A Caterer's Shopping Tips

by I.R.

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During the summer I work a seasonal job as a professional caterer. Unfortunately, the job is only in the summer and the town I live in has no other uses for a professional caterer. That means money gets really tight in the winter. This winter my hubby is out of work also and can't return to work until he is cleared by a doctor. Since he gets no compensation for the present, my budget abilities have been stretched to the limit.

I found a crash, bent, and dent grocery salvage store in the neighborhood that sells quality food. Not all of them do, but this one is superb.

I have found:

  • Lentil Soup mix in a box with real lentils, spices, etc. all it takes is water and time. Price .65 for enough to make 6 servings.
  • Canned soups usually run around .80
  • Bags of flour are .75-1.50 depending on size.
  • Yeast for bread (with a really no-fail easy no-milk recipe). The last time I went in was 1.00 a 3 pack.
  • fruit runs .65 - .80
  • potatoes (scalloped, mashed, etc) .75
  • tomato sauce .30>

These are just a few of the items that can be found in these kinds of stores. I can feed us (him, me and a dog that is a huge mooch) for less than $30 a week. All of the meals include at least one vegetable, pasta, rice, or potato, bread, and fruit. We do also include meat occasionally but we don't usually because we are almost vegetarians. On weeks where we decide we want meat for $40 we have meat every night.

I am not using much of my catering talents however. Anybody could do it. The essentials are planning our meals based on what we usually know they have, adjusting occasionally if they have something special, and using cookbooks that were published before convenience foods really came into being. I think the last thing helps more than the others. I have cookbooks from the 1930s-60s and most of the recipes can be modified to suit our modern day life. Most people think it took a lot of time. Some things did but even when the women were home all day that didn't mean they wanted to stay in the kitchen. Recipe books from ration days are excellent places to find low egg, milk, and butter recipes.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money please send it to MyStory@stretcher.com

Take the Next Step

  • Once you trim the grocery budget, don't waste that extra money! Consider opening a savings account to start an emergency fund or save for some other financial goal.
  • Continue to look for new ways to trim food costs. Visit our food & groceries section each week to get tips for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.
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