Eating Well for under $100 a week...
For some, feeding your family for under $100 a week is something that they do without barely twitching an eye, yet for so many others, it seems so impossible to accomplish this feat. As so many of us are being affected by the rising unemployment rates, the 'dip' in the economy, and the sudden rise in women who are starting to understand that, whenever possible, it's so much better for their families for them to be at home, well, people are trying to shave off what they can off their monthly expenses. One of the easiest places to start cutting back on at is, well...your food budget! And $100 can be done. It can be easily done. It can be enjoyably done and once it becomes a second nature to you...you too will giggle when you run across a site of someone having so much anxiety over trying to keep their food bill under $100 a week.
Some may be reading this in search of a menu. A tell all post of what they are supposed to eat and when...THIS ISN"T A DIET PEOPLE! This is a lifestyle, and a simple one at that. I will post a menu. I will probably most several just to encourage people and let them know that they too can achieve this goal, but for now, well, we're going to cover the basics.
1. MENU PLAN: I can not emphasize this one enough!! This is THE most important, most helpful thing that can be done to manage a food budget. Some plan monthly, and if you recieve food stamps (as I know so many are having to do lately), then this is probably what you're going to go for. Some plan every two weeks or every week. If you really think that you're going to have trouble planning your meals, DO NOT let this discourage you. You can accomplish the same goals just by planning even two or three days at a time.
2. MAKE A LIST AND STICK TO IT
3. DON"T BRING THE KIDS (OR HUBBY, IF HE SHOPS LIKE ONE, LOL) These two go hand in hand. If I have a list in hand, I'm in and out and have spent WAY less than if I am browsing along the aisles trying to decide what sounds good, listening to the kids go "Mom, can we have _____", or the hubby just sneaking the same junk into the cart! If you are a horrible impulse shopper, like myself, then girl, here's a solution for you. Use a post-it note or stick some tape in your purse and tape the list to the handle of your cart. If neccessary, at the very top, where you'll look at the most, put your goal there. For instance, you're trying to cut back because you need to save for a new washing machine, at the top of your note you're going to put "Hey, Do you REALLY want to go to the laundromat FOREVER!?!"...then, well, those cookies aren't going to sound so good anymore, huh?
4. BUY STORE BRANDS AND SHOP THE CHEAPEST STORES! Sav-a-lot and Aldi's are awesome! Walmart isn't too bad...it's still WAY better than my local IGA. The downfall with shopping at Walmart is this: THEY HAVE SO MUCH STUFF! Stores like savalot and aldis don't have that much of a selection compared to Walmart. Aldi's website even says that they sell about 1400 of the quickest moving items. If you're really trying to save money, these are the items that you are going to be using the most for the most part. And sweetie, don't you dare think that you're too good for these stores, cause, well, first of all, if that's how you're thinking, then that's probably why you're in whatever situation that you're in. Don't think that these stores are only for poor people on welfare...I went to savalot yesterday and seen a BMW in the parking lot with the word DOCTR on the license plates. He/she didn't think that they were too good for savalot!
5. COOK FROM SCRATCH! Yep, I said it! Get off your lazy butt and do it yourself! You have a family of 6 and you're going to buy everyone tv dinners?? Even a Banquet tv dinner is 99 cents a piece, and I guarantee that your crew will still be starving after that! $6 + whatever the snacks cost to finish filling them up = a BIG reason why you're not keeping your food budget under $100 a week! I can make a fried chicken dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy, a veggie and biscuits for less than that! So, just get yourself motivated and do it! You (and your family) will be very happy that you did!
6. NO EATING OUT! This is going along with the theme from 5. Again...even if you go the cheapest way...A family of four at McDonalds: 4 mcdoubles 4 fries and 4 small drinks...THAT'S STILL $12! Plus tax! I could make cheeseburgers, fries, a veggie...and bake a cake! And still have money left over! Think before you splurge!
7. EAT LESS MEAT. Your husband may not like it at first, but you can slowly 'wean' him off meat, and before long you'll be back to complaint free. Think of meat as a flavoring, not as the main dish. In the mood for steak? Instead of buying 4 filet mignons, buy a package of a cheap cut of meat, cut it into peices and throw it in the crockpot with some veggies and seasonings and make a stew or soup. Feel like fried chicken tonight? Make half the amount that you usually do and have chicken wraps or put it on top of a salad. Want shrimp? Make a stirfry instead of shrimp scampi. Catch my drift? Also, meatless nights are awesome too. And with a little bit of looking around, it can be a far cry from beans and rice or grilled cheese. If your hubby STILL insists on having meat and potatoes, make less meat and fill in the gaps with homemade bread and other cheaper sides.
8. USE LEFTOVERS CREATIVELY...and purposely, if you have to! Throw a pork roast in the crockpot for tonights dinner and tomorrow you can have hot pork sammies, bbq pork, or use the meat on tacos instead of making a fresh batch of taco meat. Roasts can become french dips. Fried chicken can become wraps or salad toppings. A bit of leftover salad can be delicious on tomorrow's sandwich at lunchtime. That leftover rice and veggies will make a WONDERFUL (trust me when I say WONDERFUL) stirfry or fried rice for tomorrows lunch. Do not...and I repeat DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE throw food away. You can use it up! Google it if you have to, lol.
Well, I know there are more tips out there, and I know that you've probably heard most of what I've listed today, however I hope that you can take something with you after finishing this post. I hope that you found SOMETHING here that gave you a moment of "Oh, that's such a great idea". I'm not saying any of these ideas are my own, they're just common knowledge around the community of eating well while eating cheaply, and now it's common knowledge for you too!
And like I said, I will soon post several menus of eating cheaply for under $100 a week on my blog at TIN FOIL ROSES. Take care, and God bless!