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Friday, January 10, 2014

Saving money while eating well and planning meals

                                                    homemade chocolate quinoa granola

Earlier this week I was talking about the fact that loosing weight, exercising and saving money actually do go hand in hand....  If you haven't yet, you can read it here.   I told you that I would let you know more about eating well and saving money while doing so!  I actually feed my family of 3 on a budget of 180$ per week (I am from Montreal Canada as your location actually has an impact on your food bill)... and none of us is starving...  but it did required some learning and planning before I got to that point!  Althus Dr.Oz says you can eat for 40$ per week per person I have not yet manage to do this...  but if you are curious, you can read about it here... of course, I will tell you to  put the 18$ of meat and fish and the 8$ of dairy in the 2 other sections...  but even then, I can't do it... maybe sometimes in summer when fruits and veggies are really cheap! 

What I needed to learn is:

1) Cooking with less expensive ingredients and use herbs and spices to add flavor instead of sauces store bought

2) Cooking with quality ingredients to avoid the need for quantity - the more nutritionally dense food you eat, the less you need quantities...  I know very active people who live off very little food and are VERY healthy and not just skin and bones... they are muscular with low body fat!

3) Cooking in batch and thus save time and have left over for freezing for future weeks - therefore on some weeks your groceries will only be fresh products... you can save on those weeks!

4) Cooking simple meals with a whole grain, a protein and in season vegetables - makes up a wonderful stew! For example, rice of barley... with tofu or legumes...  3-4 roots vegetables, a can of tomato sauce and your favorite herbs and spice and you're good to go!

5) Use variety of meals within the month... not necessarily within the same week or day! It doesn't matter if you eat the stew you made in 4) three times on the same week...  it is already containing diversified nutrients from the ingredients... and you have lunches and breakfast...

6) Use variety of ingredients in each meal therefore creates a variety daily!

7) Learn what variety means: we need several nutriments...  if you include whole grains, legumes and 3-4 vegetables in each meal you're all set!  Just change vegetables on a regular basis! I use to think I would have to eat 20 different food items every day! As long as you switch on a weekly basis your body will be fine!   Just made sure you eat whole grains, legumes and all the color of the rainbow!

8) Prepare my own dry fruits & nuts mix from bulk items - takes roughly 10 minutes... and save $ each weeks as we eat that stuff all the time!

9) Prepare my own granolas - ditto as 8)

10) Prepare my own snacks such as roasted chick peas, roasted pumpernickel seeds, salted sunflower seeds, homemade cookies with no refined sugar and chemicals....

11) Buy cereals, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and dry fruits in bulk as much as possible!

12) Use dry legumes instead of canned ones - cheaper and more nutritious! The nutrients are leached into the water for the canned items.  using dry legumes, you cook them on a rotation, one variety per week for example, in big batch and you freeze them for future use in soup and stews... They cook by themselves while you do something else... and they DO NOT need soaking!!!  That's a myth!

13) Stock your pantry with non-perishable items when they are on sale!

14) Do the pantry challenge 2-3 times a year

15) Plan! Plan! Plan! know what your menus will be... and plan according to season. and time of week.. depending on when you do your groceries and what is on sale when... It takes a while to get use to but once done, you save a lot of $!

Now it took me years to get this all in place....  of course I come from far... I use to not cook or bake anything...  except for a few very simple meals...  Now I cook and bake 98% of anything we eat from scratch!!!  It makes a whole lot of difference on the budget and on our health...  but also on my free time... therefore I needed to get organize....  if you plan ahead of time, do you grocery shopping and then set 3-4 hours per week for cooking and baking non-stop, it's amazing how much you can accomplish in those 4 hours!   Then the rest of the week is smooth sailing...  maybe I need 30 min per day to put the lunches together and come up with supper! It's easy once the base is done!

The trick really is to follow the tips above... and you will save money on groceries!  And you'll be able to buy better quality product... and therefore you need to eat less in quantity to get all your nutritional needs...  It's a win-win situation yet again... for you health...  and your wallet!

All this saved money, because you use to not have it anyway can go towards paying deb or savings and you won't even realise it!!!  it does add up pretty quickly!



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