Tuesday, May 17, 2011

$40 a week

many friends on facebook often post their couponing steals. mounds of food for sometimes only mere pennies. it's very tempting. almost makes me want to give couponing another chance, taking it more seriously this time.


my attempts at couponing usually resulted in frustration and wasted time. i would spend all this time finding coupons just to find a better deal on a different brand when i got to the store. and for most of the stuff on my grocery list, there were never coupons anyways.

so i quit. don't get me wrong. i don't think there is anything wrong with clipping coupons and i am excited for my friends to save money and find great deals. it's just not for me. i admit, i can get lazy, and clipping coupon just seems like too much work. i'd rather knit or sew in the evenings than clip coupons.

at the same time, i can still feed my family of 4 (technically 5, but martín doesn't eat solids yet) for as little as $40 a week. $40 a week. that's often less than what people spend with all their couponing. and i still manage to avoid most of the prepackaged and highly process foods for which coupons are so often readily available (i say most because i do keep chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese on hand in case of "emergencies"). we include a lot of whole foods that are actually often higher in price (like organic yogurt, raw milk, and farm fresh eggs). it's all about restructuring how you eat.

here's how we do it (sometimes i think i could start a whole other blog for this, but these are the basics):
- use cash for groceries. even if you end up going over in the beginning, it really challenges you to stay within the budget.
- plan a menu and write it down. take inventory of what you have in the house and plan your menu based off that. you would probaby be shocked at how much food you actually have in your house.
- cook from scratch. fresh, whole, raw ingredients.
- cook once, eat twice. don't be afraid of leftovers. sometimes we plan to eat leftovers the same week, sometimes i freeze it to eat another time. or plan multiple meals using the same protein as it can save you money(such as when chicken is buy one get one free)
- eat less meat. we sometimes share a large chicken breast between the 4 of us, filling in with extra veggies and grains.
- whole grains. make up for less meat with whole wheat pastas and brown rice. i vowed never to switch to brown rice, but i finally gave in when even my closest ally in my devotion to white rice (my dad) made the switch (except for cuban black beans. it would be blasphemous not to eat those with white rice). quinoa is another great source of protein.
- make more of the basics instead of buying them: bread, jam, waffles, stock, spaghetti sauce, biscuits, tortillas, etc. makes batches of them at one time and freeze/can the excess for future use.
- chicken on the bone. it's always on sale and much more versatile.
- buy in season. we are looking forward to the start of the farmer's market so we can get fresh, local produce for the rest of the summer.
- start a garden. andrés has quite a vegetable garden going. i never have to buy fresh herbs. i haven't had to buy lettuce for our salads this spring. not to mention, the kids LOVE vegetable gardening.

this week i spent $40 on groceries and this is our menu:
garlic chicken with asparagus and toasted quinoa, spinach stuffed shells, chicken enchiladas with avocado-quinoa salad,  broccoli pesto pasta, chicken fried rice, and minestrone with a garden salad.

yes, our meals are a little bit more humble than when it was just andres and i. and my son did tell me he was sad that i did not buy donuts this week (i do make donuts but i hate how they make the house smell like a deep fryer so i sometimes get them on clearance). but i am hoping my children are  learning the value of getting by with a little less, even if it means having to work a little harder.

1 comment:

Carol said...

YUM! I'm very impressed by your budget but even more so by the menu. Care to share some of your favorite quinoa recipes?