Sunday, March 17, 2013

When hard times crush your food budget, here are some things to think about!

Times are tough for those of us that live on lower incomes in todays economy. Food prices have soared through the roof, and job security for many is absent. I have done some research and come up with lists and resources that will help you provide tastey nutrition on the lowest of budgets. Follow me through the tough times and learn how to maximize every food dollar you have, or don't have in my case.
I have always cooked on a low food budget, and I thought back in the day that I was good at cooking with nothing. I cant say I really feel that at the moment because the budget is worth less than ever now and it seems I am having a tough time making good meals on what I can actually shop for to stretch it far enough. It is actually kind of scary nowadays.

I decided to take blogging more seriously to possibly earn a bit extra for the grocery budget, but there is much to learn and the need for some focus and balance on what I am attempting.

I continue trying to evolve around the world of food bloggers, I attempted to sell baked goods at flea markets, and I began making sugar decorations to sell both online as well as at the flea markets. None of which are going well enough to make the difference with out investing money that I do not have!

Some things I shop for are must haves, but cannot be considered in the meal planning, and these items take a pretty big chunk of the food budget. I count meals and count on left overs with each meal. I have a daughter that eats no meat aside from seafood which even in Alabama, is crazy expensive even for the cheaper fish that she really dont get into much.

The bottom line is that we won't starve, but we won't eat great unless I come up with a plan of action to stretch our budget even further for a decent menu.

I have looked for other bloggers on a budget to see how they stretch it, and I haven't found any that do much of anything that I already dont do to pinch and save to extend our menu.

With that said, my blogging on food is going to take the form of recreating meals from meals. Its not that difficult to eat left overs, but it is a bit more difficult to take those left overs and make a new meal, so we are not eating the same meals day after day.

I have done this before and I know I can, but the need is a bit deeper now.

Here are some ideas I have come up with that I will be using to survive these hard times with some kind of quality.

  • Minimize the high cost of meats by utilizing beans and lentils for a protein source 2 - 3 days per week.
  • Freeze all left overs for re-creation later.
  • Start a small garden which can be started inside. Herb gardens can stay inside in a sunny windowsill.
  • Buy in bulk when you purchase foods such as rice, flour, sugar, and anything else that can be stored easily to go the long haul.
  • Plan the weekly menu on market sales and coupons.
  • Know the wild resources around you.
I have researched the balance between the most nutritious and the most affordable fruits and veggies. Below are lists of affordable nutrients that offer the most cost efficient nutrition.

  • Dark green
    • Broccoli
    • Kale
    • Collard greens
    • Mustard greens
    • Romaine lettuce
    • Parsley
    • Spinich
    • Turnip greens
    • Mixed salad greens
    • Green sweet pepper
  • Red and Orange veggies
    • Carrots
    • Calabaza- spanish pumpkin
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Tomatoes
    • Tomato juice
    • Red sweet peppers
  • Starch Veggies
    • Frozen corn
    • Lima beans
    • Potatoes
  • Other category veggies
    • Sprouts- which can be sprouted easily at home. Plans will follow!
      • Alfalfa
    • Brussel sprouts
    • Egg plant
    • Pear squash
    • Zucchini 
    • Yellow squash
    • Summer squashes
    • Cabbage
    • Green onions
    • Onions
    • Okra- frozen
    • Snow peas- fresh
  • Watermelon
  • Kiwi
  • Apricots
  • Avacado
  • bananas
  • Canaloupe
  • grapefruit
  • honeydew
  • Orange juice
  • nectarines
  • Papaya
  • pears
  • starfruit
  • Peaches
  • Dried fruits
    • raisins
    • apricots
    • mango
    • prunes
Currently, we haven't had a lot of fruits in our diets because of the prices continuing to rise up against us. I have decided that in order to add as much fruit as I can to our house hold, I need to buy them when the stores discount them before they go bad. Doing that forces me to cut them up and freeze them, or juice them and freeze the juice. You can also use dehydrators if you have one to dry them. For my family, this is the only way any real amounts of fruits can be acheived. 

If you are clever, and my husband can utilize forests and natural growth outdoors for many things. Here is a list of some nutrition and edibles you can find if you take a walk in the forest.

I will point you toward a site where you can learn the ropes about identifying safe plants versus poisonous plants. It is not too difficult to learn how to spot the good wild stuff. Take a look at the following website for everything you need to know to safely add to your food menus from free and wild plants.
  • Fiddlehead ferns
  • wild mushrooms
  • wild berries
  • wild onions
  • burdocks
  • dandelion greens
  • many more I will be researching.
My goal is to find every wild food resource available in my area of Alabama. The website above will help you with your own area. 

Take caution when utilizing any wild foods or remedies because there are alway poison varieties, and you will need to learn how to identify the good from the bad. the wildernesscollege website listed above provides many resources for educating yourself on safty.

To wrap this up, I will simply say that as times get tougher, and food prices continue to rise, it may come to literal survival. It never hurts to be prepared and educated for the worse to come when you have to make a choice between food and the water bill. Get busy learning how to use your budget and skills to increase your nutritional chances and never exclude the lush resources of the wild nature.
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