Eating Well on a Budget
I hear A LOT of people talk about how expensive it is to eat healthy. I get it...kind of. It can be a bit of a sticker shock to look the chicken we sell at $4.50/lb when you can get it for $0.99/lb at the store. Or our eggs that are $4.00/dozen and you could get them for $1.50/dozen. But when you break it all down, eating healthy isn't always about the cost, its about the effort it takes, both in preparing the food and planning. When we were doing our Dave Ramsey class we had to go through our expenses and share with the group how much we were spending each month and what was most surprising. By and large the most surprising thing everyone had was food, especially convenience food. One family totaled up $900 in one month of eating out and gas station snacks. They had no idea it was near that much. Others were cooking more at home, but they were using pre-packaged food (which is generally WAY more expensive than if you made it yourself).
For instance, I can buy a bag of pinto beans for $0.99 and a bag of rice for $2.00. I can soak my beans and cook them up along with some rice. I can throw in some spices and I have rice and beans for days for about $3.00. I used to do this on the regular for Uncle G and I'd throw in extra veggies, left overs, anything that we had lying around that could give it some flavor. Now that we work close enough to eat together every day I plan our meals to have left overs. But back to the story. I decided to keep my receipts for my 2 weeks of groceries along with our menu for the 2 weeks. This is how much it cost our family of 4 to eat for 2 weeks. And we feel like we eat well and splurge.
This was our menu. Every one of these recipes is on our website. I start my menu planning by mapping out the days. I usually make a note if there is a day that one of us will be home at a time out of the ordinary and any "special" days. For instance this week we had football on Friday so we ate there and Saturday we had dinner with family. After I know what's going on for the week, I can start to enter in different meals. On nights that I am home late, I try to make something easy. For days that I know I have a light day and I'll plenty of time, I might make something that is a little more time consuming. I buy packages of salami, cheese curds, hummus, baby carrots and crackers and divide them into snack size portions for Uncle G's work snacks. I don't usually put breakfast or lunch because we use left overs for lunch with a few sides (cottage cheese and homemade gelatin). And breakfast is usually PB toast/bagel or eggs...that's just how its always been and it hasn't changed.
So here it is: the grand total to feed our family of 4 for (almost) two weeks and our pets is $225.99. You'll notice there are no cleaning supplies because we generally use vinegar and essential oils for cleaning. We also make our own soap and body lotion so we don't have that expense. Hair care products are budgeted in our "hair care" envelope. This envelope is for the whole family's hair cuts, etc. We also usually try to get our vegetables at the Farmer's Market, but I wanted to show the pice at the store. Oh, and we buy HUGE bags of rice so we always have rice on hand for a side.
There you have it! This definitely takes a big chunk of time, but it is worth it to us. We have much more control over what we are eating than if we were eating out or purchasing pre-packaged/pre-cooked foods.
Here is the meal list run down: