It’s certainly the tastiest. I’m usually a from-scratch kind of cook, and the sort of “semi-homemade” ingredients for this pot roast…

  • The GRS Garden Project: October 2009 Update (20 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for October 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) As those of you who follow me on Twitter already know, it’s been a l-o-n-g Saturday filled with all sorts of misadventures. Murphy’s Law has been in full effect this Halloween. I’d meant to post this month-end garden summary around noon, but now will have to…

  • The GRS Garden Project: September 2009 Update (28 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for September 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) After a long productive summer, our September in the garden was kind of anticlimactic. Sure, we continued to harvest our home-grown food, but neither of us was particularly “in” to the garden this month. It was a chore instead of an obsession. September can be that…

  • Slash Your Grocery Bill With Store-Brand Products (136 comments)

    The October 2009 issue of Consumer Reports contains an article extolling the virtues of generic store-brand products. While shoppers used to sacrifice quality when choosing generic, that’s no longer the case. From the article: If concern about taste has kept you from trying store-brand foods, hesitate no more. In blind tests, our trained tasters compared a big national brand with a store brand in 29 food categories. Store and national brands tasted about equally good…

  • The GRS Garden Project: August 2009 Update (41 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for August 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) After late July’s blistering heat, August has been relatively cool around Portland. Our fruits and vegetables have been producing excellent crops. Kris is constantly busy in the kitchen, canning and preserving food. We’re eating fresh salsa all the time. And hard as it is to believe,…

  • A Visit to the Island of Misfit Foods (84 comments)

    This is a guest post from Karawynn, who writes about personal finance at Pocketmint. Karawynn is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. Karawynn has been blogging since before “blogging” was a word. About a mile from my house there’s a slightly shabby strip mall housing a Dollar Store, a Ross Dress for Less, and something called a ‘Grocery Outlet’. For two years I’ve driven past that sign — on my way to Costco,…

  • The GRS Garden Project: July 2009 Update (34 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for July 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) Welcome to Oregon, where for the past week it’s been hot. How hot? Here’s the temperature graph from the National Weather Service for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday: The heat hasn’t prevented us from working in the garden. We’ve been watering the thirsty plants, and we’ve begun…

  • Buying Food: Grocery Shopping Tips from 1950 (51 comments)

    The American housewife! Who has a more important or more responsible occupation? Wife, mother, laundress, counselor, maid, chef, purchasing agent. All of these are her duties at one time or another. So begins Buying Food, a home economics film from 1950. Buying Food is fascinating not just for its shopping tips, but also for the inside look at a grocery store from 60 years ago. (Self-service grocery stores were introduced in 1916 and grew in…

  • Two Frugal Summer Recipes: Thai Tuna Salad and Asian Pickles (12 comments)

    On Monday, I wrote about our frugal weekend. One of the little things I mentioned doing was mixing up a large batch of Thai tuna salad to use for sandwiches during the week. Yum! Several readers asked me to share my recipe, so I tracked down the cookbook that served as the original source for this Thai tuna salad. It’s Thai Cooking Made Easy by Sukhum Kittivech (which contains both Chinese and English text). This…

  • More Month Than Money: Tightening Your Food Budget While Feeding Your Family Well (42 comments)

    The July/August issue of Countryside (one of my favorite magazines) contains an article from Tracy Rimmer about how she saves money on food. In the article, Rimmer mentions her website, New Century Homestead, where she describes her family’s quest for self-reliance in southwestern Manitoba. Her philosophy: Homesteading is an attitude, an approach, not necessarily a lifestyle. We believe that one can start small, and still make a difference. Indeed, that starting small must be the…

  • The GRS Garden Project: June 2009 Update (27 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for June 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) It’s the beginning of summer, and that means our garden is lush and green and growing. It also means there’s nothing exciting to write about. We’ve begun to harvest a couple of things, but mostly our chores have become routine. We weed and fertilize while we…

  • Cut Your Food Costs With a Stand-Alone Freezer (65 comments)

    Kris and I recently bought another side of beef. Well, to be more accurate, we purchased one third of a cow. Every year, we go in with several other families to split an animal. This year, our portion of the purchase comprised: 46 pounds of lean hamburger (in 24 packs) 36-1/8 pounds of roasts (in 10 packs) 31-1/4 pounds of steak (in 20 packs) We also received 2-1/4 pounds of beef tongue that we’re giving…

  • Eating Organic on a Frugal Budget (48 comments)

    Is it possible to eat local organic food on a food-stamp budget? That’s the question Salon’s Siobhan Phillips set out to answer recently. For one month, Phillips and her husband gave themselves a budget of $248 to “eat ethically” in New Haven, Connecticut. She writes: I had wondered about the elitism of ethical eating ever since I started reading about the movement in books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Fast Food Nation, and Food Politics. When…

  • 3 Easy and Delicious Ways to Preserve Your Berry Harvest (20 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife, who has her own fan club around here. “You should have a section at GRS called Kris’ corner,” one reader wrote recently. That’s unlikely to happen, but she’s happy to drop by now and then with recipes and helpful hints. Here’s what she has to say about fresh berries. Berry season is beginning in Oregon. Strawberries ripen first, and they’re followed quickly by raspberries, blueberries, currants, and…

  • The GRS Garden Project: May 2009 Update (50 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for May 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) What a difference a year makes! Our fruits, berries, and vegetables had a slow start last year (and then were further slowed by a cold, cold June). This May was warm — very warm. Our food crops loved the weather, and they’ve shown explosive growth. As…

  • An Experiment in Cheap Living (from 1872) (38 comments)

    An Experiment in Cheap Living Earlier this week, I shared some of the highlights from three years of GRS articles about saving money on food. Brett from The Art of Manliness, who knows that I collect old self-help books, sent me an excerpt from Dio Lewis’s 1872 volume, Our Digestion, or, My Jolly Friend’s Secret. Here Lewis describes his “experiment in cheap living”, during which he spends just 54-1/4 cents for a week of food….

  • How to Save Money on Food: Great Tips from Three Years of Get Rich Slowly (35 comments)

    While driving to our monthly book group discussion on Saturday, Kris and I had a conversation with our friend Courtney. Courtney’s family is beginning to feel a financial squeeze. Her husband’s employer is cutting jobs. To keep working, he’ll have to take a pay cut and move back to the position he left a couple of years ago. “I’ve started to read personal finance books,” Courtney told us. “We know we’re going to have to…

  • Gary Vaynerchuk: 12 Wines for Under $12 (32 comments)

    Wine is one of those little things that bring me pleasure. I enjoy discovering new wines, but I’m not a wine snob. As I’ve mentioned before, my favorite wines are those that taste great but don’t break the bank. I recently asked Gary Vaynerchuk — host of Wine Library TV — if he could suggest some good inexpensive wines for spring and summer. Gary put together a special episode of his program just for GRS…

  • The GRS Garden Project: April 2009 Update (36 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for April 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) April was a slow month for our garden. We didn’t do much. Part of this is because we’ve become more efficient. But another part is because we did some of our chores earlier this year. Kris has been antsy to get plants in the ground. I…

  • The GRS Garden Project: March 2009 Update (34 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for March 2009, which was written by Kris. (Here are the results for 2008.) In Oregon, the month of March is unpredictable. Every gardener is itching to get outside, but it’s wet and cold with a few precious — and fleeting — moments of sunshine. In those sunny moments, you can bet you’ll hear a…

  • A Frugal Dinner with Friends (67 comments)

    Kris and I had dinner last night with our new acquaintances friends, Chris and Jolie. Dinner was fun. This was in part because our hosts made a point of preparing a frugal meal. “If you bring wine,” Chris told me on the phone, “bring something cheap. I can’t tell any difference from the good stuff.” I happily complied. I love good food and good conversation, but the truth is I’d rather have a great talk…

  • The One-Block Diet (30 comments)

    After our recent discussion about traditional skills and the DIY ethic, reader Kim Cornman pointed me to an interesting project being conducted by the staff of Sunset magazine. While many folks have embraced the idea of a 100-mile diet (eating only food produced within one hundred miles of their home), the folks at Sunset have taken the locavore movement to a whole new level. Here’s a description of the project: We’re longtime fans of the…

  • How to Save $100 (or More) at the Grocery Store This Month (75 comments)

    This is a guest post from Erin, who writes about frugal food at $5 Dinners. When gas prices were soaring in the summer of 2008, my family was scrambling to find ways to save money. We could not reduce the prices at the gas pumps, we were locked into the lowest interest rate on our mortgage, and our budget was maxed out. I knew the only way we could continue without running into the red each month…

  • Starting Seeds Indoors: Jump-Start Your Garden Today (56 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife, who has received several requests to describe her method for starting seeds indoors. In some parts of the U.S., vegetable and flower seeds can be successfully planted directly into the garden. But in many areas, the growing season is too short to allow this. Cool spring soil temperatures and cold weather can prevent seeds from germinating or kill young seedlings. If you wait until the weather warms,…

  • The GRS Garden Project: February 2009 Update (53 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for February 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) We spent a lot of time in our garden this month, which was unusual considering that it’s February. In fact, the twelve hours we spent working on our food crops was the most we’ve worked in a month since I began tracking the numbers in January…

  • Confessions of a Butcher: Eating Steak on a Hamburger Budget (39 comments)

    Every week, I receive a couple of books in the mail from authors and publishers. (This week there were six!) They’re hoping that I’ll find time to review their work at Get Rich Slowly. I do my best, but it’s impossible to read everything. When John Smith offered to send me his book, Confessions of a Butcher, I wasn’t expecting much. I’ve read a few niche books like this, and they’re usually uninspiring. As a…

  • Recession Romance: Make a Delicious Valentine’s Day Dinner at Home (59 comments)

    With Valentine’s Day approaching, I polled my Twitter followers for their favorite frugal and romantic date ideas. Some of the great responses included: From @Finc_Confluence: “A photo scavenger hunt worked well for us recently. Inexpensive, memorable, and a great conversation piece!” From @MrsMicah: “Borrow an old movie from the library, enjoy with blankets and maybe hot chocolate. We had fun with The Awful Truth recently.” From @JoyfulAbode: “Go for a walk and hold hands (very…

  • Quick Tips for Eating Organic (63 comments)

    Last week, I spoke with Lou Bendrick, who writes the Checkout Line column at Grist, a site devoted to environmental news and commentary. Bendrick answers reader questions about making “green” food-choices. Recently Karl wrote to ask her: With the economic crunch, how is it going to be possible to afford healthy foods for my family, especially organics. Before the interview, I surveyed my Twitter followers for help. I asked: “Do you eat organic? How do…

  • The GRS Garden Project: January 2009 Update (40 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for January 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) Even with the other stuff going on in our lives, Kris and I found time to begin planning our summer garden this month. Soon the winter days will warm, teasing us with thoughts of working in the yard. But true gardening weather won’t arrive for about…

  • 7 Tips for Starting Your Own Vegetable Garden (75 comments)

    Early January. Though it’s the dead of winter, many of us are dreaming about our summer vegetable gardens. The seed catalogs have begun to appear in the mailbox. Kris and I received eight of them today: Images of summer… It might seem crazy to start thinking about a vegetable garden in January. It’s cold outside! But believe it or not, now is the perfect time to begin preparing for a successful autumn harvest. Over the…

  • The GRS Garden Project: Winners and Losers for 2008 (37 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. Our gardening for the year came to a close around Halloween. Although we’ll harvest herbs all winter — I’ve started an indoor herb garden with clearance-sale seeds! — the cold and wet Willamette Valley winter makes outdoor work miserable. And this year we’ve even had snow and ice: The garden in winter The garden in summer But the gardening cycle will begin anew with a seed order…

  • Finding Good Wines at Great Prices: Expert Advice for Frugal Wine Lovers (70 comments)

    I love wine but I’m not a wine snob. I don’t speak the lingo, and I don’t want to. All I know is that some wines taste better than others, and that some wines cost more than others. For me, the best bottle of wine is one that tastes great but doesn’t break the bank. With the dinner party season coming up, how can I find good wines at great prices? I turned to Gary…

  • The GRS Garden Project: November Update (30 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for November. This month’s garden update is small. As winter approaches, there’s less for us to do, and all that we harvest are herbs (and those only occasionally). Our major garden task this month was raking leaves. For most people, this is simply yardwork, but for us it’s a chance to work on the…

  • From the Kitchen: Pumpkin Butter and Pumpkin Muffins (26 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. Kris has her own devoted following around here, eager for her tips. You probably don’t realize it, but her recipe for baked potato soup is a perennial favorite at this site, and still garners rave reviews. Here are two of her favorite uses for pumpkin. ‘Tis the season for all things pumpkin! Pumpkin pie, of course, but also pumpkin scones, pumpkin spice lattes and now…pumpkin butter. This…

  • Could You Eat Healthfully on One Dollar a Day? (94 comments)

    “How much does it really cost to eat a healthy diet?” asks Tara Parker-Pope in a recent New York Times article. Among other findings, she notes: Nearly a billion people, or about 15% of the world population, live on a dollar a day for food. [Note: Obviously the cost of living varies from country-to-country — spending a dollar a day for food in Portland is different than spending a dollar a day for food in…

  • The GRS Garden Project: October Update (39 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for October. October can be something of a relief for gardeners. The bulk of the harvest is finished, and all that remains is to pick the last straggling fruits and vegetables, and to begin cleaning up. While it’s sad that the harvest is winding to a close, it’s comforting to know there’ll be a…

  • Trick or Treat! Buy Restaurant.com Gift Certificates for 80% Off (TODAY ONLY!) (45 comments)

    Several people wrote to tell me about the Restaurant.com 80% off deal, but I sort of blew them off. It sounded too good to be true. I was wrong. Turns out this is very very real, but the offer ends today. Kris and I have used Restaurant.com once, but don’t know much about it. Here’s what I can tell you: The web site allows you to buy discounted gift certificates to restaurants. You might, for…

  • Once-a-Month Shopping: Save More by Shopping Less (147 comments)

    How often do you go to the supermarket? Could you get by making only one trip per month? What if it saved you money? My wife and I are both reading America’s Cheapest Family by Steve and Annette Economides. During his time as an ad salesman, Steve was “shocked to read in a food industry publication that grocers expect six of ten items consumers pick up in the store to be unplanned purchases.” Steve and…

  • The GRS Garden Project: September Update (62 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for September. September generally brings the largest harvests for our garden. That was true again this year, but not by as much as we hoped. The bad weather at the beginning of the season means that things just aren’t ripe yet. Kris has been encouraging her tomatoes for weeks. I’m dying for the grapes…

  • How to Make Your Own Canned Salsa (16 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. Several readers asked for our canned salsa recipe, so here it is. J.D. and I already have our favorite fresh salsa down to a science, but we only get to enjoy it for a few short months when real tomatoes are in season. In order to see us through the rest of the year, I went searching for a canned salsa recipe that we’d like just as…

  • Frugality in Practice: Home Canning (58 comments)

    “What do you do with all that produce?” one reader asked recently about our garden. “Do you really eat it all, or does it go to waste?” We eat it, but not at once. Though we enjoy a lot of the food fresh from the garden, we preserve most of it for later. I’m fortunate that Kris loves to can, and so we enjoy the fruits of our labor year-round. Canning was once a vital…

  • Fighting Food-Budget Killers (78 comments)

    At MSN Money, Liz Pulliam Weston has an article about fighting what she calls food-budget killers, those items at the grocery store that can put an extra strain on your pocketbook. Weston’s story gives tips for how to save money on the five foods with the biggest price jumps in the past year: flour, eggs, sweet peppers, milk, and dried beans. But the article got me thinking about food-budget killers in a different way. High…

  • The GRS Garden Project: August Update (31 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for August. The berry harvest continued this month at Rosings Park, our happy half acre south of Portland. Blackberry time is my favorite time of the year. And though August is often too hot for me, I’m willing to suffer the heat because I know it means the start of canning season. Sure enough,…

  • U-Pick: The Next Best Thing to Growing Your Own (25 comments)

    Though Kris and I are growing our own green beans this summer, we don’t have nearly enough for her grand plans. “I need more beans,” she told me last week. “I want to do some canning.” I hate green beans, but I agreed to lend a hand. On Friday, we braved the heat to make a trip to Hartnell Farms, where we picked 18 pounds of beans. Many Get Rich Slowly readers have indicated that…

  • The GRS Garden Project: July Update (29 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for July. It was a berry, berry good month at Rosings Park (as we call our happy half acre). Gloomy June faded into memory, the sun came out, and the berries ripened. This is the time of year when there’s little to do in the garden but water the plants and harvest the produce….

  • Hidden Price Increases at the Grocery Store (145 comments)

    “Look at this,” Kris said yesterday when she returned from grocery shopping. She held up two yogurt containers for me to see. “So what?” I said. “Black cherry yogurt.” “Look closer,” she said.   “That one’s smaller,” I said. “Did they change the container size?” “Yes,” she said. “But they didn’t change the price.” The incredible shrinking yogurt I’ve received several e-mails lately from readers noting the same thing. They go to buy a product…

  • Urban Fruit Gleaning: Harvesting Fresh Fruit in the Middle of the City (26 comments)

    Though Kris and I live just a few miles from downtown Portland, we’re fortunate to have three-fifths of an acre of land. This allows us to set aside some large spaces to grow fruits, berries, herbs, flowers, and vegetables. Not all city-dwellers are so fortunate. In fact, millions of people don’t have access to a yard at all. For some of these, container gardening may be an option. Others might consider community gardens or farm…

  • Gardening Basics: What to Do with All That Extra Zucchini (41 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. I could not have written this — I hate zucchini. Ah, summer. Or, as it’s sometimes known, zucchini season. If you were one of those brave souls that planted zucchini this year, it’s about to start exploding. Or perhaps where you live, it’s already mid-explosion! It’s time to start finding ways to use all that produce. Fresh zucchini is great when grilled with a bit of olive…

  • Easy and Cheap Home-Made Bread (62 comments)

    I baked a loaf of bread yesterday. It was delicious. It was easy. It was cheap. Last winter, I undertook a quest to find the best whole wheat bread in a grocery store. I like sandwiches and I like toast, so removing bread from my diet isn’t an option. While trying to balance cost and nutrition, I eventually discovered Rainier Organic’s Sasquatch Grain & Seed Bread. At about 10 cents per ounce, this stuff is…

  • Saving at the Supermarket: 15 Great Grocery Shopping Tips (73 comments)

    Kris and I went grocery shopping this weekend. We stopped at Bob’s Red Mill — a local health-food store — to use some “buy one, get one free” coupons. “You can get anything you want,” Kris told me, “except hot cereal.” “Why can’t I get hot cereal?” I asked. “I love hot cereal.” “I know,” Kris said. “But you buy it all the time. You buy it faster than you eat it. Just last week,…

  • The GRS Garden Project: June Update (36 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for June. It was a miserable June for gardeners in northwest Oregon. The first two weeks weren’t just wet — we’re used to that — they were cold, too. The local media dubbed the month “June-uary”. Residents were quick to embrace the term. The cool weather pushed back a number of crops. Strawberry farmers…

  • My Mid-Year Financial Checkup: I Am Spending Too Much on Food (126 comments)

    “Want to go out to dinner?” I asked Kris last Monday night. “No,” she said. “Want to go out to dinner?” I asked Kris last Tuesday night. “No,” she said. I asked her again on Wednesday and Thursday and got the same response. “How come you never want to go out to dinner anymore?” I asked. She gave me one of Those Looks. “J.D., are you kidding?” she said. “We’ve been going out to dinner…

  • How to Make Your Own Small-Batch Strawberry Jam (9 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. Making your own jam doesn’t have to be a big production. While it’s sometimes most efficient to do things in bulk with all the right gear, the small-scale option can be better if you’re just starting out and want to make jam without much initial investment. Also, for the home gardener it’s common to have only a few cups of berries ripe at any one time, rather…

  • Buying Cheap Spices: Unit Pricing in Action (67 comments)

    In yesterday’s discussion of how unit pricing can save you money, John made a passing comment that merits closer attention. He wrote: I use unit price all the time when shopping and it’s super convenient that the stores do it for you. I did an analysis of spices that come prepackaged versus a bulk food store here and the difference is ridiculous! John wanted to stock up on basic spices, but didn’t want to spend…

  • Unit Pricing: Get More Food for Less Money (66 comments)

    This is a guest post from Charlie Park at PearBudget. Recently, Get Rich Slowly readers got upset at the idea of spending $6 on a gallon of milk. Reading that, I had to chuckle a little bit: Shortly before we had to give it up, our milk went up to $11 a gallon. Yup. You read that right: $11. A gallon. Technically, the milk was free, but the boarding and care of the animals that…

  • The GRS Garden Project: May Update (56 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for May. Today I picked the first two strawberries from our garden. They weren’t particularly good strawberries — there’s been plenty of Oregon rain lately, and they were rather flavorless — but they were strawberries, the harbingers of summer. They signify the start of five months of food harvest from our yard. Final orders…

  • Use Raspberry Leaves to Make Your Own Herbal Tea (18 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. I drink a lot of herbal tea, but until recently I hadn’t considered making my own. When we moved into our house, one of the first things we did was prepare an area in the yard for cane berry crops. We planted blackberries, marionberries, and raspberries. Now, four years later, the canes have grown humongous in Oregon’s favorable climate. They’re so long that we’ve criss-crossed them on…

  • Strawberry Fruit Dip: A Quick and Easy Recipe for May (13 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. Oregonians have a thing for strawberries. After all, who doesn’t? But Oregon strawberries spoil us, and unfortunately, our season for local strawberry nirvana doesn’t really arrive until June, and even then it lasts but a few short heavenly weeks. Both before and after, we’re confronted with California strawberries in our stores, screaming out false promises. They look delicious, but they can’t compare to the ripe berries picked…

  • The Rise of Suburban Farming (40 comments)

    When our friends Mike and Rhonda moved into their new house a couple years ago, their yard was just like every other in the neighborhood: green grass. Chances are, that’s what the yards are like in your neighborhood, too. But over the past two years, Mike and Rhonda have transformed their lot into something different. They’ve created what might be described as a suburban farm. Mike ripped out all the sod and built stone walls…

  • The GRS Garden Project: April Update (27 comments)

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food in our garden. April finally saw some action in the yard, but not the sort we’d hoped for. The hail you say! Most of the month was quiet. Our vegetable starts continued to thrive under the growlights. By…

  • Save Money on Food with the Sixty Minute Plan (26 comments)

    Kris at Cheap Healthy Good recently wrote how 60 minutes a week can save hundreds of dollars on food. This kind of stuff never occurred to me in my early ‘20s, and The Boyfriend and I are much better for it now. We eat like the dickens and haven’t had to sell any major organs to finance peanut butter purchases (lately). To keep her costs down and to reduce the time involved, Kris has created…

  • Oven-Roasted Asparagus: A Quick and Frugal Recipe for April (38 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife, who has her own little fan club around here. Maybe she should start a food blog! Asparagus used to be one of those foods that I loved to eat restaurants, but rarely made at home. For some reason I thought it was difficult to prepare, or that you needed special equipment to do so. Eventually I learned the error of my ways, and I’ve been happily cooking…

  • Grocery Store Mysteries: Cheap Milk (66 comments)

    We ran out of milk this evening, so I made an emergency trip to the grocery store to buy more. Generally we purchase a half gallon of one-percent, which lasts us about a week. When I went to grab the milk from the refrigerator case, however, I was startled by the price: $3.19! Usually we pay between $1.99 and $2.29. Our of curiosity, I priced the full gallons. They were on sale for $2.99. That’s…

  • The Bountiful Container: Gardening in Small Spaces (25 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. I’ve been gardening for almost fifteen years. I started with flowers, added herbs and vegetables, then a few fruits, then a lot more. I’ve gardened in plots and pots and raised beds. I’ve drooled over bedding plants, spent too much on whatever was my obsession-of-the-moment (bulbs! daylilies! gooseberries! ornamental grasses!), and have certainly read my fair share of plant books and magazines. By this time, I’m somewhat…

  • The GRS Garden Project: March Update (25 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food in our garden. In my mind, March is filled with gardening activities. Not so much, as it turns out. I think April will also be light. Planting seeds Though we didn’t do much in March, we finally got to see some action from the plants. On March 1st, Kris planted the tomatoes and peppers (and some flowers). She…

  • Gourmet Cooking with 99-Cent Food? (41 comments)

    Earlier this week, the always-interesting kottke.org pointed to a couple of pieces on 99-cent fine dining. First, from the March 21st episode of National Public Radio’s Day to Day, comes a story about cooking gourmet with 99¢ food. These days, the idea of making a three-course meal for a family of four for less than $20 can seem impossible. Unless, that is, you shop at the 99¢ Only Stores. There are more than 200 of…

  • Cinnamon Spice Muffins: An Easy, Frugal Recipe for March (31 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife, whose January recipe for baked potato soup garnered rave reviews. March in our part of Oregon means rain, rain, rain. I’d like to be out working in the yard, but the cold and wind keep me inside where I work off my frustration by baking. This easy and frugal recipe is nice for a brunch or family breakfast. Cinnamon Spice Muffins don’t call for any exotic ingredients…

  • The Lazy Man’s Guide to Groceries on a Budget (63 comments)

    This is a guest post from Karl Katzke. Eating well is one of the small pleasures that I decided not to forego when I dug myself out of credit card debt. I’m a busy bachelor with an active social life and an absorbing job; I like food with a lot of flavor to it; and I live in a rural area without a lot of shopping or coupon options. These three things don’t usually go…

  • The GRS Garden Project: February Update (22 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I will be tracking how much time and money we spend growing food in our garden. (Important note: Kris tells me she is not going to track her time, which may throw a monkey wrench into the works, but I’m going to do my best to coax her into providing this information anyhow.) The yardwork begins Like last month, there’s very little to do in February. It was still quite…

  • An Easy Way to Go Organic (69 comments)

    “Switching to organic is tough for many families who don’t want to pay higher prices or give up their favorite foods,” writes Tara Parker-Pope at The New York Times. “But by choosing organic versions of just a few foods that you eat often, you can increase the percentage of organic food in your diet without big changes to your shopping cart or your spending.” Last fall, Parker-Pope spoke with pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene, who suggested…

  • Minimalist Meals: Fantastic Food in Ten Minutes or Less (38 comments)

    One of the best ways to save money on food is to eat more meals at home. Better yet, eat more meals that you prepare instead of foraging from boxes and cans. With today’s busy lifestyles, this can be a difficult transition to make, especially if you’ve never been much of a cook. But quick, cheap, healthy food is possible. Mark Bittman bills himself as “The Minimalist” — he’s all about simple, informal meals using…

  • The GRS Garden Project: January Update (35 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I will be tracking how much time and money we spend growing food in our garden. (Important note: Kris tells me she is not going to track her time, which may throw a monkey wrench into the works, but I’m going to do my best to coax her into providing this information anyhow.) January is always a slow month in the garden, but it’s also full of promise. It’s time…

  • Hearty Baked Potato Soup: A Quick and Frugal Recipe for January (60 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. You can find many versions of cream-of-potato soup on the internet, ranging from those made with instant mashed potatoes flakes and dried onions, to gourmet creations that use Yukon Golds and heavy cream. The recipe below is my favorite for those nights when a cold wind is blowing outside, I haven’t planned something specific for dinner, and I’m low on fresh produce. I almost always have the…

  • The Year-Long GRS Project: How Much Does a Garden Really Save? (108 comments)

    Kris and I are huge fans of gardening. We grow our own flowers, herbs, fruit, berries, and vegetables. We’re not able to supply all of our needs, but we do what we can. For the past two years, I’ve argued that this is an excellent way to save money if you have the time and the space. But is it really? An actual weekend harvest from August 2006. During the next year, Kris and I…

  • The USDA Food Stamp Nutrition Connection (21 comments)

    The United States government has a host of useful web sites. Even the IRS site is informational. I’ve written about various government resources in the past, such as: The U.S. Department of Labor’s statistics on minimum wage workers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s information on the cost of food. Today I discovered another USDA site: The Food Stamp Nutrition Connection. Though ostensibly designed for low-income audiences, this site is probably worth visiting for others interested…

  • Cheap Healthy Good (16 comments)

    One of the most popular topics at Get Rich Slowly is how to eat well for less. It’s not enough to only consider cost without also considering nutritional value — you could eat fast food every day, but it wouldn’t be healthy. Past articles on the subject include: Tips and tricks to save on food How to feed yourself for $15 a week Healthy food on an unhealthy budget 16 ways to eat healthy while…

  • Taco Soup: A Cheap and Delicious Use for Ground Beef (32 comments)

    Last December, I described how Kris and I join three other couples to buy a side of beef every year. After crunching the numbers, I concluded that buying beef in bulk can be an excellent deal, but not for everyone. Buying a side of beef is a good choice if you like to cook, you eat a lot of meat, you have storage space, and quality is important to you. Last year we paid $300…

  • How to Eat at a Swanky Restaurant Without Blowing Your Monthly Food Budget (81 comments)

    Kris and I joined some friends last weekend for a 40th birthday celebration at Bluehour, a swanky Portland restaurant. While the other couples spent $150 to $250 for their meals, we escaped paying only $52, including tip. We hadn’t planned to do this, but our unintentional parsimony taught us a few ways to save the next time we dine out at a fancy restaurant: Eat a healthy snack before you go to take the edge…

  • Two Quick Kitchen Hacks (19 comments)

    It’s always fun to find new ways to save time and money in the kitchen. Here are two simple ideas to help reduce clutter on the counters. Let the library store your cookbooks During my recent fight to reduce clutter in the house, Kris pointed out that I had a shelf full of cookbooks that I rarely use. “Why don’t we get rid of some of them,” she said. “Do we really need seven Thai…

  • Extreme Personal Finance: One Month as a Freegan (34 comments)

    Would you scavenge your food from somebody else’s garbage? A group of people who call themselves freegans do this (and more) every day. This video describes their methods: The current issue of Newsweek (dated 01 Oct 2007) features a story by Raina Kelley describing the month she spent living as a freegan: I had nine rules: I would be a vegan who bought nothing but local and/or organic food. I would use only ecofriendly transportation,…

  • Frugality in Practice: Home-Made Grape Juice (26 comments)

    Kris and I don’t grow a lot of our own food, but we grow enough to make a difference. In the fall of 2004, the year we moved into this house, we planted a row of grapes. Using only a shovel, I tore into the sod, double-digging a row about three feet by thirty. One of our neighbors had collected and split an old telephone pole, so he gave us some of these massive logs…

  • How to Feed Yourself for $15 a Week (204 comments)

    Our discussion about how to eat for cheap generated a lot of great tips. Daiko shared a detailed explanation of how he once got by spending just $15/week on food. This is a great real-life example of how it’s possible to eat well without breaking the bank. I’m posting it here so that more people will see it. Although I don’t do this now, I once lived on $15 a week for food in the…

  • Ask the Readers: Tips and Tricks to Save on Food? (119 comments)

    Food budgets vary widely, even for similar families living in the same city. As we’ve discussed in the past, one family of four might budget $800/month for food, while another budgets $300, and a third spends $520. Many people wonder how it’s possible to eat so inexpensively. Mallow’s recent post in the forums is typical: I have no idea how you guys are living off of $120-$150 a month for food. Either the groceries around…

  • From the Frugal Kitchen: How to Make Bread-and-Butter Pickle Slices (27 comments)

    Here’s another frugal recipe from my wife. This easy and delicious recipe for bread & butter pickles is perfect for a beginner. Regardless of your skill level, you’ll produce canned pickles that you’ll be proud to serve. Because of the high acid level in pickled foods, you can process them in a pot of boiling water, rather than a pressure canner. And packing slices into jars is much simpler than organizing whole pickles like dills…

  • The Grocery Game (70 comments)

    For years, Kris and I have used coupons as one tool to get lower prices when shopping for groceries. Some people are opposed to coupons, but we’ve found that they help us to save money. (Number one tip: don’t use a coupon to buy something you wouldn’t normally purchase.) In the Get Rich Slowly forums, we’ve been discussing how much the average family spends on food. MITBeta wrote: Our budget (two adults and a seven-month-old)…

  • Grocery Store vs. Farmers Market: Which Has the Cheapest Produce? (47 comments)

    Last year I asked, “How much do you spend on food?” Answers varied widely. Some commenters couldn’t comprehend that others could spend so much — or so little. I’ve always believed that buying produce at the farmers market is a good way to cut food costs. But is it really? This weekend I decided to find out. Over the past two days, I’ve surveyed produce prices at five different locations: the farmers market, a produce…

  • 16 Ways to Eat Healthy While Keeping it Cheap (193 comments)

    This is a guest post by Mehdi, author of StrongLifts.com. If you enjoy this post, check out his site. Eating healthy is important. . Eating healthy: Lowers disease risks Increases productivity Gives you more energy Makes you stronger You probably think eating healthy is expensive. I’ll be honest — it is. But there are tricks to spare your savings account and keep it low cost. Here are sixteen ways to eat more healthy while keeping…

  • Save on Groceries with ‘Strike-Point Shopping’ (30 comments)

    DM wrote to share his favorite grocery tip. As the primary cook and grocery-getter in our household, I’ve discovered that there are certain pantry and household items that we use more than others. In our case, it’s things like: canned chicken broth, canned tomatoes, frozen ground turkey, and Diet Pepsi. These are things that I use several times a week, if not daily. I think it’s useful to know your “strike point” at the the…

  • Pick Your Own: A Brief Guide to the Berry Patch (20 comments)

    Picking berries is one of my favorite parts of summer. Kris and I grow much of our own fruit, and we’re snacking from June to September. Our garden includes strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, gooseberries, marionberries, boysenberries, lingonberries, elderberries, currants, apples, prunes, pears, and a whole slew of vegetables. It’s a summertime cornucopia! Not everyone has the time, space, and energy to grow their own food. Even if you don’t have a garden, it’s easy and…

  • Simple Homemade Chicken Stock Using a Supermarket Rotisserie Chicken (27 comments)

    This is a guest-post from my wife. In our house, rotisserie chickens from the grocery store are a time- and effort-saver. A whole fryer chicken usually sells for less than $1/pound. A typical rotisserie chicken is about double the cost, but we often get three weekday meals off it, so it’s worth it to me. The chicken meat is used in salads, pasta dishes, quesadillas, sandwiches, pot pies and stews and, when the carcass is…

  • A Beginner’s Guide to Once-a-Month Cooking (41 comments)

    Many people complain that they don’t have time to eat healthfully or frugally. It’s easy to lapse into convenience food, which is both expensive and a poor nutritional choice. This tip at Bankrate suggests one way to combat these two problems is to practice once-a-month cooking: Our family cooks all the dinners for the month on one day. [...] For a family of 4 (soon to be 5), I’ve been able to keep the cost…

  • Student Cook: Eat Healthily on a Student Budget (10 comments)

    When I first left home, my diet was awful. I mostly ate pizza and ramen, with a lot of hamburgers added to the mix. I didn’t prepare much food myself because I didn’t know how. Besides, I didn’t think I could afford it. Student Cook is a site designed to help young adults get started in the kitchen while keeping an eye on costs. Student Cook was formed in late 2005 to offer a unique…

  • The Minimalist and the No-Frills Kitchen (30 comments)

    In the GRS forums, Fillanzea mentioned a New York Times article written by Mark Bittman, a.k.a. The Minimalist, who believes “a no-frills kitchen still cooks”. He writes: The question I’m asked more often than any other is, “What kitchen equipment should I buy?” … I contend that with a bit of savvy, patience and a willingness to forgo steel-handle knives, copper pots and other extravagant items, $200 can equip a basic kitchen that will be…

  • The Thrifty Food Plan Challenge: Eating Well for Less (56 comments)

    Oregon governor Ted Kulongoski recently spent a much-publicized week eating on a food-stamp budget. His motive, he said, was to gain a new appreciation for the working poor. Rebecca Blood notes that “the Governor’s stunt is a little misleading”: No one expects food stamp recipients to eat on only $21 a week (though I’m sure some people try). The USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan (from which food stamp allotments are derived) is spartan enough, but the…

  • Frugality in Practice: Planting Time (11 comments)

    “Wow,” I said to Kris at dinner last night. “This pasta sauce is great.” She smiled: “I made it. From tomatoes we grew last summer.” I give Kris a hard time for all the attention she pays her tomatoes during the spring. She treats them like babies. She pampers them. But if the payoff is pasta sauce like this, I shouldn’t complain. The next few days are important for our household’s frugal agenda. The first…

  • Use a Grocery Price Book to Slash Your Food Spending (61 comments)

    While reading Amy Dacyczyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette this afternoon, I learned a great new money hack. Dacyczyn (pronounced “decision”) advocates using a grocery price book to save big bucks at the supermarket. A grocery price book is an ongoing list of the items you most commonly purchase and how much you paid for them. This list allows you to detect price cycles, spot bargains, and plan your shopping trips for maximum savings. Dacyczyn explains:…

  • An Introduction to Square-Foot Gardening (73 comments)

    I grew up in the country — gardening meant a large plot, plowed and raked, and then planted with long, widely-space rows of vegetables. It also meant weeding and hoeing, weeding and hoeing. Gardening was a chore. When Kris and I bought our first home, we both wanted a vegetable garden, but we didn’t want the drudgery that came with it. Besides, we didn’t have a big space in the country — we had an…

  • Tomorrow is Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day! (4 comments)

    Whatcha doin’ tomorrow? Wanna get some free ice cream? Head on down to your local Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop for their annual “free cone day”. According to the wikipedia: Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day is an annual event, held in late April or early May, in which Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops give out free ice cream cones all day. Over one million free cones are given away each year. Charitable organizations are…

  • Frugality in Practice: The Garden in Spring (18 comments)

    On Sundays, I’ve been sharing how to earn money from hobbies. Some hobbies can also save you money, which is just as good. Like many advocates of frugality and simple living, Kris and I take pleasure in growing our own food. We started planning our garden in February. Today, on Easter — a day of rebirth — we paused to examine our work. Kris’ tomatoes and flowers are healthy and strong: In the vegetable garden,…

  • Un-Frugal: The Curse of Forgotten Leftovers (15 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife, who thinks the following story is simply hysterical. J.D. and I are fairly good at eating our leftovers. I often intentionally create leftovers for my sack lunches or an easy weeknight dinner. J.D. has improved at remembering we have them since instituting his leftover list on the fridge. But last night he returned to his evil ways, and I thought I’d share it with his readers. For…

  • The Budget Wino: Advice for Frugal Oenophiles (13 comments)

    Buying wine at the grocery store can be a crapshoot. The local Safeway has hundreds to choose from, yet I know from experience that not all these wines are good. In fact, a few I hope never to drink again. Sometimes I try to increase the odds of turning up a good bottle buy paying $20 or $25, but even then I’m taking a risk. As disappointing as a bad $7 bottle of wine can…

  • Sometimes It’s Okay to Splurge (32 comments)

    I feel as if I’ve been a Scrooge here lately: “don’t watch Super Bowl commercials“, “don’t buy gadgets“, “bundle up to stay warm“, etc. While it’s true that saving money requires sacrifices, I don’t mean to make it sound like drudgery. Actually, I’m elated with my progress. When I was working with Lauren Muney to create my wellness program, she emphasized that fitness should not be a chore. “Remember that you’re working toward something positive,…

  • How to Eat Vegetarian on the Cheap (41 comments)

    I recently posted two articles for frugal carnivores: a guide to cheap cuts of beef and another on on how to buy a side of beef. GRS-reader Sally has produced an introduction to eating vegetarian for cheap. Though her tips are for herbivores, many are useful to omnivores, as well. About a year-and-a-half ago, for health reasons, my husband and I committed ourselves to a mostly vegetarian lifestyle. At home we eat entirely vegetarian; when…

  • Gardening 101: Plan Today for Summer Success (44 comments)

    Raising your own berries, fruits, and vegetables is a fun and rewarding way to save money. Our grocery bills drop dramatically during harvest season, and the food cannot be beat. (I love our salsa recipe.) But my wife notes, “February is the time to start planning your vegetable garden.” This post contains her advice for starting a garden that will produce a bounty of delicious food. This was an actual weekend harvest from our garden…

  • Making the Most of Cheap Cuts of Beef (17 comments)

    You don’t need to buy a side of beef to get cheap, great-tasting meat. Excellent inexpensive steaks and roasts are available at every supermarket. Here’s a brief guide to common cuts. The information in this article is derived from two Cook’s Illustrated pieces: “An Illustrated Guide to Beef Roasts” (Nov/Dec 2002) and “Tasting: Inexpensive Steaks” (Sep/Oct 2005). Inexpensive Steaks These steaks were priced $6.99/pound or less when Cook’s Illustrated tested them in 2005. Best Cuts…

  • DIY Microwave Popcorn (38 comments)

    Back in the Olden Dayes, we made popcorn on the stove. If we were good, then Sunday night before The Wonderful World of Disney, mom would heat some oil in a skillet and pop the corn. It was delicious. Then, of course, came the microwave, and with it came popcorn in a bag. It’s all so very convenient. But sometimes I miss the Olden Dayes. Here’s an old AskMetafilter question (found via frykitty): “Is it…

  • How to Buy a Side of Beef (105 comments)

    Kris and I grow our own berries. We harvest walnuts from a tree in the yard, and glean hazelnuts from a friend’s orchard. We keep fruit trees and a vegetable garden. For city folk, we try to grow as much of our own food as possible. But one thing we cannot grow is our own meat. We’ve discovered the next best thing, though: we buy beef in bulk from a local rancher. Every year, we…

  • Frugal Cuisine: Eating Well for Less (11 comments)

    One of my goals is too eat gourmet food on a budget. To that end, I’m happy to have discovered Frugal Cuisine, which chronicles the author’s attempt to eat well while spending $2 or $3 a day on food. The site features recipes, tips, book reviews, and more. I asked the author for some background: Frugal Cuisine began when I was out of work briefly, earlier this year. The basic background strategy is to buy…

  • Keep Track of Food with a Leftovers List (17 comments)

    I never remember what we have in the fridge. We’ll make a pot roast for Sunday dinner, and store several servings of leftovers. But once they’re in Tupperware and tucked out of sight, they’re as good as gone to me. A month later, I’ll find a container filled with rancid beef. Wasting leftovers increases food costs, so I’ve been struggling to find a method to aid my memory. Tonight I had an inspiration — I…

  • Online Grocery Flyers from MyGroceryDeals.com (8 comments)

    I recently received e-mail from mygrocerydeals.com pitching their site: We are a free service that allows consumers to go online, do their grocery pre-shopping based on advertised grocery flyer specials, look at nutritional information, create their shopping list, and then head out to their selected store(s) with list in hand. We have recently mapped 50,900 zip codes into our database and then lined up the grocery markets and local stores along 4,400 county lines to…

  • Hungry Planet: How the World Looks at Food (5 comments)

    “How we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used,” wrote Wendell Berry in What Are People For?, his 1990 collection of essays about the individual and community. Berry is one of my heroes: a Christian philosopher-farmer from Kentucky. He’s one-of-a-kind. Sierra Magazine, published by Sierra Club, features a series of articles this month on how the world looks at food. You don’t have to agree with the Sierra Club’s politics and…

  • Is Eating Out Cheaper Than Eating In? (81 comments)

    It’s cheaper to make your own food than it is to dine out. Or is it? Patrik Jonsson, staff writer for The Christian Science Monitor, believes that the tide is beginning to turn — that Americans are opting to eat out because the convenience now significantly outweighs the cost. And even the cost difference is beginning to shrink. By the time he’s driven to the farmers’ market, bought the organic veggies, and spent an hour…

  • Just Say No (to Patronizing Ads) (22 comments)

    Here’s the headline from a circular that came in the mail today. “You need to post this at Get Rich Slowly,” Kris told me. She’s right. It would take me fifteen minutes to reach the nearest Applebee’s. It would cost me several dollars in fuel, not to mention the cost for the meal. For less money and the same time I could fix a fantastic meal of steak and risotto. (Accompanied by a frosty adult…

  • Frugality in Practice: Canning Season (13 comments)

    Kris and I grow a vegetable garden every year, but some summers are more productive than others. This summer has been the most productive that I can recall. We were swimming in berries from the end of May until the end of July. We had so many berries that we eventually gave up. Can you imagine? Not eating fresh berries that sit there, ready to be picked? We didn’t let them all go to waste,…

  • Ten Frugal Cooking Tips That Sizzle (11 comments)

    My wife and I love to eat. We also love to save money. Sometimes it’s difficult to reconcile these competing desires. I’ve written before about learning to eat more meals at home and how to find healthy food on an unhealthy budget. Recently, Bankrate posted an article called 10 Frugal Cooking Tips that Sizzle. Cooking can get expensive if you buy too many kitchen gadgets, make poor grocery choices or panic shop for each night’s…

  • Frugal Recipes: The Best Salsa Ever (15 comments)

    We returned from San Francisco to find a bounty of fresh produce in our garden. What can a fellow do with so many tomatoes? Make fresh salsa, of course. My wife has perfected a recipe she adapted from the Cook’s Illustrated cookbook, The Best Recipe. Here’s the original, followed by her modifications. Fresh Red Table Salsa 3 large very ripe tomatoes (~2#), cored and quartered 1/2 cup tomato juice 1 small jalapeno or other fresh…

  • Cheap Eats Every Day (4 comments)

    Cheap Eats is a weblog devoted to inexpensive food. The site features recipes, reviews, tips and more. Cheap Eats recipes include cost, instructions, and numerical ratings, as well as witty evaluations of the end product. A recent entry described attempts to make homemade Gatorade. The recipe produced two liters of the stuff for only eighteen cents. But how did it taste? I lined up one glass of Homemade Gatorade and Real Orange flavored Gatorade. I…

  • How to Earn a 177% Rate of Return on BOOZE (14 comments)

    I went thrift-store shopping with Kris yesterday. I scored a pile of personal finance books, including a copy of The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need by Andrew Tobias. This is one of my favorite personal finance books. Tobias has a witty, engaging style, and the book is full of down-to-earth tips. Remember how cranky I was about Amelia Tyagi’s advice to not worry about the little things, to only pay attention to the Big…

  • More Things Your Supermarket Won’t Tell You (10 comments)

    The Ten Things Your Supermarket Won’t Tell You story from yesterday has been posted at Digg, where the members have shared some great comments. Here are some of the best. One supermarket employee notes: There’s no privacy risk with loyalty programs. At the store I work at, your address is only used to send you thank-you coupons and crap from us, and your phone number is only used to look up your card in our…

  • 17 Ways to Save Big at the Supermarket (15 comments)

    My wife isn’t one of those women who can buy hundreds of dollars of groceries for $12.93. She is, however, a frugal shopper, and can often trim an $80 bill to a $60 bill. Here are some of her top tips: Don’t shop for groceries if you’re hungry. You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s true. Studies show that folks who shop when they’re hungry buy more. It’s true for me: If I go to…

  • Save More by Eating Less (2 comments)

    Last fall, Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania published a study exploring the relationship between portion size and food consumption. They found that people tend to consume more when given larger portions. From the abstract: People seem to think that a unit of some entity (with certain constraints) is the appropriate and optimal amount. [...] We propose that unit bias explains why small portion sizes are effective in controlling consumption; in some cases, people served…

  • Ten Things Your Supermarket Won’t Tell You (18 comments)

    Howdy, Cracked.com visitors. SmartMoney has altered its URL structure since I posted this more than two years ago. Using the Wayback Machine, I’ve managed to dig up the source article in two parts: part one, part two. Thanks for visiting, and thanks for noting the correction. SmartMoney has a list of ten things your supermarket won’t tell you. Though this was first published five years ago, it’s still informative: “We trick you into paying higher…

  • Survey: How Much Do You Spend on Food? (256 comments)

    What does the average four-person family spend on food in a month? In a year? How much does a two-person household spend on food? How much does your family spend? How much of this is for groceries? How much for dining out? Do you make an effort to control food spending, or do you simply buy what you feel like? Do you use coupons? Do you grow your own food? I’m not so much looking…

  • Frugal Recipes for Miserly Moms (1 comment)

    The Miserly Moms web site offers 87 frugal recipes submitted by the site’s readers. They’re all down-home meals made with cheap ingredients. Here’s a typical recipe: Grandma’s Pot Roast 3-5# beef roast (cheapest cut under $2/lb — watch for sales as low as $1.20/lb) 1 package store brand onion soup mix ($.50) 1 small onion, cut any way you like ($.50) 2 Tbsp. Worstershire sauce 1 can cream of mushroom soup ($.50) Put in a…

  • Tip: Citrus Ice Cubes (4 comments)

    It’s summer in Oregon — warm weather is approaching. A cool, refreshing cocktail is an excellent way to unwind after a hot day’s work. Many cocktails call for a little lime juice or lemon juice. Here’s an easy way to prepare your portions in advance while also saving time and money. Buy lemons (or limes) when they’re on sale. Get them cheap. Squeeze one cup of lemon juice. Pour the juice into an ice cube…

  • The Cheapest Way to Buy Booze (6 comments)

    SmartMoney proclaims it has discovered the cheapest way to buy booze. Stocking up on enough alcohol for a party can cost a small fortune. Your best bet — visit your local warehouse clubs, which regularly offer discounts of 10% to 30%. But what about those hefty membership fees, you ask? Thanks to some little-known state laws, nonmembers can purchase alcohol without paying a membership fee. These laws date back to the 1930s, when Prohibition was…

  • Once-a-Month Cooking: Cooking for the Rushed (12 comments)

    Get Rich Slowly-reader Kevin comments: Eating well on a budget requires some thought. But planning out a whole month of meals, and shopping for that month (you only get two paychecks a month) is the real challenge. Is there a web site with a month long meal plan of healthy meals, in a spreadsheet shopping list, that can be used at most grocery stores? I cannot find any. My brother suggests books might be more…

  • The Hillbilly Housewife (5 comments)

    In response to recent posts on eating cheaply (Healthy Food on an Unhealthy Budget and Learning to Eat More Meals at Home), several readers have pointed to a site called Hillbilly Housewife. The focus here is on low-cost, home-cooking from scratch. The recipes are all tested in a real kitchen with hungry children, stalking cats, begging puppies and a playful husband underfoot. The ingredients are affordable and readily available in most areas. There is a…

  • Organic Produce: Price vs. Ethics (8 comments)

    I was discussing Michael Pollan’s new book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, with some friends over dinner the other night. It was a conversation filled with frugal themes — we had just been talking about our vegetable gardens. “I wanted to borrow the book from the library,” said Rhonda, “but there were 76 holds on eighteen copies. Mike and I bought a community copy instead. We shared the cost with some friends, and we’ll all read it…

  • Healthy Food on an Unhealthy Budget (109 comments)

    An AskMetafilter user wonders: What’s your favorite healthy food that can be bought on a college student budget? I’ve decided that I’m really going to crack down on my poor eating habits. As a college student, I’ve always bought the food that was the most affordable. Unfortunately, this is usually generic-brand pizza, toaster streudels, and whichever soda is on sale. In order to combat this, I’m looking for suggestions for healthy, easy-to-prepare foods that won’t…

  • Super-Sizing Your Meal Costs More Than You Think (4 comments)

    A study from the University of Wisconsin has found that super-sizing your meal takes a hidden toll on your pocketbook, and in more ways that you might expect. [Researchers] found that for the initial 67-cent average cost of upsizing a fast-food meal — and the subsequent 36-gram weight gain — the total cost for increased energy needs, gasoline and medical care would be between $4.06 and $7.72 for men and $3.10 and $4.53 for women,…

  • Learning to Eat More Meals at Home (31 comments)

    Cooking at home is an excellent way to save money. But if you’re accustomed to dining out for most meals, it can be a difficult transition. Fortunately, there’s plenty of help available on the web. The Lazy Person’s Guide to Eating More Meals at Home is a good place to start: If you read personal finance blogs long enough, you’re going to get the idea hammered into you that cooking for yourself rather than eating…

  • Frugality in Practice: The Lunch Special (4 comments)

    While practicing frugal habits, it’s easy to become absorbed in a life of self-denial: “I will not buy this shirt. I will wait for this film to come to DVD. I will not eat at the steak house tonight.” Even so, there’s room to treat yourself once in a while, especially if the treat is cheap! One treat I allow myself is the Lunch Special. I am a regular at Imperial Garden, a local Chinese…