Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Saving Money on Food - Eating Better

So many people have emailed asking me about how can they spend less on food and eat better. I suspect that they think that I've discovered the answer on my journey to being self reliant. I can only say what I've done, not what the perfect answer for you is. Besides, im not 100% there yet. im still in the process of figuring out how to spend less and eat better. But here where I am so far........

Foremost.....stop buying commercially prepared foods. That means just about everything in the supermarkets. We gradually transitioned to producing or trading for most of our food. At the same time we weaned ourselves away from most store bought items. But lets say that we weren't growing our own, would it still be possible to do? Sure. We would have needed to adjust our diet and purchase just "real food", things that are zero processed with zero additives. I'd look to buy direct from the grower when possible. I'd check out farmers markest. I'd look into bulk buying or a co-op. 

Next......stop eating out. Or at least drastically reduce it. We are down to two "out-with-friends" meals a week, one a breakfast, the other a dinner. While we could survive just fine cutting these out, we have no plans to. Eating a meal with friends is very important to us and very enjoyable. 

Stop buying at expensive stores.....those little convenience stores can be pricy. And there is a big variation in cost between different supermarket chains. 

Stop wasting food....this is another super biggie for me. I learned to use food that previously I had thrown away. It was hard but I've retrained myself not to leave food go bad in the refrigerator. I've switched to making stir fries, soups, and stews which can use up leftovers. I've learned to freeze or dry my excess. I don't bother to can foods, but that would be another option. During the hectic chapters of my past life, I was immensely guilty of wasting food. Alas, no more. Different lifestyle, different focus. 

Establish a trading network..... these past few years I've created a trading network to turn my excess foods that I produce or acquire into other foods that I want. I have traded for meats, milk, cheese, fruits, veggies, bread, cookies, pies, and even ducks, lambs, chickens. I'm often offered jams, jellies, syrups, dried fruits & veggies, juices, and assorted homemade foods. Last week I traded for some homemade fried chicken that was absolutely lay fantastic. 

I've never kept the records, but I bet I spend a helluva lot less now on food as compared to when I first moved here. Looking back, it was insane how I spent the food budget. Heck, what budget? I just bought food as wanted. And back then I was really habituated to commercial foods. Microwaved food was my thing. No more. 

If I were just growing a small food garden and not doing all the other stuff, like trying for a complete food line, foraging, and trading, I think I'd focus on growing those veggies that are expensive to buy in the stores. Things like sugar snap peas, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, etc. Growing those pricey veggies (and fruits) myself would help the food budget. But of course that would mean growing them sensibly. One wouldn't save any money if one were to spend big bucks on fertilizer, pots, potting soil, hand tools, a rototiller, etc. 


  1. I really like that idea of the food network. I do all the rest of what you suggest already! For example, we got a little 13 cu.f chest freezer for free so now we go to Costco once every 6-8 weeks and buy meat in bulk. Better quality, lower price.

    Our only indulgence - like you - is going out to eat. Usually, though, we split the meal and buy an extra salad. We found we were taking too much home in doggie bags.

    My husband is hooked on one type of breakfast cereal and you know how expensive boxed breakfast cereal is on Hawaii. Per pound it's pretty expensive on the mainland! I don't know what we're going to do about that. Scrimp like crazy on other stuff I guess!

  2. Fineartgourds wrote via email: Liked your blog on the food bill. It's the simple truth; cook from scratch and as much out of the garden as possible. Make soups and have them for lunch with a sandwich instead of all those gawdawful chips and sodas. Unfortunately, it doesn't work if the whole household is not in agreement. My ex-husband would never eat a bean, it was Poverty Food! He only wanted status foods in the house and any hint of left-overs was anathema. Splash, splash, splash that money around!

    1. Ask Fineartgourds if her ex had a brother because I was married to someone just like hers. The operative word there for note is WAS. You know I could handle that I guess if they make enough money and are nice. But, no. They don't and aren't. So, no, it doesn't work, really.!