Part of this whole lifestyle overhaul involves a serious effort to make our lives more budget friendly. Only one income means earning less, a lot less. Further, if we are going to start our own business in the near-ish future, we are going to need to be able to get by on even less. Finally part of my whole plan involves figuring out a way to prevent numbers in accounts and pieces of paper from dictating how we spend our time. We are trying refute the mightiness of the all mighty dollar.
As discussed in my previous post, we are going to be building a greenhouse in order to grow our own food year round. It is December, so that is going to have to wait. We used to have chickens, our flock was decimated by coyotes when we moved. We plan on raising them again because once established, they are cheap and easy to maintain. Once again, it will have to wait until the spring. In the meantime, we are figuring out how to cut down on grocery costs without compromising the quality that we have become accustomed to and we feel necessary in raising a child. The food situation in the U.S. has become alarming. Short of growing your own food, it is very difficult and expensive to be sure that it is not actually dangerous to your health. I wish I had more trust in government regulations, but the bottom line seems to be driving most of large scale agriculture. Local and organic farmers are fighting an uphill battle, and we do our best to participate by spending our money at the local health food grocery store, but it is getting pricey.
1. No more dining out
Probably the biggest thing we are doing to cut down on food costs is to stop eating out. This has the dual effect of being cheaper and healthier. It can become a bit tiresome, so we are not above the occasional burrito or pizza. We are also allowing ourselves the occasional happy hour pint. By and large though, it has to stop.
2. Meat is an accessory, not the main event
This is hard. It is easy to rely on meat as the focal point of your meal. It is easy to rely on it as a filling protein source. It is also delicious. However, when you are living close to the poverty line in (in either direction), and refuse to eat anything but local hormone free grassfed beef, it is not a reality. Our plan is to only have meat a couple of dinners a week, and when we do, it should be used to enhance rather than as the center of the dish. This is also important because it forces us to get creative using vegetables to create variety and make satisfying meals. We already do pretty well, but relying primarily on vegetables is a g good way to get started on relying on the garden we are planning. Finally, it is better for our health. If you are thinking about cutting down on your meat consumption, a great way to inspire“sa yourself is checking out the documentary “Forks Over Knives.” When I say inspire, I may mean scare. On the other hand if you are going veggie for the sake of all god’s creatures, check out “Food Inc.” There are a plethora of food documentaries out there, and though obviously not unbiased, it is always important to keep a critical eye. See the trailer for “Forks Over Knives” below.
3. Make what we can
We like good bread. Good bread costs $4.79 a loaf where we live. My husband eats two sandwiches a day for lunch. That adds up fast. So, we have started making our own bread. Where we used to spend almost $10 a week on bread alone, we are now just paying for the flower basically. We have a good french bread recipe so far, and use half whole wheat. We are working on the sourdough now. Luckily I inherited a bread machine, so it is nearly effortless. Making your own means just buying ingredients and cooking with whole foods. It is cheaper because you pay for the convenience of partially prepared foods. It is also better for you, less sodium, less preservatives, less ingredients whose names you can’t pronounce. A slow cooker helps. Planning helps. It is a little more effort in both preparation and planning, but cooking food is enjoyable if you allow it to be.
4. Grow/ produce what we can
This was mentioned above. We are only going so far as gardens and chickens. Someday perhaps more, though I don’t mind buying meat and dairy at all. Some conveniences are worth the cost.
We made a chicken coop last time of my husbands design, but are thinking of taking advantage of the efforts/knowledge of others this time. Here is a link to one set of plans I am thinking of using.