Friday, April 25, 2008
Saving Money: Healthy Cheap Good Family Meals


Here is the situation.

I am no longer generating an income, so I don't have any money.

I mean I don't have any money that is just mine.

I can spend small amounts of money that M brings home, or I can ask or negotiate with him about big purchases, but I can't actually get money to save or build and spend on whatever I want. What I want is to have my own IRA- investing in socially responsible companies and have money to give to the charities of my choice.

I can't get a job because I am still finishing school.

So I have an idea.

We spend a lot of money on groceries. Way too much. We also spend a lot of money on babysitters so I can finish my degree.

If I write a check from M's account to my own bank account that equals the amount of money we have been spending on groceries and babysitters and then pay MUCH less for the groceries and babysitters I will be able to slowly start saving money.

So saving money will be my new job.

I want to combine this idea with my simple living lifestyle. First, I want to figure out what meals are the cheapest without sacrificing health. Next, I will slow down the amount of classes I am taking- to like 2 per year. This way I can spend more time with Piney and pay less to babysitters. It will put off my graduation date, but that isn't the worst thing in the world. I have waited this long, whats another year! It might be better for Piney too.

So now that, that is settled. I have to figure out the cheapest meals.

I think we will limit our meat to 2 x per week because meat is expensive and an environmental hazard. I plan on making things from scratch, buying bulk grains and fresh, raw veggies and giant blocks of cheese. I even looked into making my own cheese, but I will have to see if it is actually cheaper. Hopefully we will be able to get lettuce, tomatoes and peppers from our deck garden.

The meals I have thought of are here:

Breakfast/Lunch ideas:
Plain oatmeal, add small amount of wheat germ or flax or nuts and berries
Pancakes or waffles from scratch, homemade syrup

Lunch/Dinner ideas:
Rice, beans, raw veggies
Homemade cheese pizza/salad
Spaghetti/ veggies/ salad
Enchiladas with homemade tortillas and sauce
Homemade organic veggie soup
Annie's organic Mac and Cheese w/ leftover soup
Fish, homemade bread, raw veggies
Homemade English muffin cheese pizzas, homemade raw hummus, raw organic carrots
Homemade Lasagna, salad
Cheese Tacos with homemade tortillas and homemade raw salsa

Snacks: Homemade muffins, bars, bulk organic yogurt and fruit

Desserts: Homemade cookies, cakes, raw chocolate fondue with fruit, raw smoothies, bananas, pineapple

Drinks: Water only

I have some conflicts with buying organic or not. The price of 4 organic apples at the store here is almost $8. Regular apples would cost quite a bit less. Also, I can buy organic white flour, but there is no organic wheat flour available. So if I want the whole grains I can't get organic. Also, they offer organic canned beans, but the fresh ones are not organic. There are a lot of things like that. I can buy organic frozen strawberries, but the locally grown, fresh ones are not organic. I don't have a lot of choices here. You can not buy organic oatmeal or rice, etc. I think I am just going to have to go with the healthier, cheaper choice when there is a conflict. I can still buy the organic potatoes, and carrots, the organic mac and cheese and the local bread and the organic tomato sauces, etc. They are just a little bit more money and worth it I think.

Anyway, I need more ideas! Please help! Cheap, healthy good meals for families. Any suggestions?

image from:


Blogger Elle said...
Try to go organic with your dirty dozen fruits and veg such as apples, peaches, strawberries and the like.

Canned is canned. It will always be less nutritious than the fresh stuff.

And meat... we do eat meat on a regular basis, but what we buy is RBST free and from a local source. I buy from a butcher not a grocery store and if possible buy pastured organic meat. Yes it is more expensive, but if you think of meat as your side instead of your main you are better off financially and healthwise. One side of a chicken breast will usually feed all 3 of us.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I realize you live on the opposite side of the earth, so I don't really know what's common there and prices, but since the price of grains has been going up so much, potatoes instead of pasta, bread, rice. They're versatile and cheap, at least in North America they're still cheap.

I'm getting concerned about the price of food and am strapped for cash too, so I might start growing more of my own food, especially expensive stuff like raspberries (really hard to transport and must be harvested by hand if they're to be eaten whole). I pay over $4 for one tiny carton of them, about the size of my hand. Yesterday I read an article in a mainstream news source where a big Canadian bank is saying the price of oil will be $225 in 2012 and someone suggested we won't be able to get the same food we're used to all year round anymore at some point soon. They said to "get a canning recipe from your grandmother before she departs this world." Nice and rosy picture of the future! It's like they're suggesting we'll be returning to the state of the world 50, 60, 80+ years ago.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The price per barrel of oil will be $225 in 2012, that should say.

Blogger daysgoby said...
I must find that article about which fruit soaks up the most pesticides -

and the next page shows the fruit and veg that contains the least amount of pesticide

Going fresh and healthy is HARD, isn't it? Constant mindfulness.

Blogger Marcie said...
I recommend books like The Tightwad Gazette, Cheap Fast Good or Desperation Dinners. I realize you are not exactly here in the States, but maybe someone can send them to you? Or you can always check out websites like the!!

Blogger jeneflower said...
Elle- I wish we had that kind of meat option here. The local meat is not considered totally safe and the kind they ship from the states is the worst kind you can buy. However, I will not become a vegetarian because it would be so hard to try to figure out how to get all of the nutrients from other sources. So 1-2 days of meat is what I have decided on.

Blogger Tricia said...
My mom used to make homemade chicken and beef pot pies with lots of vegetables.

We try to eat alot of grilled meat and vegetables in the summer. Kebabs and rice are my favorite.

I choose vegetables and fruit based on season. Usually things are better tasting and cheaper that way. So right now we are eating alot of homemade strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Blogger Tricia said...
oh, and we sometimes get bulk granola, and add this to yoghurt for breakfast and snacks.

another healthier meat option/idea is substituting ground turkey for beef in meatloaf, burger, spaghetti sauce, etc. recipes.

Blogger Laurie said...
I am no expert, but I have read about the fruits and veggies that are worth paying extra for, and those that take few pesticides to produce, so they are not terribly tainted. I don't remember all, but I do remember that bananas, broccoli, and pineapple grown conventionally are relatively "clean" while soy beans/soy products, berries, etc. are worth it for the extra $ to get organically grown.

Blogger Isle Dance said...
Fantastic ideas!!! :o)

Blogger jeneflower said...
You guys are right. I looked into it and I found that I should probably buy the organic apples, peaches, pears, the frozen organic berries, and milk, corn, carrots, and potatoes.

I will also probably buy the organic cheerio type cereals. It seems that these are the most important as far as pesticides/ chemicals are concerned. Thanks for bringing the list to my attention!

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