Cooking with Alison

Posts Tagged ‘Mind Your Cents’

Grocery Budget Challenge – How to Shop in Bulk and Actually Save Money

In Grocery Budget Challenge, Mind Your Cents on October 11, 2016 at am

This article is part of the Grocery Budget Challenge series. See the Introduction here.

A great way to save money on groceries is to buy in bulk. Typically, larger quantities sold as a single item have a lower per unit price. For example, a 6 pack of tissue boxes will likely cost less per box than a box of tissues sold separately by the same brand. Similarly, grocery stores will price larger packages of fresh meat at a lower price per weight than smaller packages of the exact same meat. That means that you get a better deal and save money over the long term by buying more in one shot. For this reason, purchasing a tub of yogurt is more economical (and environmentally-friendly) than purchasing individual portion-sized yogurt cups.

However, if you’re not careful, you could easily end up going over budget or wasting money and food. I’ve had to learn this lesson the hard way and multiple times. I didn’t want to give up on shopping in bulk altogether and I certainly wasn’t willing to give up my Costco membership, so I created some rules for myself. (See my No-Buy List here, for some general grocery shopping rules.)

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Grocery Budget Challenge – Where to Buy Food to Save Money

In Grocery Budget Challenge, Mind Your Cents on August 31, 2016 at am

This article is part of the Grocery Budget Challenge series. See the Introduction here.

One strategy to saving money on groceries is to be strategic with where you purchase them. Here is what has worked for me.

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Always Pay Attention When a Cashier Scans Your Items

In Grocery Budget Challenge, Mind Your Cents on August 12, 2016 at am

In all stores, items are regularly mispriced, scanners have reading errors, discount codes fail to apply properly, and cashiers make human errors. In rare cases, some businesses intentionally try to overcharge you for services or goods. So, I always pay very close attention to the prices that ring up when a cashier scans my items, especially when they need to apply coupons or discount codes. The same goes for restaurant checks. Also, don’t forget to see if a tip has already been added to your bill.

You’d be surprised by how often people get overcharged without noticing. I’m speaking from personal experience as well as previous retail experience. I felt compelled to remind everyone to be careful, because I recently experienced very poor customer service. I would have been ripped off had I not been paying attention and had I not known the store’s policies.

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Grocery Budget Challenge – Healthier, Money-Saving Swaps

In Grocery Budget Challenge, Mind Your Cents on August 6, 2016 at am

This article is part of the Grocery Budget Challenge series. See the Introduction here.

Saving money on your groceries can be really easy. For example, making a few simple changes to the items in your grocery cart can save you money and improve your health. Here are some of the best swaps that you can make.

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Grocery Budget Challenge – Preferred Credit Card

In Grocery Budget Challenge, Mind Your Cents, Reviews on July 20, 2016 at pm

This article is part of the Grocery Budget Challenge series. See the Introduction here.

Choosing the right credit card can help you save money on groceries (and other things). I use the Tangerine Mastercard, because it has no annual fee, it pays 2% cash back on up to 3 spending categories of your choice, and it pays 1% cash back on all other purchases. I chose groceries as one of my money-back categories. See below for more information.

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Grocery Budget Challenge – The No-Buy List

In Grocery Budget Challenge, Mind Your Cents on June 28, 2016 at am

This article is part of the Grocery Budget Challenge series. See the Introduction here.

A great way to eat better and save money is to avoid buying the items on this no-buy list. I use this list to help resist temptations when I’m in the grocery store, especially when I see great deals on tasty but unhealthy foods. No matter how cheap something is, consider it a complete waste of your money if it’s bad for your health. (Keep your eyes open for my upcoming post, How to Shop in Bulk and Actually Save Money, for the buying rules that I created specifically for bulk shopping.)

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Versatile Ingredients – Introduction and Staples

In Grocery Budget Challenge, How-To, Mind Your Cents, Versatile Ingredients on June 21, 2016 at am

This is the first post in the series, Versatile Ingredients.

I’ve been working on using up old ingredients in my pantry. To do this efficiently, I choose a single ingredient and give myself up to one month to use all of it. In order to make this challenge enjoyable (i.e. not having to eat the same dish every day), I’ve been experimenting with new ways to use familiar ingredients. I’ve learned so much and discovered so many new favourite recipes that I decided to start a new series, Versatile Ingredients. Each post will feature a different ingredient. To start, I’ve shared my versatile grocery staples below. See also, creative uses for avocados here.

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Favourite Apps and Websites for Saving Money on Groceries

In Grocery Budget Challenge, Mind Your Cents on June 7, 2016 at am

This article falls under the Mind Your Cents column and is part of the Grocery Budget Challenge series. See the introduction here.

Technology plays a huge role in how I get my best deals on groceries, toiletries, and cleaning supplies. It’s ideal if you have a smartphone or a tablet, but a lot of these recommendations can be used with a desktop or laptop computer as well. If you’d like to see tips for getting the best deals on kitchen stuff (and everything else), see here.

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How to Get the Best Deals on Kitchen Stuff (and Everything Else) – Part 3 of 3

In Mind Your Cents on April 18, 2016 at pm

How to Get the Best Deals on Kitchen Stuff

As long as you’re patient (and I mean really patient) and vigilant, you’ll be able to save a lot of money on small appliances, dishes, and kitchen gadgets (and everything else, really). I’ve broken down this article into what has worked for me based on three main strategies: 1. When to shop, 2. Where to shop, and 3. How to shop. See here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.

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How to Get the Best Deals on Kitchen Stuff (and Everything Else) – Part 2 of 3

In Mind Your Cents on April 18, 2016 at pm

How to Get the Best Deals on Kitchen Stuff

As long as you’re patient (and I mean really patient) and vigilant, you’ll be able to save a lot of money on small appliances, dishes, and kitchen gadgets (and everything else, really). I’ve broken down this article into what has worked for me based on three main strategies: 1. When to shop, 2. Where to shop, and 3. How to shop. See here for Part 1 and here for Part 3.

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How to Get the Best Deals on Kitchen Stuff (and Everything Else) – Part 1 of 3

In Mind Your Cents on April 14, 2016 at am

This is the first article in the new, Mind Your Cents series – a column dedicated to helping you save money!

I do a lot of cooking and entertaining, so it probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that I am regularly shopping for small appliances, serving and entertaining ware, and cooking tools. But you know what I love way more than kitchen stuff? Great deals! So here’s how I found the best deals on my favourite household and kitchen items. Note that the strategies apply to all sorts of other products, too. I’d love to hear about how you search for great deals!

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Creative Uses for Avocado and Tips for Making Them Even More Delicious

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Sides and Sauces on July 6, 2014 at am

I love avocados and often eat them straight out of the peel with a spoon.  Here are a few creative ways to use avocados and some tips for making them taste even better (other than just adding them to everything and anything you can think of):

  1. Be sure to try warming up your avocado (peel and pit removed) in the microwave.  I love warm avocados, especially in a sandwich, pita, or wrap.  I’ve also seen recipes where people bake avocado halves in the shell.
  2. Have you ever tasted avocado tempura (Japanese deep fried avocado)?  It’s delicious – probably in part because of the warming effect.  You could easily deep fry slices of avocado at home, by either using a tempura batter or an egg wash followed by a coating of panko crumbs.
  3. I used to eat avocados plain until my friend Aurelie told me that in France, a lot of people eat their avocados with a dollop of Dijon mustard.  I’m so glad that she told me that, because I’ve been doing it ever since.  My preferred brand of Dijon mustard is Maille.
  4. I’ve also discovered that I like eating avocados with a light drizzle of honey.  But, oddly, I don’t like the taste of honey mustard on avocados.
  5. Try using half of an avocado, still in the shell, as a carbohydrate substitute and bowl for your favourite tuna, crab, chicken, or ham salad.  See a tuna salad recipe here.  You could even place a fried egg in the avocado half.  I’ve also seen recipes where people bake avocado halves in the shell (pit removed) with eggs or cheese, etc.
  6. Use avocado to make a delicious and healthy mayonnaise substitute.
  7. Make smoothies or other types of drinks using avocados.  Don’t forget alcoholic drinks like avocado margaritas.
  8. I’ve even seen recipes for avocado soup.  Let me know if you’ve tried this and what you thought of it.
  9. Make an avocado frosting for your baked goods.  These are often vegan friendly.  The natural green colour is great for St Patrick’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas themed parties.
  10. Avocado can be used as a fat substitute in vegan baking.  John and I plan to try making black bean and avocado brownies.  If they’re really good, I’ll share the recipe.
  11. Lastly, I’ve put avocado popsicles on my list of things to try.

Just to be thorough, here are some of the ways that I use avocados in every day cooking:  in all sorts of salads, in sandwiches, as burger toppings, in wraps, in pitas, in tacos, in quesadillas, in sushi (maki rolls or hand rolls), in guacamole (see recipe here), in salsa with exotic fruits atop fish, in breakfast or egg dishes, as toppings or garnish for some soups, in fish tartare or ceviche (see recipes here), in appetizers served in wonton cups (see recipe here), etc., etc.  Let me know how you like to use avocados!

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