Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thank God that REALLY eating healthy is so cheap!

My husband's income is tied directly to his school enrollment so the summer is a lean time for us. Unfortunately, this year we were hit with several maintenance costs on BOTH of our new (used) vehicles that we were not really anticipating. Breaks needed replacing in my van, all tires and break/similes and wheel assembly on the car needed to be rebuilt. Thankfully, my very skilled hubby was able to do most of the repairs, saving us HUNDREDS, maybe even as much as a grand. But the costs of parts and tires and tools etc still set us back well over 1k which not only depleted all of our emergency fund but also ate into the money we had squirled away knowing that summer would bring a drop in income. My husband is still taking very intense summer courses, so he really cannot work. My summer load is not intense, plus I'm used to the stress of full-time school and full-time work anyways so I am continuing to work while I take summer courses.

But with having suddenly such a small sum in our bank account we are feeling slightly nervous and reevaluating which costs can be cut. We are both rather frugal people (how else would we be able to save up for the months of summer, and pay off our debt all during the school year?) but there are still some areas we can tweak. One of those areas is groceries.

Thankfully eating healthy is rather cheap when you are fond of cooking (which I am.)  Unfortunately a few factors combined to get us in the habit of eating certain convenience foods which I am normally not accustomed to (Including adapting my menus to my hubby's palette during our first year of marriage and my suffering a bout with my chronic health issues from about January-May.) But this new situation is stretching me to dig deep and get back in the (tiny) kitchen!

When people first hear that I am vegan, invariably one of the first responses is "I could never afford to eat that way!" Which would probably be true of most people if they bought all the commercially vegan products on the market! One way I'm stretching out our budget by going back to making meals based around the dozens of dried beans and lentils I can buy in bulk for less than a dollar a pound at the grocery store. There are endless possibilities with these: black bean burgers, lentil loaf, lentil pot pie, chili,  hummus, jambalaya, pasta-bean salads, "meatballs" made of beans and seasonings, and my husbands favorite- Bean Burritos!  I also like to keep some made up in the refrigerator  to throw on salads and stuff. Plus I have dozens more recipes I am dying to try.

Aside from that we always do grains from scratch (which we mostly buy in the bulk section) including:brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, oatmeal and barley...I haven't been too creative with this yet an mostly just serve them as sides or for the quinoa make a salad.

For fruits and vegetables, I have  that BJs has really inexpensive organic apples and oranges.And I am hoping to make it to the farmers market this week. We don't do 100% organic due to costs, but we do consistently buy certain things organically such as greens and other things highly affected by chemical pesticides. I attempted to garden this year and was sadly disappointed. There seems to be a learning curve to gardening in pots as I now have to do living in an apartment. but I'm not willing to give up on that yet as I both love to garden and know it will save us money. Although we steer clear of canned veggies for the most part, i like to buy large packages of frozen fruits and veggies at BJs and incorporate those into dishes that wont be hurt much by not using fresh. It saves us money on produce for sure. We're also gonna try to start making our own organic soy milk and bread. Those things fell to the way-side while I was sick.

One thing I am very weary of is that I don't want to go crazy with saving money on food and stuff and end up eating boring stuff or get sick again (Its very easy for me to become malnourished due to my health condition) For example, I HATE buying fruit juices!!! It seems like such a waste of money. My parents didn't buy them while I was growing up for the same reason. However, my dietitian has asked me to drink juices throughout the day because it is a way to both sneak extra calories into my diet and keep me hydrated. I have a really bizarre and random fear of drinking things- including water which leads to chronic dehydration. I'm working hard to get over that phobia, but its not easy and for some reason some of these juices go down easy. Thankfully, I can buy a 40 pack of 100% juice individual servings at BJs for less than $10.00 so that is what I am using for now.

Anyways, so that's the deal! This week my NOT eat breakfast cereal for breakfast but to instead opt for something like oatmeal or make a big batch of muffins and soy-yogurt to eat for breakfast. It will be healthier and cheaper!

Whats your best tip for saving money on groceries???


  1. I keep stocked up well, so that I am not eating out of the grocery store. We have milk goats and a big garden, and I make cheese and preserve a lot of things for the cold months, but also have an unheated greenhouse and so have fresh green things all winter (Indiana.) I buy in bulk, and on sale, as much as I can and make nearly everything from scratch. Eating is expensive, but seems to be necessary. We have a deep freeze also and that is very nice. Are you aware of something called "Water Kefir?" It is a lovely probiotic drink that you brew (VERY easily) at home. I make ours into a natural soda and we love it. That might be something you would enjoy and it would help with your difficulties. Let me know if you want any more information about it.

  2. Yeah, I do agree about stocking up and buying in bulk. I cant wait till we have land so we can have a green house. I miss having goats...Kidding season has just past and I MISS IT! I also miss my chickens badly. One day we will have property with all those things. How wonderful that you guys have that!! So cool!I have not heard of water kefir...I always thought Kefir had milk in it?