About Me

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Eating Well on the Cheap, pt. 2

Part two of this series also comes from my notes from the upcoming eating class, see part 1: HERE

Today we get some details, yea! I'm a super nerd and numbers make me happy! But first, some tips:

Grocery shopping

  • Only (mostly) buy ingredients - buy as few pre-packaged things as you can!
  • Have a list of all the things you ever buy at the store to help make your list. See mine: Master List
  • Remember to take your list with you!
  • Be open to change if there is a good sale or something sounds good
  • Use any extra money to stock pantry
  • What about coupons? I keep meaning to do that…but...
    • Mostly processed foods
    • I’m lazy

Recipe adaptation

Just because you are eating at home doesn't mean you can't make the things you love from the packages and restaurants. You can not make McDonald's fries at home. Other than that, just about everything else can be made at home for cheaper, with fewer questionable ingredients, and usually in very little time. Think about it, when you order food at a restaurant, the kitchen makes it (along with dozens of other people's food at the same time) usually in under 15 minutes. The secret is having the ingredients prepped, but you can totally do it! There are other great reasons to cook at home, too. It is really annoying for everyone involved to have an allergy when you eat out, making meals at home cuts out that risk and frustration. Plus, if you are eating at home, you control the ingredients making things almost always healthier. I'm not a fanatic, really. I know a lot of people who would be horrified by some of the things I'm fine with - yes, I know shortening is bad, it is also cheap and dairy free, so I'm using it - yes, I know that some people think cans cause cancer, I'm slowly starting to use more dried beans and freezing some tomatoes, but cans are just too easy, so I'm not giving them up - yes, I know making condiments is a thing, but I'm just fine with my store bought mayo, mustard, and barbecue sauce, and I'm for sure not giving up my Sriracha!

Some examples from our typical meals:
  • Make-at-home fast food or restaurant food (and where I stole the dish)
    • Salmon nuggets with spicy aioli (a little Cajun restaurant that lived for a short time in Holts Summit)
    • Chicken alfredo (every chain or Italian restaurant ever)
    • Jambalaya (our trips to Destin, FL)
    • Curry (every Indian restaurant)
  • Allergies (I am dairy free, but all allergies are safer at home)
    • Pizza
    • Desserts
  • Healthier choices (I substitute whole wheat flour and no preservatives obviously)
    • Pot pie
    • Biscuits 
    • Desserts 
  • Taste preference
    • Everything! Make it how you want!

Why Do It?
  • Quality. Period.
  • Easy. If you are lazy, like me, cooking at home with some simple prep work is easier than finding your shoes and keys and dragging a toddler anywhere, that's for sure!
  • Self esteem - Being the one to feed your family from your own hands is amazing. Teaching your children how to care for themselves and the people they love gives a purpose to your life in a way that few other things do.
  • I want to scream when people tell me McD and Little Caesars are cheaper than cooking at home. It certainly isn't (see the chart below). 

Cost Comparisons
Item
Cost per serving
Meal Options with cost per serving
Apples $1/lb (about 3 apples)
Carrots $.35/lb (4 servings)
Canned beans $.70/can (3.5 servings)
Eggs $1.50/dz
Tilapia or cod $3/lb
Salmon $4/lb
Chicken, whole  $1.25/lb
Pasta, dried $1/lb (8 servings)
Potatoes $.35/lb (2 servings)
Rice, brown $1/lb (11 servings)
Frozen veggies $1.00/lb (6 servings)
Canned tomatoes $.70/can (3.5 servings)
Whole wheat bread - $3/16 slices
Oatmeal $2.29/30 servings
Dried fruit $2/8 servings
Vanilla yogurt $3.30/2 lb (6 servings)
.33
.09
.20
.13
.75
1.0
.31
.13
.17
.09
.17
.20
.19
.08
.25
.55


Homemade
Salmon, rice, veggies, apples - $1.59
Egg, oatmeal with dried fruit, toast - $.65
Tomato and bean pasta, carrots - $.62
Chicken noodle soup w/veg, yogurt – $1.16

McDonald’s
McDouble, fries $2.50

Little Caesar’s
Single topping pizza $1.59 (3.5 servings per pizza)




Grocery list with approximate prices for typical month (meals listed HERE): 
Notes:
The bulk of my prices are from Aldi or are store brand items.
I buy organic produce when it is reasonable, but most of the prices here are conventionally grown products. 
We probably actually spend another $10ish on fruit a month, but most families would be fine with the amount listed. 
Levi is seriously addicted to crackers, so we buy more than most people, I also make some and he still wishes we had more.
We are drinkers here :-) but booze has its own budget and is mostly purchased by Doug, so I don't include it.

4.00
flour
2.99
frozen mix veg (32 oz)
1.00
carrots (2 lb)
1.50
baking powder
5.00
frozen CA blend veg
0.79
celery (1 stalk)
0.05
salt
2.00
frozen juice 
1.40
onions (2 lb)
3.00
shortening
2.49
frozen strawberries
1.75
potatoes (5 lb)
2.50
milk
1.00
frozen corn
2.59
mini bell peppers
4.50
eggs (3 dz)
1.00
frozen peas
0.50
green bell pepper
6.87
old fash oats (3)


8.00
apples (20)
1.00
sour cream
5.00
pasta (5 lb)
4.99
mandarin oranges (1 box)
6.00
olive oil
1.00
spaghetti (1 lb)
3.00
bananas (20)
1.35
bouillon cubes
1.88
rice (5 cups)
0.89
cilantro
1.79
yogurt
1.00
lentils (1 lb)
1.99
spring greens
1.50
brown sugar


1.00
garlic
1.79
sugar
1.89
pretzels


2.50
honey
4.00
cashews
2.36
can beans (4)
2.00
seasonings
4.00
peanuts
1.80
can chili beans (3)


1.89
peanut butter
0.79
can pumpkin
4.69
steak (12 oz)
3.99
hummus
1.20
can tuna (2)
3.50
ground beef (1 lb)
3.78
raisins
1.58
refried beans
7.99
salmon (8 filets)
2.00
mixed dried berries
0.50
can black olives
4.99
med. shrimp (1 lb)
1.19
tortilla chips
0.50
tomato paste
3.00
andouille sausage
1.99
pita chips
2.40
can diced tomatoes (4/14 oz)
12.00
whole chicken (2/4-5 lb)
9.00
coffee
2.00
can crushed tomatoes (2/28 oz)
4.00
chicken thighs (6 thighs)
1.99
shredded wheat
1.50
tomato sauce (2)


1.69
cheerios


1.50
loaf bread
1.99
straw preserves


2.19
hoagies
1.49
jar alfredo sauce


1.50
sand bread
7.00
crackers (5 boxes)








90.92

71.25

42.53
204.70 TOTAL

So what would you like to learn in a class like this? Or what tips do you have that you would like to share?

In the next post, we will look at a super thrifty $100/month plan, stay tuned...

5 comments:

Lindsey Willow said...

Kolbi, I'm missing the recipes. Is there a link? Also, where do you do your shopping at? My situation is this: I don't have to cook for any one but me during the week, but on the weekends, I cook for at least 7 people every meal. I have limited pantry space, freezer space, and my children have hoarding problems, making it hard to keep food stocked in the house. And specific solution ideas?

Kolbi said...

I will share the recipes soon, I only have about half of them typed up. I shop mostly at Aldi, but also other stores, most often Gerbes and Schnucks. Your situation is rough, perhaps discussing solutions with their therapist or counselor would be helpful. The only thing that comes to mind is trying to include them in the meal planning and shopping so they feel that they are somewhat responsible for the food. As far as storage, what about an under the bed bin for dry goods?

Lindsey Willow said...

That is a good idea for the storage bin! As far as their hoarding, it is something I've been battling with them for 8 years over. It is possibly just staying. It comes and goes. I have tried putting up reminders for them, such as a sign that says "if I get into this now, there won't be any more of this for the rest of the month". That has helped a little. Thank you for all of this! So helpful!

Snobizjc said...

If reminder signs have been helpful, maybe portioning out the food into weekly bags or containers and labeling it with the date they can start eating it?

Lindsey Willow said...

I'm going to try that! They would like that I think because they wouldn't have to share!