Saturday, January 12, 2013

5 Ways to Eat like the Earl of Granthom on Mr. Carson’s budget (that’sDownton Abbey talk for how to eat like a King on the budget of a butler)

I hope you all watched Season 3 premier - it was AWESOME!!!

Well, I have always had champagne tastes and a Budweiser budget, as they say. So to meet both those needs, we have a family motto that goes back about three generations, “We don’t pay retail in this house!” I also take this to work with me, which most employers appreciate. So here are 5 tips on getting a great kitchen and meal for a price we all can afford!

1. Cookware & Kitchen Tools: I have found great name brand finds for less at TJMaxx, Marshalls, Big Lots, Tuesday Morning and Salvation Army – where I found a Williams Sonoma garlic roaster for $2! These places are great to find those fancy kitchen gadgets you see on Food Network or in cookbooks that usually you have to get at Williams Sonoma for a fortune! But if you have a couple of the discount stores near you, that I mentioned and you can go once a week – please do. I have found a potato ricer for $12 and they are $30 retail – even on Amazon! They have Le Crusette cast iron enamel cookware for under $90 where at the retail store they are over $150 for the same one. I have even seen AllClad pans for under $100 that go for more than $300 EACH at Williams Sonoma. The day to go? Thursday afternoon or on a Friday because in chatting with one of the managers one day while I was there they told me they get their shipments in on Thursdays. If you can go on your lunch hour or better yet when they open on a Friday for the best pickins. (It may be different if you’re in another part of the country but just chat up the manager at your local store and they will be happy to tell you.)

2. Kitchen Gadgets: You can get cheap stuff anywhere but cheap is cheap…Iif you want the good ones – Kitchen Aid, Cuisinart, etc – at a good price - Shop discount! Again TJMaxx, HomeGoods, Marshalls & Tuesday Morning– I have seen Kitchen Aid Mixers for under $150. They’ve had Cuisinart coffee makers – the fancy ones – for under $100. So you can outfit your kitchen with high end items that last a super long time for a fraction of the retail cost. Again, shop on a Friday morning if you can or lunch or after work for best selection.

3. Kitchen Linens – From dish towels to table cloths, again I recommend the places above. However, during January when you see signs for the White Sale or Linen sales at Macy’s, Bloomies or yes even my favorite store to window shop at, Williams Sonoma, that doesn’t just mean sheets and quilts. It also means KITCHEN STUFF! Sometimes you can find better deals on these clearance sales. So make time during the sales in January to check out things you may have been visiting in case they’ve been marked down. You never know.

4. Cookbooks – Now I love me some cookbooks! I know this is probably obvious. They do tend to be expensive so here are some ideas to help. I love the internet – so when I am in the mood for a new recipe I just surf and it’s FREE! Plus if you sign up on several of the recipe websites they will send you weekly emails with ideas – again FREE. I do also love the touch and feel of a real book though and I will tell you that I have found bargains on cookbooks at yard sales, Tuesday Morning and used book shops. Another way is to make your own. At Costco for about $12 (which is about what you’d pay for a plan old white one with no dividers at an office supply store) I found a 3-ring binder with cookbook like dividers and other things us home chefs use to squirrel away that awesome recipe find – but it’s all in one book. They have all different styles and you can fill it with all your favorite recipes finds from magazines, family recipes, or ones you have formulated yourself. This book will be priceless, a family heirloom to pass down and all you would have spent out of pocket is about $12!

5. Groceries – this was a tough one because I am not a super couponer. I don’t have the time, but I do like to save money. I have found that Aldi, if you have one near you, and Trader Joes are great for pantry items – canned goods, paper goods & wraps, specialty items and some great healthy things too. Aldi has also started carrying organic, gluten free and dairy free items within the last month or so. YIPPEE FOR ME! Trader Joes, which is owned by Aldi, is also a great resource for healthy non-GMO, organic, gluten, dairy and soy free items at a reasonable price. As far as veggies go – I try to buy as much as I can when things are in season at a local Farmer’s Market and then freeze them so I can have fresh and cost effective healthy veggies for dinner and fruit for smoothies. When it comes to meat though – I don’t skimp. So, that can be pricey but there are ways to save. I usually get my grass fed organic beef and organic ground turkey at Costco – they also have a great selection of non-GMO and organic pantry items at reasonable prices if you have the room for bulk purchasing. Then I check the circular for Whole Foods and see what is on sale in their meat department and stock up. Tip – if you are going to Aldi – go on a Wednesday! That is when they get all their weekly specials in as well as fresh veggies and fruits for the winter months. You can sign up for their weekly email blast to see if anything floats your boat on their weekly special items – then get on over there on your lunch break or after work on Wednesday to get the pick of the day! You may have to shop around for healthy non-processed items BUT it is doable.

There will always be things that you have to pay full price for because you need them but there are ways to save 90% of the time. Happy bargain hunting my little maters!

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