The Cost of Food and Healthy Meal Planning
May 24 2012
Everybody is talking about the cost of food these days…or more specifically, how to save money on food bills.
The average North American spends about 15% of their household budget on food. That’s a big chunk of change. Recent reports indicate that the price of food will NOT be going down anytime soon…if ever. So, how do we cope with higher food costs when it comes to healthy meal planning?
There are many ways my family is dealing with this food price hike. This past weekend, my wife purchased several seeds that we’ll be starting under our grow lights that sit on a shelf I built in the basement…tall enough that the cat can’t reach it. We’ve got some Swiss chard, basil, lettuces, beets, carrots, beans, tomatoes, zucchini and probably a few more I’m forgetting. Once they’ve germinated and reached a certain height, we’ll be able to transplant them outside. Now, I realize not everyone has grow lights or enough outdoor space for a larger garden, but you’d be amazed at how little space you need to grow some vegetables. You could even consider transforming your front yard to garden space…who says it has to be all grass?
We purchased our home in mid March about 10 years ago and after having lived in apartments for 20 years before this, I remember thinking “I’ll have to buy a lawn mower now”. We were both shocked come spring as the snow melted to discover that our entire front yard was planted perennials and not grass! My wife then quickly purchased some gardening books and visited the local gardening store to learn how to cope with this. The front yard then became her domain while I was relegated to the back yard (self imposed)…and because the backyard was dominated by a HUGE garage (torn down last spring…FINALLY) and a massive red maple tree, there was little opportunity for grass, let alone vegetables to grow.
A few years on now and a major backyard renovation later (the tree is still there but the garage has been replaced by a much smaller shed), we’ve built ourselves several garden boxes and transplanted about half of the front yard with vegetables. Now amongst our rose bushes and lilacs are beautiful Swiss chard, vibrant green basil and even a few broccolis.
Yes, we’re lucky enough to have the space to plant vegetables but there are many ways to grow veggies indoors as well as in confined areas…don’t let apartment dwelling stop you from growing some of your own food.
Now, growing your own vegetables is not the only way to save money on food costs. Planning your weekly meals ahead of time is a must. If you go to the grocery store or farmer’s market with a list and (here’s the important bit) STICK TO THAT LIST, you’ll definitely save money. Don’t believe me? How many times have you had to head back to the grocery store to pick up that red pepper you forgot only to leave with $20 less in your wallet? And it wasn’t all spent on really expensive red peppers either. We plan out all our weekly meals and buy foods accordingly (this is especially important if you have a certain diet you have to stick to, such as diabetic diets or gluten free diets). We’ll go through our fridge, freezer and pantry area and make sure we’re planning meals that use up any items we already have before purchasing more.
We also try to buy everything we can from the farmer’s market. When it comes to vegetables it is very important to buy fresh even if the cost is a little bit more. When we buy our $2 head of lettuce at the farmer’s market, we know it will last a week. Often, especially in winter months, you might pay less for a head of lettuce at the grocery store but you end up throwing half of it out…is that really saving you money? The closer it’s grown to your home, the longer it will last and the cheaper it becomes in the long run.
Whether you’re planning for gluten free diets or just a heart healthy diet, MealEasy can help you with recipe ideas and grocery lists.