OK, I still need to get pictures of my pantry. It looks neater, but it doesn’t have all those cute baskets and door-mounted racks that Better Homes and Gardens shows. The nice thing about getting my pantry organized was I was able to throw out the few garbage foods and expired things we had (not many things, we’re pretty good about rotating storage food so we don’t waste much food).
Speaking of food, it’s only one week into the new year and I’m already hearing, “Waahh! Healthy food is too expensive!” And I say, “WHAAAT?” For my family of 5 (ok, there are 6, but the baby is breastfed and the only table food he eats is off my plate or a shared snack, not his own meals that affect the overall cost of the grocery bill), we spend about $450 a month, and admittedly, it could be lower. My average grocery bill is $80 a week, and that extra $100 or so is spent on extras like coffee from Sam’s Club and things we don’t actually need like my Starbuck’s runs and my husband’s beer. I do not count toilet paper and shampoo as food and it is not included in my budget (I do coupon at CVS and get tp and soap for next to nothing, but that’s not the focus of today’s post).
So, here’s what we do to save money on the grocery bill:
- Other than beer and milk, we don’t buy beverages. We drink water from the tap. Soda is crazy expensive, terrible for your health and not necessary. We don’t drink juice either, it’s empty calories, and you’re mostly paying for water anyway.
- We never buy chips, crackers, and other snacky foods. For about $3, I can get a 5 lb bag of apples (I pick the bags with the smallest apples so there are more per bag and they are a correct fruit portion) which the kids eat as snacks throughout the week.
- We do not shop at only one store. We have two stores within 4 miles of each other that we go to every week. What’s not on sale at one place may be on sale at another and vice versa.
- I plan a menu for the week based on what’s on sale at either store. If chicken is on sale, we’re eating chicken. If pork is on sale, we’re eating pork. And if it’s a really good price, I’ll buy a couple extra packs and freeze it. Same with fruits, veggies, etc.
- I only grocery shop once a week. If I forgot an item, too bad, we just tough it out until next week. Going more often, you get tempted to buy more than just that one item, costing more than you budgeted.
- I only shop from a list. I NEVER go into a store without a plan. I plan my menus from sales flyers, plan my lists from my menus and a quick look in the pantry or fridge. Planning a menu/list only takes about 20 minutes once you get the hang of it, but it could save you tons of money.
- Some items are always cheap, such as plain old-fashioned oatmeal, celery, carrots, cabbage, greens (collard, mustard, chard, kale), apples and bananas. We use these items for snacks and to round out our meals.
- If an item we need that week is not on sale, and we didn’t stockpile enough from the last sale, I get the store brand. Seriously, store brand oatmeal or brown rice tastes the same as name brands. Also, against my better judgement (prepackaged cereals are expensive and not that good for you), we always buy the store brand honey nut cheerios in the big bag. Around $4, lasts two weeks.
- We don’t eat a large variety, by choice, not necessity. Every morning it’s cheerios, oatmeal, scrambled eggs or toast. Sometimes I’ll go all out and make pancakes from scratch (even though I don’t bake much any more, I do keep baking staples on hand for when I do, and pancakes are stupid easy to make from scratch!). Lunch is usually peanut butter and jelly (trying to get away from that) or leftovers from last night’s dinner. Yes, my children have taken leftovers to school by choice. They pack their own lunches so the lunches are less likely to get thrown away. Sometimes, if there’s a good sale on deli meat, I might buy some, even though it’s not good for us 🙂
I can’t think of any more off the top of my head, but that’s a good start. Since I started really thinking about what I’m puting into my and my family’s bodies, I have been getting grossed-out by the thought of prepackaged food.
“But what if I don’t have time to cook from scratch?” Nonsense! You have time to surf the web, watch TV and text your friends on the Facebook, you have time to cook. I use a slow cooker frequently, and I have batch-cooked in the past. Precook some chicken, pre-cut some veggies, it’s insane how much time you save in the long run when you spend an hour or two on your day off pre-making some of your meals for the week.
I’m convinced that those who claim it’s too expensive or hard to eat healthy just don’t want to for real (or truly have no idea, but those in the latter category aren’t the norm IMO). As with anything else, if you want it bad enough, you’ll cut the excuses, and start finding solutions.
I hope I was able to give at least one person some ideas about how to make healthy eating work for them 🙂