Life’s been busy again, I worked a fair amount of doubles in the past few days. Pretty unlike me, but I’m trying to do as much as I can before school starts!
Yesterday I went grocery shopping for the week, as I do, and I got a pretty nice haul for $53.22 (without even using my friend’s discount… I felt like I was cheating the system using it! 🙂 )
A few people asked me how it is I am making this happen, especially when I am shopping at Whole Foods. So, today, that’s what I’m going to share with you!
One of the things that really grinds my gears is when people tell me they can’t be healthy or vegan because it is too expensive. This is one big reason why I have embarked on this budgeting adventure. I want to dispel this myth! It does not have to cost a lot to eat clean, or vegan, or both. Instead of all your money, what it really takes, is a little bit of planning, and maybe even some self-discipline.
Here’s what I do:
1. The night before I go grocery shopping, I make a menu plan for the upcoming week. I refer to my Tone it Up! meal plan, I look at recipes I’ve pinned, etc, and I come up with 3 meal options for each main meal I eat.
2. When I’m choosing recipes to make, I look for those that use just a few whole ingredients. I also look for recipes with overlapping ingredients. It’s easier and cheaper to buy something that you can use in several recipes as opposed to on ingredient for only one meal. Keep it simple = keep it cheap.
3. I consider what I already have in my house. Maybe this week I have some left over ingredients, or I still have a large tub of cooked beans in my freezer. I’ll use those instead of buying more ingredients. This will help you waste less, too, and that’s a big bonus!
4. When I get to the grocery store, I shop produce first, like most of us do, and I follow one strict rule: weigh everything. This will help you see how much you’re buying and can help you keep on track if you have a budget goal. If you want to take it to the next step, keep your phone’s calculator on hand, and keep a running total of what you’re spending. I do this regularly, just to make sure I’m not about to overspend.
5. Do not buy more produce than you can consume in one week. Veggies and fruit will keep for about a week in the fridge. When you’re buying produce, especially veggies, buy them in servings. For instance, when I’m buying veggies for dinner, I think to myself, I want x-days worth of brussels sprouts, so I count out x-servings and no more. If I’m buying broccoli, I buy crowns. 1 crown = 1 serving. No more than I’m planning to eat!
6. Stop buying canned beans! One of the biggest ways I’ve started saving money is to buy dried beans and cook them myself. One pound of dried beans costs about the same as 2 cans of cooked beans, yet you get about 5 cans worth of beany goodness. It may seem overwhelming to cook your beans, but it’s very rewarding and so much of it can be done while you’re doing other things in your house.
7. Stop buying veggie burgers and hummus! Make your own with the beans you’ve cooked! You can end up making more burger patties than you need, so you can just freeze them and save money next week by not needing to buy a protein source! As for hummus, it’s so easy to make and so much cheaper.
8. Stick to your menu plan. Do it as best you can. Sometimes I’ll refigure things a bit and make a recipe I wasn’t planning, but I always use ingredients I have on hand and I make sure that it won’t leave me short by the end of the week.
9. Freeze stuff! If it looks like it won’t end up getting used, throw it in the freezer before it goes bad! It saves waste and it’ll be there to save you money later!
So those are my main rules to follow. I don’t really coupon, as most of what I buy is produce or store brand. Certainly it is also helpful to look for things that are on sale. If I normally buy 365 brand, but Pacific almond milk is on sale, then Pacific brand it is. If a certain fruit is on sale, I may buy that instead of what I was planning to snack on, etc.
Let me also address the fact that I do purchase things that are, by all standards, expensive. My tub of protein powder costs $20, then there’s my psyllium husk ($9) and my chia seeds ($12-$15) that I keep as a part of my diet. (The latter two ingredients are essential to my personal digestive health, so I refuse to give them up.) However, because I am budgeting the rest of my week so well, I give myself the ability to afford those “luxuries.” Furthermore, those three things tend to last me a while (about 3 weeks to a month, each). They are certainly not weekly ingredients, so they don’t add up as much as one might think.
So there you have it. This is how I plan and budget my week of food and how I also can do it at Whole Foods. I am a happy, healthy, well-nourished, clean-eating vegan and I do not spend an arm and a leg on my food!
I hope this helps and of you out there that are trying to budget and plan.
Let me know what you do, if you currently shop on a budget! I love to hear new things I can do to save a penny here or there.