budget | family

Tips for Eating Well on a Budget

By on March 11, 2020

I can’t write a post about marriage without following up with a post about money.

Tax time is always fun. Of course, I’m saying this tongue-in-cheek. For me, each year is a humbling experience when tallying up our expenses. Taxes this year prompted me to do a major budget overhaul. Gus and I have some big goals for the next couple of years, so looking at our expenses was a must. We are also always looking for ways to simplify life, and taking a look at finances is a good way to see your habits.

What we found out is that other than our home, our food is our largest expense. We were regularly spending over $1000 a month on food for a family of 5 (and one is a toddler and the other an infant). Some of that is due to dietary restrictions and buying alternative pantry supplies. However, the majority is just from mindless spending, grocery shopping for fun, and often wasting.

I don’t know how many times we have had to throw away a pound of asparagus because it was buried in the drawer and ended up slimy before I could cook it.

We are now taking control of this situation and working on a healthier budget while maintaining a gluten/grain-free, refined sugar-free diet. Monday morning I attended a meal-prep class that was offered in my MOPs group– it was a very timely class and I was glad to see I was on track with budget and planning.

The suggestion I heard that really resonated was that our budget should be something close to $115 per person, per month. Wowza! Following that formula would drastically reduce our spending. So, here’s how I’m making that happen.

  1. Meal plan (not prep)– I plan for a week. I plan my week according to what we have already in the fridge so that we are reducing our waste. I keep a running list of what we run out of along the way.
  2. Reduce meat consumption. We are omnivores, so this will be different if you’re vegetarian or vegan. Our portion sizes shifted for us when we switched to an autoimmune friendly diet. We reduced our portions and started buying grass-fed and finished beef and pastured poultry (which is more expensive). The Standard American Diet tends to make meat the star of the show, we now make it a smaller player in a meal full of veggies. We have invested in 1/4 of a local grass-fed cow and this has been budget-friendly. I was a little concerned about the initial investment, but it has been a good one. I also stretch our meals. I make bone broths from our veggie scraps and meat bones (in the instant pot too– so nearly no effort). We roast a whole chicken for dinner about once a week, it will feed us lunch the next day and then a batch of broth. So multiple uses for one purchase.
  3. Buy in-season produce. Out of season produce is way more expensive. Just think of the cost of berries in the winter! Our bodies are designed to have varying produce, so following a seasonal plan will reduce budget and support health.
  4. Shop once a week, with a list and at one main place. This was a biggie for us. We used to chase ads, deals and products all over town (and sometimes in the bigger city). This adds up VERY quickly and sucks our time and energy. Sometimes we were shopping somewhere nearly every day. $30-50 each time we entered a store. I now shop at Aldi as our main store and stop at Publix for a few things that Aldi doesn’t carry. I have also stopped our wholesale membership to Costco. I know this works well for some families, but for us, we wasted a lot and would impulse buy. I now do an Amazon order for a few alternative products that are hard to find in our area. These are usually my alternative flours, etc. I do not do subscriptions or meal delivery services. I do not like the amount of waste it creates with packaging, and I also want to choose my own produce.
  5. I know this is stated all the time, but shop the perimeter of the store and avoid processed/packaged foods. I started this years ago, and it is just my habit now. The few packaged items I buy tend to come from our Amazon order, which reduces the cost quite a bit.

These are my most obvious tips. Soon I will share where I find recipes and how I make a rotation so that we don’t get bored or I feel like I am always in the kitchen. I am all about simplicity and time freedom. My “down-time” is limited with all of these kiddos running around and needing things, so I can’t spend all day cooking and cleaning it up!

Continue Reading