Cooking for less

These days, everyone is trying to cook more, but for less. Sometimes this means that healthy diets are put aside and “cheaper foods” such as chips and prepackaged meals are purchased, and produce is left out of the equation. This may seem like the best way to do it, but I would like to give you the tools to not only eat healthy, but for less.

About 6 weeks ago, I took a new job in favor of experience and enjoyment. However, this also meant a cut in my pay and therefore a cut in our budget. I have come up with several ways to stretch a budget and while these may be old news for you, I never know for whom, in the wide world of the Internetverse (Webverse? Webtropolis? Cyberworld?) it may be helpful.

Meal Plan: The biggest way to make sure you don’t buy what you don’t need to is plan for a week, at the least. Some people plan for two weeks or even a month (!), but I find that since I use a lot of fresh produce, it works better to just plan for a week. If you struggle to find a variety of meals or get tired of making new things, mix in some staples into your plan. Things such as spaghetti, stir-fry, grilled cheese and tomato soup, baked potatoes, salad, and chili are some of our fall backs.

More vegetarian meals: Meat can be expensive and can be unhealthy if too much is consumed. I like to plan one red meat, on chicken, on fish and several vegetarian meals throughout the week.

Frozen goods: I really try to emphasize fresh produce in my meal plan, but sometimes frozen is cheaper and an easier way to eat your fruits and veggies without breaking the bank. Frozen goods are no less nutritious than the original and can be used in a variety of ways – as stir fry, sides and within soups and casseroles.

Buy seasonal produce: Trying to buy some berries in the winter can get expensive, so try to save dishes like these and other non-seasonal items for when they are in season and on sale. If you can, plan your menu around produce that is available on sale. If you live in the Denver area, Keri with Deals in Denver does a great weekly round up of the items that are the cheapest based on the weekly ads. There are also circulars that come around in the mail and are available at the front of every grocery store. Squash is a great deal currently!

Only what you need: Making a list is crucial to sticking to a budget. It helps you focus on what you need and avoid those impulse buys.  Did you know that the layout of the store is made to make you buy more?  Don’t give in – make a list!!

Buy local: Local produce can sometimes be cheaper – farmer’s markets, farms, and orchards offer some of the best, freshest produce and are generally less expensive than the grocery stores.  Not only are you supporting  the local economy, but you are also saving the environment a little by not purchasing something that has been shipped from far away!

Do you have any more ways to save on your budget that have worked well for you?  Any other feedback?

I hope this list helps you extend your budget further and decrease your waistline as well! 😉

To your health,

Nutmeg

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One thought on “Cooking for less

  1. Great post! Another thing to add is that the bulk bins at grocery store can be your friend. Sometimes recipes call for spices you might never use again, so just buy what you need from the bulk spice section at the grocery store rather than buying the whole jar. Lentils are also your friend for affordable, protein rich dinners.

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