Sunday, February 10, 2013

Meal Stretcher Monday - Coffee

I know that I could lower my grocery budget by abandoning coffee. I won't do it. I love coffee. I tried to break up with it a couple of times before, but my resolve never stuck. I'm taking this as a sign that we were meant to be together.

A few tips on doing coffee on the cheap:

1) Buy yourself a nice, dishwasher safe, microwavable, travel mug.

This will be your best friend at some point. Mine was a birthday present four years ago today. It's still indestructible. (And pink. I dig pink.)

2) Don't buy prepared coffee. Buy coffee grounds.

Make your coffee at home and fill your travel mug. The markup that places like Dunkin Donuts charges for adding hot water is just stupid.

3) Don't buy cheap coffee. Buy good coffee, but buy it in bulk.

Cheap coffee has no point - other than trying to cure someone of drinking coffee. It's weaker, more acidic, and is far less satisfying. This will lead you to paradoxically drink more, in the foolish hope that it will eventually be worth it.

4) If you can, make cups, not pots.

There are a lot of coffee makers available now that brew a cup at a time - like Keurigs. The problem with brewing the whole pot is that you will either dump what you don't drink, or drink it when you probably could have gotten by without it.

5) Single-use K-cups are pointless. Use them only in the event of an emergency.

There are re-fillable K-cups (mine was sold under the brand name, "My K-Cup"). Use that with the bulk coffee (see #3), and fill your travel mug (see #1) a minute or two before you leave in the morning. It will keep you out of convenience stores and Dunkin Donuts (see #2).

6) Don't buy half-caf. Even if you drink half-caf.

Seriously, there is a markup on that, too. Buy regular and decaf at the same time, then mix them equally in a separate container (I use a Sterilite that I got at Goodwill). That's genuinely all they are doing at the factory.

7) Re-use coffee grounds.

If you are making a whole pot, don't throw away the old grounds. Add a couple of tablespoons of new grounds to the old tomorrow for another pot. The old grounds are weak, but not spent. The new grounds will round them out.

If you are using the Keurig, run the same K-cup twice. I make a big mug each time, so I use the same K-cup twice to fill the mug, then discard later. If using the refillable one, I dump the grounds in my compost bin. The tomato plants will thank me in the summer.

Got any good coffee tips for me? Share them in the comments below! I'll be here sipping until you do.

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