Good evening, everyone! I hope you have all had a great day! I’ve been really working on coming up with some good tips for you about budgeting your food dollars wisely. I don’t know about where everyone else is from, but I know around here, the cost of food (and everything else, for that matter) has skyrocketed. My food budget has at least doubled in the last couple of years, and that was before I revamped the way we eat. By using the techniques that I talked about last night, though, I have been able to stretch my food dollars even farther, and we eat a whole lot better to boot.
I hope everyone took the time to start a food budget journal. This will really help you see where your money is going as well as what everyone in the house is eating. This exercise will help you get a grip on how you need to proceed. Once you’ve added everything up, you’ll be able to see what you have available to spend on groceries. When I did this for my household, I was surprised to learn how much money we spent on unecessary food items, and I also was also shocked to see just how much junk we were consuming…scary stuff. I also realized how much food we were wasting, and learned a lot about how to use leftovers so my family would eat them. This really works when you commit to cooking and eating at home, packing lunches, and making snacks instead of buying prepackaged stuff. If your family really enjoys going out to dinner in restaurants, then decide how often is enough. Can you get by on only eating out once a month? Or is it more like once a week? This part really has to be a personal decision, but the more often you can eat at home, the more money is available in your budget. Remember, every meal out is coming out of your monthly/bi-weekly-weekly food allowance. Also, when you do go out, try to pick restaurants where the food is made fresh, and you know where the ingredients are coming from.
So, if your food expenses turn out to be $600 a month, that’s what you now have total to spend on food. I have a few tips that will really help stretch that money, too. The most basic part of this technique is that you need to plan your meals. I’m not saying carve it in stone, what I am saying is that it works best to write down all the meals you would like to prepare in the week. Ideally, I like to sit down and do this on a Saturday morning, before I head out to the grocery store. I write down 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 7 dinners, then I make a list of what I need to make all those dishes. I take into account that I will sometimes use last night’s dinner for today’s lunch. Sometimes, I’ll take the leftover roast beef and throw it in the crockpot for stew the next night. I’ll make huge batches of baked oatmeal, or double recipes of muffins for breakfast for most of the week. It’s easy to take plain oatmeal and dress it up with different fruits and spices so it’s not the same old bowl of cereal every day.
It’s important to buy fresh produce, organic if you can find it. Even more important is buying high quality dairy, eggs, and meat. If you don’t have time to bake your own bread, buy fresh bakery bread instead of processed white bread. Yes, some of these items are more costly, but when you’ve pooled your resources into one money bucket and start using your leftovers, you will see a considerable difference, and may even save money, even though your food now costs more. This is what happened to me. And, I can tell you, the deliciousness factor of the food I make far outweighs any prepared food I could have ever bought. I feel so satisfied that I can now cook any food that my family wants. I’ve actually gotten pretty darn good at it. I’ve learned to use herbs and spices that have made such a difference in how my food tastes…and now I’m even growing my own herbs to use in my food, which will save me a ton of money in the end.
Tomorrow night, we’ll talk about how to really save money on your food, some easy and very specific tips for cooking that will reduce your food waste, and what to do when your budget is really tight. It is still possible to eat healthy. I hope you all have a great night and get some good sleep…that’s where I’m headed now…can’t wait for my head to hit that pillow. See you all tomorrow!