Read last week’s post: Mama Meets The Grocery Bill – Part 1

Lentil Soup, Flat Bread and Salad
Lentil Soup, Flat Bread and Salad ~ I had plenty of organic bulk lentils in my cupboard to make a yummy, healthy, satisfying – yet easy – soup!

My Steps to a Healthier Grocery Budget (in process, but here they are so far) ~ surely different and most likely inadequate in another’s eyes. But my steps nonetheless:
Step One: look in the cupboards. Why go shopping when we have supplies right here? Recently I looked in our cupboards and wrote down the items I already had on hand, and the meals I could make with them. I am not necessarily a stocker-upper, and definitely NOT a hoarder, but I had 11! I had the supplies to make 11 meals, without needing to buy hardly anything at the grocery store to make them. These included soups, casseroles, pasta and Mexican dishes and such. These meals of course, would need to be paired with fresh veggies and fruits, though.

Step Two: calculate the cost of meals. It’s nice to have some sort of idea how much a meal costs for a family. This was fun, and I found that I had most of the prices of ingredients right in my head. To make a lasagna, for instance, I calculated the used fraction of the box of noodles, the sauce, the onions and garlic, the ricotta and how much of the cheddar I would use.
Step Three: plan ahead. Looking forward, I laid down a list of 12 meals. Each night I can then just randomly grab one and start preparing. I am a huge substituter so lacking one or two ingredients (depending upon what they are) doesn’t concern me. Thus, I’ve laid a plan to plan 10-12 meals at a time. If I know my 12 faves, then I can make sure I have the stuff to make them. I know it seem so obvious and commonplace, and I know BILLIONS of you are already doing this, but it has taken me years to finally figure it out. And I just hope I’ve figured it out for good this time. For reals 🙂

Step Four: make way more things at home. Why buy bars and cookies and crackers when I’m perfectly capable of creating healthy snack items at home? Things I can feel good about making, and feel good about packing in lunches. Right away I made a double batch of cookies and a single batch of what my friend and I are calling MamaBars. Recipes to come later. These snacks have lasted an entire week of school and work lunches and after school snacks. And there is still a whole tray of cookies left.
I make a double or triple batch of homemade cookies, using 1/4th to 1/3rd of the sugar the recipe calls for. I add things like Chia Seeds, oatmeal, peanut butter, nuts, coconut. I substitute some of the organic whole wheat flour with almondmeal or coconut flour. Sometimes I flat out leave out some of the flour! I add dark chocolate chips, and I use organic coconut oil and real butter from grass fed cows.
When making the cookie dough blobs for the oven, I make several other mini trays of cookie blobs, on foil-lined toaster oven trays (they fit perfectly into the freezer) ~ then put them in the freezer. When the baked ones are gone (usually the first day), I have at least two additional small trays to bake throughout the week. Fresh cookies all week with minimum work!

I have a desire for more steps, more tactics, more techniques, more secrets. PLEASE share yours with me in the comment box below. I really think it is important to share with other mamas.

Coming Next, on Saturday: the recipe for MamaBars.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and ideas! ~ do you have any secrets for efficiency or feeding your family without spending in the four digits each month?