In Texas, we have now entered summer cooking season. I don't know about you, but I tend to eat differently at different times of the year. In Texas, it's summer, officially or not. This can present challenges, in terms of cooking, eating, and keeping the food budget down.
In theory, I could still use my oven and I do so about once a week. However, I'm really trying to keep my air conditioning bills down, and generally keep my home at around eighty. This is not uncomfortable to me, I dislike cold weather. It does mean that I am loath to heat up the house too often. I generally bake once a week, use my crock pot on rare occasions and otherwise stick to the grill and the stove top. My grill is my friend. I even bought an el cheapo gas grill at a yard sale. I've always been a charcoal girl, but I have to admit charcoal is a time factor issue for those occasions when I want to eat now. So, I'm willing to try gas and look at saving for a dual grill in the future.
On the one hand, it can be more frugal because I eat more simply in the summer, and I cook less often (and I live in an area where local fresh produce abounds for half the year). I'm most likely to grill a whole pile of breasts (par cooking some), and putting them in the fridge or freezer. I them put them in salads, reheat with black beans and salsa-and I do the same with steak and other meats. I also alternate with simple soups and sandwiches, omelets with fruit and muffins (from my baking day) and even on occasion ready made ravioli from the deli section. Sometimes, the difference is not that huge.
Obviously, the financial downside of this kind of eating is that the kinds of meats and fish necessary for quick stove top cooking and grilling are generally more costly than the stew meats and pot roast and chili I throw in the slow cooker in January. Boneless chicken breasts, shrimp and lean meats are now a larger part of my one person budget. This means that I'm doing even more "extreme" couponing and buying in bulk as much as my small side by side freezer will take (I'm still looking for that small apartment sized freezer replacement). I'm hitting the farmers market every Saturday (not always exactly cheaper, but considering the quality, a much better deal). I've also explored Aldi, and on those rare occasions when I am near a store, Walmart or Target.
The end result is that so far, my food budget has been lower in the month of May. Whether this will continue to hold true during the summer, who knows. For know though, I'm piling on the grilled fish and meats and homemade salads and managing to do so frugally.
Oh, and let's not forget the occasional pint of salted caramel butter pecan ice cream from Safeway, which is to die for). I just need to remember that it and my quilting room are not a match made in heaven.