Our house believes heavily in the idea that no matter what is going on in our lives, our health comes first. This means making time to exercise and eat properly. We have some basic tenets of our diet, but we also believe that no matter what our financial situation is, we will forgo nights out and trips places, but we will not let go of eating healthy. In fact, we have never really had a grocery budget because, quite frankly, we never put processed foods in our cart that contribute to a higher food bill.
Grocery shopping has always been fun for me because it was the time that I could spend money without guilt. We have to eat right?
Since moving to a small town in Wyoming almost one year ago, we have adopted the European style of grocery shopping due to our incredible local co-op and the fact that we have flexible schedules. Instead of grocery shopping once a week, we were going almost every day. The lack of planning in conjunction with some rough times employment wise, our weekly grocery bill was adding up drastically. It was time to take the bull by the horns and reign in our spending without sacrificing our health or breaking any of our food tenets.
So, how do you eat clean and eat green on a budget?
1. Separate out your shopping. Although you can’t beat the price of produce and bulk goods at our local co-op, the boxed items can get very expensive. Things like Annies (our guilty pleasure), canned organic beans, and frozen veggie burgers need to be bought from our local Safeway (or as JWail calls it “Slaveway”). We stocked up on the 10/$10 on these types of items.
2. Become a super couponer. If you have ever watched the show “Extreme Couponing” you may be impressed by the bill and wonder who has time to clip all those coupons. When I watched the show I thought, “great, but who wants to buy 10 packages of processed crap?” Most coupons in your local newspaper are not for healthy stuff. Enter Renaissance Mama. Every week she compiles a list of all the coupons on the web for all of our favorite healthy products. She even separates them into categories.
3. Make a list. Print the coupons, make a quick list and go into the stores with a plan. The whiteboard on our fridge now has a list of all the foods we can eat for the week for each meal. That way we don’t catch ourselves saying “what do you want for dinner?” “What do we have to make?” “There’s nothing to eat.”
With a little bit of time and planning, we managed for two organic eating, non-Monsanto supporting, non preservative, non processed food, vegetarian, highly active people (read:we eat a lot) to eat 3 meals a day with three snack, we paid $45 total for 5 days worth of food.
Tonight’s dinner? A variation of this girl’s recipe for sloppy lentils served over brown rice.
What tips do you have for saving money on food?
What will you spend money on regardless of cost?
Any food you can’t live without?