Budget meals – It is the little things
It’s the little things
This post goes along with the $25 weekly budget meals posts. Weather you have a $25 weekly budget, or a $75 weekly budget, if you are trying to reduce grocery expenses and eat meals on a budget, the little things add up. Sometimes it is as simple as leaving the raisins out of a muffin recipe because raisins are slightly expensive.
Making things simpler and plainer saves money. When we first got married, Paul commonly took bean and rice burritos to work. He made them by putting cooked rice on a tortilla shell along with black beans and sprinkling it with olives, cheese, lettuce, and onions. (And maybe tomatoes and peppers, I can’t remember exactly what all we used to put on them.) The rice and beans were cooked plain and would have been very bland by themselves. Now, I cook bean and rice burritos often for supper. The beans are seasoned or cooked with homemade salsa. The extra beans and rice are mixed together and used for his lunch burritos. We no longer put olives, cheese, etc. on the burritos he takes to work. They are just the bean and rice mixture with some sour cream on the shell. In the summer, when we have plenty of lettuce, onions, peppers and tomatoes from the garden, those things might still be put on his burritos. They cost us nothing from the garden, but it saves us money not to purchase lettuce and tomatoes in the winter and our main savings comes from eliminating the cheese and olives.
Over the course of the years, I have even found a way to make the black bean burrito themselves fit better into budget meals. Black beans cost a dollar more per bag than pinto beans. So one day I cut back on the black beans and replaced some of them with pinto beans. Paul was fine with this change. (He probably accepted it more cheerfully than the omission of cheese and olives on his burritos. He loves olives and cheese!) Now I always cook our “black” bean burritos with at least half pinto beans.
Along with the little changes to make your meals more budget meals, another factor is gradual changes. When we first got married, we did not eat as we do now. Both of us were quite frankly used to eating much “better” or more expensively. Changes are not always easy and if you suddenly started cooking much less expensively than what your family is used to, you will get a lot of complaining.
Here is an example of one of our gradual changes. I had never eaten dried cranberries on a salad. Paul introduced me to dried cranberries in a salad after we were married. That was all fine and well until I went to the store and found out how much they cost. I started decreasing the amount in our salads, sometimes omitting them, and sometimes substituting raisins. Over time I decreased/omitted them until we eventually ate neither dried cranberries nor raisins in a salad. These days, dried cranberries in a salad are a distant dusty memory tucked away with newlywed first year of marriage memories.
You don’t have to like it.
One finial thought on budget meals. You don’t have to love it. While I do not cook meals we hate, we sit down to plenty of meals that neither one of us would request. Sometimes I’ll fix something we really love to eat. Other times it is a simple meal that can best be described as “healthy” or “inexpensive” but not necessarily “delicious.” And that is fine. If all we have is a simple meal of garden vegetables, there is plenty of love at our table to fill in the rest. Proverbs 15:17 states it truly. “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.”
Thankfully, both of us were raised in homes where we were expected to eat the food placed on the table. Our parents did not tolerate, “I don’t like it. I want to eat something else.” Being raised that way has no doubt helped us to eat simple budget meals now. When people hear about the way we eat, we are sometimes asked about children. So far we don’t have children, but we plan to raise our children the same way we were raised – to eat what is cooked for dinner. It worked for both of us and all of our siblings. (That is a total of 14 children.)
We practice this ourselves, so we are not asking what we do not do as well. For instance, I do not care much for beets. Paul loves beets. So we grow beets in the garden and I cook them. And I eat them. (Sometimes I cut them in heart shapes. That makes them taste a little better!) I might not care much for them, but they are healthy and inexpensive, so I eat them. Children can do the same. And so can adults. Remember – you don’t have to like it.