Eating Healthy on a Budget

I think this is probably the biggest excuse I’ve heard, and given, when it comes to eating healthier. But it’s so expensive.

Yeah, it can be. It can also be cheap if you plan. Check out the sale ads. Check out the coupons. What’s already in your pantry or fridge? What can you make that doesn’t take crazy ingredients? It’s possible to eat healthier and eat cheaper.

In our house, we’re feeding 2 people. Mr. Chocolate and myself. Plus 3 animals. We have had a grocery budget of roughly $100 a week for the past 2 months. And we’re doing just fine. We factor in a night out each week and a meal with his parents. Neither of which come out of our grocery budget. We do also have the luxury of having fresh beef in the freezer whenever we want it. That also helps. That being said, I get tired of beef.

So this week’s menu is as follows (well, at least how it was supposed to be before we have tons of leftovers from last night’s dinner)…

Monday: Beef enchiladas with rice & beans
Tuesday: Soup & hot ham sandwiches
Wednesday: Cheeseburgers & roasted potatoes
Thursday: Leftover burgers
Friday: Birthday celebration for Mr. Chocolate’s dad (out to eat)
Saturday: Wedding dinner for my dad
Sunday: Pork chops with sour kraut & apple sauce

We also have breakfasts, snacks, and lunches that we have to plan for. Usually a combination of leftovers & sandwiches for lunch. Oatmeal and fruit for breakfast or snacks. Mr. Chocolate is a fan of gummy fruit snacks and granola bars. I swear, I think he’s still 12 years old.

With that menu plan, and what I could raid out of our freezer, my grocery list was created.

Hamburger buns
Tortillas
Refried beans
Enchilada sauce
Pork chops
Sour Kraut
Lunch meat
Milk
Bread
Sliced cheese
Oatmeal
Fruit (bananas & oranges)
Veggies (Celery, lettuce, & tomato)
Turkey Bacon
Fruit snacks
Apple sauce
Ketchup
Flatout Wraps

We thankfully already have the ground beef, some Mexican flavored rice & potatoes. The soup is in the freezer and will be thawed out to eat this week.

So my grand grocery shopping trip this week. All of that listed above. It came out to $65 and some change. Not hard to feed 2 people & 3 animals (plus all household needs, like TP & cleaning supplies) on a budget. It is do-able. You just have to plan.

Planning can be a pain. It takes time and patience. Some of the things I try to do when I plan our menu are:

I look at the sale ads. I try to see what I can get for cheap. Or at least get an idea of items I may want for the week.

Check coupons. I LOVE COUPONS! Seriously. I’m better at this than the sale ads. I try to plan our breakfasts, lunches, and sides around what I can find coupons for. This week I only had $2 worth of useable coupons.

Store brands. Seriously, they’re great. I can get a can of Great Value brand vegetables for about $0.65. Whereas the regular are almost always pushing $1.

Frozen fruits and vegetables. Hello cheap! I can buy a bag of frozen broccoli for $1.50, TOPS! And there’s so much broccoli in there! The same goes for corn, lima beans, pepper/onion blends. Fruit that I put in smoothies. All that fun stuff.

Portion it yourself. Why buy the single serve packs? I was looking at applesauce this weekend. I wanted some to have for dinner one night & then possibly for my lunches. Ounce for ounce, the same brand, same flavor, was $0.75 more for the prepackaged. I bought the big container.

Check your cabinets!! This is by far the biggest money saver for me. I raid our cabinets before I go grocery shopping. Our menu may change several times before I actually leave the house as I find out what we already have on hand versus what we need to get. I try to stock my cabinets when there are sales and I have coupons. This really helps when money is tight & I need to raid the cabinet even more.

We have $60 in our account for next week’s groceries. Mr. Chocolate asked me if we should put more money in the joint account for next week. I told him no. My goal is to spend no more than $50 next week.

I got this.

Pantry Clean-Out

So for some reason money is tight this month. Very tight.

I’ve decided to do a pantry clean-out to help save some money. 

Typically, the arrangement between Mr. Chocolate & myself is that I buy groceries and he pays when we get take-out or go out to eat. This month, because of tight funds, he will be paying for groceries for the rest of the month. But to help cut down on the amount of groceries we need, I’m planning to do a pantry clean-out. 

I’m hoping that we can get through the rest of the month with very little trips to the grocery store. We will need the basics for breakfasts & lunches. We’ll need things to make side dishes for dinners. Hopefully, though, our dinners will be taken care of with what we already have stashed away in the pantry. By just having that out of the way we’ll cut down on food costs big time.

On the menu for the rest of the month are things such as:

Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff  (tonight)
Crock pot Chicken & Dumplings
Pintos & Fried Potatoes 
Crock pot Salsa Chicken 
Tacos with beans & rice
Chili 
Spaghetti 
Cube Steak 

All of the items listed above we already have stuff to make them. Like I said, dinners are covered as far as pantry eating. We will have to go shopping for some veggies, bread, or some other small things to go along with some of these meals.

For the things that we do have to purchase I plan on using coupons when possible. I’ve been trying to coupon shop as much as possible, and I’ve been doing fairly well with it.

So this month will be an experiment in how well I can cook on a tight budget. And function on a super tight budget. And cook HEALTHY at that!

Who knows, maybe if this goes well I’ll try to do a big pantry clean-out a couple times a year.

I can do this.

What are some ways you try to save money in the kitchen?
Is a pantry clean-out a regular thing in your household?

Couponing.

Holy goodness it’s complicated.

I mean, it really isn’t if you just go in & buy your products & hand them your coupons. But when you’re really trying to save money it gets complicated. And one of my goals for this year is to budget & save some money. I didn’t do so well with January – and it’s not even over yet! – but that’s ok. I’m doing better than I was in December. I’m not spending as much on eating out & just random stuff I want. But at the end of January I’m going to sit down with my bank statement & my bills & create a budget. I’m going to try the Dave Ramsey tips of cash envelopes. I’m going to set a grocery budget & stick to it – that will be the hardest part. If I can get through February, I can get through March. 1 month at a time.

But back to couponing. If you can figure it out it’s pretty awesome. Like on Thursday how I managed to buy 3 boxes of hair color, a styling product, shampoo, & conditioner for, oh, $18 and some change. CVS had my brand of hair color on sale for $5.99 – I had a $2.00 coupon. This made them each $3.99. On top of that, they had the heat styling spray on sale for $3.25, I had a $1.00 coupon. But if you spent more than $15.00 on this brand of hair color – before coupons, so 3 boxes was plenty – you got a $5.00 store coupon off your next purchase. So – all of that was 1 transaction. $15 & some change. Then, my shampoo & conditioner were on sale for 2/$10.00. I had a $2.00 off 2 – which made them $8.00. But because I had everything else as my first transaction I turned right about & used my $5.00 store coupon on them, making them $3.00. I was pretty excited with myself.

My plan for today is to clean out my fridge & organize my pantry. My plan for tomorrow is to sit down with the Sunday paper – sale ads & coupons – and create a grocery list & meal plan. Then go shop. Oh how I just can’t wait!