- The homestead method: Buy spices at the Mennonite market, can your own tomatoes, grow your own onions, kill a deer, grind your own meat for a venison chili.
- The bulk cooking option: buy restaurant-size cans of tomatoes and beans, find a commercial butcher who will sell large amounts of ground beef near wholesale, make several batches at once for the freezer.
- The cherry picking principle: watch the sales flyers like a hawk. When groceries advertise canned beans and tomatoes as loss leaders, stock the pantry and wait. When you find three family packs of ground beef reduced for quick sale a month later, make chili and freeze the extra.
- The co-op alternative: be open to other meats, or try crumbled tofu sauteed with spices. Use extra produce from your CSA share. Buy beans from the bulk bins and precook before combining chili ingredients.
- On the run, or when it's too much trouble to cook for one. Buy a Wendy's 99 cent chili and pour over the 99 cent garden salad. Taco salad for half the menu price! (I owe this tip to Maggie at Hillbilly Housewife, who also loves Wendy's on the run.)
How do you make your chili cheaper?