The holidays are over, and we are full swing into January filled with dreams and goals for the year ahead. People are organizing, exercising, and menu planning with a renewed energy. After many meals, gifts, and parties over the holidays, however, there might not be space in the budget for many things, and it can be hard to make healthy changes to your lifestyle and nutrition without feeling like you’re going to break the bank.
If you’re trying to switch to, or have already made a commitment to organic food, clean meat/dairy, and non-toxic body care on any level, you may really be feeling the budget pinch this month. I sat down and reviewed my family budget a week ago, looking at our upcoming bills and comparing to what we had left. There’s not a lot of wiggle room this month, and since I’m not willing to make too many compromises when it comes to things like food quality (as much organic as possible, clean meat, and clean fish) and non-toxic body care I need to spend the month being frugal and creative.
So, how can a green mom make healthy choices when working on a tight budget?
Eat less meat & get creative with it
I’m not suggesting that you become a vegetarian, but you can save a lot of money by simply reducing your actual portion of meat, and including 1-2 vegetarian meals per week. Buy better quality meat, but just eat less of it. This is the month to haul out your slow cooker and batch cook. Make sure you have leftovers for lunch so that everyone is eating food from home. Buy cheaper cuts of meat to make stew, soup, or even a pot roast that will feed you for a few days. My favourite money saver is using ground meat for things like stir fries as it is so much more economical. Also, I’ve been known to cut back on the ground meat in a shepherd’s pie and substitute some lentils for part of it. Tastes great, but saves money!
Make it yourself
Stop spending money on things that you can easily make yourself at home. This includes hummus and other bean dips, nut & seed milks, granola/granola bars, muffins, and even cleaning supplies and body care! It doesn’t take long and the internet is full of recipes and tutorials. For less than $2 you can make a batch of hummus that will last you more than a week. I love alternating between bean dips and yoghurt & herb dips for my son’s lunch, both of which are easy and quick to make myself.
Do you normally add things like sprouts to your salads and sandwiches? Grab a mason jar and some cheesecloth and start sprouting your own! It’s easy, and in 3-6 days you’ll have a whole jar of fresh food that you grew on your countertop for just pennies. Get creative and try new things.
Shop your pantry
Now is the time to take inventory of what you have left in there and plan meals around things that you already have in stock, reducing the amount you need to spend. Dried pasta, grains, legumes, canned tomatoes, beans, and other pantry staples can really be put to good use. Try to focus on using up what you have before needing to buy more.
Plan ahead and reduce waste
Having a meal plan and using it to plan your grocery list will dramatically reduce food waste. Besides planning your meals, keep a running grocery list that you can add to, and cross items off of. I go one step further and keep a list of items that we are about to run out of as well. All of this helps me know what we need and keeps me from wasting money purchasing things that we don’t need.
Eat from your freezer.
Have some meals stashed away for emergencies, or busy days? Now is the time to put a few to use. I’ve been hauling out some frozen portions of soup, stew and chili to feed us at least one night per week. They’re all made with quality, whole ingredients and take some pressure of my grocery budget for the week.
If making changes to your lifestyle was one of your new year’s goals, but it feels like you can’t afford to do it, just remember that you don’t have to change everything all at once! Use the Dirty Dozen list to help you prioritize your organic grocery list, and try making your own cleaning supplies. That’s a great start! Remember that most convenience items (dips, nut milks, snack items like these homemade energy balls ) are so much more economical to make at home too!
What are some of the money-saving tactics you’re using to stay healthy and make changes this year?