Plan Ahead and Fight the Soaring Food Prices

With the prices of fuel, meat and seemingly everything else increasing these day its hard to keep our heads above water sometimes. But if we plan ahead, we can fight the rising food prices we see today.

Have a look at this post from our Facebook page that shows how prices have risen since 2000. It’s pretty interesting because my annual earnings haven’t risen that much forcing me to be a little more frugal.

This page from Retale.com also has some great information about how food prices have risen over the last 35 years. (Click each product for an individual breakdown.)

If your family is anything like our family, you are always busy, and always doing something. Taking the time to plan a meal, let alone an entire week of meals is one of those tasks that gets put off until dinner time, and you are left thinking what you are going to make as you are driving home.

Not only does that usually involve a trip to the grocery store, or to the closest fast food drive thru, but it also takes away from your already dwindling bank account.

Not only is your time valuable, because there is never enough of that, but the money is the same as well. With food costs soaring, sometimes stopping by the drive thru is the cheaper alternative, but it isn’t very healthy for anyone in your family.

These days with the rising cost of healthy food, our average household income sinking and our dollar store mentality we either don’t eat like we should or we can’t afford to eat like we should. This is yet another good reason to learn how to garden and grow your own healthy food.

So instead of waiting until the last minute, take some time to plan ahead what your meals are going to be for the week. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. Shop the weekly store ads, and use coupons to get even more bang for your buck!

I’m going to use Dale as an example, sometimes we will look in the cupboard and get all glossy eyed trying to figure out what to make for dinner and he will just go to the store and buy dinner. This is great, and he’s a wonderful cook, but it costs him between $20 and $30 for one dinner.

Over the course of a week that’s around $200! So by going to the store with my meals planned out I can save over $100 a week… he’s getting better at this 🙂

As an example, this is my plan for a weeks’ worth of meals for our family, and by shopping the sales, I was able to save money, while still providing a relatively healthy week of meals.

Our family Meal Plan for This Week:

Sunday:  Ranch Beans with homemade crusty bread

Monday: Chili Cheese Dogs with Tater Tots

Tuesday:  Spaghetti Pie with Cesar Salad and Garlic Bread

Wednesday: Tuna Mac and Cheese Casserole with Parmesan Bread Sticks

Thursday: Cheesy Chicken and Rice with Broccoli

Friday: Bubble Pizza

Saturday: Steak Fajitas and Red Beans and Rice

And the total cost for this shopping trip was $ 64.00, not only did I get a week’s worth of meals, but by planning for the future week, I was able to get a second week of meals as well!

Now, keep in mind there are some things I didn’t need to buy, like beans, rice, bread, flour, sugar, etc. because they are a part of my pantry items, but I did buy them to replace what I would be using, as well as continuing to build my food storage.

So for less than $70.00 I was able to get almost two weeks’ worth of food for my family, and I saved my time by having a plan in advance for the upcoming week.

Our Family Meals for the Following Week:

Sunday: Grilled Biscuit Cheeseburgers

Monday: Poppy Seed Chicken and Turkey Gravy

Tuesday:  Chicken Quesadillas with Red Beans and Rice

Wednesday: Easy Stromboli with Salad

Thursday: Hamburger Pockets with Tater Tots

Friday: To Be Determined

Saturday: To Be Determined

You may be wondering how many people this will feed,  it is for at least a family of 5. Our home is the popular hangout for random teenagers, especially around dinner time so we always plan to have extra. And as we usually have extra, the left overs become my lunch for the following day at work.

Although it can be wasteful, for whatever reason when there are left overs in the refrigerator they seem to be forgotten. So instead of letting them go to waste, I pack them up for lunch for myself. No sense in wasting perfectly good food, and by doing this, I can save at least $40.00 per week in eating out.

If you are really thrifty, and clip coupons, and monitor all of the weekly ads you will probably be able to do even better than this.

And let’s face it, the way food prices have been climbing it is only going to get more and more expensive as the weeks and months go by, so the more you plan, the more you will be able to save later on, as well as now, hopefully.

 

Putting the Plan into Action!

Plan a shopping-listNow half of the battle has been fought. We have the menus planned, and the groceries purchased. The other half of the battle is actually making the meals happen!

In our household, having a weekly list of what will be for dinner helps a lot. It also helps if any of the meals can be prepared ahead of time, and then thrown in the oven on their scheduled “day”.

We do this a lot with casseroles. Make 2 of them, and then stick them in the freezer, so all you have to do is pull one out, and then you have a spare for one of those nights when you don’t have a plan for dinner, or want to deviate from your plan.

Once you have done this a few times, try to see where you can tweak it to make your food dollars go further. For instance, right now, there are big sales on things surrounding bar-b-q’s, because it is just after the 4th of July. Try to stock your pantry with items you know you will need in the future, but are on sale now.

Look at other ways too, such as growing some of your own food. Even if you live in an apartment, you can grow herbs on a windowsill, or if you have a small patio, you could plant a few larger containers with vegetables. You will be surprised at how much food you can grow in a tiny space.

Like everything when it comes to living more frugally,  where there is a will there is a way, so try it! Here are some more ideas about food storage and a Food Storage Calculator.

 Crusty Bread

crusty-bread imageAnd to get you started, here is the recipe for the crusty bread  that I make. You can use this bread to replace almost all dinner breads. It is simple to make, only take a few ingredients, and you can tweek the recipe to suit your needs.

Ingredients  

3 Cups flour

3 Teaspoons Salt

½ Teaspoon  quick activating yeast

1 ½ cups lukewarm water

Directions:

Mix the dry ingredients, and then add the water. Stir with a wooden or plastic spoon (not metal) until the mixture forms a dough. Do not over mix the dough.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise for at least 8 hours.

After it has rested, and risen for at least 8 hours work the dough a little, until it forms a ball. Then, cover the dough for about 30 minutes. While it is resting again, preheat your over to 400 degrees.

Then, place your dough ball on a greased cookie sheet or into an oven safe pan, with a greased knife, make a crisscross across the top of the bread.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until it is golden brown.

Let it cool down for a bit and once cool, cut and enjoy!

And you are not limited to keeping just plain bread, you can top it with cheese, or add some garlic, or coat it with some olive oil, or whatever you can think of!

By replacing the bread you would purchase with making your own you will save money, and although not a health food, it is better than purchasing store bought bread and boxed freezer breads that are loaded with preservatives.

And yes, it does take some extra time, but it is SO worth it! Trust me, you will understands this once you have started making your own bread!

And why not make some homemade jam to go with that awesome bread? It’s easy and fun to make too! We’ll save that recipe for next time, but here’s a hint, it is my most favorite homemade jam every, Rhubarb Blueberry Jam!

Lisa

SurvivalistPrepper.net

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Lisa
Lisa

As a registered nurse, a mother of 5 and Dale's wife I post on this website from time to time about what I know and love, Preparing my family to survive any sort of unforeseen situations. Most of my articles will probably be based on medical needs and prepping techniques, but you never know, I may surprise you every now and then.

    11 replies to "Plan Ahead and Fight the Rising Food Prices"

    • methane creator

      Lisa, here is our previous shopping experience. We would go to our local grocery store and walk each and every aisle. Throwing whatever looked good into the basket. Did our major grocery shopping every two weeks. Even then it seemed like we didn’t know or have anything to cook for a meal. The freezer filled up with freezer burned items or stuff disappeared in the bottom to only be found during the semi-annual defrosting. It all boiled down to about a dozen meals we enjoyed eating and making. We make our list for ingredients and then just purchase those items. An Excel Spreadsheet that lists all items we like to have in the Pantry, Fridge, and Freezer has been a cost saver. We rarely try new cleaning products or other types of new & improved foodstuffs. If we like the current product why change? We continue to buy baked breads though. Seems whenever we bake a loaf, it gets hard and stale so quickly compared to store bought.

      • Lisa

        I really like the idea of the spreadsheet, and Dale LOVES spreadsheets! Maybe I will make a spreadsheet for him so he knows what to make for dinner. Thanks!

    • Mark

      Honestly you will save money by making your own meals from scratch. Yes it will take time and effort but here is the result. The food will be healthier since you will know what is in it. The food will taste better. And you will learn a badly needed skill, you will be able to prepare food. Times are becoming more difficult so it is time to take the next step.

      • Lisa

        Hi Mark,
        I agree, cooking from scratch is the best, and it just tastes better too. Sometimes when we get busy, it gets challenging, but we try to cook from scratch, especially on the weekends, and sometimes make multiple meals so we can pull them out of the freezer, still homemade, but the convenience of ready to go. In a perfect world, we could do it every day.

    • Bruce

      Lisa – great article. I do most of the cooking at home, because it is relaxing for me after work. I would like to see if you would be so kind as to post some of your recipes, especially the spaghetti pie, which sounds really good. Thanks much.

    • gino schafer

      Your menu has a whole lot of carbs in it and very few vegetables. That is not a healthy diet. Only one serving of broccoli the first week and one serving of salad the next is really deficient. Cut most of the carbs (and grains) and replace them with fresh vegetables. Your family will feel better be healthier.

      • Lisa

        Hi Gino,
        You are right. And I didn’t go into great detail, but with our ‘menu board’ this helps Dale to know what the main course will be, and we do add veggies, especially this time of the year from our garden. It tastes good, is very inexpensive, and incredibly fresh! Many times when we bring in some lettuce, spinach and radishes, these get eaten first, and then we have left overs of the main part of the meal. Which is good for me, because then I get to take the left overs to work for lunch the next day. But yes, you are so right, the vegetables are a very important part of every meal. Thanks for the feedback.

    • Mensa Graham

      Another good way to save money on food is store enough sale items to hold you through to the next sale. Sales usually run on a 9-12 week basis. Once your pantry is filled you will constantly save food money.

      • Lisa

        I love shopping like this Mensa! And also the grocery stores have ‘seasonal sales’ that go along with the time of year, so you can plan for future meals as well. My favorite time of the year for stocking up is around Thanksgiving, because the sales are usually really good! I don’t know about where you live, but our local chain grocery store will have frozen turkey’s for $5.00 with a $20.00 purchase, so I try to buy 3 or 4 so our freezer is stocked!
        Thanks for the feedback.

    • SouthernAZ

      As for inexpensive jam, I make an extra ‘jar’ or two when I have fruit that doesn’t get eaten in time (before it goes bad). I wash and remove seeds if needed, then freeze until I have a cup or two in the freezer jar. I then cook it with pectin (bought in bulk) and sugar as though I were going to can it. Instead, I fill a couple of the plastic Ball containers and let them cool. One goes in the fridge for immediate use, the other goes in the freezer. Will be making blueberry-peach soon!

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