Sunday, June 22, 2008

Food prices? Are they taking a swing at you too?

I've always told Mark that Bella's food allergy has one added bonus: she doesn't eat a lot of processed food - so many have warnings (contains, may contain, manufactured in, manufactured on - did I miss anything?) that we tend to avoid them.

This is good for our health and good for our pocketbook. Eating 'real' food e.g. the food from around the perimeter of the store is what we strive for these days.

Don't get me wrong, you can still get fat from these foods, but at least they are 'real', not loaded with HFCS. Ick. Of course, Bella (and her mom and dad) still get good ol' processed treats now and again, but we don't make a habit of it. Mark always likes to joke that I need to learn to cook horrible food so he doesn't eat so much at each meal. What can I say? I am what I am (ha ha).

Even with eating around the perimeter, food prices are getting crazy so we've been working hard on making our food dollar go as far as it can. What does this have to do with peanut allergy? Not much, but as a food allergy mom, I am hyper aware of what goes into my child's mouth. When there are certain 'cheap' foods you just can't have (like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches) or ramen (most i've seen lately are made on shared equipment), you don't have those fall backs.

Anyways, I've noticed more and more sites giving tips on how to save a few dollars and still eat as whole-ly' as possible. And they aren't just about eating plain pasta.
Here are a few I thought I would share:

From ABC News:
Can Less Money Equal Better Eating?

Healthy Eating Need Not Be Expensive, Even in a Bad Economy

From Vegan Lunch Box (a great resource even for us non-vegans)
Summer VegOut Part 1: Eating on the Cheap

Bonus Site: Sweet Fine Day
These folks are starting their own food business and in the course of it all are watching their pennies - they eat the majority of their meals (probably more than the majority - more like they rarely go out) at home. You should check out the site to see the awesome looking food that they put on the table for their family. Just start at the beginning of their blog and read it all. Jenna explains it all along the way. In no way, shape or form is this family 'deprived' by eating in and sticking to a budget. I wish I lived closer so I could taste some of their products!

So what am I doing? Planning meals, definitely. I make a little menu every weekend and post it on the fridge - i make a grocery list based on that and shop for the week.

I've been trying to make multiple batches of foods (veggie lasagna, veggie soup - yes in summer, and curries) to freeze for additional meals. We also tried our hand at freezer jam last week - from a $4 HUGE box of strawberries we made 5 pints of jam (that would have each cost $4 in the store) that actually taste (gasp!) like strawberries!

We've been trying to eat less meat around our place too, so that's saving a bit. Bella absolutely loves tofu, which is great - not only is it good for you, it's not really expensive at all, especially with all the Asian food stores around here.

I'm doing Weight Watchers again (I want to lose another 15 or so pounds) so I've been drinking more water, bringing my lunch, and just plain not eating as much. Voila! Money saved there too! It all adds up I guess.

Are you guys feeling the pinch too? I'm certainly not trying to cheap out on food for my family, but I feel like my bills just keep going up and up each month without any significant changes (nope, no lobster or filet mignon in there). Mark and I are lucky in that we are a two income family, with fairly low overhead, but with a home remodel (yikes!) we are more aware of our finances now.

What are you doing to keep your food dollars in check?

Thanks for allowing my brief detour from peanut allergy. I'll be back tomorrow with a more peanut allergic focus, I swear - Bella went to her first movie without me today so I am sure I'll have a story or two about that. Oh and I need to tell you about her first week of preschool!

Stay tuned...


Anonymous said...

I have a daughter who is allergic to egg, dairy, soy, peanut and tree nuts. My son is allergic to peanut and I am allergic to fish/shellfish. Add to that the fact that food additives and dyes make us crazy and this means everything is cooked from scratch.

I have been feeling the pinch too. I have taken the following steps to keep our budget in line:
- Make my husbands meals when at work (breakfast and lunch). Saves a ton in restaurant food;
- Shop at costco in bulk (they have more and more organic foods available) and make large batches of food to freeze in small portions;
- Visit local farmers market for produce;
- Buy whole chickens and make many different meals from them (chicken soup, chicken pot pies, chicken salad,..);
- Make soups that include some meat to make it a whole meal (beef & barley, chicken rice noddle, veggie & beans);
- Sunflower butter & jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread is an inexpensive quick lunch for the kids (the sunbutter is now sold at target for $2.99 a jar);

Thanks for the tip about the jam. I will try it this weekend.

Alexis said...

Thanks for the great site recommendations! I look forward to checking them out!

I plan and cook all our meals, and am used to "shopping the perimeter" at the grocery store. Still, you're right about the pinch these days.

I find it saves money to plan for the week's meals in advance so I only make a trip to the store(s) once a week. We're less likely to waste food, and it saves gas, too! Sure, we sometimes have to get creative toward the end of the week, but it's worth it. Cheers!