if you are new to this blog, i would recommend starting here on this topic. in my meal planning 101 post, i share how i meal plan from start to finish. it might help answer some of your questions on how we budget & follow our budget while eating healthy, whole foods. this blog post is also helpful with a great burrito recipe we make regularly.
yesterday on instagram (@nataliecreates) i posted the photo above of our empty fridge before heading out to the grocery store. the photo was flooded with questions, thoughts & frustrations on the topic.
we spend $70 on groceries, including household items such as toilet paper & shampoo, a week. we eat three meals a day at home from that budget. it's become something i really enjoy doing for our little family- crunching numbers & finding freedom in what we have. we use every little bit of food in our fridge, from veggie scraps to sour milk.
i'm certain this is how we make our budget work. there aren't any real secrets on how we save money- it just takes a bit of research & quite honestly, a lot of time. late last night as i was making yogurt, i thought i'd share with you some practices we use in the kitchen to make the most of what we have.
1. homemade yogurt: we make our own yogurt from local raw milk. raw milk isn't necessary to make yogurt, but i find it to be a bit more creamy. there are so many techniques on making yogurt & i especially like abby's recipe. we have a donvier yogurt maker that i picked up for $3 from a thrift shop & i just follow the recipe that comes with the maker. i usually make yogurt once every couple of weeks if we have a surplus of milk that is going sour. we purchase organic vanilla yogurt regularly for smoothies & granola. we eat a lot of yogurt around here.
2. put up: i talk about this a lot here on the blog, but it's something i think can make a great difference in your food budget. we put up a lot of food. this doesn't mean we grow all of the food we preserve, freeze & dry. this simply means we shop seasonally from local farms, farmers' market & even the grocery store. last night i made apple sauce for oatmeal from storage apples grown this past fall. we have bags of frozen berries in the freezer perfect for smoothies that we harvested from local farms this past summer. last week i purchased bananas that were at a great discount from the grocery store. i peeled, chopped & put them in a freezer bag for future muffins, pancakes & smoothies.
every year before purchasing fresh food from farms throughout the summer, i identify what we eat most. for example, we eat a lot of tomato sauce. what tomatoes i'm unable to grow i purchase in bulk from the farmers' market & can or freeze sauce. we also eat a lot of bell peppers so i make sure to grow more than enough plants in our garden. i chop surplus peppers & add them to freezer bags for fajitas during the winter.
3. chicken broth: i usually buy a whole chicken once every month or two. i make my whole chickens in the crockpot using this recipe. i also want to add that purchasing whole chicken rather than cuts of meat is much more economical. once i have stripped the meat from the bone, i place all of the bones back into the crockpot & fill the crockpot up with water to almost the rim. i turn the crockpot on low & allow it to simmer for 12 hours or so until a rich, golden broth has been made. once my broth is finished, i allow it to cool & then strain it. i put the liquid in mason jars for the freezer. we eat a lot of soups & chilis so we save so much money making our own broth. it's delicious & much better for you, too.
4. veggie broth: save your vegetable scraps, friends! when i am cooking, i save all of my vegetable scraps, including onion skins, carrot tops, broccoli stems & more. i put them all in a big freezer bag & place it in the freezer until it's full. once i have filled up my freezer bag, i put all of the scraps in my crockpot, add some herb seasoning & fill up the crockpot with water until it's almost to the rim. just like the chicken broth, i allow it to cook on low for 12 hours until a rich vegetable broth is made. once the broth is cooked, i allow it to cool. i strain the vegetable scraps from the broth & then place the liquid broth in mason jars for the freezer. i love having veggie broth on hand for vegetarian meals with friends.
i hope that some of our practices in the kitchen are helpful to you & your budget. if you'd like to learn more about the culture of food we embrace, i would recommend picking up tamar adler's book, "an everlasting meal: cooking with economy and grace." it's wonderful!
do you have any tips or practices on saving money in the kitchen? please share! i'd love for this space to be a resource for myself & others!