The holidays are officially over at our house, so it's time to get our hands dirty with the Real Food Done Frugally budget. Since my post last week, I've gotten plenty of great tips.
My favorite ideas from readers for sticking to a budget
Soli @IBelieveinButter is planning to make more cultured veggies, rather than buying them. Simple but smart. I'm going to do this too.
Steph says she's “making a lot more soups.” I usually do one per week, but I bet I can save a bunch on lunches out if I make an extra soup each week.
Avivah @OceansofJoy works with a tight budget has some great tips: “Buy in bulk, buy direct from the source, cook everything from scratch, buy only what's in season, don't shop with a list but rather stock up on what's on sale, build your pantry, know where to compromise, and don't feel guilty when you're doing the best you can!” Wow. Wisdom from an expert – Thanks Avivah! I love the idea of stocking up with what's on sale, and that's just what I did this week at one of my favorite farm stands.
Jenn says “Meal planning makes a huge difference.” Check out my first attempt:
Meal planning, week of Jan 9th
Aside for sticking with real, nutrient dense food, we don't adhere to a specific diet at our house, but we do limit grains because we all seem to feel better this way. Kid Two is currently not eating gluten and cow dairy, and I try to steer clear grains, beans, and white potatoes.
For breakfast we usually eat eggs every morning – approximately 7 per day. Kid One and Daddy have sprouted toast, Kid Two may have avocado, and I will generally eat my eggs with some leftover meat and cultured veggies. Cultured ketchup often guest stars for the other family members. Occasionally we shake things up and have soaked oatmeal with butter and frozen berries.
Lunch and dinner tend to meld together on most days. Often we will do a big pot of food – roast chicken, slow cooked meat, or a casserole dish that we eat for lunches and dinners. In the warmer months we eat more salads and steamed veggies and less warming stews. Below is a peek into our plan for a typical winter week. These will be accompanied by seasonal veggies – the more the merrier – to fill out the meals.
A typical week
Monday – Roast chicken
Tuesday – Slow cooked meat (pork, beef, bison, lamb)
Wednesday – Fish with veggies for dinner
Thursday – Pureed soup from Monday's leftover chicken carcass and farm box veggies + leftovers or an easy tuna veggie melt (sans bread).
Friday – Casserole or slow cooker veggie based meal with plenty of fat and some leftover meat. This may be a cabbage curry, spaghetti squash bolognese, shepard's pie (with cauliflower mash), quiche, or whatever I can dream up with what's left from the farm box.
Saturday – Farm box veg (new delivery arrives on Saturdays) with soaked grains and beans. (I'm at work with packed leftovers or a cheese and meat plate from home).
Do you meal plan? This was such an interesting exercise which makes me realize that I usually have Monday through Wednesday covered, and then we typically flail about the rest of the week resulting in several lunches out at restaurants for the grown-ups when we're at work and quick (read: expensive) trips to the market to buy last minute meals and snacks.
I think meal plans alone may save us quite a bit of cash! Click here to see how my meal planning evolved.
Spending for the week of Jan 9th
Farm Box (Abundant Harvest Organics) – Base ‘box' plus add-ons – $76.85
- 3 dozen pastured eggs ($7 per dozen)
- 3 half gallons Organic Pastures raw milk ($7.35 each)
- 1 pint Organic Pastures raw cream ($12 each)
- Assorted fruit and veg including: 2 pomegranates, 3 pears, beets, potatoes, a small bunch of collard greens, lettuce, 1 acorn squash, lavender, a small bunch of spinach, 1 rutabaga, 1 leek. This was not the most ‘abundant' of our boxes and I typically order our extra veggies as ‘add ons' – I just didn't have a chance this week.
Farmer's Market trip – $100
I was only stopping by for some fresh veggies, but one of my farmers,, had their ground beef/liver mix on sale for $7/pound ($2 off!), so (at the advice of Avivah above) I stocked up and bought 12 pounds totaling $86. I also bought 4 small heads of red cabbage, 2 bunches of kale, and 3 heads of cauliflower – an extra 14 bucks.
Trader Joe's – $57.19
- Organic bell peppers (3) – $2.99
- 4# Organic oranges $3.49
- 4 pounds raw cashews (for cashew butter for school lunches and snacks) $6.99 each
- 8 organic avocados ($6.98
- 6 heads organic garlic $4.47
- 2# organic pink lady apples $2.49
- 72% dark chocolate (10oz) $3.58
- 6 organic bananas (I prefer to buy local, but Kid Two goes absolutely crazy for bananas!) $1.74
- 6 oz organic blueberries $3.49 (a treat for Kid One for helping mom)
TOTAL before any extras through the week: $234.04
Since I've currently got a budget of approximately $250 per week, I've just about broken even – though the week hasn't even started. My big beef/liver purchase will mean that I need to put off buying cases of Bionaturae tomato paste and coconut cream. (I'm down to my last of each). I realized the price of raw nuts is simply NUTS – does anyone have a cheaper source?
The good news: We have a plan to feed our family for the whole week, and a fridge and pantry ready to serve it up! Secretly I'm enjoying the challenge. Shhhh. Don't tell my husband.
How's your new year's budget coming along?
Any pearls of frugality wisdom you can share?
**By the way, I think it's important to note that I live in Los Angeles, where the wages, cost of living, and price of food may differ from where you live. My budget may be more or less than yours, but the way I see it, we can all benefit from a collective cyber-community of wisdom when it comes to saving pennies. Thanks for reading!