I take my job of meal planner and family cook very seriously. We can save and plan our money wisely, but if we are not healthy enough to thrive and spend it, what is it all for? Healthy bodies start with healthy food. My family eats a primarily plant based diet that requires a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole foods. These things can be more costly, but it is possible to feed your family healthily and stay on a budget. Here are a few tips that work for me and my family, and I know they can work for you too!
Before you head to the store…
- Plan your menus for the week.
This is your roadmap for your family’s mealtimes. If you go to the store on Monday mornings, consider doing your planning on Sunday nights. I use my Erin Condren planner to list out my meals for the week, and then write out my grocery list to correspond to those meals. There are also lots of great apps and websites available to help you organize your meals and grocery lists.
- Take inventory
Before you plan your menus for the week, take inventory of your pantry and fridge. Then, when you browse your recipes, keep your eyes peeled for dishes using those ingredients or look for ways to modify recipes with what you have. There are also some great websites out there where you can plug in your ingredients, and it will give you a recipe using what you have on hand.
- Browse discount sites and read the grocery circulars
There is lots of money to be saved if you know were to look. My family eats a lot of produce. I am not a coupon cutter (kudos to you if you are!), but I scour the circulars each week for greens and veggies I buy regularly for the best deals. I also subscribe to discount sites like Vegan Cuts and Spencer’s Market for deals on specialty vegan products that are typically more expensive in the stores.
When you go to the store…
- Shop once a week
Grocery shopping can be a time suck, not to mention a wallet drain, if you are going every other day. Efficiency is the key to success! If you plan your menus for the week, you can get your shopping done in one stop, eliminating the need to “just pick up one thing from the store,” which inevitably leads you to pick one or two more things you do not really need.
- Avoid pre-cut, pre-washed packed veggies
Stores charge more for these. If you do your meal planning and shopping once a week, you can wash all your fruits and veggies as soon as you get home from the store and have everything at your ready when you need it during the week – just like those pre-washed bags, but instead, you did it yourself at a fraction of the cost.
- Buy in bulk
The bulk bins at the market offer major savings versus packaged mixes. Beans, grains, and nuts are all available in bulk. When you get home and cook them up, be sure to double the batch and freeze what you aren’t using so you have fresh stuff ready to go for the next time you need it – money saving and time efficient!
When you are at home…
- Make your own snacks and desserts
These “specialty” items cost a fortune. Kale chips and chocolate chip cookies are two of my favorites in this category. I can make them significantly cheaper than the $6 bag (of kale chips) at my Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Every once in a while, it is fun to splurge, but consider making your own dips, roasted nuts, granola bars, and popcorn. You’ll save money while getting in touch with your inner chef goddess!
- Reinvent your leftovers
Leftovers are great for lunch, but don’t miss out on an opportunity to repurpose last night’s dinner into a new meal for later in the week. For example, those Greek pitas and saffron rice from Sunday’s dinner can be transformed into a Mediterranean “arroz con pollo” with a different side veggie. You are cleaning out your fridge, making a healthy meal, and saving money all at the same time!
With the proper planning, delicious, healthy food is always available on budget and on schedule! Happy eating!
This post was originally published on http://TheHeavyPurse.com on July 30, 2014.