Meal Planning

Kelly913
S/O, upper spending limits/how to eat healthy on a budget
November 19, 2012 at 10:09 PM

In my other post, a topic has emerged that deserves further exploration.  How to eat whole, real food without spending a small fortune.  Let's share-whether you need help or have ideas-jump in and let your voice be heard!

I'm not a real good one to give advice because I've never really HAD to stick to a budget.  Prior to moving to real food I did try to keep costs low, but if I went over we didn't suffer.  I know we are blessed to be in that situation and I don't take it for granted.  I also know that a lot of people simply CAN'T raise their own meat/eggs/dairy and am grateful for that blessing too. 

Replies

  • Kelly913
    November 19, 2012 at 10:12 PM

    Do you have any special dietary needs?  Or maybe a family member.  Or more than one issue to deal with in your family?  That can make the need to plan meals even more important, but also make the budget harder to stick to.

    Rhonda does a GREAT job of preparing healthy meals and snacks on a minimal budget.  She's a welath of information!

  • Kelly913
    November 19, 2012 at 10:17 PM

    My son is highly sensitive to food chemicals.  Every time I say those words together I wonder what happened to us that we even accept chemicals in our food!  It's an oxymoron, but one I have to deal with daily.  That alone can drive up food costs.  Hotdogs on sale?  Too bad, we have to buy the $5 package.  Away from home longer than expected and getting hungry?  No drive thru options in our case.  Want to go on vacation?  Ha!  I either spend a week making snacks and packing food for EVERY meal (along with utensils and dishes to cook it in) or deal with the bad behaviors that result from allowing the chemicals in his food.  It's no vacation for me either way. 

    It means I provide his snack for every situation we're in-like the soccer team.  Good meaning parents will bring a processed snack and ask if he can have it.  I hate saying no after they took the time to try and get something he can have, but really, the options are very limited.  Even fruit has to be organic-the pesticides sprayed on them are petroleum based and so are the dyes and flavors in the processed foods.  The average person isn't willing and often times not able to buy organic for a group.

    All of this to say that I'm aware of the difficulties and would LOVE to be able to "break the rules" for a day just to get a break, but in my son's case, the effects of one "oops" lasts for days and just isn't worth it.  I struggle too, just not so much with the cost.

  • MyGiftsFromGod
    November 20, 2012 at 2:33 AM
    I am often thanking God that we don't have any food allergies or other issues to deal with. It is so difficult for many people we know. It must take a lot of strength and perseverance to deal with it. With as much as we spend on food already, I don't even want to think of what it would be like for special diets.

    We have increased our gardens ever year. I am so glad that I have children who absolutely love gardening. It is exciting to them to work on the plants, weed the garden by hand (we use no chemicals), and the first fruits of their labor is practically a cause for celebration! That has been nice. I get the summer off from having to put grocery money towards tomatoes (many varieties including thousands of grape and cherry), cucumbers, and various colors of peppers. For some reason we have not been very successful with garlic or onions and don't know why, but want to make a better effort next year. We also want to continue to increase our variety of produce. I love that when our children are getting hungry after getting out of the pool, they ask if they can go to the garden for a snack. We even have a separate herb garden, and they all nibble on herbs a lot too. Speaking of herbs, that's another big savings. I'm practically addicted to my favorite fresh herbs in cooking, and it sure is nice to keep many of the same plants year after year, not costing us a thing. I should take a picture of the indoor herb garden we brought in this year right before the frost. We just dig up two of each and put them in large pots in our sunroom. Our children, especially the youngest four, will nibble on the herbs all winter that way, and I can keep
    right on cooking with fresh herbs.

    The only other thing I can think of right now is that instead of buying expensive good eggs at the store, we buy them for $2 a dozen from people we know who are close to us. I love getting unpasturized, natural anything!
  • michiganmom116
    November 20, 2012 at 7:49 AM

    Well, we DO have special dietary needs:  I have to stick to low-carb/no-sugar meals, and I find that at least 4 of the 5 living here have moderate to painful reactions to grains i.e. gluten.  Most people would freak at the thought of eating gluten-free, but I found that getting rid of the actual foods with grains was much easier than trying to find the expensive substitutes.  I do still use (expensive) almond meal and coconut flour to make pancakes/waffles/baked goods, but I keep those things to a minimum.

    Before I changed our diet almost 2 years ago, groceries were running me $200 - $250 a month to feed seven people.  We never had red meat, I used ground turkey instead of ground beef, we raised our own poultry and took their feed money out of our grocery money, and we rarely ate pork and fish.  We ate a lot of pasta, I made my own bread, and I had oatmeal every morning for breakfast.  I kept costs down by shopping at Save A Lot for the most part, making things from scratch when I could, and buying inexpensive foods.

    Once I realized we had to change diets, I did a lot of research.  I chose to avoid grain foods (breads, cereal, pasta) and dairy products like milk and yogurt.  I realized that we had to buy real butter instead of margarine, use olive oil instead of cheaper veggie oils, buy more veggies (yikes at the cost!), and work a little harder in the garden area.  I also decided that we needed to buy a whole beef every year and eat more red meat, and get more fish in our diet.  Those changes wouldn't be cheap, but as we got into it I realized that by dumping the "filler" grain foods (pasta, cereal, bread) and milk, our groceries were only costing about $10/week more than I had been paying, AND I was getting more nutrients in our diet.  We don't need snacks because we've fed our bodies what they need...they don't ask for more between meals.  We feel better.  We've been able to cut out medications and supplements to the tune of saving over $1000 a year, which more than makes up for the extra grocery cost of $10 a week avg.

    I have to go for now because my computer is going to shut down.  I can answer questions later.


  • michiganmom116
    November 20, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    Okay, I'm back.

    How I keep costs down: 

    Yes, I garden, but that doesn't see us through the whole year.  We only have a brief period of 6 to 8 weeks during which we can get fresh produce from the garden.  I grow spaghetti squash and butternut squash, and those will last a few months if stored in a cool, dry place.

    I buy a whole beef from a local farmer.  It's far less expensive ($2.60 lb.) than buying beef from the store or even the meat market, and I know how this beef has been raised and fed.

    We have an Amish-owned store near us.  Much of their summer produce is grown by Amish farmers that KNOW how to grow a garden and get veggies that are tastier and bigger than what I could get in a regular grocery store.  It's also inexpensive since the middleman is out of the picture.  Same with their bulk food dept. (I buy spices/herbs, nuts, coconut oil, raisins, and a few baking goods there.)  They also sell non-major brand dairy and frozen foods.  Those are significant savings.

    I buy eggs from a friend that lets her hens run outside.  The eggs are extra-large, the yolks are gold instead of yellow, and the taste is far better than those from a CAFO egg farm.  $1.50/dozen.

    About a mile from our place is a community garden that sells extra produce.  The veggies and fruits are grown using sustainable chemical-free methods and are healthier for us yet less expensive than at other farm markets.  I'll buy from them and preserve the veggies/fruits by freezing or canning.

    Cooking with whole foods means I make everything from scratch (except the cheese.)  Honestly, the rise in food prices is seen most in processed foods...so I barely notice when prices go up. 

    Meal planning is a MUST in order to make the most from every bit of food we have.  We're having turkey this week; leftover meat will be frozen in meal-sized portions and the carcass will be boiled for broth/stock.  Leftover sides along with a bit of the turkey will be enjoyed for lunches.  Extra (grain-free) stuffing can be frozen and served another day.  I made beef roast this past Sunday; on Monday I used the leftover roast to make beef stew for lunch.  I made a breakfast bake for Monday and Tuesday breakfasts; I baked once but divided the casserole into two pans for two different meals.  I will be making carrot cake pancakes tomorrow, and I'll make enough for two or more breakfasts (they freeze well.)  I do a lot of the "cook once, eat twice (or more)" method.

  • Kelly913
    November 20, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    I have several herb books-from growing to culinary use to medicianl use.  I've also enrolled in a self paced online herbal class.  I really want to grow my own.  There are herbs that will increase milk production in my goats and probably some that would help my chickens.  It's something I have interest in and am looking forward to trying to grow them. 

    Quoting MyGiftsFromGod:

    I am often thanking God that we don't have any food allergies or other issues to deal with. It is so difficult for many people we know. It must take a lot of strength and perseverance to deal with it. With as much as we spend on food already, I don't even want to think of what it would be like for special diets.

    We have increased our gardens ever year. I am so glad that I have children who absolutely love gardening. It is exciting to them to work on the plants, weed the garden by hand (we use no chemicals), and the first fruits of their labor is practically a cause for celebration! That has been nice. I get the summer off from having to put grocery money towards tomatoes (many varieties including thousands of grape and cherry), cucumbers, and various colors of peppers. For some reason we have not been very successful with garlic or onions and don't know why, but want to make a better effort next year. We also want to continue to increase our variety of produce. I love that when our children are getting hungry after getting out of the pool, they ask if they can go to the garden for a snack. We even have a separate herb garden, and they all nibble on herbs a lot too. Speaking of herbs, that's another big savings. I'm practically addicted to my favorite fresh herbs in cooking, and it sure is nice to keep many of the same plants year after year, not costing us a thing. I should take a picture of the indoor herb garden we brought in this year right before the frost. We just dig up two of each and put them in large pots in our sunroom. Our children, especially the youngest four, will nibble on the herbs all winter that way, and I can keep
    right on cooking with fresh herbs.

    The only other thing I can think of right now is that instead of buying expensive good eggs at the store, we buy them for $2 a dozen from people we know who are close to us. I love getting unpasturized, natural anything!

     

  • Kelly913
    November 20, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    I hadn't thought about savings on meds or even OTC stuff.  I'm sure that's helped us a lot-never were on prescriptions and hardly used OTC stuff even before, but I make a lot of our personal care items and it's a lot cheaper than buying, so there's money saved right there.

    I make laundry soap and it's so cheap I calculate price per week, not per load, and even then it's pennies.  I mix coconut oil and baking soda for deodorant, and really only need that in the summer.  Dishwasher detergent is borax and washing soda-again pennies per use if that.  I use an organic shampoo, but as a result of a variety of things only need it once or twice a week.  Toothpaste is also a combination of coconut oil, baking soda, essential oil and the magnesium powder I have for other purposes.

    We don't use paper products much (can't get DH off paper towels!) and that cuts expenses too.

    Quoting michiganmom116:

    Well, we DO have special dietary needs:  I have to stick to low-carb/no-sugar meals, and I find that at least 4 of the 5 living here have moderate to painful reactions to grains i.e. gluten.  Most people would freak at the thought of eating gluten-free, but I found that getting rid of the actual foods with grains was much easier than trying to find the expensive substitutes.  I do still use (expensive) almond meal and coconut flour to make pancakes/waffles/baked goods, but I keep those things to a minimum.

    Before I changed our diet almost 2 years ago, groceries were running me $200 - $250 a month to feed seven people.  We never had red meat, I used ground turkey instead of ground beef, we raised our own poultry and took their feed money out of our grocery money, and we rarely ate pork and fish.  We ate a lot of pasta, I made my own bread, and I had oatmeal every morning for breakfast.  I kept costs down by shopping at Save A Lot for the most part, making things from scratch when I could, and buying inexpensive foods.

    Once I realized we had to change diets, I did a lot of research.  I chose to avoid grain foods (breads, cereal, pasta) and dairy products like milk and yogurt.  I realized that we had to buy real butter instead of margarine, use olive oil instead of cheaper veggie oils, buy more veggies (yikes at the cost!), and work a little harder in the garden area.  I also decided that we needed to buy a whole beef every year and eat more red meat, and get more fish in our diet.  Those changes wouldn't be cheap, but as we got into it I realized that by dumping the "filler" grain foods (pasta, cereal, bread) and milk, our groceries were only costing about $10/week more than I had been paying, AND I was getting more nutrients in our diet.  We don't need snacks because we've fed our bodies what they need...they don't ask for more between meals.  We feel better.  We've been able to cut out medications and supplements to the tune of saving over $1000 a year, which more than makes up for the extra grocery cost of $10 a week avg.

    I have to go for now because my computer is going to shut down.  I can answer questions later.


     

  • aenima49
    November 20, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    I buy what is on sale!

  • jessicasmom1
    November 20, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    I have Father who was a border diabetic  and DD who is red dye # 40 sensitive so we cut out sugar, watch the dyes in every product and no food dye is used in our home. Whole wheat bread and pasta. We cook with olive oil, butter .  We buy our Beef, Chicken and Pork at our local farmer it seems like a chunk of money but that I don't mind spending all at once the food lasts us and if far cheaper than if I was to by at that meat at the grocery store and I know what those animals are eating before I buy them are farmer is great guy! truly I don't like the taste of grocery store meat after I bought from the farm there is no comparison. I agree whole food cooking leaves no room for snacks you stay fuller longer and no one misses the sugar, Father is no longer even close to being diabetic <3 and DD is happy and healthy along with myself.

  • italianbesos
    November 20, 2012 at 8:35 PM

     How did you manage to spend so little. Our family of four spends $450-700 a month on groceries.

    Quoting michiganmom116:

    Well, we DO have special dietary needs:  I have to stick to low-carb/no-sugar meals, and I find that at least 4 of the 5 living here have moderate to painful reactions to grains i.e. gluten.  Most people would freak at the thought of eating gluten-free, but I found that getting rid of the actual foods with grains was much easier than trying to find the expensive substitutes.  I do still use (expensive) almond meal and coconut flour to make pancakes/waffles/baked goods, but I keep those things to a minimum.

    Before I changed our diet almost 2 years ago, groceries were running me $200 - $250 a month to feed seven people.  We never had red meat, I used ground turkey instead of ground beef, we raised our own poultry and took their feed money out of our grocery money, and we rarely ate pork and fish.  We ate a lot of pasta, I made my own bread, and I had oatmeal every morning for breakfast.  I kept costs down by shopping at Save A Lot for the most part, making things from scratch when I could, and buying inexpensive foods.

    Once I realized we had to change diets, I did a lot of research.  I chose to avoid grain foods (breads, cereal, pasta) and dairy products like milk and yogurt.  I realized that we had to buy real butter instead of margarine, use olive oil instead of cheaper veggie oils, buy more veggies (yikes at the cost!), and work a little harder in the garden area.  I also decided that we needed to buy a whole beef every year and eat more red meat, and get more fish in our diet.  Those changes wouldn't be cheap, but as we got into it I realized that by dumping the "filler" grain foods (pasta, cereal, bread) and milk, our groceries were only costing about $10/week more than I had been paying, AND I was getting more nutrients in our diet.  We don't need snacks because we've fed our bodies what they need...they don't ask for more between meals.  We feel better.  We've been able to cut out medications and supplements to the tune of saving over $1000 a year, which more than makes up for the extra grocery cost of $10 a week avg.

    I have to go for now because my computer is going to shut down.  I can answer questions later.


     

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