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New here and wondering how to get started eating fantastically on a budget?

Here’s my little guide to using this site and why in the world I do what I do.

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.

What you’ll find here: my 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.

Here are the essentials for stocking your frugal kitchen, both for your pantry and your refrigerator/freezer.  If you cook using these recipes with any regularity you’ll use them over and over.

#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!

…so buy sausage on sale and serve it in this amazing risotto and later in a hearty white bean, spinach and sausage soup.

Need some menu plan inspiration?  Let me help.

#5 – Start Cooking.

  • 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:

Weekend Chile Rellenos

Quinoa Salad with Mango and Avocado

Pork Medallions with Cherry Zinfandel Sauce

Prosciutto and Caramelized Onion Pizza

Blueberry Macaroon Tart with Pistachios

A few more getting-around type things…

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. you’re site is just so fun to be on!:)) I had a nagging thought about organic produce, I’ve been encouraged to by all organic, so we do and it is really expensive! But I have a hard time justifying not buying it, because the pesticides. What are your thoughts for your family regarding organic or not? I’d love to hear em. love kimi

    April 22, 2012
    • I really struggle with this too, and have come to feel that a good balance for us is to buy those items that we eat often and contain the highest amount of pesticides (I’ve listed them here: For us that typically includes milk, yogurt, lettuce/spinach, apples, applesauce, and berries. Unfortunately we don’t have the budget to buy all organic so I’ve prioritized those that we eat the most, especially the kids. It’s hard, especially when you’re making the choice for your kids!

      April 22, 2012
  2. megskie #

    hi, its so nice to come across your blog. 🙂 i’ve been doing the same thing on my family (family of 5) i’ve been listing down all our groceries including the supermarket so that i track down where to buy more items with less price. What I need to do now is to plan in advance our menu, I often ended picking up anything from the grocery and having a run down of what I am going to cook for lunch or dinner. Usually I ended up lots of items inside my fridge, untouch.

    July 16, 2012
    • Thanks! I actually have a number of menu plans with shopping lists that you may find helpful. Just click on the Menu Plans category.

      July 16, 2012
  3. beautystillremains #

    So happy I came across your site! Great tips!

    July 16, 2012
  4. Happy that I found you. I’ve done menu planning off & on for years,planning around grocery sales & coupons. I’m off right now…it’s just so time-consuming & I’m usually exhausted after work. You’re inspiring me again.

    July 17, 2012
    • I know…it does take some work. That’s partly why I started the blog, to motivate me and hopefully others too. The key for me is a glass of wine while I do it – something to look forward to!

      July 17, 2012

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