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Freezer with open lid, full of grocery food with a dollar sign on the front.

5 Kitchen Tools That Will Save $6000 #5: Chill Out

This is the final article of a 5 Kitchen Tools series designed to empower you to save thousands of dollars on your food budget.

Over the past 4 weeks we’ve shared how we save with the humble SpoonUla, a set of glass bowls for lunches, a SloCooker and a Meat Slicer. We’ve calculated the annual savings from using these four kitchen tools to be about $4500.

But, hold on to your wallet, we’ve held back the biggest saver for last.

This tool will assuredly pay for itself quickly and truly help you build a stockpile of cold, hard cash.

Chill It Out: A freezer is one of the best money-saving tools a family can invest in.

Why?

Because a freezer allows you to stock up on sale items and enjoy eating steeply discounted food for weeks or months to come. We regularly freeze bread, milk and shredded cheese. But we also stock up on things like turkeys at Thanksgiving, hams at Christmas, corned beef after St. Patrick’s Day and pork ribs over the summer holidays.

Plus, because we have the storage space, we’re constantly watching for marked-down meat prices when grocers have overstocks – recently we bought 60 pounds of chicken legs for $.19 per pound. 

We like non frost-free freezers because they don't dry out food as quickly. Frost-free freezers have a fan that constantly runs to reduce the build-up of frost, but that same fan removes moisture from food that isn't vacuum sealed. Years ago we started with a 9 cubic foot chest-freezer, then graduated to a 17 cubic-foot upright. Now we have a 27 cubic-foot chest freezer.

Buying Used: Freezers can easily be found gently used on CraigsList. Our book, “Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with Americas’ Cheapest Family,” describes our secrets to researching and buying quality used appliances, very inexpensively. In the book, wee also provide a list of the best items to freeze and how to organize a chest freezer for maximum efficiency.

Buying New: You can also pick up inexpensive freezers from Amazon - if you're a Prime member, shipping is free - and that makes it really affordable. Here's a list of Amazon's best selling chest freezers. They aren't that expensive, ranging in price from $199 to about $320. 

Savings: We’ve calculated that our chest freezer saves us at least $2000 a year—not bad for a $400 investment. And this cool little workhorse will keep saving you money year after year, after year.

Adding It Up!

Cost for Five tools:

  • Spoonula . . . . . . .$  10
  • Pyrex Bowls . . . . $  10
  • Slow Cooker . . . . $  20
  • Read More...
thanksgiving turkey candle holder

My First Thanksgiving and I'm on a Budget!

Question: Help! We’ve been married 4 years and this will be the first time I’m hosting Thanksgiving. We’ve got relatives coming from out of town. I’m panicked over the cost!

Answer: We totally get that the thought of preparing a Thanksgiving dinner for a whole family can be overwhelming and expensive. And the emotional toll of hosting parents or in-laws can really add to the stress. Just remember that they've all been where you are — preparing their first Thanksgiving dinner. Hopefully they'll be helpful and encouraging. Sorry we can't be more of an encouragement on the emotional level.

But when it comes to the cost of the meal there's all kinds of good news, so you don't need to panick. Thanksgiving dinner is one of the least expensive meals to prepare because everything is on sale the week before the feast. Frozen turkeys will be around between 60 and 80 cents per pound, so a 20-pound bird will cost between $12 and $16. That is pricy if you were doing a meal for a small family, but if you consider that you should be able to feed at least 15 people with a 20 pound turkey and still have some turkey left over for other meals, it's about $1 per person.

The biggest thing is to start monitoring turkey prices now so you know when they hit rock bottom in your area. We do an annual Turkey price shout out on Facebook - with people sharing info from all around the country. So make sure you visit our fan page and share what you're seeing.

Other items on sale: Keep your eyes open for other bargains too, you'll find great prices on potatoes, yams, cranberry sauce, green beans and all the fixin’s.

This year the grocery stores in our area are once again fighting for market share and dropping prices like crazy. In the past week, we've seen frozen Turkey prices drop from a high of 79 cents a pound all the way down to 59 cents!

When prices drop like this, it's time to fill your freezer with a few inexpensive birds!

Have a great Thanksgiving!!!!

Watch this video to learn how many pounds of turkey you'll need to prepare and what to do with turkey left-overs.

 
And if you want to learn Annette's secret method for quickly defrosting and easy cooking method for a turkey, take a look at this video.
 
Pile of white Christmas gifts with red bows all from grandma

What to do when Grandma wants to give too much!

Question: How have you dealt with extended family giving gifts to your children. A good friend of mine has a struggle with her mother-in-law giving expensive presents to her son. My friend and her husband are on a budget and they want to teach their son that Christmas isn't about presents but about traditions, family, and charity. But this is difficult with a grandmother who wants to indulge their son.

We sense this problem too. We live in a world where children grow up thinking that stuff equals love; and the more stuff, the more you’re loved. We’re all trying to break that cycle with our kids. What do you think?.

Answer: Indulging kids creates a vicious cycle of discontentment. We would suggest that your friend asks her mother-in-law to buy something like a zoo or science museum membership for a year. Explaining that they currently can’t go often because admission fees are costly, and this would provide their son with great learning experiences and create some awesome family memories (grandma could come too!).

Another option would be to ask the mother-in-law to write a personalized gift certificate that offers to pay for music or dance lessons or that cover sports fees for the grandson.

A final idea would be to suggest to the grandparents that the child has plenty of toys already, so if they could buy him something small like a Christmas ornament, or a disappearing gift such as a couple of his favorite snack foods and then a savings bond that would be saved and put toward the his college education, the gift would last much longer.

Working through issues with extended family early-on can set the stage for enjoyable holidays for many years to come.

Hope this leads to a happy, family centered holiday season.

How to cook a turkey - Thanksgiving, economides, america's Cheapest family, Annette, Steve, economides, MoneySmartFamily.com

How to Cook a Turkey - New Video

Over the past 32 years, Annette has cooked more than 120 turkeys. In this new video she shows you her "secret" process to defrost, stuff, sear and cook a delicious roasted turkey every time.

Cooking a turkey isn't an overwhelming task if you follow these steps!

If you'd like the step-by-step written instructions, visit this page in our tips section

How to cook a turkey like a Pro!

turkey defrosting in salt water bath in kitchen sink

carving a turkey

Sliver meat slicer cutting ham lunchmeat costs

5 Kitchen Tools That Will Save $6000 #4: Sliced Savings

This is the fourth article of a 5 Kitchen Tools series that will empower you to save thousands of dollars on your food budget.

What’s at stake? When it comes to feeding a family, there is a lot of money at stake. The average family is spending $200 per person each month on groceries. That means that a family of four will spend nearly $10,000 on food this year!

Maybe you’ve never considered various ways to save on lunch meat, but keep reading, you may be surprised at the options . . . and the potential savings.

Slice It Thin: Keep an open mind on this next tool—a simple and inexpensive meat slicer can save a boodle! The cost is about $30 (although we picked an extra one up at a thrift store for $10). Here’s how it can save you money.

There are 3 ways to buy lunch meat at the grocery store:

o   Deli Counter:  you’ll pay between $7 and $9 per pound while you wait for it to be sliced.

o   Wall Deli: You’ll find Oscar Meyer, Hillshire Farms, Farmer John and others for $5 to $7 per pound. 

o   Chub: But the least expensive way is to pick up a Chub of turkey ham, ham or chicken breast in your grocer’s meat department and pay between $2 to $5 per pound. Take the chub home and put your meat slicer to work. We package our lunchmeat in quart sized freezer zippered bags (1 to 2 pounds per bag).

How using a home meat slicer could save more than $500 on lunch meat.

You can also slice bricks of cheese (usually less expensive than slices) and cooked meat like roast beef or shank ham (see the two videos below).

Savings: If a family uses two pounds of deli-purchased lunchmeat each week (at $8 per pound), it would cost about $800 each year. But if you bought chubs of meat (at $2.50 per pound) and sliced them at home, the cost would be $250 per year and would save you at least $550. Not to shabby for a one-time investment of $30 (about an 1800% return in one year).

Checkout Amazon's Top home meat slicers here: some for as low as $39.99 (gently used) with free shipping!

Watch for next Wednesday’s blog where we’ll talk about a cool and large tool that could save you $2000 in the next 12 months.

Check out the other posts in this series:

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