Saturday, May 7, 2011

Eating Healthy on a Budget

My husband doesn't usually address me by my name when he starts a conversation with me.  He just starts talking and assumes I know he's talking to me and not himself.  On the rare occasion when I hear my name, I know I've probably done something I shouldn't have!

Let me take you back a couple of years ago when I heard from the other room, "Jessica!"  Uh oh.  "You spent $600 on groceries this month?!"  Yikes!  And, there was nowhere to hide in that tiny, little, one bedroom apartment!  Maybe you can relate. Trying to stay on a grocery budget and buy healthy food can seem difficult.  I'm here to help.  It's taken me four years to figure it out, but I can finally say that my husband and I eat healthy, whole food (not processed) for around $50-$70 per week.

The first thing you're going to need is a notebook. It's time to make a menu! Turn to the first page and list the days of the week. Then, if you know you're having dinner at a friend's house one night, put it on your menu, so you don't plan food for that night.

Start looking through your freezer and pantry! What do you already have that you can put together to make a meal? We all overstock or forget about food in the freezer. Choose a day to have that meal and make a note that you already have some of the ingredients at home. Once you've done that, start looking through your favorite cookbooks, magazines, and food blogs for recipes.  Try to plan meals that have similar ingredients, just space them out on your menu.  For instance, maybe you're having soup that calls for fresh basil and you're not going to use it all for that recipe.  You could make a margherita pizza another day to use up the rest of the basil.

Sample Menu:

Monday: soup
Tuesday: hamburgers (ground beef and hamburger buns in freezer)
Wednesday: spaghetti dinner at church
Thursday: tacos
Friday: margherita pizza
Saturday: chicken, rice, and roasted broccoli.
Sunday: Going out to eat for Mother's Day.

Now that you have your menu, make a grocery list based on your menu.  You can add bread for sandwiches, but the idea is to eat your dinner leftovers for your lunches! You'll probably need a box of cereal and a gallon of milk too.

Time to start shopping! Let me first say that you don't have to buy everything organic!  Buy generic brands when possible. There are now generic brands that carry organic products.  Check your labels.  I have found a can of name brand kidney beans that contains high fructose corn syrup. Why? I'm just as baffled as you are!  I'd rather buy the store brand that contains beans, water, and salt.  Look for products with the least amount of chemicals and preservatives. If you can't read it, you probably don't want to eat it.  There are some important foods to splurge on and get organic...milk, grass-fed beef,  free-range, no hormones added chicken, grass-fed or raw cheese. You can wash most fruits and vegetables yourself, so I wouldn't try to buy all organic produce.

Here are some tips to think about while you're shopping:

1. Stick to your list!

2. Don't buy a bunch of junk food for snacks.  Buy a bag of apples. Buy celery to dip in peanut butter. Buy baby carrots to dip in ranch.  Buy ingredients to bake your own batch of cookies.  You don't need a box of cookies that contain hydrogenated oils.

3. You don't need soda or a bunch of juices.  I rarely buy juice.  I drink water with lemon or make my own tea, sweeten it with honey, and add some ice cubes.  Trust me, you'll survive!

4. Don't buy extra food just because it's on sale!  Stick to buying what you need for the week, not month.  When you buy for the month, food starts going to waste.  When you throw produce in the trash, you're throwing your money in the trash.  When you have frostbitten food in the freezer, you have frostbitten money.  When you have stale, moldy bread, that's your stale, moldy money.

I hope this helps you reduce your grocery bill and eat healthy food at the same time.  It's really as simple as planning and sticking to your list. 

If you have questions or more suggestions on how to save money, please leave a comment.  I would love to hear from you!


1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I just won the blog's first free giveaway prize - some Burt's Bees lip gloss. Oh, maybe that was for Mother's Day.