Two years ago, Erin Chase was desperate to find new ways to save money. She had already cut the utility bills to the bare minimum, and done everything else she could think of to save money. When there was still not enough to go around, she eyed her grocery bill and set to work.
As Erin researched how to create budget dinners using the lowest-priced foods, she blogged about her experiences on her family website. Eventually she went on to use the information to build her own website, 5dollardinners.com. There she explained how to use the cheapest foods available, including store brands and bulk purchases. Used wisely, these bargain buys can make affordable family dinners.
A Discount Shopper’s Blog
On the blog, Chase posts every shopping expedition she makes, along with the special tips and tricks that help her. She offers recipes, strategies, coupons, tutorials and other helpful information for her readers. Some of Chase’s recipes include $5 Tacos, Almost Cobb Salad, Broccoli Tuna Casserole and Maple Roasted Butternut Squash. All of her recipes can be made for $5 or less.
The printable coupons on Erin’s website come from coupons.com, a site that offers regular coupon deals on name brand products. When coupons are combined with sale items, the savings can be dramatic. On Erin’s shopping expedition, she was able to combine a coupon and sale to pay 30 cents for a bag of frozen vegetables.
Tips and Tricks for $5 Dinners
One of Erin’s tricks is to minimize buying products for convenience. She often makes her own bread, buns and rolls because the cost is about half the price of store bought bakery items. She also strategically plans her meals. By using leftovers creatively, she can get two meals from one purchase.
Another way Chase saves money is to scour the Internet for store sales and coupons. Erin estimates that coupons alone can save a family $100 per month. Add to that a shopping list of on-sale items, plus avoiding temptations and convenience foods, a family could save another $150 every month. Over a year, a family with a $500 monthly food budget would cut the cost of dinner in half.
Erin can go on a shopping expedition, armed with coupons and flyers, and purchase a list of healthy foods for rock bottom prices. One on recent trip, she bought broccoli, cantaloupe, bananas, chicken breast, ground chuck, frozen vegetables and many other goods for just $20.76. She planned on spending $25 on her trip and managed to get groceries for a week worth of dinners even cheaper.
Eating Healthy Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive
Chase doesn’t use shortcuts to make affordable dinners either. She uses fresh vegetables and other healthy foods. All of her meals are made from scratch. In fact, Erin’s success began with that premise. In an email to Rachel Ray show, Chase disagreed with a comment Rachel made about how expensive it is to eat healthy. Erin was subsequently invited onto the show to explain how eating healthy could be affordable, and things took off from there.
Out of her research, testing, trials and tribulations grew a wealth of information about saving money on groceries. After two years, this married mother of three gathered all the things she learned, the new recipes she had created, and some of the content from her blog to create "The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook."
How Saving Money Made Erin Chase Money
Erin now makes money from her own frugality. Here website brings in 25,000 hits a day and has attracted big advertisers like AT&T, Lay’s and Kraft Foods. And with the publishing of her book in December, she now gets a cut of 100,000 published editions of her book, retailing at $14.99 a copy for 320 pages of advice and recipes. Even before the book was published, Erin was featured on Rachel Ray and Oprah Radio in 2009.
Erin is still a stay-at-home mom, but a much busier one. She travels the country for book signings and special appearances while working on a follow up effort. Still, success has not changed her outlook on saving money. She still relies on the money-saving methods outlined in her book when making dinner.