It's hard to remember shopping with store coupons for ready made food products. Our food bill was about double what it is now. The change to eating whole foods started off slowly and has snowballed. A little step here and there has added up to a total makeover with more changes to follow. Having a set amount of cash to shop with each month, slowly stocking up on single item pantry/freezer goods (flour, eggs, veggies, meat .. etc) .. makes for quick meal preparation and planning. Purchasing went from several times a week to once or twice a month. Honestly .. yesterday was big shopping day for the month of November. Our budget is $400 cash (family of four); this does not include much meat as that is separately budgeted and purchased from a local ranch each summer and kept in a chest freezer. Having a well stocked pantry, I came home with only four bags of grocery staples. Milk, cheese, spices, potatoes, tea, chips, etc. leaving me $220 until the end of the month. Over the summer, the garden and local u-pick farm supplied fresh produce, much of which has been frozen, canned or dried for winter's use. Buying and growing locally usually ensures better quality. Getting to know the farmer and their farming practices helps when making choices outside of your own garden. Separate freezer space allows for extra gallons of milk to be stored until needed, eliminating that dash to the market (that turns into a $20 shopping spree). Milk and hard cheese both freeze beautifully. Just remember to pour a little out of the carton to allow for expansion; the extra can be put in a wide-mouth labeled mason jar and frozen. When we are out of milk it's nice to have a few cups in the freezer to tide us over until shopping day. Learning to budget food has taken about six months. Eliminating convenience foods has freed up dollars to buy good quality staples such as flour, oil, milk, produce, etc. With the exception to canning and bread making, cooking from scratch takes no more time than ready made convenience food with practice. Adapting our favorite family recipes to be more nutritiously prepared has won over my family to eat better.
|photo by Mrs. Mac|
Autumn Carmel Spice Coffee Creamer:
1/2 pint good quality half and half (the only ingredients should be cream and milk)
1 Tablespoons organic sucanant (unrefined sugar)
2-3 Tablespoons organic raw sugar
dash of cinnamon
small pinch of sea salt
1 Teaspoon good quality pure vanilla flavoring (watch the ingredients .. they should all be pronounceable and familiar ones:)
Put a few tablespoons of half and half in a small sauce pan. Add the sugar, cinnamon and pinch of salt. Stir over medium heat for just a moment until the sugars dissolve. Do not let it come to a boil or the butterfat will separate and float on top of your coffee (bleck). Slowly add the additional half and half and the vanilla. Stir until well mixed. Cool and pour back in the carton .. marking it as flavored coffee creamer.
The road to better nutrition is as individual as each family. Do you have a favorite shopping strategy?