Friday, August 13, 2010

Stretching the Food Dollars: Simplify

My last and final word on stretching your grocery dollar is to train yourself to eat more simply. We don't have to eat elaborate restaurant type food in big portions for every meal. This is an easy trap to get in the habit of setting our food expectations high, especially if you are used to eat out often. There is nothing wrong with a simple meal of beans and rice with a piece of fruit. It is healthy and cheap. The other day I cooked up some rice and melted some cheddar cheese over it to serve to the kids for lunch. They loved it! It was a simple and healthy meal paired with carrot sticks and canned fruit. Think about what simple foods your family loves. Make a meal out of this. Yes, we have the big meals, too, but keeping it simple is a very good thing, too.

Other tips for stretching the food dollar:
Eat less food. Don't wait until you feel full to stop eating. Put your fork down when you no longer feel hungry. It takes time for that food to hit your stomach and give you the feeling of being full, but once your brain realizes it has some good food in your stomach, it will turn off the hunger signals. You will eat less food, thus saving money, and perhaps loose a couple pounds in the process.
Avoid processed foods. Although that convenience food made look delightful on the box, it is full of extra fat, flavorings, fillers and chemicals that you don't really want. You are paying for the convenience of the quick, no-brainer prep, but if you learn some basic cooking skills, you will realize that you can make something from scratch in about the same amount of time. It just takes a bit of planning ahead to have the right ingredients on hand.
Set daily food budget challenges for yourself. I do this often, especially when the finances are extra tight. I will set a goal to feed our family of 8 for only $10 per day. I have to tell you that this is a bit challenging and takes some creativity. I set a goal of $5 for dinner, $2 or less each for breakfast and lunch which leaves $1 for snacks. Unfortunately, my children can blow the snack budget with just a piece of fruit each.
If you want to try this, here are some blogs with budget conscious recipes:
This wraps up this series on stretching the food dollars. I hope you have enjoyed it and gleaned some ideas from it.
I would love to hear from you. What are some of your ways to stretch your food dollars? I'm certain that there are many great ideas that I haven't even begun to touch upon. Leave a comment and share your stories.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Thanks for your stretching the food dollars series. I am getting ready to move out of the USA and am trying to find ways to keep my budget low without the coupons I normally use. Will definitely be implementing a least a few of your ideas. :D