Back to school, sorta…

Last week I was talking to my brother who is currently in college. Right now he is taking a health course and the unit they are studying is healthy living and nutrition. I saw him researching grocery shopping and weekly circulars and it was out of the ordinary so the nosyloving sister that I am got interested. I do love to learn and I always say that school was my thang so I couldn’t help but make a friendly competition over Kyle’s homework.

It turns out that the assignment for the week was to make a meal plan for a family of 4 for 7 days. You had to include breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks daily. Easy right?!

Wrong.

The stipulation was that you only had $100.00 to spend total! You had to include fruits and vegetables and make the meals as healthy as possible. Sounds like real life right?!

Being the competitive siblings that we are, I kindly challenged my brother to see who could make the most appetizing meal plan within the guidelines. He is a great cook and thought he would make me regret this little game.

We both got to work acting as if we were online grocery shopping. We had lists and notes and meal plans galore!

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I finished first, obviously thinking that I smoked him and began to celebrate. That was until I started to tally up my list and realized that I had spent $243.97. Whoops.

Kyle had a good laugh and I started over. There was a lot of math and careful calculation involved in this because you had to note portion sizes and know how to get the best prices for the most food!

Going back through I came up with some solutions to cut costs:

1. Swap fresh fruit and veggies for frozen or canned. It’s just as full of nutrients for half the price!

2. Go store brand whenever possible. As a marketing major in college we learned the quality is almost always he same as the brand named goods but they simply lack advertising! (Cliffs notes version of my marketing lessons, ha!)

3. Shop the circular for deals on meats! There’s always a special!

4. Comparison shop. Don’t be afraid to save yourself money through multiple stores!

5. Plan your meals with a protein in mind and build out with a starch and vegetables!

It was neck and neck to the finish of our competition and in the end I think we tied. Kyle had a very simplistic yet satisfying plan that anyone would love and found this a fun challenge. He didn’t mind planning for leftovers.

I on the other hand crave variety and knew I wouldn’t want the same dinner 4 nights in a row. You just have to know what works for you!

This project was fun, I have to admit! It was really eye opening to me though to see how hard it can be for people to feed their families healthy options on a limited budget.

In my personal budget, yes I do have one, I allow for organic produce, fresh meats, and quality ingredients as much as possible. While I am living at home and saving money this is a luxury that I am grateful to have. I know it may not always be an option but I know that I have the skills to bargain shop and still eat healthfully!

Now it’s your turn! Do you have a food budget? Do you stick to it?

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