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Eating healthy and living frugal, is it an option?

Anonymous
Posted by Anonymous
  • 11 Replies

I need help. We have switched to eating as wholesome as possible. We have been doing really well with this for the past 2 years. Only our mostly wholesome diet came with a bigger dent in our wallet. I calculated that we are spending on average $520/m on groceries for a family of 5. I would like to cut that down by at least 20%. I just dont know how. I have tried couponing but found that this mostly covers our non-food items ( things like toiletries etc..). The only coupons for food items are for boxed and processed foods, which we try our best not to buy. I have started a container garden this spring, depending on how that turns out Im hoping to save a little on some of the produce that we often buy. Only, Im not sure what we can do if we do get a decent turnout. I was thinking about jarring/canning but Im not sure how cost effective this really is, or what that does with the nutrition? I also thought about bulk buying, but again if we cant eat everything in a week, what could we do? Im in need of some good tips if you got them! 

Posted by Anonymous on Apr. 16, 2018 at 6:16 PM
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Replies (1-10):
awelling
by Ruby Member on Apr. 16, 2018 at 6:18 PM
I think fresh produce is cheaper than boxed processed food.

I look at store flyers and online store coupons.
jellybeanjean
by All the makeup on Apr. 16, 2018 at 6:19 PM
You can stock up on dried and frozen food like beans and vegetables. Most produce if it's in season is fairly inexpensive. You'll have to cut down on cheese and red meat to save a buck.
Reading.Rainbow
by Mad Martigan on Apr. 16, 2018 at 6:21 PM
1 mom liked this
$520 a month is fantastic for a family of 5...
Anonymous
by Anonymous 2 on Apr. 16, 2018 at 6:21 PM
1 mom liked this
$520 a month is very reasonable for a family of 5.

MonarchMom22
by Silver Member on Apr. 16, 2018 at 6:22 PM

I find the more unprocessed a food is, the cheaper it usually is.  Dried beans cost $1.50 for a bag that cooks up into 2 quarts vs. a can of beans that cost $1.50.  Similar with salad and vegetables, it is cheaper to buy a head of lettuce or whole carrots then a pre-washed bag, pre-cut bag.

I also shop sales and stock the freezer for organic chicken, bread and juice. We don't use many coupons either, and use very simple cleaning products like vinegar, borax and store-brand laundry soap. 

Have you tried the discount food stores like Aldi?

Dzyre1115
by Desiree` on Apr. 16, 2018 at 6:23 PM
It’s much more expensive to eat whole unprocessed food, and we’re organic on top of that. I have found buying flour, sugar, oats, rice, etc. in bulk saves me a bit of money and I buy lots of reduced produce and meats and cook them up right away or freeze for future use. Learn to cook all produce that you don’t eat fresh.
VegetaPrincess
by Ruby Member on Apr. 16, 2018 at 6:32 PM

For bulk buying, go to a place where you can buy grains and things like that from bins. You'll pay bulk prices but you don't have to buy huge amounts, only what you'll use. I buy my brown rice, steel cut oats and quinoa from sprouts like this. You can also get things like dried beans like that if you eat them. 

I'm not in favor of canning for nutritional reasons. If you have the equipment you can can things like vegetables safely, you really can't do it in water bath canning safely. Genuinely only fruits or things you've added a bunch of sugar to are safe for water bath canning. Even tomatoes are iffy because of the ph level. They're right on the cusp. People will call me an idiot for that and say their grandma did it for decades but you could kill someone. It's not worth it. 

For fruits, I buy a ton when they're on sale and freeze them. Things like strawberries, blueberries, bananas, grapes, and pineapple. I even will buy the brown bananas when they clearance them out and freeze them. They're great for smoothies. 

But I think you're already doing a great job with your budget. I don't know if you can really reduce that by 20%. 

momto2boys973
by Sapphire Member on Apr. 16, 2018 at 6:46 PM

I don’t know how much help I can be in the budget department because I’m not in the U.S. And I live in Mexico, which means we have great and cheap produce throughout the year. So here it is cheaper to eat healthy. 

One thing I do is take advantage of my freezer. For example, when I see tomatoes are so cheap they may as well give them away, I buy like 5 kilos, roast them in the oven in cookie trays or huge aluminum disposable pans, with onion, garlic, salt, pepper and spray them with some olive oil and purée it all in the blender. Cook it to reduce it and freeze it in ziploc bags. I have cheap and healthier homemade tomato purée for months. I take advantage of other produce that’s cheap, like today celery was seriously cheap, I bought 3 packages and I’m making cream of celery soup right now, that I put in deli containers or ziploc bags and freeze for a quick appetizer to a meal. Same with zucchini. I also have this veggie mixture that I make by the bulk. I sautée onion, garlic, leeks, different colored peppers, celery, carrot, peas, zuchinni, green beans, pretty much any veggie I can. I season them, add some Worcestershire for taste and I use to add it to omelettes, top grilled chicken or meat, use it in quesadillas, so I add more nutrition in a simple way. And I freeze it in portion in ziploc bags.

When something like bone in, skin on chicken breasts are on sale, buy by the bulk, boil it and shred it and again, freeze it in portions in ziplock bags. You have a quick way to make tacos, or chicken pot pie, or you can use it in soups, sandwiches and salads. If whole chicken is on sale, buy 2-3, you can roast 1-2 and use another for a good, homemade (and cheaper) chicken stock. Then shred the meat and separate in white and dark for future use. Roasted chicken also freezes beautifully. 

As for the coupons, if they don’t really include fresh, healthy food, just take advantage of the ones for cleaning supplies or toiletries and focus your money on fresh produce and lean meats. If you find a coupon for roasted chicken (many grocery stores sell those) use it! You can squeeze the money out of those things. Make “chicharrones” with the skin to out on soups or salads, shred the meat to cook in a sauce for a main dish, use what’s left of the carcass and rack after you picked it to death to make a roasted chicken stock, it’s amazing for soups and seasoning stews. You can easily make 2 meals for 4-6 people out of one roasted chicken. They’re actually a pretty good deal.

Go meatless a couple of nights a week. Some vegetable proteins like beans, lentils or chickpeas are pretty cheap and go a long way. Don’t buy those canned, buy them dry and cook them yourself. I make a kilo of beans every week or 10 days and -again- keep them in the freezer. Lentil soup is a high protein, very fulfilling meal. With a slice of crusty bread and a side salad, you have a complete meal that’s very cheap. You can make veggie burgers with any of these proteins: Black beans, lentils, chickpeas, add shredded vegetables like zucchini and carrot and bind the, with a grain, like quinoa or oats.

Another item you may find cheap and in coupons may be packages of ramen noodles. You can use the noodles for cheap and quick meals. Just toss that sodium packet away, cook the noodles and give them a quick stir fry with veggies and some kind of preteen, from lean beef, chicken or tofu. Make your own seasoning with low sodium soy sauce, Brown sugar and a dash of sriracha, or make a peanut sauce with peanut butter, soy sauce, honey, sriracha and loosen it with water or chicken stock. 

And I’ll shut up now. I got overexcited 😁

Saphira1207
by Platinum Member on Apr. 16, 2018 at 6:48 PM

Gardening is the only way to reduce your food  costs at this point.  And $520/mo for 5 people is actually really low already.

Why do you think you need to reduce it even more?

Anonymous
by Anonymous 1 - Original Poster on Apr. 16, 2018 at 9:06 PM
I have yet to try Aldi but there should be one here soon from what I'm told. Right now we are stuck with Walmart and Sam's.
I need to look into making my own household products. Thanks

Quoting MonarchMom22:

I find the more unprocessed a food is, the cheaper it usually is.  Dried beans cost $1.50 for a bag that cooks up into 2 quarts vs. a can of beans that cost $1.50.  Similar with salad and vegetables, it is cheaper to buy a head of lettuce or whole carrots then a pre-washed bag, pre-cut bag.

I also shop sales and stock the freezer for organic chicken, bread and juice. We don't use many coupons either, and use very simple cleaning products like vinegar, borax and store-brand laundry soap. 

Have you tried the discount food stores like Aldi?

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