If you have ever tried to maintain a real food lifestyle, then you know that it can be expensive. Our family has been eating this way for about 4 years and over this time, I have learned a few tricks of the trade for eating real food on a budget.
I truly believe that the food we eat is the root of our health. I am passionate about making sure my kids get the best possible start in life and that starts with the foods they put in their little bodies. I do my best to make sure my family is eating high quality food, but I also have to be conscious of our finances.
Here are the ways that I continue to provide my family with real food on a budget.
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The absolute best way to make sure you are not wasting money on food is to create a meal plan. This way, you know exactly what you need and you buy only food that you know you are going to use. If you hate meal planning, there are some great free meal planning resources available.
Have A Prep Day
Have you ever gotten to the end of a long day and just did not feel like cooking? Me too. In fact, I feel like this more often than not when dinner time comes rolling around. Not to mention that this tends to be the witching hour where my kids start misbehaving. Instead of throwing my hands up and ordering take out, I have started prepping my meals ahead of time. This is an essential piece of my life management plan. Do what you can to make dinner time easier. You can chop veggies, cook a big batch of rice or marinate your meats. Doing so will make it much easier for you to stick to your meal plan.
Ideally, I would love to buy 100% organic produce and 100% pastured meat and dairy, but that isn’t always possible. Know what is most important to buy organic and just do the best you can with everything else. For our family, meat and dairy are the most important items to buy organic/pasture raised. You can also reference the dirty dozen and clean fifteen to get a better idea of which produce to buy organic.
Once A Month Stock Up
Instead of doing a full grocery shopping trip every week, start doing one large shopping trip per month to stock up on non-perishables. You can make smaller trips in between for produce and other items you need to buy more frequently. The less time you are spending in the grocery store, the less likely you are to buy something you do not need.
One way to eliminate impulse buys is to shop online. I will often use Amazon Prime Pantry to get my pantry staples for the month.
Pack Leftovers For Lunch
This trick saves me both time and money. When I make dinner, I always make extra so that we can have leftovers for lunch. It makes it easy to just throw together lunches in bento boxes for school or for my husband to take to work.
Have A Garbage Week
Even with the best meal planning, there will often be items that do not get used. Have one week per month where the goal is to empty out the pantry, fridge and freezer. Use what you have on hand to create your meals for the week and only buy the absolute minimum.
Make Your Own Whenever Possible
Not only is making your own better for your budget, it also allows you to decide exactly what goes into your food. Some items that I make myself are bread, salad dressings, BBQ sauce, spice mixes (taco seasoning, pumpkin pie spice, etc.), and baking mixes.
Emergency Freezer Meals
One thing about real food is that it does take more work. There are days that I just don’t feel like cooking at all. In the past that would mean a pizza night or ordering take out. Not only is this unhealthy, it can also be expensive. I started keeping a few back up freezer meals on hand at all times just for these occasions. An easy way to do this is to cook a double batch of a dinner you are making and freeze half of it. When you need it, just heat it up and have an easy, no-fuss, healthy dinner on the table.
Grow Your Own
I love my garden! There is nothing like picking fresh produce and herbs right from your own backyard.
This year we started raising hens and I am completely obsessed. Not only are they fun to have around, but they provide you with delicious, fresh eggs every day! Pasture raised eggs can easily go for over $3/dozen in the store. With your own chickens, you get them for free! If you have enough chickens, you could even sell some of your eggs and make money.