With all the economic turmoil, it seems everyone is talking about
budgeting these days. Thrift is the new chic. Hmm, guess I was trendy before I knew it.
Meat is expensive. No way around that. Low carbers eat meat. Not many ways around that!Before I got serious with low carbing, I thought it would be too pricey for my budget too.
But there are ways to trim the budget and still follow the lifestyle. We are, as evidence, a single income family with two kids in college and one at home, who still manage to eat three meals a day. Here are some of my hints--in no order of importance.
How to Feed a Low Carb Family (on a really tight budget)
1. Menu Planning. Nothings breaks the bank more than emergency trips for take out food.
2. Shop Sales. I always go over the grocery ads before I make the menu for the week, That way I can build the menu--especially the Triple Play meal, around the meats that are on sale that week.
3. Shop more than one store. It may be a hassle to shop at more than one grocery, but the savings will convince you. Sometimes, the extras or produce are priced so much higher at stores with great meat sales that you end up with no savings. I buy meat from the sales circulars, produce and many pantry items at Aldi, and several dry goods at Big Lots. I don't necessarily go to all stores each week, but that occasional trip to Big Lots keeps me stocked up on Splenda, coconut milk, even Dreamfield's Pasta sometimes.
4. Buy in Bulk. We use Sam's Club for some items. Cream cheese in the big block, cream, frozen broccoli, American Cheese slices, thin green beans, three pound bags of cole slaw mix, DaVinci Syrups...I never, ever buy anything in bulk that is not a discount off of the regular store price, and I don't buy more than I can use in a reasonable time.
5. Keep a Freezer Inventory. Before I did this, I would forget about what I had in the freezer. It would get burned, we would taste it, throw it out and go for burgers. Now I date everything, keep my list updated so I always know what is in there.
6. Use those leftovers. When the big guys are away at school, we usually have leftover servings from casseroles. I freeze those in individual servings. They are great for late night emergency munchies, or days when the cook is off duty and everyman fends for himself.
7. Stretch the meat. This was so much easier to do when we ate SAD. I would add rice or pasta. Now, we are healthier. I add salad. This is so easy to do when the salad is pre-made in a container in the fridge. It is ready in an instant and fills both the plate and stomach.
8. Inexpensive Cuts of Meat If you buy less expensive cuts of beef, use the crock pot as a cooking method to make them tender and very juicy. If you don't mind pulling meat off bones, chicken legs and thighs make delicious moist dark meat, and are much cheaper.
9. Add some ground Turkey. When I am making Minute Beef or other recipes with ground beef, I often add 1/4 to 1/2 ground turkey. It is much cheaper than beef. It makes the meat mixture tender too. I don't care for turkey alone, but it makes a great mix.
10. No convenience foods. Most of these are incompatible with Low Carbing anyway. But consider the savings when you aren't purchasing pre fab foods. George Stella even tells you to shop only around the edges of the grocery aisles. Sticking to whole foods will keep you healthier too.
11. Do It Yourself Sweetener. I use liquid sucralose quite often. I have found that it can be ordered on E-Bay at a significant savings over the cost of other online retailers or regular Splenda. I recently purchased a dry powder and mixed it myself for about half the cost.
12. Find Buying Buddies. Gather other low carb friends together to share online orders. Almond flours or other specialty items are great to order together. At the minumum, you can share shipping costs. At best, you may order in quantity and share bulk savings.
13. Grow a garden.Now my friends are laughing. I am known to kill every plant that comes my way. I am going to try again this year with some container plants. Just think how much you might save on tomatoes alone.
14.Can or Freeze. Buy produce when it is cheap and invest some time prepping and storing. My pressure cooker doubles as a canner, but mostly I prep and freeze. I have several bags of pumpkin puree in my freezer from pumpkins that were a quarter each after Halloween.
15. Buy Seasonal. This of course, goes for produce, but other things seem to be seasonal as well. Holidays often trigger sales. Stock up on turkeys at Thanksgiving, brisket near Memorial Day, hams at Easter, etc.
16. Clip Coupons I don't devote too much time in this area, but I do ask family for coupons for meat or cheese items. The trick is to only use them on foods you would normally purchase and you are sure you will use. I am also careful to make sure there is not a reliable house brand that would still be cheaper.
17. Brown Bag. It is always going to be cheaper to bring food from home than to eat out. We eat out once a week at a pizza restaurant. The salad bar is a great option for us, the drinks are free, and we always use a coupon. But generally when dining out, one can't we sure where sugar creeps in, and often we have to throw away so much of our meal that is carby, that the financial considerations outweigh the fun of eating out.
18. Stick to the Shopping List. When you have done your work and planned the menu, your grocery list is reliable. Don't add extra items just because they sound good to you then. Chances are they will sit around unused because your plan doesn't have a place for them and they aren't really necessary. If you do eat them, you might be eating too much!
19. Big cans of Tuna. I don't know if you have noticed it, but tuna cans have gotten smaller recently. What used to be a meal for four now only feeds three. The prices have shot up too. And those pouches are even more pricey. I buy the 66.5 ounce cans of BumbleBee Premium Tuna at Sam's Club. It is a bit cheaper than buying the cans, much cheaper than the pouches, and saves one from opening all those cans!
20. Vow to spend less than $2.99 a pound. Unless it is a special occasion, I seldom spend more than $2.50 per pound for meat. True, we don't get much seafood for that price, nor many steaks. I can buy roasts, burgers, chicken breasts, turkey and sausages and stay in those guidelines. If your budget can stand it, plan one splurge meal a week or one a month.