Real Food On A Budget

Come Join The Fun

Come Join The Fun!

Today I’m joining a host of other bloggers writing about Real Food on a Budget. Most are sharing recipes, but I’m sharing tips.

I’ve listed these tips before, but they were buried in a post about Spam (of all things!) so I wanted to give them the attention they deserve.

I feed a family of 3 adults (assuming that the combined diets of my two sons equals what I eat) on $80/week.

Here’s how I do it.

1) I prepare our own meals. Eating out is a luxury. And contrary to what KFC claimed in their infamous $10 Challenge commercial, it really is cheaper to cook your own food at home.

2) I buy in bulk, and directly from local farmers when possible. I pick up bulk grains and beans and natural sweeteners from my local grocery store, and I also plan large once-a-year purchases of pastured beef and poultry.

3) I eat fewer animal products (and more veggies). While I believe animal products are far healthier for me than the diet dictocrats would have us believe, I’m also a vegan for about 40% of the year thanks to my religious principles (Orthodox Christian). And, even when I’m not keeping a vegan fast due to pregnancy or breastfeeding, my family still only averages about 2.67 lbs of meat per week over the course of the year. The trick here is to make meat only a part of the meal, rather than the centerpiece. Instead of serving one chicken breast per person with some sides, we’ll cut up the chicken and put it in a casserole or soup.

4) I don’t waste food. We save up unused vegetable parts and uneaten leftovers to make hearty broths and soups each week, use chicken guts to make gravy, use the carcass for a gelatin-rich broth that’s oh-so-good for your joints. This way, I can generally get four meals out of each chicken!

5) I make my own convenience foods. Breads, salsas, salad dressings, condiments. It’s all healthier and cheaper when you make it at home.

6) I try not to double up on expensive animal proteins in any given meal. This means I rarely pair meat with cheese, eggs with cheese, meat with eggs, and the like unless I’m cooking up something special.  I save lasagna and quiche for when I have company.

This post is part of the Real Food Wednesday blog carnival hosted by Cheeseslave. If you’re interested in saving money, go check out the other interesting recipes and tips carnival participants are sharing!


  1. says

    Hi Mel, CatholicMommyBrain, and Kelly! Thanks for stopping by.

    Kelly — I hadn’t seen it either until someone blogged about it last month. There are only a few things that are actually *cheaper* to eat out than make at home, and that’s usually because the ingredients are so unusual that you’d have a hard time buying them at a decent price and using them up in time.

    #6 seems like a big adjustment at first, but it’s a no-brainer once you get the hang of it. It also forces you to eat a lot more veggies.


  2. says

    This may be a dumb question, but do you feel as full with #6? :) My husband is a tennis pro, so he’s active all day long. It seems like he requires a giant protein intake and doesn’t like to eat too many heavy carbs. Any tips about how to figure out what proportion of protein and veggies he should be eating?


  3. says

    Anne — Yes, we feel full. I think the balance of animal protein to vegetables is really about what makes you feel best. We’re all so individual, and our individual needs are different! I know that’s not especially helpful, and I’m sorry. So, I would tell your husband to do what gives him the most energy and keeps him healthy.

  4. says

    Oh my goodness, I thought your last name sounded Greek! I’m an Orthodox Christian too! Wow! I am SOO happy to have found your blog!! We have so much in common!!! I could have written the above post!!! It’s so nice to find more OC real foodies (my parish is full of those who think Oreos are great because they’re lenten…sigh. And potlucks during the Fast are full of white pasta….oh well, ascetisism I guess?)

    Carrie Thienes

  5. says


    I’m beginning to think my parish is abnormal. Most of us are Real Foodies. The ladies in my parish are the people I split cows with, buy eggs with, and get real milk with. :)



  6. says

    I so enjoyed this post!

    for some of us it’s harder than others (for instance I have to combat with milk and gluten allergies in my household…) but even so, I think it’s hilarious that when the going gets tough, the tough get…. freezer meals, spam and soda. (all store-brand of course!)


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