Healthy Frugal Eating – Is It Possible?
Nowadays more people than ever are concerned with saving money on their grocery budget. It seems that every week you grocery shop, prices have gone up. What’s sobering is that often, the cheapest food has marginal nutritional value.
The good news is that with a little more time spent on careful meal planning and shopping, you can eat a healthy diet without going over your food budget. Here are some tips that are working for many families:
1) Maximum nutritional value for less dough
One of the ways frugal moms have managed to put healthy meals on the table is by building menus around food items that provide maximum nutritional bang for the buck.
Some of these foods are potatoes, rice, beans, sweet potatoes, leafy greens and other vegetables. These foods can be cooked in many different ways and are very inexpensive.
Invest in a good vegetarian cookbook and you will find dozens of ways to prepare beans and rice, for example, without getting bored. The humble potato is still dirt cheap but can be cooked a hundred different ways and is highly nutritious.
2) Menu planning ahead
Flying by the seat of your pants in the kitchen is one quick way to blow your food budget.
Take the time to sit down once a week and plan out your menu. There are services online such as Menu Planning Central that do this for you. You may want to do this after finding out what’s on sale at your local grocery store and what you already have in your pantry and refrigerator.
Always take a quick inventory of what you already have on hand and seeing what ingredients you can add to those items to make more meals before planning your menu. It’s a good idea to plan one “leftover” night a week also.
3) Eat less
This tip might sound odd, but since most adults in America could stand to lose a few pounds, simply eating less could very well be a strategy to help you save money on food.
Why not try using a smaller plate (like a child’s size or salad plate instead of a dinner plate) and filling it only half full? Eat slowly and stop eating when you still have room in your stomach.
The Okinawans, who live to a ripe old age and enjoy good health in their golden years, have a practice of eating until they are 80% full. This habit is one reason experts say they are so healthy and how they manage to stay thin.
4) Keep it at home
One bad habit that can easily mess up the food budget is eating out. Even if you don’t eat an entire meal out, how often do you buy a snack for a cranky child, or a water for yourself when you’re hot and thirsty after a shopping excursion?
Get into the habit of always carrying a reusable bottle of water in your car. A container full of nuts and dried fruit or homemade granola can also keep you from blowing money on overpriced, wasteful snacks that are wrapped in too much packaging.
5) Waste not
Our Grandparent’s generation viewed wastefulness as a sin. While none of use would want to go back to the days of forcing a child to “clean their plate”, perhaps we could do with a bit of that waste not, want not philosophy in our modern times.
Experts say that the average family (4 people) wastes over 120 pounds of food each year. Some of this is due to bad habits and poor planning. Learn how to use leftover bits of food creatively. The Tightwad Gazette series of books has lots of ideas, or simply search Google.
One suggestion you will find is to keep containers in your freezer for leftover bits of meat, veggies and grains. When the containers are full you can defrost and put them into soups, casseroles or muffin mixes. Get creative and avoid waste and put more money back into your pocket.