Frugal Foodie: Eating Well on a Budget
Learn the frugal foodie tactics and strategies on how to slash your food bills while eating well!
The Art of Being a Frugal Foodie
How much do you spend on food?
If you’re like most families, chances are it’s a big part of your budget.
The USDA puts together a monthly report that looks into average food expenses.
They break it down into thrifty, low-cost, moderate, and liberal spending plans based on how old your kids are.
And the monthly costs for a family of four vary from $567 – $1296.
Like I mentioned last episode when you’re working as a family towards financial independence, you have to look for big wins.
Mastering your food expenses is a big win, but….
If you think I’m going to tell you to skip eating out or only make these basic dishes, I’m not.
Food is something I don’t like to skimp out on.
We want to eat better and enjoy our meals, whether it’s at home (which is most of the time) or when we’re out.
So if you look at our budget, it’s a big category for us relative to other expenses.
But it doesn't blow our budget and we’re still able to save for other important goals.
And looking over the past year, our spending is around the USDA’s thrifty and low-cost plan.
The challenge – besides being smarter with money – is also finding ways to get meals up and ready in a relatively short time.
After work it’s tempting to grab some food on the way home.
So we need to have things set up so preparing a tasty meal is a snap.
And when we do it out – because yes, we like to go out sometimes, we try to maximize the experience.
So if you want to get a handle on your food bill and still have a good time, I think you’ll enjoy this episode.
I’ve recruited some others to help.
Besides having a masters in nutrition, author Shanah Bell is also a busy mom of five.
Finding meals are all of her kids enjoy can be tricky, but she has strategies that make meals less stressful, healthy, and fun.
Patrick Livingston is also a foodie and loves trying new things that are off the beaten path.
He also has some creative ideas on how to make those nights out even more special while still sticking to your budget.
We’re going to look at this from two sides:
- How to make tasty, quick and affordable meals
- How to enjoy a meal out so that’s it’s special and you’re not breaking the budget
Let’s get started!
Resources to Become a Frugal Foodie
If you're looking to eat better while sticking to your budget, here are some resources to check out:
- Best Budget and Money Apps: Personal Capital, Tiller, Mint
- Grow Your Stash Faster: High Yield Savings with CiT Bank
- Automatic Saving: Qapital
- Good and Cheap: How to Eat Well on $4/Day by Leane Brown
- Eating Well on a Budget by Julien and Kristen Saunders
- USDA Monthly Food Reports
- The $5 Foodie
- Eat Like a Foodie at Home, Without Breaking Your Budget
- A World Map of Flavors – 36 Regions, 36 Herb and Spice Combinations
- Gourmet Dining on Wake Tech’s Southern Wake Campus
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Eating Well (and Prepping a Meal Quickly) at Home
Elle Martinez: I hope it’s not shocking news to tell you that eating more at home is both a wallet and waist saver.
One way you can set yourself up for some food wins is by making sure your kitchen is stocked with the essentials so you can whip something up fairly quickly.
Nope, you don’t need a ton of fancy tools or ingredients. Actually one of the best investments you can make is typically some of the cheapest items you can pick up at the store – spices and herbs.
Note: You want to save even more and have something fresh? You can also grow your own, either in a back yard garden or in container pots around the house!
Shanah Bell: Spices and herbs for us said the biggest thing that a lot of people don't think about that we use as staples are a diverse blend of spices.
We have a huge cabinet full of a lot of different herbs and spices because there was not a lot of nutritional value and do different things for your body and your overall health but they completely change what a dish can taste like.
So even if you're making some like rice and beans and rice and beans happen to be things that we keep on hand it can be done here one day to the next depending on what spices we put in there and what else we put in and it can be a completely different meal.
Elle Martinez: This may seem like a small tip but I can not overemphasize how important it is to have these essential ingredients in your pantry.
You can have a dish – Shannon mentioned rice and beans – but by changing the urban spices you can have several different dishes and mix it up every week.
Thinking Like a Chef
Another related idea and tip that you can use when you're shopping?
Think of items that you can use in several dishes.
I'll give you an example of three kinds of categories of food where it's the same thing on paper but when you're cooking it can be completely different each time. Pizzas tacos and stir fries
I'm just going to use Chipotles and as an example, we're going with tacos.
Yes, it's a simple dish but depending on the meats the vegetables even the seasonings that you use it's like a different meal each time.
So when you go grocery shopping don't get items that you can only use for one meal for the week actually go for items that you can use repeatedly.
If you have the herbs and spices to mix things up it will help. You not only save money because you're getting that discount buying in bulk but also reducing waste.
Elle Martinez: You can really make a lot of different things on your own with herbs and spices for example.
Support the Podcast!
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- Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
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Like the music in this episode? Our theme song is by Gentle Regime. Additional music by Lee Rosevere.
this episode was originally released July 2019.
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