We all know too well that prices on everything are subject to change regardless of if we like it or not. However, we cannot allow the economic changes to prevent us reaching our goal. With a family of four, (and two kids 10 and 13) we have to set budgets for everything. I’m an Excel kind of guy, but there are lots of different ways to do it.
Not a numbers person? It’s okay, keeping track of expenses gets easier over time. Plus it’s nice to know you can buy that new car, new phone or take that trip without feeling guilty.
We’ll stop talking about finances now because we’re here to talk about food. They run hand in hand, so make sure you’re using both. Next, I’ll provide you a few of my favorite tips to living and eating health on a budget.
Tip #1: Set a meal budget
Yes, it’s that simple. Plan our exactly how much you can/want to pay for food for a week (I typically buy food weekly to prevent anything from spoiling, thus wasting money). For my family our weekly budget is $150 to cover breakfast, lunch (us weekly and kids on weekends) and dinners.
Tip #2: Plan Out Your Meals
This step will help make your trips to the store short and easy. By knowing what you’re going to get helps you stay focused and get in and out the store. I first plan dinners based off of family favorites and new things. Once I know the protein, carbs and veggies we’ll be eating for dinner I move on to lunches. The kids are easy, they typically want chicken patties and Pringle’s (which is great for active kids). Our lunches are little more complex because we monitor macros (macro-nutrients -are vitals nutrients your body needs to survive; proteins, carbohydrates, fats and fibers). Lunches usually repeat themselves a few times during the week to make things easy. Next, I work out snack and breakfast the exact same way; making sure everything fits within my macros to ensure the optimal results.
Once I have all of the meals planned out I write out the necessary ingredients. The biggest money saver is the use of spices. You buy them ones and use them multiple times!
Tip #3: Shop Around
You don’t have to go to 5 different stores to find the best deals. Checkout your local ads online to see who has a sale on any of the ingredients on your list. Also, don’t be afraid to shop at less prominent stores. Where I live we have a variety of grocery stores;
- High-end grocery stores, like Whole Foods, that sale organic and fresh meats.
- Moderately priced grocery stores, like Schnucks or Diebergs, that sale a variety of organic and non-organic items. They also carry more name brand items like General Mills, Tyson etc.
- Lower priced stores, like Aldi’s. DO NOT underestimate these stores! I find my All-Natural Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast from here for around $3-4 for two.
- Farmer’s Markets are great places to find locally grown fruits and vegetables at a great price!
Sometimes we may have to go to a few different stores to get a better deal overall, so find out what’s close to you or located with a certain proximity to one another and go from there.
Tip #4: Shop Deals and Coupons
I always look for the best deals and quality when getting food for myself and family. If a deal sounds too good to be true check it out and decide for yourself.
Tip #5: Utilize Items in Your Home
Anything that you have in your home from the previous week can also be used with meals this week (within reason). Sometimes we’ll buy shredded cheese for a meal that will come in handy for more than one. Waste not want not!
So, buy now you’re probably thinking that this all sounds great but does it really work. I’ll prove it to you.
This week’s meals
- 2 eggs
- English Muffins
- Peanut Butter
- MooTubes (kid’s yogurt tubes)
- Protein Shake (I usually purchase this ever other month on Amazon for $35)
- Pita Chips (homemade, so we only had to buy the pita bread)
- Whole Wheat Artichoke Pasta
- Chicken / Tilapia
- Agave Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes
- Snap Peas
- Cauliflower Crust Pizza
- Chicken Burrito Bowl
- Loaded Baked Potatoes, Salad and Chicken Breast
- Spaghetti w/ Ground Beef (93/7 lean) and Asparagus
- Beef and Broccoli on Brown Rice
Here’s what my stash looked like after the Kirkwood Farmer’s Market, Aldi’s and Diebergs. We spent a total of $131 dollars this trip (which isn’t too bad)!