I voraciously read the website www.thefamilyhomestead.com for a while, and tried to adopt lots of her ideas. I make my own laundry detergent now, because of this website. Reading Crystal Miller's site got me looking for other websites and I found www.passionatehomemaking.com, which I then voraciously read. These ladies are so good at being green and frugal. They both live in the Pacific Northwest where, it seems, organic and green items are easy to find and relatively inexpensive. Because of our geographic location and our chosen lifestyle -- i.e. too busy to do most of that stuff -- I've had to leave behind my lofty ambitions of making my own yogurt and bread regularly. That's special occasion stuff, now. However, Crystal from thefamilyhomestead gave one idea that I have really latched on to.
She uses meat as a flavoring to her dishes, not as the star. If you read her recipes, you'll find them heavy on beans, lentils, and whole grains, and light on meat. Now, I'll never get to the point of using meat quite so sparingly on the long term. Our family likes meat too much. Whenever we've been a little tight, I've been able to get in some light-on-the-meat dishes. But I don't think I'd have a happy family if I kept it up.
We have adopted her philosophy in a very minimal way, though, I guess you could say. We buy very lean ground beef once a month. We usually buy around 10 pounds and pay just under $20 (like $19.69 or $19.80). My husband does the lovely job of dividing the meat into ziploc baggies for easy use. Instead of dividing the meat into 10 bags (about 1 lb. each), he purposefully divides it into 11 or 12 bags. So, instead of getting 10 meals out of one meat purchase, I get 11 or 12.
I may never get to the point that I use 1/2 lb. instead of a pound, like the authors of those blogs I read, but we are stretching the meat a bit in a way that doesn't make the family feel like they are doing without.
So, in this post, I guess there are two ideas in one. Try to stretch your ground beef by using less than called for in recipes. You can go the easy route, like me, and get just a little extra out of your purchases. Or, you can cut WAY back and save big time!
By the way, don't tell my husband, but I hope that someday we'll be making 15 baggies of meat from our 20 pounds. If we keep stretching just a little further each time, we'll make it. The evolution of a cheapskate. :)