The mission may seem impossible at the moment, but I’m determined with practical strategies and accountability, I will be successful at nourishing my family without compromising quality or budget.
As a blogger, I’m privileged to know many wonderful fellow food bloggers. Experts in the world of real food and eating well. These bloggers are women with families, on the same mission, to nourish their family and keep within a budget. Last month, I asked these expert bloggers to share their best real food budget tips. I’ve been blessed by their wisdom, so I’d like to share their wise words with you, my friends. I hope their practical words of advice encourage you, as they did me.
“With a family of five and one income, budget is always on my mind. To keep costs under control, we have ditched all processed and packaged food. I’ve found that cooking from scratch has made our dollar stretch further. Additionally, buying in bulk, shopping sales and not being afraid to visit multiple stores in a week to find the best deal have all been techniques that have beneficial to our family’s financial success.” Colleen at Five Little Homesteaders
“By cutting out many pre-prepared and packaged foods, I have kept the grocery budget flat even though we buy higher quality meat and dairy. Convenience foods like pre-shredded cheese and salad dressing are more expensive per pound so that is the biggest way we make room in our budget. Also I started “real food” lunch sharing with my coworker to save money and use leftovers more efficiently, which has brought down my overall expenses. Any reduction in eating out spending can go a long way in quality ingredients at the grocery store!” Laura at Good Not Perfect
“Meal planning is the biggest help for me when it comes to eating real food on a budget. I plan my meals each week making sure that I can use ingredients for several different dinners. Writing out the plan and sticking to the list saves money.” Courtney at Family Gone Healthy
“With a family of four and one income we have to make our money last. We buy groceries with cash only. I have a set amount I can spend and that is it. We buy our meat locally, to buy organically pasture-raised meat in our area costs about the same as supermarket prices, yet the quality far exceeds the store bought variety. We heavily garden in the warm months canning and preserving all we can. But, due to mother nature we do not, at this time, rely wholly on this getting us through the winter. I think the best thing you can do with your grocery spending is buy what you will eat. No fancy ingredients to make one dish, just stick to the basics and try to buy the best quality, most nutritious variety of those staples. Use your imagination, if time is tight and you don’t see yourself making everything from scratch figure out a way to stretch that dollar. Snack packs and juice boxes are huge budget killers and can easily made at home. Just take it one step at a time.” Jennah at House Barn Farm
“I have cut out buying processed convenience foods which leaves so much more money in my budget to buy whole foods. I make my own condiments, organic bone broths, and vegetable stocks on the weekends when I have extra time which saves so much money and is much healthier than commercial versions. I like to purchase almost all of my fresh produce, pastured eggs, and dairy from the local farmer’s markets. The taste, freshness and pricing is much better than the grocery stores plus it helps support my local farmers. I buy the more expensive pastured meats in bulk when they go on sale and freeze to use later. I like to make recipes that I can cook once and eat twice to also save money. Making soups, stews, and chili are all wonderful ways to do this.” Shelley Alexander at A Harmony Healing
“Buying in bulk and in season is key to eating well year-round on a budget. With a little planning and preserving, the possibilities are endless!” Melissa at Ever Growing Farm
“Learn how to cut up a whole chicken–it will save you a lot over buying parts!” Shannon at All Things Health
“I bulk buy staples to get the best possible prices. I can routinely save 30-70% off off my normal prices by purchasing one year’s worth of an item that stores well, at one time. I then shop what’s in-season and on sale for fresh produce, then I plan my menu around that. When I see prices bottom out on a fruit or vegetable that can be preserved, I purchase one year’s worth and get it preserved. Those three methods alone dropped my grocery bill 50% before I got creative in any other way.” KerryAnn at Intentionally Domestic
“We have a family of six and we are on a gluten-free diet. Staying within our budget limitations means making our bread every week, making muffins, and making sure that I plan ahead for every meal so that I am not caught in a bind and ordering an overpriced pizza with fake ingredients from our local gluten-free pizza place. It takes time, but it is so worth the reward of realizing that I am staying within my budget and providing my family with healthy choices.” Tara at Organized SAHM
“When we first started our real food journey, the first thing to cut out was cold cereal. I was totally shocked after keeping track for a month. We saved $80 a month by cooking breakfast instead of buying the cold cereal! It meant I had to get up a bit earlier to cook a breakfast for everyone, but saving money by serving real food was exciting.” Rachel at Nourishing Minimalism
“Monday night is soup night. I make a huge pot and the leftovers are used for lunches throughout the week. This eliminates the need to purchase expensive lunch foods, such as lunch meat. Additionally we buy whatever we can in bulk and make as much from scratch as possible.” Jenny Cazzola at Black Fox Homestead
“Six years ago we had to reduce our spending by 50%. I learned to coupon to make ends meet, but realized that eating out of a box wasn’t really eating “food.” So I purged the kitchen, throwing away everything with high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils and committed to never buying anything with those ingredients ever again. Then slowly, one meal plan and one shopping trip at a time, we took baby steps to eating healthier and we’ve never looked back. I actually stopped couponing because the foods I bought (fruits, vegetables, natural sweeteners, pastured meat, etc.) aren’t even brands! In the end, our family has grown by two and we’re spending less on our food now than we were with coupons! Real food has completely changed our lives, and we’re living proof that it’s possible to do on a real budget.” Tiffany at Don’t Waste the Crumbs
“When I first started eating better, a heart attack proved I wasn’t doing good enough. I was pretty shocked at the prices of pastured meat and dairy and buying organic vegetables. I’d ALWAYS cooked from scratch and bought in bulk, so I wasn’t saving by not buying processed stuff, just saw the prices of my staples increase dramatically! After 6 months, I sat down and added up my receipts and realized, it cost about the same to eat high quality food. My hypothesis about why it worked out this way, is because real food has a much higher nutrient content, so your hunger is satisfied earlier and you don’t need as much. Years into this, we remain on the borderline of the USDA’s “thrifty” and “average” food budgets, but eat better than the vast majority of people.” Jackie Patti at Deductive Seasoning
“Keeping it simple helps save my budget. You don’t have to use fancy expensive health food. A humble pot of beans, a simple tray of roasted vegetables, and nourishing stocks and soups are easy on the budget without sacrificing nutrition and taste.” Tara at We Got Real (Find Tara’s Frugal Real Food Meal Plan here)
Do you have real food budget tips? I’d love to hear your advice. Please share below.