Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Healthy Noms on a Budget

Ok here is my beef (hehe) with the show extreme couponers. I was watching last night and this woman saved 99.9% of her grocery bill. Good for her. My issue is that she bought hotdogs, and pop, and chips, and cookies, for her toddler age children. I am totally for saving money, but I don't think you need to eat junk to do it.

When I first moved to Ontario started shopping at Loblaws because it was nearby and I knew the brand. Every week my boyfriend and I would be spending around 130 a week for groceries. This is included shopping the sales, and the coupons (not extreme coupons though). We typically buy fresh food, and avoid the frozen food aisle and the junk food aisles. So this means we make 90% of our meals from basic ingredients, including lunches.  

At some point I wondered, even though we were saving money by eating home cooked meals, was there anyway to save money on groceries??

First we found a website called  where you register, for free, then the website looks up all the flyers in your area and gives you budget menus. I don't have enough time to go to multiple places to get the best deals so I use the website to see what is on sale at one spot and plan my meals accordingly. I have used some of their recipes and they are pretty quick and easy. This helped me save money a little bit more, but we were still spending way too much.

Next we tried the going to multiple stores thing. Groceries that week took us 2 hours and we actually spent more than normal. That was a big old fail.

Finally we tried going to No Frills. No Frills is the President's Choice version of Price Chopper for those of you who have never been. The first week we spent $100. The next we spent $80. From then on we averaged out about $90 dollars a week. Some quick math..that is $40 a week, or $2080 a year. That is significant. Only negative that we have found shopping at No Frills is that the fruit goes bad slightly faster than at Loblaws, and...that is pretty much it. There meat and frozen fish is good, and we just make sure to watch expiration dates closely.

So a typical grocery week for me starts on Friday with looking over SOS cuisine for the things that are on sale. I then base my meals on what is cheap that week. Then I am may have to do some recipe research if I can't come up with anything. On Saturday we go do groceries in the AM and fight off the old people loading up because a certain item is really on sale. Very exciting. So on Saturday night not only is my fridge full but I know exactly what I am eating for the rest of the week, and I can spend Sunday doing any prep work, like making healthy muffins, or homemade hummus.

Some quick grocery saving tips:
1. Buy the no-name brand. Sometimes it tastes even better
2. Look above and below. The more expensive items are placed at eye level, so cheaper options are on lower/higher shelves.
3. Shop sales and flyers and coupons, but don't buy something if it is on sale just because it is on sale
4. Plan meals so you don't have a bunch of random food items and nothing to cook
5. Make stuff yourself. 2 cans of chick peas and the spices needed to make 1 L of hummus cost me about $2 bucks, compared to buying a 300mL container for $4 dollars!
6. Eat all your food. It kills me to throw out food so some times I have to be creative to make sure something doesn't go bad!

I guess the entire point of this post is that you don't have to eat poorly to eat on a budget, you just have to be organized! For example this was our meal plan this week, it was pretty delicious:
Saturday: Steak with a blackberry compote, asparagus and roasted potatoes.
Sunday: Veggie pizza (we had a free coupon to Panago, it was really good)
Monday: Whole wheat pasta, shrimp, veggies, cheese and THAI CHILIES
Tuesday: Slow cooker curry chicken thighs, tomato and cucumber indian salad
Wednesday: Healthified Fish and Chips and Coleslaw (first time making coleslaw, it was very pretty!)
Coleslaw w/ LF Mayo, lightly breaded sole, potatoes boiled then slightly grilled for fries
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: Whatever we have left in the fridge and can create a meal out of

For lunches I either have leftovers or some sort of salad. This week I also made pomegranate pumpkin muffins, and spicy hummus for snacking.

I also made a delicious lunch on Saturday that I would like to share:

Open Faced Avagadro Sammich
Avagadro's Sammich
Yes it is a Avagadro Sammich. The nerd that is the BF thought it was HILARIOUS that Avocados sound like Avagadro, and hence we have the sammich name

Makes 2 sammichs, serve with chips and salsa if you want!
Ingredients include:
4 Pieces of Chicken bacon, or Breakfast Chicken as the brand I have calls it.
1 Avagadro Avocado
2 Whole wheat bready pieces
6 slices of cheese (motza tasted good)

Step one. Toast the bread
Step two. Cook the chicken bacon
Step three. Mash the Avocado
Step four. Put half the avocado mash on a toast.
Step five. Top with bacon and cheese.
Step six. Nom

Ok, I realize this recipie was oober simple, but it was SOOO DELICIOUS it had to be spelled out.

And there you have my food life. Organized, on a budget, and delicious. Just like the rest of my life!

Do you have fun grocery/cheap food tips?  I would love to hear it!

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