Welcome to the Red Kitchen!
If you’re like me, you’ve tried shopping discount, no-frills, bag-it yourself grocery stores (think ALDI or Save-A-Lot) before in hopes of saving money, but have found that you still wind up having to go to your regular (and usually higher-priced) supermarket to find items not carried by the smaller discount chains. With this frustrating scenario in mind, I started this website as a mission for myself, and if anyone else benefits from it, all the better! My purpose is simple–to experiment with recipes using only ingredients found at the cheapie chains. More and more Americans are living on a tight household budget these days, mine included. If I can trim just a few dollars a week off my family’s food budget and save myself the hassle of shopping several stores just to make dinner, I’ll consider my new mission a success!
You’ll notice that unlike some other websites boasting cheap recipes, I don’t put a dollar-amount price tag on each meal. This is for several reasons:
1.) Prices date the recipe. These should always be recipes made out of reasonably cheap and readily available, simple items, so I don’t feel the need to date it with what I paid this exact week in my exact zip code for such-and-such exact ingredients. Plus, I’d spend more time poring over my receipts and calculator, leaving less time to come up with more recipes and posts for my readers. If I get a pretty good deal on something in particular, or if I am using an ingredient readers may not be familiar with, I’ll often post what I paid for that item just as a good heads-up, but other than that, you’re on your own to shop smart.
Just click on my printable recipes links to see an up-front listing of ingredients for any of my creations, and you should be able to judge about what you’re going to be out for this meal. Inflation will always happen, and I prefer to have something more tangible and enduring than a price tag to count on for the long haul. These recipes will always stay in the “wise decisions” column, and I leave it at that.
2.) It’s all about scruples. I shop in season, sales, and stores where you never know what you will get from one time to another, or what will be ripe and what will be on clearance. This is why I try to keep the ingredients simple and often post alternative ingredients, so you can count on being able to find something to get the job done without driving all over town or paying for a name brand.
There are plenty of other shopping tips I can share (maybe I need to make that its own page? Hmmm.) to help spread the grocery buck even further, but as long as you’re flexible and pay attention to good deals, you should be saving some dough right off the bat.
Also, keep in mind that even the same chain stores have different products in towns next to each other, and while I try to do a good job of canvassing the market and rotating which discount store I shop from week to week, it’s generally a good idea to make your grocery list with ingredients for a whole extra recipe or two, so if you are unable to find an ingredient for one meal, you can easily swap out that list with another recipe and not sweat it going to another store right away. Just keep your eyes open for that item next time you’re out somewhere else. 🙂 Your grocery savings will only be as noticeable as your menu is flexible!
3.) What’s getting left out of the price tag? I don’t agree with the methods used on a lot of these “Meals for less than $__ dollars!” sites for a couple of reasons. For one thing, how do you put a price on the pantry staples you’re using? Are they counting that teaspoon of cornstarch? If you don’t have it in your cabinet, you can’t buy it by the teaspoon–you have to buy the whole box. Is that expense factored in? Nope. A lot of times these price tags on recipes seem a bit shady to me.
Also, I hate getting a new cookbook home only to discover that most of the recipes in it call for a teaspoon of this and a dash of that when it’s all ingredients you have to purchase in a big bottle or box. If it’s not a basic pantry staple and I’m buying it specially for this recipe, I don’t want to pay for a whole big container of something I’m only going to use a teaspoon of every once in a while. My cupboard space is minimal at best, so the recipes you find on my site will generally call for all or most of something if it’s not a pantry staple, or else have freezing/leftovers tips to accompany them.
And that’s how I roll.
Please, please contact me with ideas, suggestions and questions regarding these pages and recipes. We’re all navigating this red economy together, so we ought to work together! I look forward to hearing from you as I toil away in my little red kitchen!
Thanks, and happy cooking!