Ours was great! We spent our crisp fall Saturday morning at the pumpkin patch! Aria took her pumpkin finding duties very seriously, digging into the bottom of the pile.
And for some reason, she was obsessed with this tiny little house.
Naturally, she channeled her inner Hulk to pick up the biggest pumpkins.
And of coarse we spent the majority of the time talking to the animals.
It was still a great morning!
On Saturday afternoon I did something that I never ever do...I went grocery shopping alone!
Rather than directing all of my attention to keeping Aria from opening and eating all of the food I put in the cart, I had some time to actually reflect on what I was doing and why.
Eating healthy on a budget is something I think about daily. As a health and wellness lover and a mom, taking care of myself and my family is number one. Following very closely is making sure I'm doing it within our budget, saving money everywhere I can.
When we decided I would stay at home full time, we knew there would be some places where we'd have to manage our costs closely. Food is one of them. Food is one of those things that is incredibly important because it's what we use to nourish our bodies. It can keep us healthy and even make us sick. With all of the attention healthy living is getting these days, it can also be very easy to get wrapped up in the marketing of so called "healthy" products, and spend WAY more than necessary.
There are a ton of tips out there on how to eat healthy on a budget. Over the years I've perused it all and we've tried so many things. Some work well for us and some just weren't a good fit.
For example...buying frozen produce. Many people swear by it! And it can be a big area of savings! Freezing doesn't take away from the nutritional value at all, like with canned vegetables. However, that tip just didn't work for us. I really despise the taste of frozen vegetables. No matter how they are prepared, they just aren't the same as fresh vegetables.
It's all about finding what works for you and your family.
Here are some way's we save money while eating healthy each week.
1. Menu planning
This is a big one for us. I've been menu planning our dinners for a while now, and buying various things to have as breakfast and lunch options. When I started planning our dinners for the entire week, I noticed a decent savings immediately. We also weren't wasting as much food. If you aren't already meal planning, this is a GREAT place to start.
Then a friend of mine, Kristi over at Kristi Pope Fitness and Wellness, turned me on to the idea that I could save even more money if I planned out breakfast and lunches as well. She let me in on how she plans for a family of 4 and I thought...I can do this for the 3 of us.
And she was right. I save even more money planning breakfast and lunch as well, because I'm not filling our cart with too many options, leaving room for overspending and food to go to waste.
In addition to planning three meals a day, I also include snack items. With a toddler who is a grazer and me being pregnant, It doesn't work for me to plan out what we will have for snack on what day, at what time, like I can meals.
Instead, I make a list a of healthy foods to have available during the day for snack options. Having that list is helpful for two reasons. One, to know what is available, and two it keeps me from buying too much at the store! I buy those snack items only, when I shop.
2. Don't buy drinks
We don't buy drinks other than almond milk (for cereals and smoothies), coffee and tea. We're big water drinkers around here.
Sometimes we do splurge on kombucha.
3. Meat in moderation
Pj and Aria both eat meat and I do not anymore. That switch alone saved us some serious cash. I know the vegetarian and vegan lifestyle isn't for everyone. However, It may be worth it to consider going meatless for a dinner or two a week though. We go meatless for 2 nights a week. The omnivores in my house haven't complained once. On those nights I try to make something extra delicious.
4. Freeze food in individual portions
If there is a sale and I stock up on something (like chicken), I divide up the portions needed for meals, and freeze them as so. That way we don't end up with food going to waste.
Also, if I make a big batch of something like veggie burgers, cauliflower tots, chill, etc, I use some for dinner and freeze the rest into individual portions for easy access later.
5. Pick and Choose
As much as I'd love to buy everything organic, our budget just doesn't allow for that. I go by the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen to determine what produce is most important to buy organic. Meat is also high on our priority list to buy organic.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables are much more reasonably priced than out of season. Here is a link to find what produce is seasonal, for your state, during the year.
Seasonal Produce Guide
7. Crock Pot
We use our crock pot at least twice a week. There are a ton of simple (5 ingredient or less) crockpot recipes, where most of the ingredients are spices you probably already have. Crockpot chill is always a favorite, and it's very cheap to make. It also yields a ton of leftovers.
Here are some of our favorite healthy and budget friendly crockpot recipes (with links):
Crockpot Chicken Verde
Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork and Roasted Vegetables
Slow Cooker Mexican Quinoa
The Mexican Quinoa I actually made yesterday. It's a few more ingredients than 5, but they are all inexpensive. So the meal overall is very cheap. It's also warm and filling...perfect for fall and winter!
What are some of your favorite ways to eat healthy on a budget?