According to the USDA, the average American family of four is spending $80 a month more on groceries than they did a mere 3 years ago. For a lot of families, the upturn in grocery spending does not reflect an upturn on family income. Clearly something has got to give!
Weâ€™ve all noticed how much food has gone upâ€”I canâ€™t think of one thing that hasnâ€™t. And while I cannot control food prices, I can control my own budget and as it becomes necessary, cut back to keep my food expenses in line. Here are 10 ways to cut back without sacrificing nutrition:
1. Eat vegetarian one night a week (rice and beans is a favorite with my kids).
2. Eat breakfast for dinner one night a week (pancakes and eggs are way cheap). Light candles and serve juice in wine glasses for fun.
3. Eat greens and beans one night a week (I use frozen collards, turnip greens etc. on sale to keep the cost down). Give your big guys Tabasco sauce to bump it up!
4. Eat homemade soup one night a week (try the one below!).
5. Cook with your crockpot one night a week (utilizing inexpensive cuts of meat and poultry).
6. Only buy meat and produce on sale and/or marked down.
7. Eat from your freezer one night a week (youâ€™d be surprised at how many meals are in there just waiting to be thrown together!).
8. Buy dried beans and make your own instead of buying canned (instructions on how to cook them are right on the bag).
9. Make your own chicken broth from your leftover roast chicken (throw the carcass, an onion, carrots and celery into a pot, cover with water, simmer for an hour or so).
10. Pack PB & Jâ€™s, some carrot sticks and waters for dinner the night youâ€™re all running all over the place (nixing the drive thru). No one will die from not having a â€œproper mealâ€.
This is all easy stuff and doesnâ€™t require a lot of thought. Eating vegetarian for example, could be combined with eating greens and beans for dinner or eating soup, or breakfast for dinner. The point is the thought process of cutting back, making do and using up what you have. You can live on less than you think, that includes food.
Try some of these suggestions. Go shopping in your freezer and fridge before you even begin to plan your menu this week. Likewise, check out that pantry for anything that might turn into dinner this week.
Keeping clutter at bay requires cutting back on unnecessary purchases. This includes food!
Crock Bean Soup with Kale
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 bunch kale, trimmed and sliced (or use 2 cups frozen greens)
1 pound cannellini beans, soaked overnight (you can also use white beans)
4 cups low sodium chicken broth (make your own or buy canned)
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrot and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent. Add kale and cook till wilted, about 3 minutes. In a crock pot, place soaked, drained beans; add crushed red pepper flakes and the contents of the skillet; cover with broth (add a little water if necessary, but crockpot should be 3/4 full).
Cook on high for 8 hours, or until beans are tender. Once beans are tender, add the tomato sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
Per Serving: 349 Calories; 8g Fat; 19g Protein; 54g Carbohydrate; 13g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 85mg Sodium. Exchanges: 3 Grain (Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat.
SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Some whole grain rolls and a big salad.
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