Monday, June 21, 2010

Baby Steps To A Healthier Lifestyle

Today I am restarting a series on ways you can slowly work your way into a healthier lifestyle. I know first hand just how overwhelming it can be. When I began my journey about 4 years ago I had no clue where to start. I then started looking at the cost of it all and just about changed my mind. So today I think we should begin with looking at the budget.

Of course, everyone has a different budget to work with so I do not want you to feel that you have to strive to do the same thing as I or any other person would do. If you are interested in looking at my personal grocery budget you can read about it here.

One of the hardest things for me to get over was the fact that it is OK to spend money on food. There is such a huge craze right now to see how much you can get for as little as possible. I will admit that I have been a huge couponer, and still am to some extent. The only problem was that I was discovering that I was coming home with less then natural food. In most other cultures food is something to be enjoyed. As Americans we tend to be in a hurry and want as much as possible for as little as possible. So my husband and I decided that we must remind ourselves it is OK to spend money on food. I am not saying we spend a huge amount, but we have learned to buy the best quality food we are able to with what we have been given.

So what are some tips to staying on a budget while eating healthy, whole foods?

1.) Stop buying processed foods and save your money for the better quality real stuff. You will be better off. If your great-grandmother would not recognize it don't eat it.

2.) Make a list/menu and stick to it. No more impulse buys. This is probably where I struggle the most. If I fail to make a menu we are more likely to eat out and just buy what looks good. This is a big budget buster. When you go to the store have a list and do your best to stick to it.

3.) Make as much of your own food as possible. You may be thinking that you will be spending all your time in the kitchen. You will be there a bit more then before, but modern conveniences have also helped to cut time in the kitchen, such as a bread makers and crock pots. You can also dedicate one day to cooking ahead and freezing meals. This works well for me. The extra time you spend preparing your food will pay off in the long run. Keep things simple.

4.) Search for local food. You are most likely to get the most bang for your buck this way. To help you find sources of local food check out my post here.

5.) Shop with cash. Try to have a predetermined amount for the month and take that weeks amount shopping with you. You are less likely to overspend this way. If you are sticking to your weekly menu and shopping list this is somewhat easier to do. You can even try to adopt the envelope system that Dave Ramsey recommends. This is what we have done. It is one of our methods we are using to get out of debt. Getting out of debt is a HUGE goal we are working on. If you have not already taken Financial Peace University high highly recommend it.

6.) Buy on sale and stock up when you can. If you learn to watch for sales and clearance prices at the right times of the year you can buy things at their lowest prices and save tons of money. For example awhile back I bought 4 pounds of shredded cheese. I really did not need that much, but I got it for around $8. It fit in the budget so I bought it. I took it home and portioned it into 2 cups per baggie and froze it. It lasted us over a month.

Another way to stock up is after the holidays or buying in season. Soon after Thanksgiving and Christmas there is often cans of pumpkin, meat, and other baking supplies marked way down.

7.) Be creative and flexible. If you run out of an item before your next shopping trip try to find an alternative. There have been many times we have run out of something and the kids will of course be asking for it. I have had to tell them to wait many times. I will not say that I do not ever give in, but I try to make them wait. It is good for them to learn this lesson and it also helps with the impulse buys that will most likely happen when you go to the store for that 1 item causing you to blow your budget.

8.) Watch for sales on Amazon. I have found many organic items on sale with Amazon lately. I will do my best to highlight them when I see them. If you have any Swagbuck gift cards saved up you can easily score some free or cheap organic/ natural food.

Next Monday I am planning to post about where you should start to make the changes in your diet to help ease your family into this new way of life.

Here is my proposed schedule of posts for this series. I am open to suggestions.
Week 1-Baby Steps and Budget
Week 2- What, Where, and Why? Food groups
Week 3- Frugal ways to buy natural personal care and toiletry items.
Week 4- Household items
Week 5- Anything I may have left out.

I would love to have you join me. I am thinking about starting a monthly post with a link so everyone can share their progress stories. That way we can all help each other along with additional ideas and support.

2 comments:

  1. I just found your Blog and am SOOOO excited about it. I am a new mom and wife and just started couponing. I LOVE it but have noticed how much processed stuff I have been buying because of it and DONT want to get into that habit. Maybe you can talk about how you incoropate your couponing in with this as well? I am very excited to read your following posts. Thanks!

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