Lately I have been taking an honest look at my budget, without even looking I already knew that I spent more than many of my friends on food throughout the month. I have always used the allergy excuse, which does genuinely add cost to our food bill. We want to make sure that our oldest doesn't always feel like the odd man out, so I happily buy her $6 loaf of bread vs our $2 loaf the rest of the family eats.
Even with the allergy card I have come to realize I need to take a harder look at my food budget each month. It is time to start making some adjustments. Not only for myself, but also to show my clients it is possible. I hear way to often that it is too expensive to eat healthy. Eating healthy on a budget may not be the easiest option, but it is possible.
1) PLAN: You have to plan out your meals each week before hitting the grocery store. This is important not only for the budget part but also for sticking to a nutrition plan anyways. And once you have planned you have to stick to it. When we stray from our plan it costs in money and calories.
2) BULK: Learn to shop in bulk. There is no need to pay for the fancy packaging or the cute little single serving sizes. Instead buy in bulk then spend a few minutes prepping when you get home. We all know that you are more likely to eat your fruits and veggies if they are ready to go, so get them ready to go. Include that prep time into your overall grocery time each week.
3) HOME: Eating at home is always cheaper than eating out. I train a few single people that rarely eat at home, no matter what I say. But guess what, their results are slow to come and with what they are spending they could easily afford that amazing vacation we all dream of every winter.
4) DEALS: Watch for the deals and learn to love your freezer. When deals come up on meat take advantage of them. Again, you have to prep with this one. When you get home divide your meat into meal size quantities and stick them in the freezer. There are also more expensive items that every family loves, remember that these are treats and not needed every week. Then watch for these items to come up on sale. If it is fruits or veggies buy them when they are in season, it isn't really worth it to buy them "fresh" when they aren't in season. My kids love mangoes, in season I can get these for $0.50 a piece vs in the winter when they run almost $2 a piece. Guess what, the $2 mangoes go to waste because they just aren't as good when they aren't in season.
5) COOK: Learn to cook, not just microwave. Learning about spices and how to use them, it is a great way to add flavor to bulk foods.
6) STICK TO IT: It may take some adjusting but really force yourself to stick to this. You will find that at the end of the month the budget is looking better, and your waist line is too.