How We Eat Healthier Without Breaking The Bank or Having Lots of Waste
It’s Monday, so let’s talk about food.
One of the things I chose to do a couple of years ago was to make better choices when grocery shopping. To me, this meant being more aware of what we were putting into our bodies. I did a lot of research and decided to avoid food companies that support Monsanto and are made with GMOs or unhealthy ingredients/chemicals/preservatives. Now, am I an expert? No way. I just pay a little more attention. Do I do this with every single thing I purchase? No, to be honest.
One simple thing I chose to do was avoid boxed foods. I honestly think boxed foods/meals are the worst kind of foods for you. That, and those with all kinds of food coloring. (think pop-tarts and colored cereals) Boxed foods aren’t always bad. There are cereals that are in boxes that are ok. Don’t take this all so literally, please.
I rarely ever make foods that come out of a box anymore. We do make beef stroganoff from the box when I’m feeling incredibly lazy and sometimes I do make those Rice-a-Roni rices, but very RARELY. Most of the time what I make is from fresh foods and ingredients that are handmade. I have made a lot of my own seasonings like taco and chili seasonings. This cuts out a lot of added ingredients that aren’t necessary and lowers the amount of some things like excessive amounts of sodium that are usually found in a lot of seasonings (like in boxed foods).
I don’t buy foods at random either. I usually make a list on Sunday for the week or I just go to the grocery store frequently. I am out a lot anyways, so it isn’t an inconvenience for me and there are only 3 of us to feed. This might not work if you have a newborn, a large family, or you work full-time. Making a schedule would be a better route for you and doing your grocery shopping on your day off would be helpful.
When I make my menu, I usually try to consider items that I might not use all of, so I plan around that. For example, it’s not very often that we use an entire bag of shredded lettuce or a whole onion in one meal. So I think of other recipes I can use those in and plan it in the next couple of days after the first one so that there is little to no waste. (wasting food is one of my pet peeves)
We use a lot of organic, natural, grass-fed, cage-free, range-free meats, etc in our home, so it’s important that we are careful with our purchases because it can get very costly if we aren’t. The meats/proteins aren’t cheap by any means. I buy our meats/dairy from a local farmer’s market so that I am supporting a small, local farm. Same with our produce and breads. Their prices are super low and I portion out the meats once I am home. The ground beef is usually packaged as a pound, so I take out 1/3 of that and make my own bags at 2/3 of a pound each then freeze them. Meats are good for a few months in the freezer. I also do the same with those long logs of pork tenderloin. I divide it up and freeze it in portions I know I will need for ramen or other recipes. This way, I don’t thaw out any extra meat that I might not use. My family of three rarely needs more that 2/3 lb of meat. We really don’t even need that much, but my husband eats more because he expends a lot of calories.
Most of my meats and produce are purchased at a local farmer’s market. I feel good in supporting local, small businesses and it helps to know exactly where my food comes from. The food is fresh and most of the time, it is grown organically or without antibiotics, etc. I like to think that the farm my beef came from had happy cows and happy chickens making my eggs and meat.
If there are items I need that I can’t find there, then I purchase them at chain stores. My Walmart Neighborhood Market has a lot of organic items like my son’s fruit pouches. I don’t purchase much from there because I honestly hate supporting a company that doesn’t invest in their employees, but I’m not rich and I have to be selective and careful with how I spend my money.
There are other grocers who are inexpensive and carry mostly or all organic/natural items like Aldi. Unfortunately, the closest one to me is a little over half an hour away. Publix is another great place to shop for boxed items like snacks and things. They have B1G1 deals every single week and usually alternate every couple of weeks. Stock up when you find great sales!
The best way to save money and eat healthier is to be prepared. Know what you are going to cook and when you will cook it. Buy only what you know you will use. There is no need to have a cabinet or fridge full of items that you may or may not use in the near future. Clutter is distracting. Don’t cook excessive portions that might wind up in the trash because you forgot you had leftovers or you had too many for the week. Make your own sauces and seasonings. They are healthier and cheaper. Every little bit saved is money earned.
And most of all, stop buying expensive drinks!! Add up how much you spend on things like milk, juice, soda and all that each week. I bet you will find that it is a significant portion of your bill alone. Water is best! Brew your own tea if you would like anything else. Don’t waste your calorie consumption on empty calories from drinks.
I hope these suggestions help you and your family have a better balanced diet that is easy on your wallet.