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I will admit, if you want to eat real, whole food you may have to increase your food budget a bit. I believe the long term benefits of being a healthy person far outweigh digging a little deeper in your pockets to get wholesome food for you and your family. Spending a little more now means spending less in the years to come on things like doctors visits and medications.

With that being said, there are some things you can do to help make every penny count while eating well.

1. Regularly set aside time to plan out meals: This one alone can save you tons of money and time. I find this helps me tremendously financially and mentally throughout the week. Coming up with a dinner menu on a whim can be hard! I would recommend finding a consistent time each week to do this. For me it’s Sunday evenings. This is also the time my husband and I talk about our weekly plans and finances, so it fits perfectly. Below is a sample menu from a few weeks ago (recipes to come!):

Monday – Slow cooker BBQ with slaw and sauteed kale

Tuesday – Curried pan-seared chicken with parsnips

Wednesday – Salmon cakes with brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes

Thursday – Roasted Red Pepper with Quinoa

Friday – Shrimp, Quinoa w/ herbs and onion, broccoli

Saturday – Sausages and salad

2. Drink pure water: That sweet tea, coke, or flavored water can really add up (financially and in the belt line).

3. Use the Crockpot: You might be wondering how this one makes the list. Not only does using your crockpot save time, I have found that I can cook large quantities, which yield leftovers. I try to do a crockpot meal at the beginning of the week (BBQ chicken or pork, roast beef, or stew) and eat on it when we need to grab something quick.

4. Join a CSA: This stands for Community Supported Agriculture. You pay a certain amount each week, monthly, or all at once and you are essentially paying the farmer for a portion of their harvest. It’s also a great way to learn about new vegetables as some you may have never eaten or even seen before.

5. Get a chest freezer and buy meat in bulk: Much of the meat that we buy in the supermarkets is from many different animals ground up and packaged. Buying meat in bulk from a trusted source allows you the peace of mind in knowing where it came from and also what the animal ate (ex: grass-fed is much higher in nutritional content).

6. Fat is good. A benefit of eliminating grain and wheat from the diet is that you aren’t filling up on empty calories, but on good wholesome fat. Fat is not a bad word. Eating more protein and fat helps you feel full longer, therefore, you won’t have to eat as much.

7. Grow a garden: There’s no better tasting vegetable than one that is homegrown. What could be better than walking into your back yard and picking your dinner vegetables? Even if you have a small space, you can do raised bed planters or even buddy up with a friend who has more space and grow one together.

8. Fast: This one probably does not sound great to you, but there is a lot of evidence that suggests that fasting is actually really good for you. Check out Mark Sisson’s website here as he recently did a series on the benefits of fasting.

9. Make smoothies for breakfast: When I eliminated grains and wheat from my diet, I found it hard to know what to eat for breakfast. I ended up eating eggs everyday, which is great for a while, but somedays I needed a change. I started making berry smoothies or a new favorite of mine is the avocado-banana smoothie.

10. Don’t buy processed foods. If you are reading this then #10 is a no-brainer. These packaged items can break the bank and wreak havoc on your insides.

11. Take some time to cook ahead: I try to take a few hours (I don’t have a set time right now as it depends on my daughter’s schedule) each week to make some extra meals. Again, this is a time and money saver.

12. Double and Freeze: I love to double whatever I am making and then freeze the rest for an easy meal later.

I hope this helped you, I’d love to hear other ideas that you have as well!

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