Made to Crave: 12 (food budget)

I have been budgeting for food the exact same way for the past four and a half years.  I make a meal plan out for a month, shop for all of the meat and non-perishables  and some veggies at one shopping trip.  Then I have to go back a few times for dairy/bread/veggies. On the next paycheck of the month, I get whatever we’ve run out of (breakfast foods, toiletries, etc.).  Rarely do I need meat on that next paycheck, but I do restock on household items, and of course, dairy/bread/veggies.

Ever since I started “Made to Crave” and decided to eat more healthfully, I’ve been completely confused with how to budget my money for food purchases.  I have no clue what I’m doing!  I feel like I’m totally starting over.  New recipes, new dinner plans, new budget.

How do I do this budgeting thing?!?  I definitely increased my food budget, as the bread I was buying costs considerably less than the veggies I’ve switched to.  I think this was the hardest part of my transition.  I like my carbs.  In fact, before this journey I couldn’t imagine a meal without a bread and sometimes, a bread AND a starchy side.  I still have a hard time accepting that chicken with a side of mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and dinner roll is bad for me.  Sounds perfectly good to me!  Oh, how we Southerners like our starches!  I haven’t bought white bread in months and that was something I had as a staple… I used to think that white bread was a necessity in all good Southerner’s pantries. I do believe I’m a good Southerner but I am proud to say I’ve almost converted my entire family to whole-grain, whole-wheat bread.  (And some whole wheat pasta, though I’m not really sure if it’s any more healthy… something just makes me think it is.)

Since starting this journey I have not made dinner rolls once.  I made garlic toast (on wheat bread) once.  I admitted that to you already.  I’ve made white rice a few times for the family and have just not served it on my plate.  It’s absolutely amazing that I have made the mental shift from thinking a complete and balanced meal MUST have bread/starches to having only a lean meat and veggies.  Last night I made a great salmon recipe that I’ll repeat.  I found it on Pinterest (shocker) and it was crazy simple.  I’ve shared it at the bottom of this page.

My confusion lies in that I have no idea how to budget my money for this new lifestyle. Eating fresh things that go bad so quickly is putting a crimp in my Once-A-Month Cooking style.  It’s frustrating me and I dread making my grocery list each time.

If you budget your food for this kind of meal planning (and are a NUT who uses cash like I do), what do you do?  Do you go to the grocery store every four days to get the fresh things you need?  I think that’s what I’m going to do.  Plan my next 14 meals, divide my cash into four different “envelopes” and plan to shop every four days.  GAG!

To make matters even more confusing, I really want to start buying all my produce on the economy (at the market or in German stores) but honestly, I’m still overwhelmed with my new menu to even consider that additional step.  Might sound simple, but I’d have to do the whole “Euro” thing and I’m just not there yet.  (Plus, I have a friend who is making this transition a step ahead of me and she’s going to find the best store to buy produce… then I’ll just copy her!)

Okay, that’s enough whining for today.  I’m not feeing deprived or discouraged by eating this way, but I am finding that it’s harder to meal plan/budget/shop on this kind of diet.  I know with some work I’ll find plenty of meals I can have frozen and ready, but at this point, I’m still trying to find new recipes that my whole family will like that will also fit my desires to eat well.  For now, here’s what we had for dinner last night:

Foil Pack Salmon:

1 pack of salmon  (with two pieces in it)
1 lemon, sliced into six circles
lemon juice (juice of another lemon or the stuff in the yellow and green bottle that is cheaper and I always have around)
salt, pepper, rosemary

Set two lengths of foil out on the counter that are large enough to wrap around the salmon and create a little miniature oven.
Set three slices of lemon on each.
Place a piece of salmon on each set of lemons.
Brush salmon with lemon juice.
Salt, pepper, and rosemary to taste.
Put a pat of butter on top.
Close foil around the food, like I said before, creating space for air to circulate over the top of the yumminess.

Bake at 325 for 25 minutes.

While that’s baking, slice any veggies you have on hand. I used red and yellow pepper, onion, squash, and zucchini squash. Sauté in olive oil, sprinkling in garlic powder, salt, pepper, and rosemary to taste. (We really like rosemary, though it’s totally optional for both the salmon and the veggies.)

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
This entry was posted in About my faith, food/recipes, Made to Crave, weight/health. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Made to Crave: 12 (food budget)

  1. Bug's Mama says:

    Have you tried spaghetti squash in place of pasta noodles yet? It’s so good with pesto (and good for you!) or cauliflower mashed potatoes? Those are staples over here (LOL oh, how California does it differently!)

    • Jennifer says:

      I have not tried either but both are on my MUST TRY list. Can you tell me how to make both of those?

      • Bug's Mama says:

        I microwave the squash- just turn it upside down and cook on high- I think it takes 5-10 min? Then I toss it with pesto, or just olive oil and herbs. It’s good with tomato sauce too!

        The cauliflower- we steam it, and then mash it like potato, with garlic and butter and a little bit of milk. The kitchenaid mixer can get it to a nice texture. Then we serve it like potatoes as a side 🙂

      • Bug's Mama says:

        I microwave the squash- just cut it in half, turn it upside down and cook on high- I think it takes 5-10 min? The you use a fork to pull out the flesh, it will string when you take the fork to it- like noodles! Then I toss it with pesto, or just olive oil and herbs. It’s good with tomato sauce too!

        The cauliflower- we steam it, and then mash it like potato, with garlic and butter and a little bit of milk. The kitchenaid mixer can get it to a nice texture. Then we serve it like potatoes as a side 🙂

      • Jennifer says:

        I simply can’t wait! I may be making both of these for lunch tomorrow! (I have the squash and cauliflower on hand!)

  2. Christy says:

    I’ve been having the same problem, needing more fresh produce around. I go to the commissary once a week (usually on the weekend so I can go kid-free). On Wednesday nights, I ride my bicycle to a little grocery store in Bierstadt for more produce (it’s walking distance to your house!).

    • Jennifer says:

      Okay, that’s easy enough. Do you find that produce lasts longer than the commissary’s?

      • Christy says:

        I never had a problem with the commissary’s produce, like so many seem to complain about. I buy apples, spinach, potatoes, and carrots (those last a bit longer) at the commissary because it’s cheaper, and they always last to my next trip. I buy berries, bananas, and grapes at both, and we consume those within a few days of my buying them. I also buy yogurt at the German store because the commissary doesn’t have the little bitty kid cups.

        If you want to walk to the store together, let me know! I can put the kids in the stroller and stop by your house, then we can go together.

      • Jennifer says:

        My beef is with the bananas, apples, and avocados. All the other produce seems to do okay with me. I only buy 4-5 apples at a time, which will only last us a day or two, because by the third day they’re bruised and spotted. And no, I don’t store them with the bananas! 🙂

        Let me convert a little of my cash (which I already pulled out my entire food budget in $$, not thinking about getting euro) and then we’ll go. Does it have to be on a Wed or will another night work? This upcoming Wed I have plans.

      • Christy says:

        We can go any time, I don’t care when. Or, we can drive and do the grocery store and Euro store all in one trip. For apples, I always buy the green apples sold in a bag (not individually), and they last almost 2 weeks.

      • Jennifer says:

        Want to go to the market downtown tomorrow?

  3. smilindown says:

    We go to Costco (probably not in Germany, though!) twice a month to stock up on non-parishables, toiletries, paper products, poultry, frozen items, and produce. Their produce really does last longer and is fresher than most grocery stores. We get our bunches of bananas there, a 1 lb clamshell of strawberries, fresh pineapple, big bag of grapes, and big bag of apples. Oh, and we get our salad stuff and avocados there, too. Then, on the other weeks, we go to the regular store to get our milk, bread, yogurt, and other things we don’t buy in bulk. I think it might be easier for you to menu plan in the States because of how many grocery stores and produce stands and wholesale stores there are.

  4. Danielle says:

    We are gluten free. so our grocery budget is a lot bigger than we are use too. We get a lot meat, and what we can at the commissary, On Saturday’s a friend and I go down to the Market and get some yummy goodness. We go through A LOT of Produce. (and milk, we get 2 kinds, cow milk, almond milk). Being healthy shouldn’t cost so much!

    • Danielle says:

      there goes me not poof-reading it before i push send. *what we can get at the commissary* I am from Louisiana. Everything was fried in some kind of fat and with bread’n on it.

      • Jennifer says:

        All healthy foods are supposed to be battered and fried, if you’re from the south. YUM YUM!

        Trying to not pass that on to my boys!

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