Grocery shopping can be such a pain in the butt sometimes. Most of us are unsure where to shop, how to shop, and just search for the cheapest deals. Here’s my input on grocery shopping: it’s like waiting in line at McDonald’s. You order what you want, then they ship you off. We’re like walking, talking robots. We eat what the FDA wants us to eat because it’s easily accessible.
We live such busy lives anymore and are always looking for an easy way out. With conventional farming on the rise and GROWING, our shelves are stocked with so much processed foods, it’s no wonder diseases and cancers are as high as ever! When comparing the price to organic foods, it’s easier to choose a bag of apples that are just $1.99 as opposed to the $3.99 organic apples. What most DON’T know is that non-organic apples have the highest content of pesticides, woah, scarey! Ok, enough of the scarey truth, and more on how you can eat healthy on a budget!
Setting a Budget
Our household encases two small girls, two very hungry active adults, and a few furry buddies. We eat about 21 meals a week, plus snacks, which averages about $5/meal (or $125/week). Sure, that may seem a lot, but most of the time, we don’t go near the total. It’s best to set a realistic budget. If you set it too small, then you’ll go over the budget fairly often and this can get you into trouble. So brainstorm how much you eat daily, and figure in a good number that suits your family. Another idea is to shop near your house and just use cash instead of credit or debit. This is so you know how much you have to spend so you don’t go over your budget.
We love berries!!! However, they are not always in season. It’s cheaper and BETTER to get your fruits and veggie in season from your local farmer’s market. When blueberries are in season, we stock up and freeze the abundance so we can enjoy the berries almost year ’round. You will be surprised at how many fruits and veggies are in season at the Farmer’s Market. Some of the items offered during winter may be items you’ve never tried before. And it’s always fun to try something new! So save your dough and stock up on items that are in season!
Make Use of What You Got on Hand
Stock a ‘smart’ pantry. Staples include a different variety of beans and lentils; quick cooking grains, for example, quinoa, couscous, purple barely, and bulgur; brown and black rice; and of course some BPA free canned goods, for example, black beans, chickpeas, and tomatoes. Over the time, your pantry will build up if you keep your eyes peeled for good deals. Our shelves are exploding with an assortment of beans, and we were able to save up on an abundance of other staples that we had to pack down in the garage (we ran out of room!)! And example of a low cost, out-of-your-pantry meal: black beans spiced with ginger, cumin, and garlic, green onions, tomatoes, and fresh kale pieces served on top of Ezekiel sprouted tortillas.
Ingredient Based Cooking
For most of us, we find a really good recipe, then we decide to head on out to the store to solely BUY just the items listed on the recipe. This can be costly. When purchasing just the spice, it can cost you anywhere from $3 – $10. Will you ever use that spice again? And that is just one ingredient from your recipe. Ah! Here’s an idea, use what you have. If you find a recipe that sounds appealing, find the ingredients that you already have in your house. If you are missing a few, then sub the ingredients with something that you have in stock. This is fun, because now, you are the chef. You are making up your own recipe!
Also, PRE-PLAN your meals. Sit down with your wife or husband and brainstorm an assortment of meals for the week. This will save you a lot of time so your not running around throwing items out of your cupboards trying to figure out what to make! Pre-cut your first few meals, for example, dice your veggies. You can sort them into containers so all you have to do is pop them out and cook them. If you have a crockpot, put it to good use. All you have to do is throw it into the pot, turn it on, and your dinner will be ready by the time you get home 🙂
Oh you Oklahoma people LOVE your meat! I about barfed when I saw the meat portions at the restaurants! Yuck! I’m not a big meat eater, but when we do purchase meat, it does need to be organic, free range, wild caught and all from the USA. To help cut cost on meats, we buy a surplus. The Farmer’s Market at OSU sells 10lbs of chicken at a great cost. You can separate your chicken, portion out what you need, and freeze the rest for later. We purchased chicken legs and then used the bones to make a great stock for soups (which lasted us for months!) Also, look into buying ‘trash’ fish. I know it sounds gross, but really, this is stuff that most people don’t eat. And it’s only because Tuna, Salmon, and Talapia are among the most popular fish to buy. Mackeral, sardines, squid, and sea robin are pretty cheap (also richer in those Omega fats!). AND you can get an abundance of these at the market or I’ve seen them at Whole Foods in the frozen section. You can also portion these out easily and keep frozen until you are ready to make a meal.
Always support your local farmer’s by shopping at a Farmer’s Market. Get what is in season, and only purchase the items that are on your grocery list. STOCK UP STOCK UP and be frugal with your money. Keep your eyes peeled for good deals. You may find yourself shopping at a few different stores to purchase some of your staple items, but hey, your pantry will be STUFFED! Also, be sure to check out local Food Co Ops in your area. These are GREAT in that they ship a variety of foods from local farmers to your doorstep monthly. This is great if you are unsure what to buy from the farmer’s market! They ship foods that are in season AND they taste great! Prices are fairly reasonable and you don’t have to stuff the kids into the car for your shopping days 🙂