Eating Good While Living Frugal
When people think about living frugally they often their gaze immediately shifts to their monthly food bill, and trying to reduce costs on this weekly reoccurring bill. Often this means that people shift to eating cheap garbage food rather than eating good and healthy.
Firstly, it is important to note for people living in the United States that an exceptionally small percentage of our income (6.4%) goes toward purchasing food.
Eating healthy and being fiscally frugal at the same time means that the average American will need to relearn how to cook and how to prepare whole ingredients into meals. But, eating healthy pays off in the dynamic of having a healthier life and more energy to be productive in other places of your life; and as you progress on this journey you will become more efficient in preparing healthy food on the cheap.
The most basic (and lazy) approach to eating on the cheap and eating slightly more healthy is by basing your meals around rice and beans. This is essentially David Ramsey’s suggested approach to saving money. Though, if you want to maximize your health and productivity you will need to have a more diverse meal plan, or pallet fatigue will set in and adhering to the rice and beans meal plan will become impossible for many people.
My approach to eating healthy while remaining frugal is 6 prong.
- Subscribe to a CSA Farm
Here in Minnesota my family subscribes to Featherstone Farm — This forms between 50% and 75% of the food we eat for 31 weeks at $35.70 per week between June and March.
- Farmer’s Market
More cost effective than Costco and doesn’t require us to drive, and supports the local economy.
Growing our own food is nearly free both from the perspective of $$$ and time. Most people are turned off to the idea of Gardening because they feel like it is a-lot of work and requires you to be consistently watering and pulling weeds. That isn’t true with most modern square foot gardening techniques.
I have found Costco to be the most effective for fruits and vegetables both fresh and frozen. I highly value my time, and Costco is a one stop shop that consistently beats the prices at my local super market’s prices.
- Food Preservation
We preserve our own food via dehydration, water bath canning, freezing, and pressure canning.
- Local Grocery Store
Anything that I haven’t acquired or put into the pantry as part of the above processes I buy at the local grocery store, and try to pickup while on discount.
We also treat ourselves to some discounted specialty cheeses at the Whole Foods Market when we pickup our weekly CSA box.
To be clear, all of the above does have a cost in my time, but I am able to keep my food expense as portion of my yearly income around 5% while eating highly healthy “real” food and eating zero processed foods.