I’ve been in LC circles for several years now and one question comes up all the time…”How do I keep doing this when the food is so expensive
This question is always met with a variety of answers, from helpful suggestions to the tough love type…or, because I try to always think the best, what I want to think is the tough love type. These answers include things like “Processed foods are more expensive than basic meats and veggies. ” to “The toll that eating that CRAP takes on your health makes the cost of REAL FOOD worth it!” to people who insist that you should only buy organic.
The thing is, if you’re used to just going to the grocery store and filling up a basket of food and buying it, then the addition of more perishables may well cause some budgeting issues.
If you’re used to spending very, very little because you don’t have a lot of money in your grocery budget and you and your family eat a ton of PB&J sandwiches, cheap mac and cheese, rice, and beans, then it probably is going to cost more.
If you read a bunch of blogs where they make these amazing baked items with recipes that call for a lot of things you’ve never heard of or remind you of your high school science lab, and you feel like you need to do that, too, then it is going to cost more. Keep reading those blogs because you will learn from them, but not because you are going to start baking with almond flour and coconut flour and using these things that you can only find on Amazon at fifteen bucks a pop, but don’t be afraid to get familiar with prices and pick one up every once in a while.
Keep It Simple, Sweetheart
Most of our meals are meats and veggies and that’s it, though I did invest a little of our tax refund on some things I don’t normally buy.
You can eat very well on low carb on a tight budget. One thing I’ve found that works for me is to avoid America’s largest retailer. There are still a few things that I buy at Walmart, but only very few. Every week, you should get a set of ads for your local grocery stores. They will normally have some deals included that are called “Loss Leaders”. Loss leaders are designed to get you in the store and they will normally be prominently displayed on the front page. I buy what is on sale, then I plan my menu around that. If cabbage is 3 pounds for a dollar, I buy a couple of cabbages. They last a long time in the crisper and can be used for many things, from unstuffed cabbage rolls to coleslaw. If ten pound bags of chicken thigh quarters are on sale for .59 a pound, I buy one of those. I might buy two, and seal a bunch up with my Foodsaver and put them in the deep freeze. Thigh quarters are my favorite cut of chicken. I buy bone-in breasts, the bone adds flavor and I like that crispy skin!
If you don’t have a deep freeze, you might consider investing in one. I bought mine about 10 years ago at the Salvation Army for $125. My freezer has enough meat in it that it doesn’t matter what is on sale, we will have a nice variety, even if I buy something at a rock bottom price and stock up.
It seems pricey, but a half ham is a good buy. Only buy them when they are on sale. You might spend ten bucks, but you will get a good meal off it, plus leftover ham to have with your breakfasts and package up a few things for the freezer. These are good for casseroles, stir fry, egg scrambles, salads, and soup.
A whole turkey is equally good. Off season, they run about .99/lb here in Alabama, but closer to Thanksgiving, they will be about .70/lb. You can roast the turkey, again, have a great meal, some leftovers, packs for the freezer, then make soup broth.
Frozen vegetables can be an option if they’re on sale, and often have coupons available.
Cheeses often have coupons available, and again, something is always on sale. It doesn’t have to be donkey cheese, plain old blocks from the cheese aisle work fine. Butter and cream? It’s ok to use the store brand. Oil? I buy olive oil on sale with a coupon. The important thing is that you pay attention to your labels and make sure you’re not ingesting things like sugar.
So, buy what’s on sale, don’t worry about what your neighbor is doing, and keep your meals simple.
I guess the point I am wanting to make, and budgeting is going to be a regular topic of mine, is to do the best you can with what you have. If you see people making these crazy expensive dishes, remember that you don’t have to do that, and you don’t owe anyone any explanation about why you aren’t and there is no need to feel bad about it.
That’s because we are all on the same path, and that is towards good health.