Let’s talk about something super fun. BUDGETING & HEALTH! Ok, ok, before you click away to go read one of my latest recipes or ditch this blog altogether, hear me out.
Since Daniel & I were first married, I have done my best to cook healthy, delicious meals for us. Eating healthily (most of the time) is just part of how we both grew up, and we feel the importance is invaluable for our family. A big part of my cooking journey and life as a homemaker is based on the idea that I don’t want to just feed my family, I want to nourish them.
But we all know that sometimes having a healthy diet is expensive, especially when grocery prices & inflation are rising but not your household salary.
So let me share with you something that I’ve learned as I have tried to think of creative ways to give my family the best, healthiest food ingredients while still not spending exorbitant amounts on our grocery bill.
I might also add that implementing the two practices below has helped our family to SLICE our grocery bill by about half. YES, half.
Practice #1 – BUYING BULK.
Bulk foods? That’s the big secret? Well, it’s one of them. There’s a few reasons that we started to do this. The main reason is because this is a way to get delicious snack foods, and larger quantity items like wheat (flour), or dried fruits & nuts much more inexpensively than buying pre-packaged versions of the same item.
For example, you can spend $15.79 for a little less than 2 lbs of dried, lightly sweetened mangoes. Or, you can buy the same quantity of that item for $11.23. That’s a little more than $4 that you just saved on that one sweet snack. What if you were able to save the same amount for several of the other items on your grocery list?
Let’s look at a few other price comparisons from the items I bought recently:
|Dried Cranberries (4 LB)||$14.81||$9.92|
|Dried Mango Slices (30oz)||$15.79||$11.23|
|Sliced Almonds (2 LB)||$8.45||$8.00|
|Flax Seeds (2 LB)||$7.85||$2.62|
|Long Grain Brown Rice (4 LB)||$2.88||$2.96|
|Red Lentils (5 LB)||$9.83||$6.50|
|Sweet Coconut Flakes (14 oz)||$2.69||$2.00 ($2.28 for 16 oz)|
|Old Fashioned Oats (42 oz)||$4.19||$1.85 ($0.71c / lb)|
Some of these price comparisons are more drastic than others, and buying bulk is certainly not the answer for every item, but it is something that has helped to tremendously reduce our grocery bill, while still allowing us to get whole and healthy foods and grains which are staples in our diet!
Another benefit of buying bulk foods is that most of the time, I’m able to buy foods in their most basic form. Dried foods such as beans, wheat berries (instead of flour) are just the dried version of what is grown on a farm, and have fewer preservatives and higher nutritional value than if you were to purchase the pre-processed, or canned version of that same item.
One final benefit of this (though I’m sure there are others), is that we actually reduce the amount of packaging and waste by buying bulk items and storing them in re-usable containers at home! This is a great sustainable way to grocery shop and reduce your food packaging footprint. 🙂
So where can you buy bulk foods? It depends on the area you live in, but I would look for any grocery store nearby that has a bulk section. We live in California, so for us that would be WinCo, Sprouts or Costco. I look specifically for grocery stores with a bulk bin section since that allows me to get exactly the quantity I want, not just “bulk” pre-packaged foods.
Practice #2 – MEAL PLANNING
The second practice I’ve started implementing is thoughtful, monthly meal planning. This may sound tedious, but let me tell you – IT IS SO WORTH IT! Spending a few hours in one afternoon to meal plan for the month can not only help you make fewer trips to the grocery store, but it can also reduce your grocery bill significantly and help you to waste less food by using up items that you already have!
Even if you don’t have time to do this for each month, you can still implement the same practices below into your weekly meal plan, and even doing that will help you to be less wasteful in your grocery shopping by only purchasing the ingredients that you truly need to make meals for the week! So let’s start.
Step #1 – make a list of all of the staple meal items that you currently have. I would recommend making a list of starches/carbs and a separate list of meat items. If you don’t have any stored meat already that needs to be used up, then I would recommend thinking about a few different types of meats that you would like to use in the next month. Once this is done, write out as many dinner food items that you can think of, using those staple food items.
See below for an example of how to do this with meat staple items:
|MEAT ITEM:||Recipes I can make with this:|
|Whole Chicken||Roasted chicken, enchiladas, Chicken curry, chicken pad thai, etc.|
|Ground Beef||Hamburgers, Fajitas, Lasagna, Spaghetti w/ homemade meatballs, Chili, etc.|
|Italian Sausage||Lasagna, Homemade Pizza, Favorite Toscana soup, Hot bratwurst sandwich etc.|
|Beef Roast||Shepherd’s pie, Pot Roast w/ Potatoes & carrots, Stew, Pulled marinated beef sandwiches, etc.|
For starches/carbs, I would make a similar list, although the recipe varieties may be fewer than the extensive list you could come up with for the meat or veggie based categories. You could use this list as a secondary list, referring back to the meat items or veggie items that you already wrote out and see what remaining items you need to shop for. For example, if you want to make a homemade pizza but need flour for the dough, or would like to purchase a pre-made dough, that would be one item that goes on your grocery list.
Step #2 – Finally, you can follow the same pattern as the meat list for vegetables, and use this as a main course for your meal or you can use them as a side dish to a main meat course that you had listed above.
I absolutely love working out this vegetable part! This helps me to get creative and add in a variety of veggies and colors into my family’s diet that I might not otherwise prepare, if I hadn’t spent some time planning. Is this the month that you’re going to learn to cook that acorn squash, or make a roasted artichoke?!
See an example of this below:
|VEGETABLE ITEM:||Recipes I can make with this:|
|Broccoli||Broccoli Cheddar soup, Vegetable Lasagna, Roasted Broccoli side dish|
|Cauliflower||Cauliflower rice, Roasted cauliflower soup, Roasted garlic cauliflower, etc.|
|Pumpkin||Butternut Squash soup, Pumpkin soup,|
|Asparagus||Asparagus & feta or goat cheese pizza, Chopped asparagus in pad thai or lasagna|
|Kale||Softened kale southwest salad, Toscana soup, breakfast casserole with kale & cheese, etc.|
|Sweet Potato||Twice baked sweet potatoes, curry-stuffed sweet potatoes, Sweet potato fries|
So that’s it!
If you would like help preparing a monthly meal plan for your family, please let me know via a direct message on Instagram at @thewellsourcedlife to find out more. I’d love to help you get started!
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