It's the end of another year and we're coming up on a New Year.
Many of us like to review the past year and think about what we could improve or start fresh. I know I do!
Does the food budget top this list for you, too?
It sure does for Mariah:
“I just went over the past year of my finances. I'm shocked to find out that I spend an average of over $1000 per month. I have 5 people in my family. My kids are tween aged. I'm so sad that it costs this much. What do other families spend? Do you have budget friendly menu tips?” –Mariah
Mariah's question is GREAT and I'm devoting today's podcast to sharing 8 tips to help her — and you — rein in your real food budget.
My list can't possibly be exhaustive, so please add your tips in the comments!
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Video from Periscope
I recorded this podcast live on Periscope last week and here's the video from that! It's just like the audio file above, except you can see it, too. 🙂
8 Tips To Help You Rein In Your Real Food Budget
In today's podcast, here are the 8 tips I shared. What would you add? Please share in the comments!
Tip #1: Take the right perspective — compare the right things.
Junk food is not as cheap as you think — when you 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.
Real food does cost more money. And it can cost quite a bit in some parts of the world. I can’t believe how much raw milk costs in certain areas! But it doesn’t have to be Whole Foods expensive and we’ll get to that.
Tip #2: Prioritize — What's the big picture?
Spend some time thinking about the most important food issues for your family… and make sure those get priority in your budget allocation.
Tip #3: Stop feeling guilty!
Remember, food is right up there with having a roof over your head and water to drink. We have to eat! And food can either make you sick or nourish you.
It's sad that our convenience-food society has cheapened the value of food to the point where most of us feel guilty about spending money on quality food.
Don’t feel guilty — make the best choices for your family according to your priorities.
Tip #4: Make instead of buy.
What foods do you buy now that you could make and save money? Items like:
- sourdough bread
- fermented foods like Kombucha or sauerkraut
- herbal coffee
- gomasio (see recipe below)
- your own toiletries like soap, deodorant, or toothpaste
Seaweed Gomasio recipe:
- 2 cups organic raw sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup kelp or dulse flakes (or powder)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sea salt
Makes: 2 cups. Toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly. Don't let them burn! They're ready when multi-colored brown, fragrant, and they begin to release their oils. Remove from heat. Let cool. Mix with seaweed and salt. Optional: lightly crush in food processor or blender. Put in shaker container or jar. Sprinkle liberally on your food. Enjoy!
Idea: use one of these sesame seed crushers to crush the mixture while sprinkling it on your food.
Tip #5: Allocate certain amount of your budget each month to bulk foods.
What share of your food budget can go to bulk purchases each month? Like buying a quarter/half/whole grass-fed beef, or toward larger quantities of grains, beans, coconut oil, etc.?
Tip #6: Watch sales!
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, I buy 3 to 4 boxes of 24 cans of salmon. This uses tip #5 (the part of the budget for bulk buying) and I save 10% or 15% on top of that. I stock up on this excellent canned salmon about once per year.
We’ve worked out members-only deals with einkorn.com and Jovial Foods for einkorn grain and flour. In fact, members: your deals expire on December 31, 2015 (unless we get an extension…) so stock up on your einkorn! (Details in the Member Area on the Recommended Resources page.)
Tip #7: Choose and use the cheaper form.
Looking for quality protein? Some types are cheaper than others. And this is true for most major food groups — there are cheaper, yet quality, types. Such as:
- Protein: ground beef, eggs, and organ meats
- Chicken is cheaper overall — use the whole thing! even the bones to make broth
- Use pasteurized milk for culturing (because you can make it better) and drink your raw milk fresh and uncultured
- Your baking fat — what’s less expensive for you — coconut oil or butter? Use that.
- Dessert — seasonal fruits and veggies may be less expensive than baking
Regarding the last (fat), I love to make homemade mayo with avocado oil but it's more expensive. So I use 1/4 cup of avocado oil and 3/4 cup of a less expensive oil like expeller pressed grapeseed oil or a milder olive oil.
Tip #8: What can you do without?
Save elsewhere in your budget so you have more available to food. This is sort of like tip #1 (prioritizing) but you're focusing on other areas of your budget to reduce those.
Can you stop or reduce any of these?
- eating out
- entertainment, including movies — look at Netflix or Amazon prime
- extra trips to town (gas)
- stay home more
- get out of debt so you aren’t spending extra money servicing the debt
- buy used instead of new
- don’t use paper or plastic products — or be very choosy about using them
- Real Food on a Real Budget eBook
- The Hidden Cost of Junk Food
- Don't Waste The Crumbs blog
- Kitchen Stewardship blog
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Anything to Add?
I would love to hear from you! Do you have questions for me, or comments about anything shared in this episode?
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