A Fearless Guide to Food and Travel

10 Ways to Eat Real Food on a Budget 10 Ways to Eat Real Food on a Budget

Eat Real Food on a Budget

I hear people very often say they can’t afford to eat free range/organic/whole/real/natural foods.  Just insert any one of those terms in the sentence and it’s the same.  This really puzzles me for a few reasons.  First, I can’t really answer “yes you can” without know what affordable means to that person.  Second, I begin to think about the long term benefits that eating in such a way provides. Yes some things may cost more today, so you may save money by making other choices with the foods you eat but what happens in 10 or 15 years?  The medical costs could trump the additional dollars today ten-fold!  Ultimately what we eat is up to each person and I am no one to judge those choices.

But – there are a lot of people who want to eat real foods.  They want to make it work for their families, they just aren’t sure how. 

Recently my friend Ameera of Traditional Muslimah Homemaker posted a question on her Facebook wall asking readers if all organic eating is affordable and also can you make real meals on a real budget?  My answer to the first question is maybe and the second question is absolutely!  While I started to share my tips in the comment section it occurred to me this would be a great blog post.  Once I started writing that I realized it would be an entire series!

While this list could be much longer than 10 tips, I’ve decided to stick with this number.  Over the next 10 weeks I’ll be sharing a post focusing on one of the 10 ways we eat real food on a real budget.  So here’s the rundown for my family;

  • we eat primarily gluten-free for our main meals together.  My kids do eat gluten but that primarily means sandwich bread for school lunches and pasta (though this too is largely gluten free)
  • I purchase either free range, organic, halal, or if money is tight in a specific week vegetarian fed, antibiotic free meats.
  • We drink almond milk or organic milk from a local dairy
  • I buy free range and/or organic eggs
  • We eat out 2-3 times a month as a family.
  • I spend $100-125 a week on food.
  • We live in a medium size (under 100,000 people) city in the Midwest US.
  • I cook a lot – but you already knew that!

I think that all of these facts are important things to consider.  We do have a wide variety of locally grown produce available – in the spring and summer.  While we live in a smaller city, we have eaten this way when we lived in a major metro, Washington DC, and my grocery budget was about the same. What I’m trying to say is that anyone can do this, no matter where you live or what dietary restrictions you might have.

So what are my 10 ways to eat real food on a budget?

1. Set a Budget

2. Meal Plan

3. Cook and Bake

4. Eat from your Pantry

5. Use whole meat cuts and butcher yourself

6. Make Seasonal Choices

7. Buy in Bulk When it Makes Sense

8. Build Reserves

9. Freezer Cook

10. Repurpose leftovers

I hope you’ll join me as I go further into depth on each of these tips.  I’ll be sharing how I do it and giving you resources to use for your own family.  If you want to make sure you receive all of my posts make sure to subscribe on the right hand side!  Oh, and leave me a comment too – I’d love to know your specific “trouble spots” so that I can address them in the future!


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Amanda Mouttaki

Curious world traveling, mom of two busy boys, foodie at heart, addicted to social media and lover of all things Moroccan.

  • Juanita Escobar

    January 7, 2015 #1 Author

    I’m interested in knowing more.


  • Aleks

    June 5, 2013 #5 Author

    Great post! As a new mom and wife would definitely try to follow this instructions.:)Thanks!


    • Amanda Mouttaki

      June 6, 2013 #6 Author

      Glad to hear that! Hope that it helps and congrats on being a new mom and wife!


  • Venassa

    May 1, 2013 #7 Author

    Love love love this series! I just read through it all right now, Pinned quite a few things for future reference as well. Thanks so much!


    • Amanda Mouttaki

      May 2, 2013 #8 Author

      I’m so glad you’ve found it useful! I’ll be updating the links as I finish the series so I hope you’ll stop back and say hello.


  • Allison Almond

    April 25, 2013 #9 Author

    When I had a $50 a MONTH food budget (over 2 years, single parent of a then 1-3 yr old), I did menu planning for the month, and only shopped once. Also I don’t see anyone blogging about potluck meals once a week. How we did it was once a week I would host a potluck meal and everyone else would bring something. I got to talk to adults and have adult time, and depending on the group of friends some would let me keep the leftovers. So we would eat potluck left overs for a few meals. THAT really helped my grocery budget and gave us variety in foods. And if we got invited to potluck I could take home left overs.
    On my $50 a month budget I did a lot of crockpot meals. Looking back this was over 3 yrs ago. I would have to say I did a lot of things by scratch. It was cheaper to buy a 25lbs of flour for $6, and make everything with it, than it was to buy 1 box of bisquick for $6 and maybe get 2-3 baked goods from it. Same with peanut butter, regular butter, gravies, and fruit for desserts. I also did and still do a lot of produce bartering. Where I would trade fruits from my trees and trade with other people their excess produce from their yards. At the time I had 3 orange trees, an avocado tree, and a lemon tree. 2 of 3 orange trees were the oranges that u juice, and the 3rd was navel oranges. So I would trade a large bag of juicing oranges for organic lettuce and other veggies. Also being a member or lots of members post when their trees are over flowing with fruits, so I get to have free (minus the price of gas to drive to their house) grapefruits, pomegranates, tangerines, apricots, star fruit, and different types of guavas. Most of the time they don’t want to do a trade, they just want their fruit to go to a good home, verse rotting on the ground. Doing this produce swapping (I still do to this) and potluck meals really help with the food budget.
    Side note I used coupons to get ALL of my HBA items for free. Just recently have I made the switch to making my own HBA items, as I have not needed to buy HBA items for over 3 yrs now, because I stocked up really well. Now as I am running out of certain things, I have been making my HBA items, and my food budget is up to $350 a month, because my income and living situation is different. But I could go back to $50 a month (if needed) .


  • cami

    February 27, 2013 #11 Author

    Great posts..I´m looking forward to reading more. I agree with everything you have written and we do exactly the same. I create a menu for each week and buy everything I need for those meals. I avoid a lot of stress by having all ingredients for all meals for an entire week and save time by not having to go to the store so much. What do you mean by freezer cook?


    • marocmama

      February 28, 2013 #12 Author

      Hi CAmi – I’m going to do a whole post about freezer cooking in the series :)


  • Colleen

    February 21, 2013 #13 Author

    Just found you through a tweet from Slow Food USA, and I think your site is great! I, too, love Morocco — especially its food. Glad to have found this site, and glad to know another person who promotes healthy, affordable eating!


  • Petra

    February 21, 2013 #14 Author

    I completely agree with you, by putting a it of thought in to the food, organic is not more expensive and it is still possible to make great food! Love the theme!


  • Kirsten Helle Chef Kirsten

    February 21, 2013 #15 Author

    You are RIGHT on with this post! I love the tip about repurposing leftovers, this is a great tip. Good job mama. :)


  • Ameera

    February 20, 2013 #16 Author

    As salaamu alaykum great Amanda, it’s a much needed post and if you have no meat recipes that make for great dinners and involve a lot of veggies I would love to know, as we are moving more and more away from meat. Also a detail of your shopping experience would be great, do you shop for the whole month or weekly?


    • marocmama

      February 24, 2013 #17 Author

      Great points to hit on! Adding them to my list and will be sure to talk about them in the appropriate section!


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