Lately, we’ve been trying really hard to eat better, not waste as much food (overspending on perishables), and actually cook. I would like to tell you it’s super easy & cheap..but it really isn’t any more expensive to eat healthy then it is to eat junk…it’s the trial and error process of figuring out what you’ll eat and how quickly it spoils that is expensive.
We’ve made a valid effort the last 3 weeks with 21 days of meal planning & ingredients, and with the hub’s 24/48 work schedule, PTF meetings, Fire Dept meetings, basketball practices, games & church…we over bought. Big time!
So we sat down and asked ourselves, “self, what would I actually eat & want to cook?”. And we narrowed it down pretty well. On top of making a legit, reasonable list – we recently started using http://www.hebtoyou.com for ordering our groceries online & picking up curbside. I personally think it’s FABULOUS! It takes out the temptation of buying “all the good deals” in store & winding up way over budget – plus you can shop straight from your pantry & know exactly what you need. I would still like to trim our budget a little, but I don’t think it’s a true possibility until our garden really starts producing.
So yesterday, we found ourselves not leaving the house (one kiddo down with the flu) – I decided to meal prep. There’s a pretty good chance I’ll get it too, and I’ll be in no mood to cook for anyone if I do. Here’s some things we got ready for the week (and it took about 3 hours start to finish & I even hosted an online event in the middle of it!):
- Hubs smoked 2 whole chickens (our 4H birds) beer can style
- one to have cooked chicken on hand
- one for Chicken Salad (grapes, green apples, celery, walnuts, mayo)
- Browned 2 lbs ground deer meat with taco seasoning & leftover diced bell peppers from last week for taco salads this week (toppings are black beans, corn, diced tomatoes, avocado, spinach mix & greek yogurt in place of sour cream)
- Tuna Salad (green apples & mayo) – super cheap and easy!
- Ground Breakfast Sausage & Scrambled egg mixture – eat it in a bowl or throw it in a tortilla
- 18 boiled eggs for salads & snacking
- Bottled a gallon of blueberry ginger kombucha (it was extra fizzy) & started the next batch.
- Sliced up bananas that were about to turn & froze them to use in smoothies.
- Froze leftover bones from said chickens above for future homemade bone broth
- Made Ginger/Goji Berry Tea for immunity/sickness and put up jars of it in the fridge.
As you can imagine, this in itself creates alot of waste – fortunately most of it is compostable or can be fed to the chickens for them to go through. Discarded egg shells, celery ends, ginger peelings, apple cores, banana peels, funky looking grapes, last week’s leftover spaghetti squash and old yogurt makes for happy chickens! We haven’t figured out which of the 9 hens are laying, but we are getting 4-5 eggs a day, totaling 45 since Feb. 9th.
It’s probably not the most money efficient, but we have a budget of about $150 a week for groceries/household goods/toiletries for our family of 4. With the exception of one day a week of their choice, our kids pack their lunch each day, and we try to take our food with us if we’re not home for a meal. I’m going to be real here and tell you most of the kiddos stuff is prepackaged like cheese sticks, applesauce, lunch meat & rice cakes (it’s what they want & there are way worse things out there).
In addition to having an endless supply of eggs, we also have a deep freeze stocked with 20 chickens & a whole deer. These things shave a good $25-$35 a week off the grocery budget, though it’s still a wash since it’s a “project” or expense every year. We’ve got a ridiculous amount of potatoes, onions & greens in the ground, but these won’t actually start producing for another 3 weeks to 3 months. We’re getting there though.
How much do you spend? Do you waste a ton of food? What’s the biggest challenge for you on meal prepping & budgeting for you/your family?