Did that title get ya? Everyone wants to know how to save money, especially on their grocery bill. Okay, so before I give up the goods (or at least all the crap I think is important) I should warn you. You CAN spend less money on food by completely disregarding my rules and buying processed or lower quality stuff. This guide helps me save money on ORGANIC and and/or other high quality foods. If you don't care about organic then don't read this blog because you are probably already saving more than me. That being said, here are some of my rules.
1. Stop buying beverages. Wine does not count! Let me repeat: WINE DOES NOT COUNT! In order to maintain sanity in my life I need some alcoholic beverages, look for future posts on how to save while maintaining the habit. However, what does count are sodas and even juice. Yes juice. Organic juice is very expensive; however a bag of organic apples is much cheaper - therefore I opt for the bag of fresh apples. It has all the same vitamin content as the juice (unless the juice is fortified or something) but it doesn't have all the fiber removed leaving only sugar. Take my advice; water is much better all around.
2. Start eating beans. Do you like beans? I do! And so should you. I don't mean that can of re-fried stuff that is loaded with salt, I mean dry beans. The kind you cook in a big pot of water on the stove. Don't be scared either. I have never soaked beans overnight; I always just cook on medium low for about an hour and half. Beans are so delicious and full of protein! My mother has been making beans my whole life just like her mother before her. My mom even re-fried them herself when I was a kid. I will post some recipes and ways you can use all different kinds of beans.
3. Lentils! Yes lentils. Another cheap way to eat well. Throw those suckers in a big pot with some carrots and potatoes, cook for two hours on medium low and you're happening! Oh, and my child loves lentil soup!
4. Don't buy frozen meals. Convenient? Yes. Cost effective? No. Maybe buying a Hungry Man dinner is cheap, I honestly don't know because I have never bought one, but when you are looking at the Annie's Organic Enchilada dinner, it is not so cheap. Yes, I love Annie too, but she is a classy broad. Plus, I don't know about you, but I can eat like five of those. Take my advice, fresh food is better and when I post up my home-made mole recipe you will never want the frozen stuff again. Plus, if you do want it to be frozen, make fresh enchiladas (with my mole recipe) and then freeze them. Viola! Convenience and economics.
5. Meat. Yeah, I like it too. But the organic and/or grass-fed free range stuff will set you back quite a bit. And who wants something that is factory farmed and shot up with hormones? Not I. I would rather go without. You don't have to give it up, just cut it down. When it comes to meat I say quality over quantity. Plus, when you cut down on your meat consumption you are doing good by the Earth too, so reduce that carbon foot print, help out farmers who raise their animals ethically and don't load your body up with hormones!
6. Have you heard of Grocery Outlet? Just make sure you check your dates. I have gotten maple syrup in there a billion and one times! And that stuff costs a pretty penny when you are buying real maple syrup that came out of a tree not a lab. Occasionally you can even get a half gallon of Organic Valley milk. *Side note, organic milk has a longer shelf life!
7. Convenience and prepared foods. Yes I have a child. At one point that child was a newborn who thought she wanted to nurse every ten minutes. Sometimes prepared food is a life savor, but most of the time it just drains your pocketbook. Try to avoid it.
8. Cut out snacks and junk! That basically goes without saying. Again, I have a child which means at one point I was pregnant. And yes, I ate a lot of Kozy Shack chocolate pudding. Of course this was before my food budget doubled because of said child. No one needs ice cream in their house at all times (pregnancy not included!) or any other type of snacky junk food. Oh how I miss Sweet Maui Onion Kettle chips...
So there you have it! Eight ways to save. Now, I am not a insane person. Yes, I eat ice cream sometimes (Ben & Jerry's Ameri-cone Dream...mmmm) but what I am saying is that by cutting back on some of these items should help you save. I am sure there are plenty reading this who are okay with spending more than me, that is great, just do what works for you, your family and your budget!
AND NOW! AN AMAZING (and cheap) RECIPE! FROM MY OWN KITCHEN!
Split Pea Soup (Sounds boring, but I find it creamy, delicious, satisfying and other positive adjectives one would associate with food)
1lb of dry split peas ($1.56 - and that was for a 2lb bag, I only used half of it)
Carrots (as many as you want, I love them so I put six big ones. $4.99 for 5lbs of organic carrots at S&S in Chico)
Yukon Gold Potatoes (as many as you want, I used three large ones $3.39 about 2lbs - S&S)
Salt, Pepper, Parsley to taste
Simple. Cut up all that stuff and put it all in a big pot, cover with water and cook on medium low for about two hours. Stir occasionally, you may also need to add more water depending on how fast it is cooking.
Want something to go with this creation? How about some nice steamy rolls? Yeah, you know you do!
Whole Wheat Rolls (If you are totally in love with these, and lets face, you will be after you try them, thank Whole Foods. I got the recipe from their website)
1 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour (I use Bob's Red Mill - available inexpensively at Winco in Chico)
2 Tbsp. of sugar
1/2 Tsp of salt
1 pkg of yeast (I like Hodsgon Mill - also cheap at Winco)
1 cup of warm milk (I never warm it, I guess I'm lazy like that)
3 Tbsp of melted butter
1 large egg (Farmers market! I have found no better egg. http://www.chriseggfarm.com)
1 cup of all purpose flour (I like King Arthur - another cheapy buy at Winco. It is more than twice as much at Holiday Market)
Mix the whole wheat flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Stir well. Add milk, butter and eggs. Beat until smooth. Add flour and mix until fully incorporated. I like to use my hands to fully mix it. Cover. Rise in a warm spot (maybe next to that pot of soup) for 1 hour.
Stir batter. Spoon into greased (I use olive oil) muffin tins. Rise for 1 hour. (I usually do about a half hour; patience is not a virtue of mine)
Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
And if those aren't as tasty as all get-out then I'll be a monkey's uncle, or aunt or whatever. Just try them.
Well kids, that is it. Stayed tuned for next time. I will tell you all the stuff you should be splurging on and why. Of course there will be more money saving tips and possibly another recipe! Eat well and be well!