How is it possible to save money in the kitchen you may ask? Especially while eating a whole food diet? Well, I can tell you that it’s not the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It takes a lot of planning and prepping, but it is possible!
1. Meal plan: This can be hard to get into but has been the biggest time and money saver for me! One thing that I noticed when looking over a week of groceries was the less I planned, the more times I went to the store, and the more money I spent there. I don’t know if you’re like this but it usually happens that I have to run to the store for just one thing and I end up with way more than I needed. So even if you end up with more than what was on your list, if you only go to the store once, you will inevitably spend less on those extra things than if you go three or four times that week. Also, I have found that if I were to eat chicken say, three times one week, and hadn’t meal planned, I would have only bought enough for two and a half meals and would have to go back for way more chicken than I had planned for. So, plan once, shop once. Easy as that. (Hah! If only that were true!)
2. Cook in large quantities: This is especially helpful if you are only cooking for yourself. I usually only have one day a week that I really cook, then I will bag and freeze the extras. If you like soup, this is always a great option, otherwise you can do simple things like cook meat and cut up into smaller pieces, slice fruits and vegetables and put in tupperware, and start any fermented foods you need to make. This would be a good time to get grains, nuts, or seeds soaking for that week and make any baked goods. I have also found that if I have an allotted amount of food for the week, I do a better job of portion controlling and not overeating.
3. Always have yogurt, kefir, and other fermented vegetables going: This is more for time than money, but that way you never run out of anything at the last second. My new favorite fermented vegetable are these Lacto-fermented Ginger Carrots. They taste great with pretty much everything and take only three days to ferment!
4. If you are making your own stock and broth (which I highly recommend you do), make sure you prepare them properly and separately, unlike my mom taught me. The best way to make stock is to put it in a crock pot with carrots and an onion filled with water for 2-3 hours. Then, take out the chicken, debone it, and put the bones back in the crock out with a new batch of water and apple cider vinegar. This pulls out the good nutrients from the bones. If you do them separately and mix later, you will have twice the amount of broth, which usually makes three batches of soup for me, or two batches with plenty to drink on the side. I will post recipes soon showing my favorite GAPs approved soups to make.
5. Use your resources: Do you have a farmers market somewhere close by? Go to it! At my last trip to a farmers market, I left with two zucchini, a spaghetti squash, a yellow squash, and a fresh cantaloupe for $5! That is WAY cheaper than I could’ve gotten them at Sprouts! Do you have a friend with a big garden? Ask if you can get any produce from them? Chances are, they have more squash than they know what to do with right now and they would be glad to get it off their hands! Is there an apple tree somewhere nearby? Go pick some apples for applesauce (only with permission, of course)! If you live around Northern Colorado, there is a farm in Platteville called Miller Farm where for a low cost (I think $15 a person), you can gather up to 5 bags of produce. We used to go there as a family and always came home with plenty of food for the winter (imagine 6 people gather 20 lbs. of carrots each… and that was just carrots). Opportunities are everywhere, especially at this time of the year, if you just keep your eye out for people and places that are giving away food for free (or cheaply). It really pays to have friends. Just don’t seem like a cheap-skate or you may not be invited back next year.
So there you go! Five ways to save money in the kitchen. Do you have any other suggestions? I would love to hear them! I am always looking for ways to save money on good, wholesome foods!
Have a blessed day!