Gimme All Your Lunch Money!!
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
We've always been on a tight budget. We've been on WIC since I stopped working back in 2006. Thank you, American taxpayers, the WIC program is a lifesaver and we are extremely thankful to have free, healthy food for our children! We NEED IT! When we're not getting WIC we have tough decisions to make like "what's more important, milk or diapers" and "can you get to and from work the rest of the week with $5 of gas". No joke. So, thanks again... I know many military families using WIC and we ALL need it and are very appreciative. But, back to my point... I've learned how to save money on groceries without succumbing to the evil temptress that is cheap, processed foods. It's different than in the states since produce here is MUCH cheaper, but c'est la vie. One day I will have to put these tools back into use.
1. Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables. Cheaper, tastier. Plan meals accordingly. We just had asparagus season here and I put asparagus in eggs for breakfast, even. Don't like what's in season? Try some new recipes and see if you can find something that changes your mind. Some things won't change... you may always despise eggplant, but it's worth another shot :)
2. Cabbage, carrots, spinach, and red bell peppers. They are cheap, delicious, nutritious, and can be versatile. Red peppers are very high in vitamins A & C (and taste great with a little balsamic vinegar). Cabbage slaw is easy to make and yummy, goes well with any white meat. Carrots are freakin' awesome, cooked or raw. Spinach... ahhhh spinach. How I love you. I always have some on hand to add a little vitamin kick.
3. Red meat is not necessary. Chicken is cheaper than beef, better for you, and you can be much more creative with it. Fish is also cheaper than beef (if you're not going for salmon every time). Not fish sticks, but actual real fish!!! Fillet chicken breast. One chicken breast can feed 2 adults and 3 toddlers. I swear to you. I do it all the time. Turn one breast into 4 or 5 thinner slices. You won't still be hungry, and if you are there are always more sides or a glass of milk. So now the family pack of 5 breasts lasts for 2 dinners and a lunch, not just one dinner.
4. Eat more eggs. Hard boiled in salad, fried and served on top of some brown rice, however you want to make 'em for breakfast. They are cheap and good for you. They can replace meat.
5. Leftovers are your friend! If you don't eat it all, save it. Eat it later. The only thing that's not good the 2nd time around is fish (if it's not salmon). You just saved yourself money by not cooking up something else for lunch.
6. Stop eating processed foods. I swear to you once you get used to it, your appetite changes and you won't eat as much or crave those expensive, fatty foods. You will crave light, cheap, healthy food and feel better for it. Make your own hamburger helper. Make your own spaghetti sauce. It IS cheaper. It's not easier (at first), but you learn and adapt and then forget what life was like before.
7. Whole wheat pastas. They are more expensive, but you tend to eat less since it's so high in fiber. You save in the long run by not having to cook so much. By the way NO RAMEN! hahaha... sodium content is inSANE.
8. Don't buy crap. This saves tons of money. Chips, soda, crackers, cakes, cookies... unnecessary. Just don't buy them. Then you also don't have to force yourself not to eat them. Have a sweet tooth? Bake cookies. It doesn't take as much time as you think and you're not going to put preservatives in the ones you make at home.
9. Buy bulk. It's more expensive at first, but you end up saving. Buy items you know you always use in bulk. You buy it less often and free some cash up for good produce or ice cream night with the kiddos.
10. Beans - don't be scurred. They are cheap and delicious when cooked properly (plethora of bean recipes online). They pack more vitamins than meats and plenty of protein, and they stick with you longer. We eat a lot of lentils in the summertime.