When you are tired and on a budget it seams like the only food available to you and your family is unhealthy, but that just isn’t true. Even on a budget there are ways to eat a balanced and healthy diet.
Buying Fresh Produce
Fruit with a heavy skin or a thick rind is a good buy when you are trying to have fresh fruit on a budget. Items like oranges or pomegranates will last a bit longer than grapes or berries. The same applies to vegetables like zucchini and squash. The second best way to get fresher produce into your diet is to use frozen produce. It’s better to lean more on vegetables when using frozen produce. Frozen fruit has a tendency to be more expensive.
Learn To Make Your Own Bread
In fact, learn to make all the baked goods you can. Recipes are free online and many of them have become fast and easy. There are easy recipes for machine made bread as well as oven cooked bread. Buy wheat flour instead of bleached flour. This will make your bread heavier and more filling. It will also make it healthier for your family to eat. You can also use wheat flour in pancakes, cookies, and pizza crust. Also look for easy vegan recipes. They usually require fewer ingredients.
Buy cheese blocks instead of cheese slices. A block of cheese is less expensive than grated cheese and grate into more product than buying a pre-shredded cheese would yield. It will also last longer than pre-sliced cheese because it’s not immediately available without work. It’s easier to keep a variety of cheese on hand and to create your own cheese blends. Just keep your unused cheese in a sealed plastic sandwich bag to keep it from going bad.
Buy lactose free milk or almond milk or soy milk. Lactose free milk can come in skim or 2% milk. Soy and almond can come in flavors or unsweetened. Not only do these 3 milk options last significantly longer until expiration than regular milk, for those that don’t really use that much milk, buy half gallons to ensure you can finish the smaller amount.
Eliminate animals from your diet. In our home we are eliminating pigs and cows. Poultry and fish are our main meat staples. This reduces the amount of money we spend on meat as well as reduces the amount of red meat we eat. It’s healthier for our kids and us. We also like to use canned meat packed in water. Often it is precooked, so we don’t need to worry too much about cook times or various bacteria being a part of our meal. It also limits the amount of meat we eat because we stick to one can. We also buy chunky stews and soups as well as chili. All of these items are pretty inexpensive and keep our meat bill low.
It is also good to buy lentils, peas, and beans by the bag. While it’s true that they need to be soaked before cooking, it takes little time to dump them in a bowl with some water and let them saturate at room temperature. When you get home dump them and some water in a pot and mix them occasionally while they simmer. You’ll have homemade refried beans or split pea soup in no time.
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Nobody likes to waste food because when you waste food you are also wasting money. At the same time you can never be sure how much your family will eat on any given day. Some days they eat like ravenous wild animals. The next they eat like monks who are in the middle of fasting. Here are a few ways to prepare and eat leftovers, regardless of your family’s current appetite level.
Cook Ingredients Separately
Instead of cooking all your items in one pot or frying pan, and mixing them together, try keeping them separate. This makes it easier to mix and match ingredients later on that week. This works particularly well with layered meals. For example tacos and burritos share many of the same ingredients. You could have tacos one day and burritos the next. Or you could have homemade sub sandwiches and later that week have pita bread sandwiches. Unless you make meatball sandwiches, then you make spaghetti the next day.
Make an Previous Meal an Ingredient
The only difference between chowder and a pot pie is crust. One day you could make a chowder using cream of potato soup, mixed vegetables, and a can of chicken. The next day make a pie crust, dump in the leftover chowder, and let it bake until the crust is brown. There you have a new meal, making your dinner less resource intensive.
Plan Your Shopping.
Make a meal plan for the month with eating leftovers in mind. For example, if you know you are going to have Sloppy Joe’s one night, plan to make spaghetti, or a meat lasagna the next day.
Plan To Eat Leftovers
In spite of all your effort you still may find yourself eating leftovers. The hardest part of leftovers is finding the right time to eat them. For this reason it’s important to set a time aside to do just that. I have seen families set aside a particular day where the leftovers are eaten such as Friday night when nobody wants to cook, or Sunday afternoon. Another way of setting aside time to eat leftovers is by making it a set meal. For our family, lunch is our leftover meal. The left overs are usually still fresh when eaten daily.
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Making baby food can be a great way to save money, if you are prepared to put the planning and effort into it. It allows you to make food in bulk or for your baby to try new foods that are on hand. It is particularly effective if you already eat a healthy and balanced diet. Your grocery list will only need a few tweaks. Here are a few other things to consider while making baby food.
Do you have all the right tools to make baby food? Surprisingly, most of the things you need to make baby food are already in your kitchen. Sauce glassware, baby spoons, bowls, and a strainer. The one thing that I didn’t have to make baby food was a baby food grinder, but my blender worked fine when set for puree. This doesn’t always work with cereals though. For things like oatmeal or rice a food processor would have worked better.
Make sure that the foods you plan to give your little one are age appropriate to them. Start out with your cereals and move on to sweet potatoes. Study up in books or on the internet what fruits and vegetables are appropriate at your child’s eating level. You will also want to decide if you will use formula or breast milk in you baby food. Will you want to use organic foods? What foods can help you make a balanced meal for your little one? Above all make sure new foods are introduced one at a time and watch for allergic reactions.
Now that you have made this wonderful food for your child, brace yourself for the spitting. Making your own baby food does come with the risk of feeling rejection when you tot doesn’t like your new recipe. Remember that it’s not personal. It has more to do with a new taste or texture for your little one to adjust to than mommy’s new recipe.