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Eating Well On A Budget July 22, 2010

Posted by Jen in Budget.
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Although it’s very important to me to eat a mostly healthy diet, it’s also very important to me to eat well on a budget.

You, too?

How about some tips for eating well on a budget, then?

Make it from scratch whenever possible. Making things from scratch that other people buy pre-made is a huge way I save money. Last night, for instance, I made whole wheat flour tortillas from scratch. They were cheap, delicious, and, bonus!, had only a few ingredients in them: King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour, baking powder, salt, olive oil, and water. Other things to make from scratch:

  • Cook beans from dry instead of buying canned
  • Make your own bread and pizza dough
  • Buy grains (such as rice) that need to be cooked the full time as opposed to those that are already par-boiled (the minute versions are so much more expensive!)
  • Cut up potatoes and bake your own oven fries instead of buying them pre-cut
  • Instead of buying rice and pasta dishes that are pre-made and pre-seasoned, do ’em yourself

Focus on whole grains, veggies, and fruits. We all know meat and dairy are super expensive, and some vegetarian faux meats are just as bad. However, if you make a meal around beans, whole grains, and veggies, your grocery bill will be much lower! A bag of kidney beans at my grocery store is about $1.31. If I cook those with a can of diced tomatoes, some spices, a chopped up onion, and some garlic, I’ve got a nice big pot of chili for just a couple of bucks. I can pour the chili over homemade polenta or brown rice and serve with a salad, and I’m good to go!

Make a budget and stick to it. Even if you still want to buy the cheap and fast versions of things, and even if you’re buying your meat come hell or high water, setting and sticking to a budget will save you lots of money. Think about it: How many people plan what they’re going to spend on groceries? Most will make a list, throw some extra things in the cart, and pay with plastic. And some people (okay, I’m guilty, too) will go to the store multiple times per week if they want something special or have run out of an ingredient at home. However, if you pick a budget (mine is $40 a week, and that feeds just me, not both of us!), take the cash out of an ATM machine, and only spend the cash designated for your groceries, I promise, you’ll save money.

Now, when I want something in the middle of the week I think extra hard about if I really need it. If I’m out of cash I can’t get it and make due with what I have, but if I have the cash I consider if my purchase will get me the most bang for my buck.

What do you do to save money?

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