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!
Now 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.
And 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.
3 Cups flour
3 Teaspoons Salt
½ Teaspoon quick activating yeast
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
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!