Eating Well on a Budget
After months and months of overspending our food budget, I decided to get serious this month. When we sat down last week to go over April’s expenses, it was embarrassing. I did a little math with May’s spendings, and I was already close to our limit for the month, and it was only the 15th! So, I decided to buck it up and get creative.
Basically, I had one more trip to the store for minimal items this month – and, I knew I had a few potluck/picnic parties coming up where I had to bring a dish.
Here are some ways I am scraping and scrimping to stay within our budget this month:
1. I went through my cabinets. I don’t know about you, but I have a few cabinets full of bags of pasta, beans, flour, grains that are just a mess, and I really don’t know what I have. I went through the cabinets and threw away anything old and took stock of what was available. There’s more there than I thought!
2. Clean out the fridge. The same goes for the fridge – I found lots of jars and bottles of things that I don’t use or shouldn’t use. I threw out (recycled!) all the junk and it left a nice, open fridge for me to be able to SEE what I have in there.
3. Now that I can see my fridge, I am making a point to go through it often to EAT LEFTOVERS! I ran out of snacky foods a few days ago, so I am scrounging the fridge during snack time to eat leftover curried sweet potatoes, Italian rice salad, leftover cooked amaranth. And you know what? I feel much better when I eat real food during my snacks as opposed to processed crackers and such.
One of my greatest feats this week was my Leftovers Frittata. Frittatas are my go-to meal for using leftovers, and this week I got super creative and made an awesome one! I had leftover cooked white potatoes and sliced raw zuccini from dinner the night before. So I browned the potatoes in olive oil, added a few scallions that were on the fritz, added the zuccini, used the end of a box of arugula that was wilting, added 4 eggs that I had beaten with a little water (to stretch them even further!), a link of cooked spicy turkey sausage that was hanging out in the freezer, topped it with some shredded cheese and baked away. So yummy!
4. Doubling recipes. I have found that it is cheaper to double a recipe than to cook a whole separate one. So I have been doubling. This makes for some great leftovers, and awesome lunch options. I can also occassionally freeze leftovers and pull them out a week or two later – I have some chicken soup waiting in the freezer for just that occassion.
5. Being strategic. I sent the hubby to the store last night for our last shopping trip of the month, and I was extremely strategic in my planning. I started with what I knew I had in the fridge and cupboards, went through my recipe books to find recipes using mostly what I have, and went from there. The key for me was using dried and cupboard ingredients and buying fresh produce from the store to supplement. That way, we are not skimping on the veggies and fruits. The trip was successful, and I think we’re going to make our budget this month!
The bottom line for me? Discipline! I have to continually remind myself to eat what we have and be creative with the foods that are in our house. I was suprised with the amount of food we have, and if I just think: keep it simple, keep it creative, I’m able to use what we have and continue to eat great foods!
So what’s been on the menu since last week’s decision to eat what we have?
– Curried sweet potatoes and white fish
– salmon burgers on bagels with sauteed potatoes and onions
– Italian rice salad with chicken sausage
– Chicken soup
– fish tacos
What dinners are to come?
– tabouli (a bulgar wheat salad with veggies)
– humus wraps
– spaghetti and turkey meatballs
– spinach salad
– Red beans and rice
– turkey burgers
– and I just discovered today that I have the ingredients for a coconut curry with carrots and garbanzo beans over brown rice. Yum!
We’re eating like kings – with whole, fresh, organic foods. And we’re doing it on a budget. I’m sure there will be more to come in this saga…