It’s no secret that New Orleans is known for its vast food selections. Where else can you get excellent seafood, cajun food and real southern cookin within walking distance?? People are very serious about their food here…Very Serious!! But it isn’t exactly what one would consider the healthiest of selections…at least not on a day in day out basis. Fried chicken has its place in the diet, every once in a while, but around here it’s a staple. Ok, let’s be honest – fried anything and everything is the norm here. A big salad with all the trimmings…roasted veges…boneless skinless chicken breasts – Rare and Super Expensive. But you can go into the convenience store and get a 3ft long Po’ Boy for $9.99 any day of the week. Never mind the things in the grocery store that I’ve never heard of…don’t know what to do with…and really don’t want to learn – just being honest.
Every where we have lived the cost of food has varied, some better some worse. But we’ve always been able to make adjustments here and there to have a good variety of a relatively healthy menu. Here…well…it’s been very very difficult. A couple of months ago I threw us head first into the low carb lifestyle. It was great!! New recipes to try. Weight loss. More energy. Freedom to eat bacon. What could go wrong?? The grocery budget!! It skyrocketed to $800 for the month. Our paycheck doesn’t allow for an $800 food budget…healthy or not it just ain’t there.
So what to do?? We can’t sacrifice our savings to stay on low carb but we have to eat something and I insist on it being as healthy as possible… I went back to the internet for ideas and it lead me to looking up healthy recipes that are easy on the wallet. Guess what I found… Article after article – recipe after recipe that was healthy and inexpensive so long as you made it from scratch. I like to make a lot of things myself versus buying the pre-made stuff. I don’t know what all they put in there and we usually like the way mine tastes better anyway. Perfect example is marinara/spaghetti sauce…so much cheaper to make at home, the left overs freeze beautifully and it’s all natural without all the added sugar. WIN WIN!! Besides for making it from scratch the other side of the coin is to eat the correct portion size. Concept!! If I make a lasagna from scratch and we eat half the dish for dinner and the other half for lunch the next day the cost of the meal is really high. But if we eat the correct portion size the same lasagna will stretch twice as far and significantly cut the cost even with adding a side salad to balance the meal out which is a much healthier option anywho!!
Buying in bulk while meats and even frozen veggies are on sale is a great way to cut the food bill. But while we’re in hurricane season we just can’t keep a full freezer. When the chance of us being out of power for a few days up to a few weeks is very likely it just isn’t wise to stock up even when the sales are good. So for a few more months we’ll be keeping our ‘inventory’ to a 2 week max but once the season is over stocking up is ON. I’ll also be able to make huge batches of soups, chili, stews and casseroles to split – one for now one for the freezer – to help cut down the amount of time spent in the kitchen that making everything I possibly can from scratch will take.
I do realize what a huge undertaking this is going to be. It’s going to be a lot of planning, a lot of shopping around, a lot of time in the kitchen and probably a lot more Tupperware… I like a good challenge though and I have a little bit of a competitive nature in me… So I’ve issued this challenge to myself for September – NO eating out. Cook all meals myself with as much from scratch, no packaged pre-made stuff. Stick to REAL portion sizes. AND do it all within a $400 budget for the month. And as a bonus loss weight in the process…
Any recipes ideas…budget saving tips…tricks… PLEASE send em my way!! I’ll keep y’all posted on how the budget’s going and what goodies I’m cooking up!! There’s sure to be a lot of new recipes being tried out this month… I’m excited for the challenge!! It’s just another type of adventure but an adventure all the same!!
With Much Love