Top 5 Resources for Eating Well on a Budget
Our two kids (actually, our kids AND my husband) eat us out of house and home on a weekly basis. Here are the resources that help us feed everyone on $150 a week.
1. Budget Bytes
Beth writes an amazing and award-winning arsenal of budget friendly recipes on her blog, Budget Bytes. She says, "I believe you can create meals that you’re proud of, meals that make you feel full and healthy, meals that make you want to brag on social media, meals that will make you want your leftovers (no, really). I believe you can have all of this without spending your whole paycheck, buying a bunch of fancy kitchenware, or spending all day in the kitchen. I believe you can spend less and enjoy more." and I couldn't agree more!
"I believe good food doesn't have to be complicated or expensive"
Head to budgetbytes.com and find your new favorite weeknight go-to.
The budget shopper's BEST. FRIEND.
Any time someone asks me how to save money on groceries, my first question is, "do you shop at Aldi?"
There's no way around it -- Aldi is the most bang for your buck right now when it comes to grocery shopping, and their selection of organics and specialty foods is constantly growing, which is great. Even their wine options, oh my gosh!
There is a little bit of a hurdle for people, which I totally understand. The aisles look more like a cheap bulk store than a nice grocery. You have to have a quarter to use a cart. You bring your own bags (or pay for some at the register). But appreciate it for what it is, and you won't look back.
I've shopped at Aldi long enough now that I know what they carry and what they don't. If it's a week where I've got a little more time to hit a second store, I'll do that AFTER I go to Aldi. But if I don't want to make multiple stops, I am well acquainted with Aldi enough that I can easily substitute ingredients in my recipes to reflect what I know they do have, and dinner always turns out fine.
If you need more convincing, just follow @aldiusa on instagram! You'll see that they're actually a very forward-thinking company and work with some bigger bloggers to create amazing recipes using Aldi ingredients.
I can't get over this book, and I'm never going to stop talking about it. Tamar Adler will turn your food world upside-down with her gorgeous language about making much of little. She'll teach you that a pot of beans is a sufficient enough meal in Italy, which will make you want to recreate it in your kitchen to feel more worldly. She'll teach you that rice is not the enemy and can actually make a dinner party meal completely accessible, fun and interactive on a budget. She'll teach you how to use the VERY ends of every single ingredient, not letting anything go to waste. It's life-changing and the basis for much of the Seamless Meal Plan course.
4. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
Even our little city of Evansville, IN has many options for CSA shares, some of which use all organic growing practices. Here's the lowdown: you purchase a share of a farm's crop at the beginning of the growing season. Then, from May to about September, you get a basket full of what they've grown each week. Good CSAs offer a wide variety of locally grown and seasonal fruits and vegetables that you probably wouldn't have access to otherwise, and you get a discount from what you'd typically spend at the grocery store for purchasing up-front. On average, a full share will cost you $600-700 for a week's worth of produce for 5 months. That shakes out to $30 a week for organic produce. Try beating that at the grocery store!
To find a CSA near you, check out localharvest.org.
Take it a step further and meal plan AROUND what you get in your CSA basket to make sure you're actually getting ahead of your grocery budget. For ideas on how to meal plan around seasonal produce, check out 16 weeks worth of meal plans over on alliepeach.com
5. Cow Share (or Hog Share or Chicken Share)
Go in with a neighbor or a friend on bulk, locally raised meat. Talk to each other about how much space you have in your freezer, how much you'd be willing to spend, and what cuts of meat you usually eat. You'll save dollars per pound and you'll get a product that's humanely raised, sustainably butchered, and healthier for your body. Again, meal plan around what you have by thinking about how much meat you actually need for the week, then taking inventory of your freezer to see what 2-3 cuts you can thaw to use in your cooking.