Trying to get out of debt and still eat healthy on a budget?
So is Debbie. She asks: “We’re trying to get out of debt. How do we eat healthy on a budget?”
The good news is — it’s possible! In addition to resources like 35 Best Real Food Dinners On A Budget (+3 Tips For Frugal Meals!), I’m sharing even more tips to help you and Debbie do just that.
The Question: How do we eat healthy on a budget?
Debbie asked me:
I've read Nourishing Traditions. My biggest issue is that right now we simply cannot afford to eat pastured butter and meat all the time. We buy pastured meat on sale. However, if we can't get it on sale, we just can't swing it. We have started cooking our foods in butter, chicken fat, and coconut oil. I also cook down our chicken bones and have the broth semi regularly. What would you suggest to a family who is trying to get out of debt but still wanting to eat healthy? Thanks.
Though I can’t possibly tell any family exactly what to do, here are some tips for stretching your food dollars. Some of these are ideas; some are practical.
Before I get into the tips, let me encourage all who are reading…
First, don’t feel guilty about prioritizing Real Food. Food is right up there with having a roof over your head and water to drink. Our convenience-food society has cheapened the value of food to the point that we often we feel guilty about spending money on it.
Second, remember that conventional food may be cheaper in the short-term, but it’s not as cheap as we think — consider the host of problems it has the potential to cause in the future. Poor health, doctor bills, lack of productivity, low quality of life… some of those things cost money, some of them cost happiness. They all cost.
I mention these 2 things because we all need to make sure we’re not cutting corners in the budget now… only to pay the price later.
Debbie, you said you’re trying to get out of debt. (Which is fabulous!) Is it possible to shuffle some of that toward a larger food budget? Not all of it, but a little of it? Just throwing this out there as an idea…
Even if you can’t, here are some tips to help you eat healthy while on your tighter get-out-of-debt budget…
Tip #1 — Make Instead Of Buy
These are foods you can make instead of buy to save a bunch: bread, crackers, jerky, fermented foods like sauerkraut, your own herbal coffee (in case you are buying it), soap, toiletries (deodorant and toothpaste), tomato sauce, jams/jellies, dried fruits, trail mix, granola bars, protein bars, cereals, yogurt, mayo, desserts, broth.
Tip #2 — Allocate $ Each Month To Bulk Purchases
Put some of your food budget toward bulk purchases each month. You’ll pay a cheaper price per pound. You don’t need to buy everything in bulk; just do a few things each month to get ahead a bit more.
Here are foods you can buy in bulk: whole/half beef, bulk pantry items like coconut oil, grains, and beans, and seasonal fruits/veggies.
Tip #3 — Watch Sales!
Debbie, you’re already doing this! However, look for sales at more than Earth Fare. How about farm stands that are clearing out seasonal produce? How about a local beef farmer who has bones or organs?
If you have a Costco and are a careful shopper (I say this because it’s easy to spend more than you plan), you might consider their foods as “sales”. For example, in our area, the carton of 2 dozen organic eggs is a fantastic price.
Also, online… there are certain local and online suppliers that I watch (or get on their mailing list) just to be able to pounce when they have a sale.
For instance, Vital Choice has the best, hands-down, canned salmon. It doesn’t taste fishy and it has a great texture. Periodically, they will issue a 10% or 15% off coupon. When they do, that’s when I buy a case (or cases) of 24 cans of salmon. This uses tip #2 (the part of the budget for bulk buying) and I save 10% or 15% on top of that. I stock up on this excellent salmon once or twice per year — at a discount.
Tip #4 — Choose The Cheaper Form
Protein: if eggs are the cheapest form of protein, eat lots of eggs! If organic chicken is cheaper than beef, eat chicken (and use the whole thing to make it go further).
Milk: if you’re buying raw milk, consider buying lower quality milk for culturing into yogurt. Because when you culture, you’re making it better!
Mayo: Use less expensive oils. We love avocado oil but it’s expensive. So I use a bit of that with expeller-pressed grapeseed oil or olive oil.
Baking/Cooking Fat: Which is least expensive? Butter or coconut oil or chicken fat? Use that. (It sounds like you’re already doing this, Debbie!)
Tip #5 — Do Without
Save elsewhere in your budget so you have more available for quality food. Can you cut back or stop any of these:
- eating out
- entertainment — even movies off Netflix
- extra trips to town (save on gas)
- stay home more
- buy used instead of new (save on the item itself plus sales tax)
- don't use paper or plastic products — choose reusables like cloth, metal, or glass
Tip #6 — Batch Cooking
If you batch cook and freeze for later, the family is less likely to eat out or turn to convenience foods… which saves money. (You’re also saving tons of time.)
To introduce you to this concept of batch cooking using your slow cooker or Instant Pot (your question is so timely!)… I’d love to invite you to join me and Once-A-Month-Meals for a September Virtual Cooking Weekend this coming weekend!
*The mini menu includes the recipes (free), prep instructions, shopping list, cooking day instructions, recipe cards, labels, and thaw sheet. The recipes are free; you'll need a OAMM membership to see the entire mini menu.
You can follow along the entire weekend and see how powerful batch cooking is for keeping the budget in check! I’ll see you there!
For More Information:
- Free Thick Raw Milk Yogurt Recipe
- DIY Herbal Coffe eBook
- Homemade Mayo Video
- Traditional Cooking School's Free Recipe Database
- Vital Choice Salmon — my favorite!
- September Virtual Cooking Weekend
- Live Cooking Day On Facebook
- TCS Mini Menu
- 10 Traditional Cooking Tips For The New Wife On A Budget… With Basic Pantry & Equipment Lists!
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Does this help you figure out how to eat healthy on a budget?
thick and creamy... and cheaper than store-bought!
Free Recipe: "How To Make Thick Raw Milk Yogurt"
Is it really possible to "eat what you want to eat" like bread and butter, cinnamon rolls and cookies, meat and potatoes...
Bible-based cooking program...
...yet it's GOOD for you?
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