Healthy Eating on a Budget
How Can I Save Money on my Food Bills without Compromising on Healthier Eating?
As financial markets around the globe plunged in to freefall, taking the roller coaster ride from Hell, and even our biggest financial institutions at least faced potential ruin, tens of millions of families felt the effect of what has come to be labelled, "The Credit Crunch." Increasing mortgage and loan payments, rising fuel costs and the horrific prospect of possibly having to face unemployment are factors largely beyond the control of the average person, so where can we save some money?
The reality is that financial prudence in our grocery shopping can save the average family quite a considerable amount of money each week or month. Do we really need everything that generally drops in to our shopping trolley or cart? Do we really need to buy the top of the range brand when the supermarket's own brand may in reality be just as good? This site is devoted to looking at such issues and suggesting some ways in which we can save money on our food bills without compromising unnecessarily the quality of what we and our families eat.
Getting Started on Creating a Healthy Food Budget
The tools you will need for the job
In order that we may begin the process of determining how we will cut our food bills yet continue/begin to eat in a healthy fashion, there are a couple of implements we will need. They can already be found in most households and are called a pen and paper. Why not go and get them now and bring them to your PC so that we may get started straight away...
Okay? Sitting comfortably?...Yes?...Then let us begin...
The first step is for us to calculate precisely how much we have to spend per week/month on food. This need not be a complicated process, calculated to the cent or penny; we simply have to come up with a realistic figure which we have to work with. Begin by listing all your fixed expenses, such as your mortgage payment, car payment and utility bills - everything which you know you have to pay as it stands. Subsequently, deduct this total from your income, allow some leeway for the odd luxury, and find what you have to spend on food.
The next step is to decide at which local supermarket we are going to do our shopping. We may have a regular store which we "always" visit, but that store may not necessarily be the cheapest in our own locale. It is therefore necessary here to invest a little time exploring our options. Browse your local markets (taking your pen and paper with you!) and jot down the pluses and minuses of each store. Look at the prices of the fresh fruit and vegetables, the fresh meats. Does the store have its own brand products which offer much greater value than those household names? Again, don't overdo it - the intention here is not to shop at five different places each week to get the best deals! We are simply looking for an overall picture of which option will provide us with the best value in general.
Now that we have identified the market at which we are to do our shopping, it is time to start thinking about what we are going to buy there. Still using our trusty pad and pen, start making a list of all the basic, healthy ingredients that your family likes to eat. For example, make a list of fruit, a list of vegetables, a list of meats, and so on. Don't worry at this stage about what meals you are going to create with these ingredients, just get the basic list(s) prepared.
When we have our list of basic ingredients, we then have to look at matching them up and combining them in to tasty and healthy meals. There are several ways in which we can do this:
- We can simply take items from the lists in a "meat and two veg" fashion. For example, we may choose to have pork chops with carrots and potatoes. Not very imaginative or overly appealing, however, is it?
- We can take one of the major ingredients and search through any cookbooks we have at home for healthy recipes containing them which also include more of our ingredients.
- We can do a Google search on a number of ingredients from our lists to find healthy recipes in which they are combined. For example, search for "healthy chicken, garlic and mushroom recipe." This will generally give us a lot of options.
- We can quite simply use our imagination. If you are a novice cook, this may come later with practice, but you will be amazed at how soon you are soon coming up with tasty and healthy meal ideas of your own!