5 ways to start eating well on a budget.
For those of you just tuning in, I’ve been rambling on about how our family of 4 eats (well, in my humble opinion) on a budget of $400 a month. That’s less than half the national average (I’ll get to that in a minute)…and we eat risotto, sirloin steak, chicken roulades and tasty desserts like homemade ice cream. That monthly figure also includes my weekly vice, Wine Friday, as well as my love for entertaining and sharing food with friends and neighbors.
So I’ve put together a few tips to help you get started eating well on a budget, as well as why in the world I do what I do. For many of you it’s a refresher, and for those of you just joining the party, I hope you’ll find it helpful.
Eat well for less in 5 simple steps:
#1 – Set Your Budget.
Any idea what you spend on groceries each month? No? Then step 1 is to start tracking what you spend to get a sense of how many hard-earned benjamins are going to food. Yes, this could be a pain and, yes, you may need to pick yourself up off the floor after tracking it for the first time but…I promise it’s worth it. After a month or two you’ll see how much you are spending and what (if any) expensive or unnecessary items you can say adios to.
Already track what you spend? I probably don’t need to tell you then that it’s important to set your budget and try (within reason) to stick to it. Here’s my advice: Set a budget that’s realistic…not one where your family is left so hungry they turn on you. I would hate that.
Yes, each family’s budget is going to be different based on how many are in your family, what you eat, etc. Most big wig financial experts I’ve followed recommend 5-15% of your total income should be spent on food. Interested in what the national average is on food? Take a look.
Our budget is based on spending about $3-4 per person, per day…for nutritious, not terribly fussy, simple and spectacular dishes that anyone can make. And this blog is my attempt to show how I do that.
#2 – Decide Where to Shop.
I realize you may not live near my favorite grocery hotspots but you can still cook these fabulous recipes and pay the same amount.
The key is to identify which store(s) near you have these items for approximately the same prices. I’ve made it easy with this little spreadsheet where I keep a running total of what I buy, the cost per item and per serving, and where I’ve found the best deals per item. If you are able to find similar prices to those I’ve listed you should be able to cook for the same costs as I list per recipe. Winner winner!
#3 – Stock Your Kitchen.
#4 – Menu Planning 101.
One of the biggest ways you can save on your grocery bill while still eating well is to cook from scratch. In my experience you can pay 200-300% more by buying pre-made or going out than cooking yourself. If you plan ahead using local circulars and re-use some of the ingredients you buy throughout the week you’ll find you save even more!
Need some menu plan inspiration? Let me help.
- Budget set, check!
- Know where you’ll shop and for what items at these prices, check!
- Stock you kitchen, check!
- Plan your weekly menu, check!
- Ok, time to get cooking…
Here are 5 Recipes to Get You Going for less than $1.50 per serving:
A few more little deets…
- Find a complete list of recipes in my recipe index. Menu plans with shopping lists are here.
- Let’s connect! Join me on Facebook, Twitter or have posts emailed to you. I’m also on Pinterest and Instagram.
- Join me every Friday for Wine Friday where I feature great wines like this one for under $10.
- Learn more about why on earth I started this crazy adventure here.