How to eat Cleanly on a Budget

I struggled at first on what to write for this post, this is the third draft of this post. My first few drafts felt too wordy and too much like lecture. I know that when people talk about clean eating it can feel a bit like a long boring lecture full of too much information. There is something about this subject that can ignite passion in the author and it can come off as preachy which puts people off. We don’t really need to be lectured about how important it is to eat healthy, I think we all do know that but life gets in the way and makes us feel that we can’t. Instead I just want to share a few tips that are helping me and my family on the road to cleaner eating.

Tip #1
Don’t think you have to do it all at once. There are a lot of clean eaters out there who I think are unhelpful because they are a bit all or nothing. You won’t be able to do it all at once so just find one area you want to work on and take it from there.

TIP #2
Start reading the ingredients list. If you do nothing else but this one tip it can have a dramatic impact on your shopping. Learning what is in your food can help you make more informed and healthier choices. The food shouldn’t contain ingredients that you can’t even pronounce let alone know what it is. If you couldn’t buy the ingredients yourself and make the food from scratch then it isn’t worth you consuming. Why? Because it is over processed food that will only leave you feeling hungry hours later. That is why we can eat an entire bag of crisps and then still be hungry for more. It is cheap food that doesn’t contain enough to fill you up but enough crap it in to make the scales climb.

Tip #3
You don’t need to give up meat but reduce your meat consumption. Also start buying your meat from your local butcher. Buying from a local butcher helps you know where your meat came from and how it was handled. One of the reasons people go on about buying organic meat is because there are so many additives shops have to put into meat in order to be able to package and store it for longer periods of time. Buying from a small, local butcher is cheaper then buying that expensive organic meat from the supermarket. Also having a relationship with people the supply your meat can give you peace of mind about what you are feeding your family. Local butchers are sometimes a bit more expensive then buying cheap meat at a supermarket but I can fill a book on how much better you and our economy would be if everyone did this but I won’t bore you. If you reduce your families consumption of meat paying a little bit more per ounce from a local butcher for meat that is more locally sourced you won’t see a dramatic impact to your budget.

Tip #4
Eat seasonally. I know our supermarket lifestyle has given us the luxury of eating everything all year round but eating seasonally is not only better for your it is better for your budget. That punnet of strawberries that has been artificially ripened in December is not only less nutritious but it is also more expensive. It also helps keep life interesting only eating food that is seasonally available.

Tip #5
Of course we all know we need to eat more fruits and vegetables so adding a tip that just says eat more fruits and vegetables doesn’t feel helpful. So instead challenge yourself to serve a new vegetable dish every week. People get bored with simple steamed veggies on a plate so over time they stop serving it as much. Coming up with just one new way to serve up veggies a week after a year you will have 52 different ideas of how to serve vegetables to your family. Keeping variety around your healthy eating makes it more likely that you will stick to it.

How to make 5 Minute Rice

We live in a world that thrives on convenience items. Going to the supermarket you are inundated with food items designed to make your life easier so you don’t have to spend hours cooking. And that is great for busy households however the need for convenience often means sacrificing quality, cost but most importantly nutrition.

We aren’t using these items because they are cheaper, because they are often double the price, it is simply because we don’t have the time to cook from scratch. I completely understand that which is why I try to come up with ways to make convenience items at home. Today I want to share how to make your own “Minute Rice”.

Minute Rice, or Instant Rice, is one of these convenience items that is very common but it costs almost double the price of regular rice and because the process it goes through strips out most of the nutrients and they have to “add” it back it isn’t something that we really should be eating. But for families that have little time to prepare dinner and want rice it has become a go to item. But it is possible to make your own instant rice. All it takes is for you to take a little time maybe one day on the weekend and then you are set for those busy days and all you have to do pop the bag in the microwave and you are done.

I have even prepared pilaf rice for this method and it works every time. I love how quickly I can get my side dish onto the table so that I can focus on preparing the main course. We have all had times where we just needed something quick and easy but this way you can have it quick but know that you are still preparing a meal that was made from scratch by you.

5 Minute Rice

Rice
For every 185g or 1 cup of rice you want double the amount of water
Zip lock bags

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Chatting with C&K Talk All About Food Budgeting

After three years of focusing on budgeting I have discovered a part of me that I didn’t even know existed. I actually love budgeting, I know that sounds strange but I actually find it thrilling. I think even if we didn’t struggle with finances I would still find myself keeping to a strict food budget because I am addicted to it. Since I am so passionate about this subject I was excited when I was asked to join Christine from Cook the Story and Katie from Katie’s Cucina to talk about budgeting. We had a fabulous time and even though I had so much more to share I was happy to be able to share my story about food budgeting and how to get started with saving making small changes. Check out what Christine said about our conversation and don’t forget to watch the video of the chat.
 
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10 Simple Ways to Save Money on Food Shopping

It has been almost 3 years since I took on this adventure of blogging. It is amazing how quickly time has gone by and how much has changed. I have moved to a different country, had a baby girl and so many other little things have changed it is like reading about a different person when I looked through my old posts. So it is no wonder that a few days ago I was sat with a mug of tea, staring at my homepage and asking myself “What is it I want for my blog?”. Blogging is not an easy task, it takes a lot of time and effort and there are moments that I wonder why I take on the additional stress. So what do I really want to say, is it just an outlet to share recipes? That is sort of what it has become and that isn’t a bad thing just that I have more I feel I want to share. This blog started out as a way for me to share in the journey of watching our budget but slowly over time I have drifted away from that. But I am starting to realize that I have more I want to say and share but sometimes I get so excited about this topic that I am so passionate about that I don’t feel I come across clear enough. So I am going to try and rein in my excitement and give focused advice and I am going to start by sharing with you 10 of my top tips for saving money on your food shopping.

1. Write a menu for the week before you make your shopping list-
This step alone can save you so much more time and money then you might thing. It might seem like a daunting task to do but trust me you will save time and money because dinner is no longer a guessing game and you will spend less time browsing in the store because you already know what you are cooking for the week.

2. Make a list and stick to it-
Now this one might seem like a no brainer but you would be surprised at how many people tell me that they might write down a few items on a list but that for the most part they just ‘go shopping’. That is one of the biggest ways to over spend in the supermarket. Without a list you are more tempted to buy more then you need. When you are making your list make sure to look at your store cupboard so that you don’t end up buying things you already have.

3. Shop on a full stomach-
Shopping when you have the munchies is the worse! Being hungry can encourage you to buy things that you don’t need just because it sounds good. Don’t let your stomach control your wallet.

4. If you don’t need it to look at it-
If you don’t need any snack foods then why are you wandering down that aisle, it is too tempting to buy things you don’t need if you go down the isles and browse. Stay focused. Stores purposely design their shops to try to encourage you to walk up and down each isle because it is their goal for you to BUY. Also don’t be fooled by displays at the end of the isles with promotions. Often these are promotions that the brands have pushed and it isn’t always the best deal in the store.

5. Choose generic-
Brand shopping is an easy way to waste money. Most store branded items are just as good and we have found in some cases we prefer them. For example we love some store brands of granola cereal more then the Branded versions.

6. Buy less prepackaged-
It seems so much easier, just go pick up the package of ready sliced or ready prepared and you are done. But there is a large amount of money that is being wasted because of our need for convenience. Instead take a look at the stores deli meat counter, they often have in-store prepared meat that they will slice for you that is cheaper then if you bought the ready sliced packages. And if you are lucky it is often roasted in the store and not water packed so it is fresher and healthier. Seriously have you ever looked at the sodium levels in pre-packaged lunch meat!!

7. Buy and cook in bulk-
There are so many recipes that you can make in bulk and freeze for later on. So when you are shopping for things like meat look at some of the larger packages of meat and see if you can get a better deal. If you don’t want to cook it all in one go you can re-package it at home to freeze individually.

8. Use coupons wisely-
In the past I talked about using coupons and I am still a big advocate for doing so, however I want to stress how important it is to make sure you are actually getting a deal. Ask yourself, is it actually cheaper to buy this product with the coupon or can I buy the generic brand without the coupon and still spend less. This is something I discovered when I was using coupons, more often then not if I just bought the store brand I would spend less then if I used the coupons. And even more importantly did you even plan or need the item that you have the coupon for. It is no good saving money if it is a product that you probably wouldn’t buy in the first place.

9. Don’t look at the price look at the unit price (gram, kilo, ounce)-
It is a very common mistake to think when shopping on a budget “What’s the cheapest way to get all the things I want?”. Instead ask “What’s the best value for money I can get?” Oh but this package of rice pilaf is only .99 that is cheaper then that bag of rice that is 1.40. But think about it, that package of rice will feed your family for 1 meal the bag of rice could feed your family every day for a week. That means you save yourself almost £6. That adds up over time, trust me. Yes it takes longer then 5 minutes in the microwave but rice is so simple to make that it can be worth it if you just give yourself the 20 min. Start the rice first while you prep the rest of dinner, or throw a load of laundry in the washer what ever it takes to get rid of the I don’t have time excuse.

10. Find ethnic stores in your area-
This one might seem odd but it can save you money if you do a little research. Most areas have ethnic grocery stores, even if you are sure that you don’t. So some research for Asian or Middle Eastern stores around you and try to do your shopping there for bulk items such as rice, oil, noodles and some spices. I buy my olive oil in a large 5 Litre container that I use to refill my Oil pourer. It costs me around £7 where buying olive oil at the store I would spend about £3 for a 1 Litre bottle. I do a lot of asian cooking so I buy all of my asian spices and sauces, soy sauce costs 1/3 of the price at my asian market compared to the regular grocery store. But a word of caution with this advice. You can quickly lose what you saved if you have to drive around looking for things, only do this if your store is a reasonable distance, even better if it is on the way to something else that you might need to go to.

Coming up with money saving ideas even when the tap is leaking

It has been a while since I posted a money saving idea and I have an odd one today that I would like to share because you never know when someone will be stuck in the same position.

We live in rented accommodation so we have to rely on a landlord to fix things, which means that things don’t always get taken care of as fast as you would like. However even if we owned our own place problems might not get fixed as quickly as we would like because of finances, so either way you can at times be left with a frustrating situation. So sometimes it takes some out of the box thinking to save money when situations like today happen. We have a leaking sink and the plumber is not coming until Monday. Now we live on metered water, which means that literally every tiny drop that comes out of the tap is money coming out of our wallet. This frustrates me, even more so because I am home most of the day so I can hear the sound of the tap dripping and it is a constant reminder of the wasted money. So I this morning I stuck a pot under the tap and I have been using the wasted water throughout the day. First I filled the kettle when I wanted to make some tea, then I had to water a few plants, clean the bathroom and now it is filling the pot that I need to boil the water for the pasta tonight. It is still annoying that the tap is dripping but it has made me feel a whole lot better being able to use the water instead of just having it be wasted.

So keep your mind always thinking outside of the box and tell me what ideas you have come up with to save money when a situation presents itself that is out of your control.