I don’t know about you, but food and money seem to be front of mind these days.
Eating is not CHEAP.
Our three kids eat nearly as much as my husband and I, making our monthly grocery bill pretty hefty. We are so thankful for all the farm raised meat in our freezer as it sure helps our food budget.
But you don’t need to raise your own food to help cut costs. There are so many other ways to help cut your monthly food budget.
Over the years, we have found ways to make our food budget fit our needs … between childcare expenses, kids activities, unexpected house or vehicle repairs, we have found ways to eat well and keep our grocery budget in check!
Here’s a few of the easy ways to help cut that budget.
- Meal Plan
About once a week, grab a pen & paper (or check out a free app) and get started with meal planning!
Take stock of what you’ve got in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. With these items in mind, start exploring recipes for budget friendly meals. Since meat tends to be the most expensive part of the meal, look for meals that incorporate grains and/or vegetables with meat can help stretch those dollars. Some examples are stir-fry with rice, potato beef casserole, or penne with sausage & peppers.
Write out your meal plan for the week. Don’t forget about breakfast & lunches.
Add those items that you need to your grocery list.
2. Buy groceries once a week & STICK to your grocery list
Once you’ve got your meal plan for the week plus a concise grocery list, head to the grocery store.
STICK to your list. Avoid going when you are starving as you’ll end up wandering down aisles and buying things you don’t need.
Consider buying shelf-stable items in bulk. If that bag of rice that is double the size is only $1 more, grab the bigger bag.
Avoid going to the grocery store for the rest of the week, unless you absolutely have to. I find if I pop in for 1 item, I always end up with way more!
3. Use everything you have.
Make a plan for your leftovers! If you’ve got leftovers after the meal, make sure you eat them for another meal or incorporate them into a different meal. If you end up with leftover chicken or pulled pork or ground beef, make nachos for lunch!
Make sure you check your fridge, pantry, and freezer as you make that meal plan. There’s nothing more painful than throwing out those moldy vegetables from the fridge or that freezer burnt meat from the freezer!
I think there’s a lot of food dollars being thrown out in the trash each week.
4. Choose high quality high nutritional value foods.
Meat and proteins are dense in nutrients and energy. Choose high quality protein sources – local, regenerative farms provide highly nourishing meat options for your table. Protein offers a “stick to your ribs” energy source that will help hold off your hunger for longer. Nuts and legumes are an alternate source of protein.
Choose whole grains over highly processed carbohydrates. Highly processed carbs carry a high glycemic index – this means that they provide quick energy sources but very quickly our bodies metabolize the calories and we get hungry again. Choose whole grains and carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes, barley, and oats, over processed cereals, white breads, and crackers.
Fats can also help. We use butter, bacon grease, and olive oil in our house for baking, frying, and roasting. I used to make muffins with apple sauce instead of fat – not anymore! Fat can help with satiety. That means that you feel full longer.
Choosing local, natural fruits and vegetables will also provide you with high nutritional value. Produce from regenerative farming practices offer nutrient dense options for your table.
I try to spend my food dollars on these three key elements (meat & eggs & other proteins, whole grains, and local produce) and avoid buying highly processed foods. Making sure that I spend my money on things that will satisfy my hunger, helps me to eat less and save more in the long run.
5. Cooking from Scratch & Eating at Home.
How much does it cost to feed your family at a restaurant?
Our kids still eat off the kids menu most times, and we still end up walking out of a sit-down restaurant with an $80 to $120 bill. And fast food … my jaw usually drops when the bill comes to over $40 for our family of 5!
With a few kitchen skills and a few ingredients, you can create a number of easy, delicious meals for a lot less!
How about those boxes of granola bars or other kid snacks you see in the grocery store? That sure adds up quick! And most of those granola bars are full of sugar anyways. My kids love to bake and will often whip up a batch of muffins or cookies to pack as a treat in their lunches. I feel better about home prepared treats instead of the expensive grocery store alternatives.
Instead of cereals of toast, try homemade oatmeal/porridge a try!
6. Intermittent fasting
I have to toss this idea out there.
A number of years ago, I read a book by a Canadian physician called “The Obesity Code”. He shared some revelationary info in that book that completely turned everything I thought I knew about nutrition out the window! I learned about our insulin response, fasting, and so much more.
Since then, I practice intermittent fasting. I skipped breakfast for a long time and even skipped lunch some days. I have never followed a strict plan with this but truly let my hunger guide me. If I’m not hungry before I leave the house, I don’t eat. If I’m not hungry at the “usual” lunch time, I wait and eat later. There’s an odd day here or there where I realize at supper that I haven’t had anything to eat!
Not only can this help with our weight (which is linked to a lot of chronic disease) but it can also help with our food budget dollars!
I won’t say more than that but if you’re interested, check out the book or search google to learn more.
7. Grow your own!
Start a garden! Get some laying hens! If you have the space, raise a pig or two!
Not only do you end up with the BEST and freshest food on your plate, but you’ll have fun growing and raising the food too!
Thanks for sticking it out for my tips for helping out with your food budget while choosing real wholesome foods!
I’d love to hear your best tips for keeping the food budget down!