Life as a (not-so) starving artist

Like most humans, I enjoy food. And since I’m blessed to have a husband with a stable job, I get to be a stay at home mom and enjoy avoiding the “starving artist” stereotype.

But it isn’t all gourmet foods here, either. Food is expensive, and now that we’re not able to shop at the commissary any more, our grocery bill has doubled. We’re paring it back as we can, learning new shopping and money-saving habits as we go. But we’re also trying to eat healthier. Healthy food isn’t cheap, but it doesn’t have to break the bank, either.

Choosing products wisely saves a lot of money.
It may sound kind of ‘duh,’ but hear me out – That package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts is a great choice, but you can have healthy meals from a cheaper alternative. And sometimes, healthy foods end up being cheaper. As some examples, a package of 5 chicken breasts might run upwards of $10 and will probably make 3 meals for the 3 of us. On the other hand, it’s not hard to find a whole chicken for $5 or less, and depending on how it’s prepared, we can squeeze at least 5 meals out of it.
Whole-grain cereal sounds like a good option for a healthy breakfast, but a box of cereal averages $4 or $5. On the other hand, oatmeal is even healthier and costs $2 for a two-week supply.

Planting a garden saves a lot of money.
Veggie gardens don’t have to be difficult. Ours was sort of a bomb, except for one thing that’s super easy to grow and also one of my favorite types of fresh produce: tomatoes! When buying them at the grocery store, it isn’t uncommon for us to spend $4 per week on tomatoes, because I use them so often. I eat a salad almost every day. Back in the spring, we purchased 3 tomato plants for $2 each. We only just now have to buy tomatoes again. Over 20 weeks later, that’s $80 we didn’t have to spend at the grocery store. Tomatoes are one of the easiest things to grow. Stick them in the ground and sprinkle crushed egg shell around them from time to time, and you’ll have delicious fruit for months.

Making detailed grocery lists saves a lot of money.
Impulse shopping is never good, and it can quickly drive a grocery bill sky-high. Be meticulous about writing down what you need and never get anything that isn’t on the list. Simple.

Knowing how to cook saves a lot of money.
And with the advent of sites like Pinterest, there’s no reason not to know how to cook. Prepackaged food may seem like a good option, especially if you’re on a budget, but often you can make something better for only pennies more if you know what you’re doing. Sometimes it’s even cheaper. A dollar for a box of pasta might not seem bad, but when two cups of whole wheat flour, an egg and some water can make noodles that are cheaper, tastier, and better for you, why wouldn’t you?

We’re still finding our way through establishing a healthy and affordable diet, but eventually, I’ll share some of my favorite recipes here.

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