In the Eating Well When You Can’t Afford To series, we have covered:
Part 1 ~ The heart behind the struggle of circumstances.
Part 2 ~ The list of food based on the lowest available prices.
Part 3 ~ The menu planning tools.
I know we just want to get to the menu already, and I promise we will. However, there are a few key things that are vital to afford to eat well when you are on a tight budget:
Menu Planning Tips
Here are a few bullet points that have helped me save even more with my menu:
When we moved here to Texas mid-August, I noticed that our appetite increased though we were not as active as we had been on our farm in NY. It did not take us long to figure out we were confusing thirst with hunger and becoming dehydrated.
Hydration with primarily water is important to keep that bill down. We mix in hot tea or kombucha throughout the day, as well, but water is key.
Also, we stretch to make a bit of coffee happen for the mama and the papa. There have been times without. Those were tough times.
Like all growing children, my kids are regularly ready for something to eat. Years of daycare have taught me that the most gentle child can act atrociously when pushed to the edge of hunger. Put a lot of children together deprived of snacks and that can quickly become a nightmare that would make a grown man fear for his life. Snacks save lives.
This also ties in to cost – if the children are ravenous, they seem to panic and eat enormous amounts of snacks rather than a regular portion size. It adds up quickly.
For survival and cost, we plan snacks.
- Focus on Filling
We’re a hearty folk and as such, my family can eat; my smallest, most delicate child has baffled many that have hosted her at their table. (I do try to warn them before we are invited.) Most of us have metabolisms or activity levels that require higher calorie foods. (Hint – I am not one of them.)
I offer nutrient dense and more filling meals to keep everyone from feeling like they need to eat enormous or multiple portions. This ends up costing us less than if we were to make cheaper but less filling meals. Make sense?
I also ensure they’re full so they don’t tell random strangers or their Sunday school teachers that we don’t feed them. Yeah, that’s happened. Lots, actually. I had to become intentional about making and remembering our meals so I could rattle them off when I was questioned. Hesitancy looks like guilt, I guess.
- Desserts and Comfort food
Well-planned and placed comfort foods and desserts can make any menu seem luxurious.
I will admit, I don’t love baking, so dessert is something I have to purpose to make more often because it speaks love to my family.
Comfort food, I have down… Comfort food speaks love to me.
- The Fruit Ration
I said I would address this in this post. This is a personal decision to save money that not everyone will agree with. Like my children. And that’s fine.
My children love fruit – which is good. Unless you just bought two weeks of fruit and it is gone within 24 hours, then it is not good. True story, like a million times. So, fruit ration.
Also, it seems that even within those 24 hours of our past fruit-eating frenzies, I would find fruit already spoiled. Maybe it was because I was herding a pack of feral children through a store and didn’t notice/care what I was grabbing. Maybe it was because I let my beasties help me shop and allow them to use various methods of putting items into the cart. Or maybe it is because that Aldi cashier is in a race against time when she throws items into the cart. No judging here, just an observation… Regardless the reason, spoiled fruit is not saving anyone anything.
Lastly, fruit is expensive. We have few basics, to which if our budget allows, I then add in-season, on sale, frozen or canned fruit to our grocery list.
So, very little fruit at the bottom of our proverbial barrel. When we do get extra fruit, there is a great rejoicing throughout the land…
Thanks for stopping in, friend!
What is your top tip to save on groceries?