One of the Hardest Grocery Budget Questions I’m Ever Asked

A few months ago I shared about my family’s current grocery budget. Some of you felt a mighty relief that you weren’t the only one spending so much each month to feed your family . But others of you fell over with shock. (Sorry ’bout that.)

Before I get too far in to today’s post, allow me to catch you up on some grocery budget posts that will help you understand where I’m coming from here:

Long story short, we are a family of 6. We have four sons ages 19, 17, 15, and 12. Our oldest lives in the college dorm, but comes over from time to time (sometimes with friends). We almost never eat out, we don’t have cable, and we drive old vehicles. Our health care/insurance costs are amazingly low (praise the Lord!). But…we spend a boat load of money every month on groceries. Eeeeek!

groceries Lincoln

Almost every month, we fork out somewhere between $800-$1,100 dollars for food to feed our family. Yep, sounds a little scary to some of you. We used to get away with much less back when all four of our boys could share one apple for a snack and be fine until they ate their tiny little dinner.

Now it’s just not possible. Our four boys are teenagers now. They are tall. They are extremely active. We care about wholesome nutrition. Our grocery bill reflects all of this.

groceries725

One of the most difficult questions I’m asked by people is this one:

If you had to cut back on your grocery budget, what would you cut?

I open my mouth in an effort to answer, and nothing comes out. Of all our groceries, what would I not buy? What do I buy that’s a splurge that I could give up? How could I cut back?

Honestly, I’m not sure I have a good answer. I buy food. My family eats it. We waste almost nothing.

Okay, here’s one. Sometimes I splurge and buy juice. This is fun, but not a necessity. We could give that up, which would save, what? About $8 a month? I buy La Croix sparkling water, and this is a total splurge. It’s a fun drink that I could give up. Again, this offers a savings of just a few dollars every month.

Could I (tearfully) give up on buying a grass fed cow every year? Maybe. But even with that, would I really be saving money? Buying our meat in bulk like this really cuts the cost down.

And speaking of cows, I really can’t skimp on the meat at our house, as far as quantity. I feed my boys plenty of rice, potatoes, and pasta to help fill them. But they never feel satisfied without substantial protein.

groceries 411

How about produce? The thought of cutting back on fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables makes me feel sick inside. Our bodies need nourishment from these, and I would hate to cut back. Fruits and veggies are a big part of our meals, and I believe the variety of nutrients they provide helps to keep my boys feeling satisfied, especially when compared to cheap crackers or whatever else I’d offer to fill in the gaps.

Also? I’ve already stopped buying “only organic.” I gave that up several years ago when I realized the cost was keeping us from eating enough fruits and vegetables. I buy organic when the price is reasonable, but otherwise, I trust that God is bigger and we just wash and eat the nourishing conventional produce. (I save a lot of money price-matching our produce, so I’m so thankful our Wal-mart still offers this!)

We already skip the milk. We buy one gallon each week (to use for cooking) from a local farmer, so it is organic and grass fed. But one gallon. For $5.00. It’s more expensive than store-bought, but the $20 I spend on milk each month doesn’t make or break my budget.

So I guess that brings me back to:

My family eats a lot of food.

That, and we feed extra people quite frequently.

Our grocery budget allows for including extras around our table regularly, and for that, I’m extremely thankful. I wouldn’t want to ever give that up, and God continues to provide so I don’t have to.

But truly, if I had to cut back on my grocery budget, I think my kids would be hungry.

Either that or I think they might get sick more frequently. There’s no way to know that for sure, I guess, but after so many years of filling them with nourishing foods, including a lot of fruits and vegetables, I really think their bodies are thriving on the nutrients. To cut back and substitute them with “filler foods” could potentially hurt them and make our doctor bills increase. Worth it? Absolutely not.

This is where I land for my family right now. If our income decreased and we would need to cut budget in order to make it, food would be one of the last things I would/could adjust. And I know, without a doubt, that God would provide for my family’s needs. He is God and we never need to doubt him.

If I had to cut back on my grocery budget

What are your thoughts on this topic? If you had to cut back on grocery spending, what would you/could you cut out?

A Freebie for you!

Here’s something exciting!

Want a recipe eBooklet full of my Top 10 Money Saving Recipes? Join our Heavenly Homemakers Savings Club, and we’ll send it to you for FREE! (Joining means we’ll also keep you informed of all the latest money saving groceries and homemaking items we come across. A win-win!)

Top 10 Money Saving Recipes

Sign up to join our Heavenly Homemakers Savings Club here.

Also for Savings Club Members, we just finished a project we started a couple years ago (no time like the present, right?).

Another NEW Freebie for you!

30 Real Food Money Saving Tips
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This eBooklet is full of 30 Real Food Money Saving Tips. This resource is super practical and easy to read through. I bet you’ll find some ideas you hadn’t thought of before, some that you can work toward now, and some that might benefit you in a different season.

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What are your best ways of saving money on real food?

Ideas For Food To Take On the Road

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When I was a college student traveling on our choir tour bus, we were given turkey sandwiches, chips, and an apple in a sack every day for lunch 11 days in a row.  I was grateful for the sustenance, but I haven’t looked at a turkey sandwich the same way since.  Even the cafeteria food looked good after that.

(I know, I know.  First world problems.  Don’t go all you are a spoiled American on me.  That was simply my earth shattering opening paragraph to grab your attention before I say, “Here are some non-sandwich ideas for food you can take on the road to save you money while you eat healthy.”

So here are some non-sandwich ideas for food you can take on the road to save you money while you eat healthy.  See?  See how much better that sounded after my introductory paragraph about turkey sandwich burn-out?

Consider the Traveling Casserole

 Remember the time I made a Cheesy Beef and Rice to take on the road?  It worked great, tasted great, and made for a very nice change from packed sandwiches.  If you’re only going to be gone for a few hours, consider making a casserole and taking along some paper plates.  Easy and tasty!  (A meal like Easy Noodle Stir Fry also packs well.)

Love this carrier!

Soup in a Jar

My family thought I was a little crazy when I told them I was taking potato soup to eat on the road on our way to the tournament this weekend.  What can I say?  Potato Soup sounded really good to me.  I made a full pot of soup, then filled jars and packed spoons.  Soup with cheese and raspberries was surprisingly easy to eat on the road and everyone loved it!

travel food 3

Pudding Makes a Great Breakfast

We had a fridge in our hotel this weekend, so I made Tapioca Pudding and packed it up to eat for Matt and me to eat for breakfast.  It was fun!  I made a cup of coffee in the little coffeepot, then sat down with some fruit, my coffee, my Bible, and my tapioca.  This also worked great to pack the pudding in our cooler for a snack in the afternoon.  Don’t like Tapioca?  Here’s my Vanilla, Chocolate, and Butterscotch recipes. :)

travel food 2

Somehow my sliced cheese made it into this tapioca picture and the soup picture above.  
It’s like I wanted to really brag about how well I cut the cheese.

Some Obvious Non-Sandwich Ideas

You’ve probably already thought of several of these, but they are worth mentioning anyway:

Freggies Rule the World

Fruits and veggies are super easy to pack and eat on the road.  From berries to apples to oranges to carrots to sliced cucumbers to mini sweet peppers.  If you do nothing else, PACK FRUITS AND VEGETABLES.  This is the only thing that keeps our stomachs happy while traveling.  Do this.

travel food 1
Eating out while on the road is fun too, and our family likes to splurge on occasion!  But I always love to figure out more road trip food ideas.  So share yours!  What do you pack to eat on the road?

Stretch the Meat ~ Money Saving Monday

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Last week I made tacos.  My family’s was ecstatic – as if I’d presented my family with a dinner of prime rib.

Why are tacos so exciting around here?  They are a rarity.  Easy as they are to make, and tasty as they are to eat – tacos are one of the more expensive meals I serve to my family of 5 men.  It’s the meat.  The delicious, juicy, perfect-for-tacos meat.

I remember the days I could only use a 1/2 pound of hamburger meat to feed my family a meal.  Now it takes 2-3 pounds of hamburger if we’re having a meal of something in which meat is the main component – like tacos.  That’s over $15 for meat alone.  Then add lettuce, tomatoes, olives, sour cream, cheese, guac, salsa, tortillas – all in large quantities.

Thus, meals like tacos are rare, and meals where we can stretch our meat a bit further show up on our table more frequently.

I never advocate for skimping on good food just for the sake of saving a buck.  Nourishment it worth the cost – so don’t short yourself or your family on nutrients in an effort to cut food costs. But there are ways to stretch the meat you’re serving your family.  You probably have some good ideas for ways to do this, so be sure and leave a comment sharing your tips.  Here are the ideas I thought of to make your meat stretch:

Make Your Meat Stretch

Add Beans

Stir lentils, red beans, black beans, pinto beans – any of your favorite beans – into the ground meat you’re planning to serve.  Note to self: If I did this more often, we could probably have tacos more often.  How ’bout that?

Cut the Meat in Half

If you’re adding meat to a casserole, consider if cutting the amount in half will still fill and nourish your family.  I find this easy to do in recipes which include chicken, which leads me to…

Let Meat Broth Pack a Punch

When I make chicken, turkey, or beef stock – it becomes a very healthy meat-product.  (That sounds so fake, like “cheese product.”  Homemade broth is sooooo not fake, it’s just something you make with meat.  Thus, meat-product, right?)  Broth made with wholesome meats and lots of vegetables is so very flavorful!  Therefore, I find that I can cut way down on the meat in recipes that use broth.  Here’s a good example:

This weekend I made this easy Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole.  I cooked the rice directly in my nutrient-packed chicken broth.  There were so many veggies blended into my broth that it turned my rice orange.  Plus, I knew that the chicken bones filled my broth with nourishment.  Therefore, I only added about two cups of cooked chicken to two 9×13 inch casseroles.  With such flavorful broth, no one even noticed the small amount of chicken in the casserole.

colorful plate

I love how colorful this plate is with all the great veggies!

Skip It

You all know I’m a meat lover.  But even I have learned that I don’t have to eat meat all three meals every day.  Two of our favorite meatless lunches are:  Easy Cheesy Bean Dip and Easy Noodle Stir Fry.  We don’t even miss the meat when we’re eating meals like these.

Have Eggs Instead

Eggs aren’t just a great breakfast food.  Scramble or fry some up to compliment your lunch or dinner.  It doesn’t get any easier, and eggs are still an inexpensive protein to take the place of meat.

What are your ideas?  What are ways you stretch meat at your house?

What is Price Matching and How Does it Work?

What is Price-Matching and How Does it Work

I’ve recently learned the art of “price matching.”  Where has this been all my life?  (Right under my nose.  I just never looked into it before.)  This new practice has been saving me $10-$40 per week.  That’s $40-$160 per month.  That’s big savings for my family of big eaters!

What is Price Matching?

Wal-Mart offers an Ad-Matching Guarantee.  This means that if another store within 50 miles is offering a specific food at a lower price (shown in their weekly ad), Wal-mart will honor that price.  Read all the detailed information about their policy here.

It is important that you pay attention to the details of the grocery store ads.  Price matching is only valid on items “pound for pound,” “ounce for ounce,” etc.  I try to be very diligent about making sure I don’t accidentally pick up the wrong size item.

How Does Price Matching Work?

Sound complicated?  It really isn’t.  It took me exactly one shopping trip to work out all the kinks and learn how easy this practice is.

Before going shopping each week, I spend a few minutes looking at all relevant grocery store ads online.  We have very few stores in my town, so I am thankful I can price match with the stores in our nearby cities which have 6-7 stores to price match with.  I find the lowest prices from each store (mainly focusing on the produce), and make my list.

This week, my list looked something like this:

Aldi

~ Strawberries, 16 ounces, $1.29
~ Onions, 3 pound bag, 99¢
~ Red Potatoes, 5 pound bag, 99¢

Alert

~ Carrots, 2 pound bag, $1.19

Super Saver

~ Grape Tomatoes, 1 pint, 96¢
~ Blueberries, 18 ounces, $3.48 (our Walmart didn’t have this size, so I scratched that off my list)
~ Gala or Yellow Delicious Apples, 3 pound bags, $2.50 each

Wal-mart employees have been trained to quickly adjust the price of the items you are price matching.  You simply tell them the price you found that was cheaper, and they ring it up at that price.  Easy!  I try to separate my price-match items from my other items to make it easier on the cashier.

Here is a sample conversation between the cashier and me…

Cashier:  You have such beautiful hair.
Just kidding.  For some reason, the cashier never says that.  Here’s the real conversation:
Me: These are my price-match items.

Cashier:  Great, we’ll start with the pears.  How much?
Me:  99¢ per pound.
{Cashier rings up my pears at 99¢ per pound}  

Cashier:  Okay, now how about these onions?
Me:  99¢ for each bag

And so it goes until we work our way through all of my price match items.  :)

How Much Can You Save?

Here’s an example of everything I bought and how much I saved through price-matching last week.

price matching

  • 2 bags of Yellow Onions priced at $2.98 for a 3 pound bag – I got for 99¢ each (saved 3.98)
  • 3 bags of Red Potatoes priced at $3.47 for a 5 pound bag – I got for 99¢ each (saved 7.44)
  • 1 pound containers of Strawberries priced at $1.99 – I got for $1.29 each (saved 5.60)
  • D’Anjou Pears priced at $1.67/pound – I got for 99¢/pound (saved 3.69)
  • 2 bags of Halo Clementines priced at $4.97 for a 3 pound bag – I got for $3.99 each (saved 1.96)
  • 2 bags of Carrots priced at $1.48 for a 2 pound bag – I got for $1.19 each (saved .58)
  • 2 bags of Gala Apples priced at $3.47 for a 3 pound bag – I got for $2.50 each (saved 1.94)
  • 2 bags of Golden Delicious Apples priced at $3.47 for a 3 pound bag – I got for $2.50 each (saved 1.94)
  • 2 pints of Grape Tomatoes priced at $2.98 per pint – I got for 96¢ each  (saved 4.04)

Price matching saved me $31.17 this week.  It took me about 10 minutes to sit at the computer and find the prices I wanted to match and make a list.  Saving over thirty bucks in 10 minutes to feed my family real food?  Yes, I think that’s very worth my time!

Watch that you don’t fall into the trap of snatching up good deals on processed foods.  Those are out there too, so of course, I had to remind us all that those are just not worth the “price” we pay later.  You’ll be surprised though at the great deals you can get on fruits and vegetables, meats and cheeses, often organics too!

One last note:

I try not to price-match from my hometown grocery stores.  My town is small, so it doesn’t take much extra time to run into our local grocery stores to pick up the food I need.  I like to support our local stores.  Where price-matching really works well for me is offering me big city sale prices from bigger stores that would cost me an hour’s drive and a half tank of gas.  :)

Share with us!  Do you take advantage of Wal-mart’s price matching policy?  How does it work for you?  Have any other great tips to share about this?

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Want a recipe eBooklet full of my Top 10 Money Saving Recipes? Join our Heavenly Homemakers Savings Club, and we’ll send it to you for FREE! (Joining means we’ll also keep you informed of all the latest money saving groceries and homemaking items we come across. A win-win!)

Top 10 Money Saving Recipes

Sign up to join our Heavenly Homemakers Savings Club here.

“So Laura, where do you grocery shop?”

I didn’t think this was a difficult question with a complicated answer until I found myself answering a friend a few weeks ago.  She was in my kitchen enjoying a meal with some of our basketball team families.  That’s when she asked, “So Laura, where do you get your groceries here in York?”

I don’t think I have a complicated grocery shopping situation in the least, especially since I’ve been fine tuning it for years.  But my answer was no less than several paragraphs long.  I’m sure she was thinking, “Girl, just tell me what grocery store you like!”

groceries jan 5

Indeed, I do shop at our local grocery store and at Wal-mart (hooray for price matching, which I will explain in more detail soon!).  Also, I:

  • Order beef, chicken, and the occasional package of bacon from a local farmer about an hour away.
  • Order from a food co-cop, Azure Standard, which delivers once per month.
  • Get several dozen eggs each week from a man from church who raises chickens just out of town.
  • Get milk once each week from a family who raises animals in a nearby town.
  • Order one lamb per year from the same family who provides us with milk.
  • Buy from the farmer’s market and grow/preserve our own produce during the summer.
  • Order food from Amazon – lots of it.  (This shocks so many people.  “You can order food from Amazon?”  Oh yes you can!)
  • Order food from iHerb.com.
  • Order food from Vitacost.com.
  • Order food from TropicalTraditions.com.
  • And occasionally, when I’m in the city, I’ll shop at their bigger health food stores or regular grocery stores.

Um, hi.  I have a dozen grocery purchasing sources.  I really never considered how many different ways I have found for saving money and purchasing the best food I can get my hands on at the best prices.

Your food sources are going to look completely different from many of mine simply because of your location and options.  My tip for you today is to think outside the box and find the sources that will work best for you as you find wholesome, nourishing food for your family!  There are sources out there, you just have to find them.  And if you’re in the U.S. I encourage you to look into the online resources I mentioned above.  Online grocery shopping rocks!

You should know that our source for farm-fresh eggs has changed something like five times during the past nine years.  I share that to encourage you that if one source falls through, ask around and search for another source!

With a bit of trial and error, you will find what works best for you as you seek ways to find quality, real food ingredients for your family.  :)

Leave a comment and let us know where you grocery shop!  Do you like shopping online?

Cook Your Breakfast ~ Money Saving Monday

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Boxes of cereal, boxes of granola bars, boxes of poptarts, boxes of donuts, boxes of muffin mix – there are so many boxy choices.  You’re probably assuming that I’m about to tell you that all the food that comes from a box is not very good for you.  But I won’t say that.  Nope, I’ll just purse my lips and produce a forced smile because I’m not going to tell you about the dangers of eating all those preservatives and additives and empty calories that give you no energy and keep you from concentrating all morning.  After all, that would be a run-on sentence.

Instead, I’m here to express the joy of how making your own healthy, real food, preservative-free breakfast will save you lots of money.

I spent about 10 minutes on Saturday making 20 cups of Homemade Instant Oatmeal.  This is huge money savings, in about 10 minutes.  (It’s also healthier than what comes in a box, but we’re supposedly not talking about that today.)

I spent about 30 minutes on Saturday mixing up three different kinds of wholesome muffins for the freezer.  This is huge money savings, in about 30 minutes.  (It’s also healthier than what comes in a box, but we’re supposedly not talking about that today.)

My family can polish off 2-3 boxes of cereal in one sitting, easily.  That can add up to being a $12 breakfast, and that doesn’t include the milk and fruit.  Plus cereal only keeps them full for about two hours.

See, making a homemade breakfast does more than just save money.  It satisfies my family’s need for nourishment, so they are full longer and are able to concentrate on their school work all morning.  This must be because the breakfast is healthier, but we’re supposedly not talking about that today.

TIP:  Make breakfast the night before.  I do this almost every day, making our mornings go so much more smoothly!

100+ Money Saving (and Healthy, shh!) Breakfast Recipes

You will find 90 real food breakfast recipes on my Bread and Breakfast page.  I add more to it all the time.  There are so many great breakfast options!

90+ Real Food Breakfast Recipes

We also have a free eBook for you:  Healthy Breakfast Made Simple.  Download and enjoy!

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Or, it’s as simple as scrambling or frying an egg, making a smoothie, or spreading natural peanut butter on toast.  Make a homemade breakfast!!  You will save all kinds of cash (and feel better too, but we’re supposedly not talking about that today).

What are your favorite homemade breakfast foods to make?

Money Saving Monday: Clean out the Pantry and Freezer

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Since I’ve been doing my “eat from the pantry and freezer instead of buying groceries” challenge for exactly one whole day, I thought it was high time I posted an update about how it’s going so far.  That, and I thought this idea of “using what you have” fit perfectly into our Money Saving Monday series.  ;)

So there you have it.  Today’s Money Saving Monday tip is:  Challenge yourself.  Instead of running to the store for ingredients, try creating a few meals and snacks from what you have stored in your pantry and freezer.  This can save you quite a bit of money in the long run!

So far, all one day of this challenge has been very fun for me.  By the end of the month, I might not be as enthusiastic.  Either way, this is a good practice to bless your grocery budget and to help insure that you don’t waste food.

Sunday after church, we invited several college students over to eat with us.  Matt and I worked together to make a mountain of Whole Wheat Waffles, scrambled cheesy eggs, Homemade Hashbrown Patties, and fruit.  I was planning to make Peach Syrup but would you believe?  We only found one little bag of frozen peaches in our freezer.  (I guess the “eat all the frozen peaches” part of the challenge was completed before the month began.)

I decided instead to put that small amount of peaches into a pot with all the frozen berries I found hanging out in all my freezers.  Therefore, using this Peach Syrup idea, I made a Peach-Strawberry-Raspberry-Blueberry Syrup.  Matt declared it to be the best part of the meal.  And now I’m completely out of frozen fruit (except for pineapple).  Well that didn’t take long.  :)

Here’s all that was left after our feast, but I’d say there are enough waffles there to give us an easy breakfast this week:

eat from pantry 1

For High School Huddle Sunday night, I made a huge pan of Apple Crisp from the bags of apples I’d sliced and frozen this fall.  How easy was that?

eat from pantry 2

I will say that after just one day of this, I am really recognizing how much food we go through during a 24 hour period – especially when we invite others to join us.  That’s the point though.  We have plenty of food – and we are happy to share!  If this challenge only lasts a week or two before I need to start stocking up again, so be it.  That will be one or two weeks of grocery savings, and it all adds up!

Give this idea a try – I dare you.  :)

Leave a comment, inspiring us with what you have creatively come up with in your kitchen when you’ve avoided going to the grocery store!

What Are Your Best Real Food Money Saving Tips?

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Our family has been driving, and driving, and driving some more. Today we’re on the home stretch! After four days in the car driving home from California, we will be home tonight. Can’t wait!

I’m excited to get back into the routine of posting Money Saving Monday tips around here. Today, since I haven’t been able to write a tip, I thought it would be great to hear from all of you instead!

We all have different ways of saving money along our healthy eating journey. Leave a comment to share what works for you!

I’d like to put together a free downloadable resource filled with all your great ideas. This will bless so many who are striving to feed their families well.

Thanks in advance! Can’t wait to hear all the great tips you have to share!

Don’t Waste Food ~ Money Saving Monday

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Here are some real food grocery budget suggestions for you.  (Please note, I didn’t say they are good suggestions. They are just some suggestions.)

1.  Spend time and energy making an organized grocery list.  Load up the kids and go to the grocery store.  Spend an hour (with a potentially screaming baby and run-away toddler) comparing prices, making wise choices, and filling your cart with food.  Stand in line (with the baby who now insists on being held, bounced, and patted constantly on the bottom – and the toddler who has suddenly grown eight hands, all of which are grabbing candy bars).  Watch prices get scanned incorrectly, manager overriding the purchase, another employee having to run check on the actual price and thirty-two hours later, fall exhausted into your vehicle. Drive home, unload the kids, unload the groceries, find everyone a snack, wearily survey the food that needs to be put away.

With resolve, pick up 1/3 of the food you just brought home from the store and carry it directly to the trash can.  Dump it in, walk away. Your job here is done.

Why?  Why would you do that?  The next scenario makes much more sense:

2. Get $40 out of your wallet, walk to the trash can, throw it in, and walk away.

Ah yes. That is much easier than Option #1.  Why should you actually go to the trouble to make a list and go shopping when you can just stay home and throw the money away before you spend it? Definitely, pick door number 2. Or…

3.  Do everything mentioned in Option #1, only do not throw any of it away, because how silly would that be?  Put all the food away in the freezer, fridge, or pantry.  Shove the raw chicken all the way to the back of the fridge, and promptly forget about it for three weeks until it has turned green and smells like {don’t finish that sentence}.  Ignore the lettuce and grapes in the crisper drawer until they are slimy.  Open a package of rice, but don’t close it so that bugs can crawl right in.

And last but not least, Option #4:

4.  Organize and shop as suggested in Option #1, putting food away like a responsible citizen in Option #3.  Go so far as to plan a menu and actually go to the trouble to cook the food before it spoils.  Put it on your table, filling your plates.  Eat only half.  Throw the rest away.

dont waste food

These four options are obviously absurd, until you recognize that every time we throw away food, we are throwing away hard-earned money and wasting all kinds of time and energy.  We would never put cash in the garbage, so why would we think about spending that money on food and then throwing it away?

Obviously, sometimes food can occasionally go bad before we get to it.  It happens.  Don’t beat yourself up.  This isn’t about all the hungry children in other countries, unless you need it to be.

But one of the biggest ways to save money on your grocery bill, especially if you’re trying to figure out how to eat healthy food and save money at the same time is to: buy your food with a purpose, then make a point to eat it.

It’s too easy to ignore the great food choices we spent money on and let them go to waste.  Get out of the habit of putting more food on your plate or your child’s plate than you or they can eat, then throwing away what’s left.  Don’t want to eat leftovers after a meal?  Freeze them for another time or re-purpose them (like make soup with leftover veggies).

In summary:  Buy good food.  Eat it.

Or, just throw some cash into your fireplace, whichever you prefer.  :)

Add Spinach for Extra (Inexpensive) Nourishment

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Have you heard the news? Spinach is the new chocolate. It’s showing up in everything. People can’t get enough. It’s highly addicting. Spinach makes people sooooo happy.

I just made all that up.  Chocolate will always be chocolate, and spinach will…not. But at our house, the “can’t get enough spinach” statement is very true. I’ve been adding spinach to everything. (Actually, I haven’t been adding it to my coffee. I do draw the line there.)  It’s almost become a joke. The boys sit down to eat and say, “So did you add spinach to this, too?”

The good news is:  They are eating it. ALL of it. And they aren’t complaining. Even the pickiest one. Why aren’t they complaining? Because you can add spinach to many, many recipes and it will not change the flavor. It will only add nutrients. And…it might turn the food green, but whatever. I’m not trying to hide the spinach. I’m just trying to add goodness to our food in every way possible.

While I continue to learn more about eating well, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is this:  Healthy eating is not just about what you eliminate from your diet. It’s about making sure you’re filling your body with as many good nutrients as possible so that it can thrive.  I’ve also learned never to overfill my blender, which is an equally important lesson, though not so much about nourishment as it is about the regret of finding crusty peach milkshake on the ceiling three days after the episode.  But about adding nutritional value to our food…

Spinach has 19 amazing nutrients. Nineteen!!!! Vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C, fiber, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, protein, and choline – all in a spinach leaf.  Impressive.

Add Spinach for Extra Inexpensive Nourishment

The best news of all? Adding spinach to your recipes is a very inexpensive way to eat healthier. I paid $6 last week for a pound of spinach. That sounds like a lot of money until you recognize that spinach is very light weight and one pound of spinach is enough to stuff my pillow. I add spinach to meal after meal after meal. Just think of it. For about 75¢ per meal, I can add 19 fantastic nutrients to my dish.

How to add spinach to your food:

I find that simply tearing up handfuls of raw spinach with my hands and throwing it into the cooking pot works great. My cousin said that she dumps a package of raw spinach into her food processor, adds just enough water to help it spin, then purees it. Then, she freezes the pureed spinach in ice cube trays, throwing a frozen spinach cube into recipes. Brilliant!

What I’ve added spinach to successfully:

What I haven’t tried yet, but you better believe it’s on my list:

If you haven’t tried adding spinach to your recipes, I highly recommend it! If you have tried it, leave a comment to share what has worked for you.