Beth’s Tips for Shopping on a Lean Budget

Beth’s Tips for Shopping on a Lean Budget

by Beth Rotto,

Co-op Cheese and Bakery Buyer

The headlines are full of talk about recession, government bailouts, failing industry and businesses. Many people are worried about the economy and how it will affect them. They are concerned about making ends meet and about their financial security. How can you begin to take steps to protect and prepare yourself for leaner times? How can you grocery-shop most efficiently and wisely? Let me give you some suggestions on how to use the Co-op to good advantage.

As BAKERY buyer, I suggest:

1. Eat what you buy! Don’t let it go to waste.

2. Freeze the bread you can’t use in a couple of days, then take it out by the slice and pop in the toaster.

3. Use dry bread for croutons. Cube leftover bread and freeze until you have enough to make this recipe. Here’s an easy recipe:


Preheat over to 300 degrees. Cut bread into cubes. Saute in butter for approximately five minutes, stirring (use 2 T. butter for 2 c. bread.) Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. They will keep several days in a covered container.

4. Make dry bread into French toast. This actually works best with bread that is a few of days old.

Beth’s Buttermilk French Toast

For at least 4 slices of bread, mix together:4 eggs1 c. buttermilk1 tsp. vanilla1/4 tsp. cinnamon.Soak bread in mixture for a few seconds. Fry on oiled griddle over medium heat. Can hold in 250 degree oven until all are done.

5. Make bread pudding. Use leftover bread, cornbread, muffins or stale cake.

Toni’s Turtle Bread Pudding

12 c. Rudi’s brand bread, small cubes4 T. butter, divided1 c. chocolate chips1 c. pecan halves4 eggs4 c. milk1 c. heavy cream1 c. brown sugar1 T. vanilla extract1/4 t. kosher salt1 t. ground nutmegFor sauce:1 stick butter1 c. brown sugar1 T. vanilla extract

Butter 9 x 13 pan with 1 T. butter. Place bread cubes in pan and scatter chocolate chips and pecans over top. Cut remaining butter into small pieces and scatter on top.Whisk eggs, milk, cream, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, nutmeg in bowl until completely combined. Gently pour over bread. Let stand 1 hour.Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour until set. Cool 30 minutes.For sauce, melt butter in heavy saucepan. Add sugar and stir. Cook for 3 minutes. Add cream carefully as it may foam up. Add vanilla. Stir and cook 1 minute until thick.Pour over bread pudding and let stand 15 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve.

6. Make crostini from leftover French bread.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice bread 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Arrange on baking sheet. Brush with olive oil. Bake until toasted. Remove from the oven and rub with a fresh garlic clove. These are also good sprinked with grated Parmesan-style cheese

As CHEESE buyer, I suggest:

1. Look at the price per pound printed on each piece of cheese. Our cheese case has something for everyone, including some wonderful low-priced cheese and some expensive imports and artisan cheeses. Price per pound will help you compare.

2. Use cheese as a good protein source. Recipes like grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, quesadillas, and quiche can be made inexpensively.

Easy Quesadillas

Cover 1/2 of a flour tortillas with your favorite cheese, shredded. Try Monterey jack, smoked cheddar, colby, gouda, etc., or combine cheeses. Fold in half to cover cheese with tortilla. Place on a medium hot griddle. Flip when bottom is golden brown and heat on the other side. You can also stick in some drained diced chili peppers, or some sauteed mushrooms, onions or peppers. Serve with salsa and sour cream or plain yogurt, if you like.

3. Again, use what you buy!

4. Hard cheese can be frozen. Texture will change somewhat, so it’s best to cook with cheese that has been frozen. Allow frozen cheese to thaw for several hours in the refrigerator.

5. Freeze grated Parmesan in a tightly closed jar. It can go straight on the table for sprinkling on pasta, etc.

As a long time Co-op member, I offer these suggestions:

1. Shop in the bulk food section for grains, beans, flour and herb/spices. If you have the time, learn to make things from scratch. It’s easy to find free recipes on the internet, at the public library and there are often free recipes to pick up in the Co-op.

2. Use meat with grains and vegetables, as in stir-fry. Try protein sources like tempeh and tofu.

3. Make hearty soups with root vegetables.

4. Make your own coffee or tea at home, fill a thermos and take it with you.

5. Put leftovers into covered containers that can be taken in lunch boxes the next day.

6. Look for specials and for products reduced for quick sale. Use coupons. Shop on Student Tuesday, Wellness Wednesday and Thrifty Thursday.

7. Eat healthy!

8. Treat yourself sometimes, too!

It’s a time of change, and a time of hope! We are so fortunate to have our Co-op! Thanks for your participation! Wishing you the best!