It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to go out and spend a lot of money on a meal. It really bummed me out for a while, being suddenly strapped for cash/credit. My wife and I used to enjoy making an evening of it. I’d venture to say we enjoy it more than any other form of entertainment. Unfortunately for us we are broke as a joke and we’ve had to live a little leaner. To spare you the details, we’re cooking basically every meal at home out of necessity.
However, what once was a drag, has become ultimately what I look forward to everyday. To be able to come up with whole meals, (that actually taste decent) off the top of your head using only what you’ve got left in your fridge and pantry on the last day before you get paid and you don’t have a nickel to your name, is extremely satisfying. It makes me feel like I can do anything if I focus.
With this in mind, a conversation occurred on the way home from a family dinner last night between my wife and I. It involved the viewpoints of my cost cutting mother as well as my health conscious aunt. My mom has always been old school as far as the things she buys from the grocery store. It’s always , shopping at the local chain grocery store for what ever is on sale. I joke with her about it alot. I hope it doesn’t hurt her feelings. (I dont want this to come off as mom bashing because shes an amazing mom and im so grateful that my parents to be able to feed me while i was a kid.) My aunt however is more like me and my wife food wise. She goes out of her way to seek out local, (if possible) fresh and organic foods even if it may appear to cost more money. My mom believes that she can’t afford to eat this way. If she would just give it a shot she (and everyone for that matter) would see that for soundness of health, you can’t afford not to eat better. The perceived notion is that natural and organic foods costs more, while in reality it costs much less than a doctor bill incurred from putting garbage into your body. Does it really cost more to eat right? If you think it does then you’re in the majority. I offer this challenge, I say this because I have been successful for many months with this approach, which is as follows:
Step 1: Make sure you have paper and ink for your printer.
Step 2: Own a printer and computer.
Step 3: Print organic food coupons.
There are a number of manufacturer websites that offer coupons for just about anything you would want to eat. It takes time to sort through the crap, but once you do it for a few weeks in a row, it becomes routine. You also would do well to check the sites of Whole Foods and Fresh Market for example and see what the weekly specials are. Your meal planning can revolve around what’s on sale at any given time. I’m saying Whole Foods and Fresh Market because that’s what’s near me. Both stores also have bi-weekly coupons you can print from the website, the same ones are available at the store in the sale papers. The most awesome feeling is finding a coupon from a manufacturer that matches a store coupon. Double savings baby! That can easily get you some free food. On a recent trip to Whole Foods I saved $43.00 from coupons alone. Not to mention the things from the weekly sale ads we were going to buy anyway.
Step 4: If possible buy your meat from a member club. Not sure about SAM’s, but BJ’s has free range chicken, beef, lamb and bison in amounts you can stock up on. On one trip I found 2 lbs of bison for $7.00. Normally that would cost $18.00 at your local grocery if they even carried it at all. Something I never knew about bison is that USDA regulation states that bison can not have any hormones whatsoever, much stricter than beef production.
Step 5: Eat less meat
Step 6: Find a family member or friend that raises chickens for eggs. If you can get free eggs that haven’t been treated with anything and have been raised humanely, win-win. And if you can get duck eggs, win-win-win.
Step 7: Find a produce stand or farmers market that you can trust. Sadly this is the hardest one for me but you might live in an area abundant with locally grown fruit and veg.
Step 8: Drink good water. If you think it’s all the same I’d advise you watch a documentary called “tapped”. It’s on Netflix, eye opening indeed.
With that said. I have been able to save about $200.00 a month for a family of 3, eating I’d say around 90% organic foods. It’s made me feel better and less tired. I’m proud of it and know I’m doing the best I can for my kid so that he doesn’t grow up unhealthy, diabetic, or obese like so many children in this country. Here are a few things I’ve been cooking up over the last few months. Some of these have been in other recent posts but I wanted you to see what’s possible, even on a tight budget.