Can you eat well on a tight budget?

Sweet Summer Rainbow Fruit SaladHello!

How are you? I hope you are having an awesome weekend!!! I have had a great weekend, even though it has been raining non-stop for at least ten days…! I finally gave up and put all of my laundry through the dryer, incase you were wondering, which I know none of you were! 🙂

We have been living on a really really tight budget for quite a few months. It can be stressful. But we have made it through, because well you have to don’t you!?! Obviously this is not a financial blog, so I will spare you the fine details of our budget. However, one of the things I did struggle with at times was feeding my family nutritious, healthy meals from a variety of different food sources.

I have read many times over how it is possible to eat well on a tight budget, you just have to be savvy about it! And I’d totally agree with that statement. BUT it is much easier, convenient, simpler, (whatever adjective you prefer) to eat crap on a tight budget. And I will say, I strongly feel that this is a huge contributor to the obesity epidemic.

Heavily processed food is everywhere and it is mass produced and heavily pushed. It is easy and convenient and often cheap! Over here “health” foods are in their own separate aisle and at least 3 times the price. So obviously the “health” food aisle is not the answer to eating well on a tight budget, although the “health” food aisle still contains a lot of processed foods they often come with fancy labels and say “organic”.

Where is your average person to go to feed their family and still afford to live? This for me is a work in progress. I am far from a master in this topic (or any topic), however, these are a few of the things I did!

  • Avoided shopping hungry and went in with a list.
  • Avoided the big, dare I say expensive supermarkets (Woolworths and Coles), going in them only as a last resort at the end of the trip.
  • Focused on whole foods as much as possible, supplemented with foods that could store for a long time (frozen and canned).
  • Watched for sales on particular favourites and bought extra during sale times.
  • Stretched out shopping day from once per week to once per fortnight.
  • Prepared more meals, snacks and even drinks from scratch.
  • Shopped at the fruit and vegetable markets late in the day, when stalls were coming to a close and deals could be made.
  • Prepared almost every meal, avoiding take away meals and going to restaurants- this one was a pain in the behind!

There are lots of different foods you can buy in bulk, for a relatively inexpensive amount. There are definitely options out there, although sometimes I found it hard to get enough variety in my diet. This was definitely due to my lack of creativity and efforts. It was also because I wasn’t entirely used to cooking everything from the beginning so I mastered a few things that I knew were budget friendly. I really need to master more!

Some of the staples we have relied on:

  • Eggs
  • Canned Tuna, Salmon
  • Rice- white and brown (in bulk packs)
  • Pasta (in bulk packs)
  • Dried Fruit
  • Nuts
  • Dried beans and legumes, whatever types I could get my hands on – black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc
  • Frozen Vegetables
  • Canned Vegetables
  • Various meat in bulk packs and broken up into smaller freezer bags (I’m not a huge meat eater, but my husband loves chicken breast, so lots of chicken breast)

 

  • And of course as much fresh produce as I could afford!

The key with fresh produce is to buy in season and buy locally grown produce. It helps reduce your bill a lot! Also many stores have shelves with fruit and vegetables that are oddly shaped or about to go bad at a very reduced price. These are perfect for picking up the fruit and vegies you plan to use quickly. And if you’re at the markets hang around until the end and you will get yourself some great deals!

The other big tip I have would be to cut down on food waste. There are two main ways to do this – save left overs and eat them up for lunches, or later dinners. If you’re not sure whether you’ll eat them in the near future, freeze them! Secondly, when your vegetables are starting to look a little old, cut them all up and throw them in a stir fry or your spaghetti sauce, or in the crockpot, or even spray them with oil and bake them. Make use of what you have on hand! Older fruit is perfect to use in baking, especially old bananas in banana bread!

So there you go! I’m sure I’m forgetting something… ! It is possible to eat well on a tight budget, but it is not necessarily easy or convenient (especially in the beginning, when you’re figuring it all out). What are your favourite budget friendly meals? Do you have tips and tricks for keeping your grocery bill down?

Jess xoxoxox

19 Responses to Can you eat well on a tight budget?

  1. I find making my list from recipes helps. One of the supermarkets in Australia has a great selection of feed your family for under $10 recipes but they got heavily critisised because the recipes would call for a portion ( 1/4, 1/2, 1/3) of various ingredients that couldn’t be purchased that way but then be priced in the recipie as if you could. So if I know I’m going to make pumpkin risotto for example and will only use a portion of my pumpkin I plan another recipie in that week that will use it up so there is no waste. I also love to stock up when favourites go on sale !

  2. I’m pretty good at not letting things go to waste though sadly it means eating more than I should. I mostly cook for one though so it’s no problem.

    I need to tighten my belt until the time I can find part time work so this post has come at a perfect time. Thanks Jess!
    Deborah recently posted…Styling me styling you* Part 2My Profile

    • Cooking for one can almost be trickier, because so many recipes etc are made for 4 +! I used to struggle with it a bit when I was single.

  3. Food and budgeting is something I’ve forgotten about ever since I’ve moved back home :S Ick, thanx for reminding me!

    My tips would be going to Asian markets because they’re cheap 🙂 In Canada nothing eatible is ever on sale only packaged crap. Ok… sometimes fruits are on sale along with cucumbers and potatoes.

    I find that eating more vegetarian is much cheaper then spending money on meat or fish. Also, avoid expensive fansy cheeses and get reduced price bananas and some breads.
    Nadiya @ Milk and Honey on the Run recently posted…Budget Planning and Triathlon GearMy Profile

  4. Jess, these are awesome tips! I have been a little stricter with my budget lately, too, and it really can be tough. I have been eating lots of spaghetti and not many fruits or veggies :-/

    One tip that I love is to avoid putting produce in the crisper drawers! Instead, I keep them on the shelves that are closest to eye level. For me, this really helps to ensure that I use them and cuts way down on waste (of which I now have very little :))
    Alex @ Brain, Body, Because recently posted…god damn i wanna play katamari, give me a 3 paragraph of my pretty petMy Profile

  5. You have to head over to Running4Cupcakes! She’s been working on eating on a budget for almost 2 full months (maybe she’s already there). Her suggestions are great, too!
    These are wonderful ideas. We’ll be on a tighter budget now that we’ve moved… I’m going to have to be very particular about where I shop and what I buy. That said, I’m not willing to sacrifice healthy options ~ so any tips are helpful!
    Stephanie@nowirun.com recently posted…What a Move!My Profile

  6. You can absolutely eat healthy on a tiny budget. You have a good list there.

    My trick is to avoid buying anything that is not necessary or that would not make it into the food groups, e.g. chips, candy, alcohol, juice, etc.

    My other trick is to grow some of my produce in the backyard or on the balcony! 🙂

  7. This is definitely something we have been trying to do lately. We spend WAY too much on groceries. Our biggest problem is produce – we buy SO MUCH, but not all of it is what’s in season or on sale. Sometimes I just want some green grapes, ya know?

    I definitely think that going in with a list helps so much, though! We do all of our meal planning on Saturday and go grocery shopping on Sundays. We also always really stock up on stuff when it’s on sale – particularly meat!
    Logan @ Mountains and Miles recently posted…Kayaking the PoudreMy Profile

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