I saved this one for almost the last. It was one of my last hold outs. I got our food budget down to 72.00 a week. The stats were close to 150.00. But, I wanted to challenge myself to see just how low are expense can be and still eat well balanced good food. It was a game by now. My original object if this blog was to help people on low incomes or snap to stretch their food dollars so they could have good food and still build a small emergency stock. I started cooking a lot more things from scratch and I cut our budget to 53.00 a week and we still are building our stock. The USDA stats are based on actual food eaten at home, they don't count school lunches or stock . We are sitting at 45 percent of the USDA stats. We eat well. We eat fresh fruits and veggies, we portion control, none of us are overweight. We try to avoid extra salt, sugar, trans fats, hydrogenated oils. HFCS and fake food.
The words scratch cooking scares some people and they envision spending all day on the kitchen while the laundry stacks up , the house is a mess and you don't get to work. The Lucy bread baking episode comes to mind. LOL . Not so. I set out to scratch cook efficiently, My mantra is that if you spend a little more time planning and shopping wisely, you can spend less time cooking. Of course, with a five yo in the house, the neat house doesn't always happen.
The internet is full of scratch recipes- some efficient, some not so much. Developing your personal cookbook one recipe at a time will take time. It's totally worth it, I have my first one from 1970. I brought a new one up to date with more healthy choices-- times have changed and some things never change. Grandmas recipes have just got a little more healthy,
Spending a block of time to make your own mixes helps greatly, You have the convenience of mixes, but not the cost or preservatives. Engage your children, I have been following some people on u tube. I have learned a lot. There is one family of ten that all work together at maintaining their quality of life. Children as young as 1.5 years are "helping " in the kitchen. Consequently, their 13 yo can cook remarkable dinners. It is a good thing to do at home since the schools don't have the same home ec departments they once had. It is really a necessity if life to learn to cook. My daughter never wanted to, my son wanted to learn to bake. My granddaughter wants to do anything she can. Engage them. Mixes are good for learning fractions, counting, and children love to stir or push the buttons on the food processor. My mother used to say that if children were helping, they weren't making a mess for you to clean up afterwords . How true.
Making your own spice blends and mixes saves a lot of money, You can get small amounts of spices in the bulk isle of some grocery stores pretty cheap. I needed dill one time .ot was sox dollars for a tiny one by one inch bottle. That much dill in the bulk isle was. W a i t. For it........ seventeen cents.
Baking mix, pancake mix, or muffin mix are all cheap especially when you get bulk flour.
Making your own bread can take all day, or you can make easy ones that take ten minutes hand on time, The time that you let something sit on the counter while you grocery shop, or do the laundry , or take the kids to the park doesn't count ! Lol.
Anything you can throw in the slow cooker or insta pot and walk way from is a good thing.
I don't have stock in insta pot, but I wish I Did! Lol. It's one of the most versatile work horses in the kitchen. It's a slow cooker, it's a rice cooker, it is a pressure cooker that is almost fool proof. Remember to put it on seal to pressure cook , and remember to add enough water. That s about it. Don't put more than 1/2 full when cooking anything that expands like pasta or beans. Easy peas! And saves sooo much time! Scratch soups on five minutes, Pork chops in three, Chicken from frozen on 8 minutes.. considering that it is three appliances that all work well in one footprint, it's a real bargain. It also sautés.
Going out on a limb and trying to do all this at once is a deal breaker. Terminal burnout. Take baby steps and build your talent. Every little thing will save money. The snowball effect is a wonderful phenomenon. It works. Give it time.