For decades, humanity has headed straight for the freezer to get a bowl of ice cream whenever our sweet tooth has ached. But the modern-day cost of ice cream can inflate our grocery bill and ruin our budget. There’s a more affordable way to satisfy your sweet tooth – just make your own ice cream! Continue reading
When the conversation turns to healthier eating, it seems like someone always brings up the idea that it’s impossible to eat healthy on a budget. While it’s true that a package of ramen noodles is cheaper than a box of whole wheat pasta, that’s only part of the story. If you don’t invest in the food you put in your body, you will pay ten-fold in medical expenses throughout your life.
Just about everyone is looking to save money these days, but many frugal foods can also improve your health. Whether you are saving money by comparing insurance rates or making your own household cleaning products, add eating healthy to the list of ways to save a buck. Plus, health insurance rates go down if more people are healthy and requiring less money to maintain their health.
This post is long over due. We’re talking ridiculously long. The week 1 post was almost ancient history, but thanks to my readers who have pushed me to get the rest of this series out, I kept going. Cheap Food Here is showing our readers that it is possible to spend just $100 per person per month on food. Our week 1 post was created when we were living in Costa Rica so certain foods were cheaper (most produce and fruit) but certain other foods were more expensive (specialty items, imported foods, cheese, meat, seafood, etc) so it has surprisingly balanced out now that we’ve completed week 2 since moving to St. Petersburg, Florida. Continue reading
In case you didn’t catch my first post about 5 ways to save money on food, make sure you go back and check it out too. There are plenty of ways to save money on food, and below I have focused on five very important things to keep you on the straight and narrow when you’re in the grocery store. This doesn’t mean boring food, but it could potentially encroach on some of your food crutches that are driving up your monthly food budget and aren’t a requirement for your health. Take a look and feel free to comment any other ideas you have or feedback with your experience with any of the 5 more ways to save money. Continue reading
What’s the best way to save money on the food budget? With food being one of the largest parts of the food budget, we often struggle with how to make cuts without feeling like you’re not feeding yourself or your family properly. This is definitely not the case and I have proved it in my $100 Cheap Food Challenge I wrote about. This case study does some quick interviews with people to discover that, not only do people have no clue how much they spend each month on food, they think it’s impossible to survive on just $100 per person per month. Now, granted, it is more difficult to live on $100 per month when it’s just one person, but it gets easier as you add more to the household. If you have five members of the family that you’re feeding, it’s easier to limit your food spending to $500 than for the single person to keep it under $100. Continue reading
Costa Rica Family Farmed Organic Food…Comida Organica Express Delivers Puerto Viejo To Limon
It has been a life changing journey driven by the desire for a better, sustainable lifestyle. It has been an adventure of seven years leading my wife and I to life on a jungle farm on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast and inspiring us to gather and organize organic family farmers from various regions of the country. The result has been a beautiful organization which can deliver (within reasonable time) exceptional organic quality goodies at family prices anywhere from Talamanca to Limon with delivery coming soon to the San Jose Metro area. Continue reading
And now and article from our supporters 🙂
Iron Chef Puts Cut-Throat Thrill into Cooking
Project Food Blog Week 1 – The $100 Challenge
VIDEO: Can you live on $100 per month for food?
What’s A Healthy Food Budget?
Now, a little background: the Cheap Food Here family follows the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover very closely and have worked hard to get to Baby Step 4. Our food budget for two people is currently $500, which includes $300 for groceries and $200 for eating out. This is our comfortable point now that we are no longer paying off debt, however, when we were doing the debt snowball and attacking our consumer debt and student loans with ‘gazelle intensity’, we we were spending around $250 per month in total food cost (groceries and eating out).
Down here in Costa Rica we have found that some families spend over $1,200 per month on food for a family of 3 adults and 2 children. This number may not seem too shocking, but know that they, on average, earn less than $2,000 per month in total household income. The percentage of their income spent on food is over 60% when it should be around 5-15% or roughly $300. However, most argue that this is impossible.
The key to reducing food costs each month is research and planning. Most people don’t think about needing to do research before hitting the farmer’s market or grocery store, but it’s imperative to keep from overspending. The food budget can be a large part of your spending each month, but it doesn’t have to be, especially if you are in the early stages of paying off debt.
So, the quest for a food budget under $100 begins. First we’re going to look at cheap and healthy recipes that are tried and true for our family and make a menu for each week. With this menu, we’ll focus mostly on fresh, local food that’s in season that we can buy at the farmer’s market. First, let’s take a look at what we’ll have to give up or change about our current eating habits, some of which were mentioned in the video.
Cost Cutting Necessities
- No Eating Out
- Meat Consumption reduced
- Limiting processed food consumption
- Sticking to a grocery list
- Homemade snacks
- Drink water with or without lemon instead of bottled juices, sodas or other sugary/sugar-free drinks.
Week 1 Menu
Below is the cheap food menu I’ve put together to get you started and prove you can eat healthy and fully on $50 per week for two people. Some of the recipes in the list below are from Cheapfoodhere.com and some are from our favorite foodies. Please refrain from using canned goods unless you have them already, but know that you are getting less than half of the nutritional value from canned goods that you would from fresh or frozen produce.
With a lot of the recipes, it’s good to reduce the amount of an ingredient that is expensive (example: cheese or meat) or substitute it for something less expensive and perhaps more healthy.
- Red Bell Pepper Frittata & fruit
- Pressed Egg sandwich & fruit shake
- Almond French Toast with maple syrup and a side of fruit
- Soy Milk Waffle (or regular milk is fine too) w/fresh fruit topping
- Oatmeal w/frozen blueberries and flax, fruit shake and side fresh fruit
- Jalapeño and Onion Frites w/fried eggs, bacon and a side of fruit
Growing your own produce and herbs is a great way to save money and it can be done in planters too if you don’t have a back yard. If you’re not growing, try to support your local farmers first, but sometimes their prices are just too high. Some stuff you have to go to the grocery store for, but there is a great resource to check pricing before ever venturing out; www.mygrocerydeals.com keeps you in-the-know when it comes to checking cheap grocery prices in the United States.
Make sure when you go shopping, you stick to the list, and only to the list. It is your map, your guide, your blinders. However, if you see an item that could make a perfect substitute (example large tomatoes instead of Romas) but is cheaper, buy those instead. We’re looking for deals here, so keep your eyes peeled.
Some of the items on the list you’ll see don’t have prices, which indicates it’s something I already had. You can use this sheet to fill in prices on your own to help you better prepare for the upcoming week of meals. The sheet is organized by meal, however there is a lot of cross over, so if it was on the breakfast list, you won’t find it again under lunch, dinner or snacks. You can also organize the list by aisle if that’s easier. The basis of how I chose the meals for the week was looking first at what I had and could then in turn spend less on groceries. It’s best to use all of the items you already have to make sure they don’t go bad and end up getting thrown out anyway. You’ll notice that the Week 1 Shopping List goes well over the designated $50 per week budget for two people, however, a lot of items will be left over for future weeks. Stay tuned for follow up posts for the remaining 3 weeks of the month. Good luck and I’d love feedback from those who are accepting the challenge.
Cheap Food Here never microwaves their food. We have been without a microwave since moving to Costa Rica over a year ago. At first we just did without it because they were so expensive here, but now, after using traditional cooking techniques, we’ve decided convenience isn’t better. Microwaves don’t produce better taste, health or counter space to make them useful enough for our taste.
I did a little bit of my own research and tried to fish through the truths and the myths on the internet, which is pretty difficult, especially with such a controversial topic. The best and most thorough research I found was here.
An excerpt from the article is below, which gives the cliff notes version of what we really need to know–whether or not our health is in jeopardy when microwaving our food. Here’s what they say:
The Swiss clinical study
Dr. Hans Ulrich Hertel, who is now retired, worked as a food scientist for many years with one of the major Swiss food companies that do business on a global scale. A few years ago, he was fired from his job for questioning certain processing procedures that denatured the food.
In 1991, he and a Lausanne University professor published a research paper indicating that food cooked in microwave ovens could pose a greater risk to health than food cooked by conventional means.
An article also appeared in issue 19 of the Journal Franz Weber in which it was stated that the consumption of food cooked in microwave ovens had cancerous effects on the blood. The research paper itself followed the article. On the cover of the magazine there was a picture of the Grim Reaper holding a microwave oven in one of his hands.
Dr. Hertel was the first scientist to conceive and carry out a quality clinical study on the effects microwaved nutrients have on the blood and physiology of the human body.
His small but well controlled study showed the degenerative force produced in microwave ovens and the food processed in them. The scientific conclusion showed that microwave cooking changed the nutrients in the food; and, changes took place in the participants’ blood that could cause deterioration in the human system.
Hertel’s scientific study was done along with Dr. Bernard H. Blanc of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the University Institute for Biochemistry.
In intervals of two to five days, the volunteers in the study received one of the following food variants on an empty stomach: (1) raw milk; (2) the same milk conventionally cooked; (3) pasteurized milk; (4) the same raw milks cooked in a microwave oven; (5) raw vegetables from an organic farm; (6) the same vegetables cooked conventionally; (7) the same vegetables frozen and defrosted in a microwave oven; and (8) the same vegetables cooked in the microwave oven.
Once the volunteers were isolated, blood samples were taken from every volunteer immediately before eating. Then, blood samples were taken at defined intervals after eating from the above milk or vegetable preparations.
Significant changes were discovered in the blood samples from the intervals following the foods cooked in the microwave oven. These changes included a decrease in all hemoglobin and cholesterol values, especially the ratio of HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) values.
Lymphocytes (white blood cells) showed a more distinct short-term decrease following the intake of microwaved food than after the intake of all the other variants. Each of these indicators pointed to degeneration.
Additionally, there was a highly significant association between the amount of microwave energy in the test foods and the luminous power of luminescent bacteria exposed to serum from test persons who ate that food.
This led Dr. Hertel to the conclusion that such technically derived energies may, indeed, be passed along to man inductively via eating microwaved food.
After reading and researching, I feel my decision to remove the microwave from my life was validated. I hope before you decide to use or remove the microwave from your cooking repertoire, you’ll do the research needed to properly make the decision. I think more than anything, just being knowledgeable on any topic is better than trusting that the corporations of the world are giving us accurate information.
The first US magazine dedicated to food and wine, first published in 1941 is ceasing it publication after the November issue. Condé Nast, the worldwide publisher of magazines such as Bon Appétit, Modern Bride, Vogue, Glamour, Wired and Vanity Fair, just to name a few. Apparently some of their other magazines will be suffering the same fate as ad revenue has fallen in result of the recession. Condé Nast participated in a McKinley study to analyze each of their magazines’ performances and suggested they cut 25% of their budget for each.
Chefs all over the world have been directly impacted by the magazine over the years. “Before I even was a professional cook I read their reviews, and it shaped who I was as a chef,” e-mailed chef Paul Kahan of Blackbird, Avec and The Publican. “It is sad that one of the most truly food-focused magazines is gone.”
“It’s the center of gravity, a major planet that’s just disappearing,” said chef and author Anthony Bourdain, who said Gourmet was the first food publication to give him a chance as a writer. “There’s been a lot of speculation about this happening, but I’m still stunned.”
Some are of the opinion that a publication once filled with rich food writing has reduced its depth to travel and gadget articles. Overall, the publication will be missed as it’s a piece of history that all of us foodies, old and young, have had a taste of. Goodbye Gourmet Magazine.
Sources include: updated 2:29 p.m. MT, Mon., Oct . 5, 2009; http://www.chicagotribune.com