The Frugal Catholic: “Cutting Back on Your Food Costs–Part 3–Save and Support” by Martha Wild King–September 11, 2011

In part 1 of “Cutting Back on Your Food Costs,” we discussed the first two SOS principles–SOS: Set Our Spending.  That is accomplished by using the USDA’s Weekly Costs of Food at Home found at       Those figures will help you determine the four various costs of food at home and what you want to spend.  We also discussed the second SOS principle–SOS: Salvage Old Stuff–where you take stock of your pantry and freezer inventory and use what you have.

In part 2 of “Cutting Back on Your Food Costs,” we looked at two more SOS philosophies.  The third, SOS: Stop Over Spending, showed us the need to make a menu and focus on using real foods (preferably organic).  And the fourth SOS, SOS: Stay Out of Stores, verified that the more we go in–the more we spend.  In Financial Peace, author Dave Ramsey states, “Studies have shown that the typical grocery purchase almost doubles when the shopper uses plastic.”  So our goal is to use CASH and CALCULATOR and a LIST.

Now in part 3, we will look at two more SOS concepts, the fifth,SOS: Safeguard Our Savings and the sixth, SOS: Support Others Spiritually.

Americans save around 4% of their earnings compared to the Japanese who save approximately 18%.  So it is important to make ourselves save any way we can.  To SOS:Safeguard Our Savings, remove 10% of your food money and put it into a “cash jar.”  If you can’t keep your sticky fingers out of your own cash jar, then deposit that money into a savings account.  Also to SOS:Safeguard Our Savings, our family doesn’t eat out: we just cook in larger quantities and freeze leftovers for later, and we drink cheap wine such as Franzia boxed wine or Two Buck Chuck a.k.a. Charles Shaw from Trader Joe’s.

To SOS:Support Others Spiritually with your food money is an insurance policy that your food dollar will miraculously stretch. This is one of those “mysteries of the faith,” and I have witnessed it several times when an extra $20 was suddenly in my cash wallet with no idea of how it got there.  In addition to that 10% you removed from your food monies to save, also remove this 10% to give away.  (This, of course, is in addition to your regular tithing given to your church.)  I change my food money tithing into small bills and keep them in a Rosary pouch in my wallet.  It makes me feel wealthy to have money to hand to a poor person or put it in the collection basket.

Other ways to SOS: Support Others Spiritually are to give away some of those double portions you made and froze.  Banana bread is a good one to make in mass quantities and pass on. (I make it from those frozen black bananas thrown into the freezer, peel and all.  See recipe below.) Or remember you can take a can of food each time you go to mass and add it to the Food Bank Box in your church.  By SOS: Supporting Others Spiritually, it follows the passage in 2 Kings:4 where God used Elisha to multiply the widow’s oil so she could sell it, pay off her debt, and keep her two children from becoming slaves.  God can and will multiply our efforts for him no matter how large or small they are.


Extra Moist Yogurt Bread

I often make this yummy bread in mini loaf pans so I can give it away as gifts.  Use those dead bananas in your freezer.

2 large ripe bananas or 3 small ripe ones (the blacker the better)

1/4 cup applesauce (or if you don’t count calories use 1/4 cup melted butter)

1 egg

1/4 cup yogurt

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mash up the bananas with beaters in a mixing bowl. Melt the butter and add.  Then add egg, yogurt, and brown sugar to the mashed banana and mix.  Next blend in the flour, soda, and salt into this batter then add walnuts and stir well.  Pour the mixture into a greased loaf pan and bake 60 minutes or until done.  Remove from the pan when cool.  Freezes well.


My 97 year old mother used to demonstrate SOS: Support Others Spiritually when she would take a full pot roast dinner to people who were ill or grieving.

The Frugal Catholic: “Cutting Back on Your Food Costs–Part 2–How to Shop” by Martha Wild King–July 31, 2011

Last time we discussed “How to Start Cutting Back on Your Food Costs” using the USDA Cost of Food at Home and salvaging what food you have found at     This week we will consider “How to Shop” by applying two more SOS Principles: SOS: STOP OVER- SPENDING  and SOS: STAY OUT-of STORES.

The third principle,SOS: STOP OVER-SPENDING,  means sticking to your food budget.  That, however, is sometimes daunting for cookies often jump into our grocery baskets, and we feel like captives in the food chain.  But as frugal Catholics, we have the power of The Holy Spirit shopping with us use God’s resources.  Employ these four tricks to SOS: STOP OVER-SPENDING:

  • Use a calendar to record a monthly or bi-monthly menu
  • Eat the same dinner two nights in a row and follow a pattern.  Our pattern is Steak on Sunday; Monday and Tuesday, beef; Wednesday and Thursday, chicken or pork; and Friday and Saturday, meatless.
  • Create a master list of family favorites.  This idea came from reading how Ethel Kennedy fed her large family the same thing every month. I took that idea an wrote down everyone’s favorites then created a three-month rotational list with recipe/ingredient cards attached for easy planning.  We have Month 1, Month 2, and Month 3.  When Month 3 is up, we start with Month 1 again.
  • “Three Month Family Favorite Meal Planner”
    A recipe/ingredient card behind “Three Month Family Favorites”
  • Constantly keep an eye on what is in the pantry and freezer.  Sometimes when things begin to wilt, I will create Freezer Bowl Soup or The Frugal Catholic Casserole from October 3, 2010.
  • On  pondering what you need, think on what He has given us to eat and consume most of your food in that state.  For example, God didn’t prepackage The Garden of Eden: those were fresh foods in their natural condition.  Genesis 1:29 expounds, (RSV) “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.’ ”  Thus, to use coupons only gives me chemical food concoctions which MUST be kept to a minimum.  We need to focus on the outside aisles of the grocery stores where the real foods reside instead of the inside aisles which contain processed chemicals.

    When you apply that fourth SOS principle–SOS:STAY OUT OF STORES–it is really that simple.  Shop every two weeks and keep a running list of what   you need next to the refrigerator or in your kitchen.  Have a recipe that calls for an absent ingredient?  Well then, substitute, but SOS:STAY OUT OF STORES.  The more often you go into a grocery store, the more you spend.  When you do shop for your twice a month excursion, use CASH and CALCULATOR.  In actuality, I also look at my grocery list before I shop and apply Front End Estimation.  That is where I will estimate and record a cost figure to the article.  Here is an example from my list.

    $6–organic potatoes    $20–beef       $10–2 cartons organic eggs

    $5–organic 2% milk

    So before stepping into a store, I have added up my figures and have a ball-park estimate of how much I’ll spend.  Then I still shop with CASH and CALCULATOR.  It has been statistically proven that shopping with cash and calculator equals less expense.

    Let us SOS: STOP OVER-SPENDING and SOS: STAY OUT of STORES so we can accomplish His work.  John 4:34 (RSV) states, “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.’ “And likewise, let us eat of what lasts.  John 6:35 (RSV) confirms, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.’ ”

    Next week–Part 3– More SOS Shopping Principles