Eating healthy can be such a loaded word depending on whom you talk to. Some people equate healthy to shopping organic; others say no processed foods. I’m in the camp that says healthy is best that you afford on your budget.
I love looking at food blogs and magazines for inspiration, but sometimes specialty ingredients are hard to find or too expensive. It’s no fun to spend a lot of money on an ingredient only to use a little and have the rest go bad by the end of the week.
Call me old fashioned, but I take delight in getting the most out of my groceries and that usually means using the same ingredient multiple times during the week. I buy a chicken, I eat it roasted one night and in a stir fry the next. A head of cabbage becomes stuffed cabbage and later coleslaw. Maybe I’m utilitarian, but it just makes sense.
Now I’m not going to promise that you’ll save hundreds on your grocery bill each month (though this excellent book does) but I have found that by adopting these rules you’ll get a lot more out of the food you pay for. Less waste means more food on the table.
- Make a meal plan: Before you go grocery shopping, plan a week of meals. If you stick to your meal plan, you’ll already have everything you need for a healthy satisfying dinner at home.
- Mix and match: Look for ways to use an ingredient one or two times during the week. Planning over the weekend affords me the time to think about what I want to eat and fit their ingredients together. (Think of it like a brainteaser that actually saves you money.)
- Reduce your grocery trips: You’ll actually save money by going to grocery store less often. Supermarkets (yes, even Trader Joe’s) are designed to distract you with impulse purchases.
- Consider planned overs: Cooked chicken or roasted vegetables can be a huge time saver in a more complicated recipe.
- Try changing up the recipe: Even if a dish doesn’t usually call for an ingredient, use it anyway. Shepard’s pie, stir fry, and pastas are a great catch-all for random, hard to reuse produce or meat.
Don’t think for a second that your meals have to be boring. Choose exotic ingredients and absolutely pick food magazines for inspiration, but just like I select clothes for a pared down wardrobe, I try to consider the versatility of my ingredients before I make a commitment.
In my featured meal today uses chicken, romaine lettuce, onions, carrots, and mushrooms. I used my left over chicken to make a soup. The romaine were used as lettuce wraps earlier in the week. I have no problem finding a use for my other ingredients.