Real Food on a Real Budget : : Stephinie of Gypsy Forest

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Hey everyone! I’m Stephinie from Gypsy Forest. I’m so honored to have been invited to share a bit about how we eat here in Tricia’s space……

I want to start by thinking about the idea of cheap eating. Something to really consider when you look at your food budget is to think about the value of what you are feeding your family. For example, coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil will always cost more than vegetable oil. While I do think budgeting and mindfulness of what we spend is important, I also think it’s good to remember that we are what we eat. If there is one area to splurge on or to not feel guilty about. It’s food. I like to think of eating well as the best health insurance there is.

That being said, I like being frugal and saving money. We do have a budget. I do my best to feed my family of six on $200 a week. This might be high or low for some of you. It averages out to about $34 per week per family member. Or roughly $30 a day for all six of us. I have big eaters. My kids eat more than my husband and I do. I’m serious, they are *always* hungry. We buy as much organic as we can. We eat vegetarian meals 4-5 times a week & meals with meat 2-3 times per week. We shop as much as we can in the bulk aisle and take advantage of our local CSA. It is by far the best deal for seasonal organic produce. In the peak of the summer my share is usually FOUR large bags of organic vegetables for an average of $31. We limit our packaged foods and make a lot of our own snacks. We eat a lot of rice+veggie+bean dishes. Our favorite snacks are carrots, peanut butter & apples, nut butter toast, almonds, muffins, bean dip & veggies, homemade crackers, and smoothies. (and as much fruit as I can afford to buy, seriously… always hungry!)

I make extra most evenings for dinner and pull the next days lunch from our meal before we sit down to eat. I have a good idea of how much we eat. By putting away lunch beforehand, I know I have lunch for at least my husband and sometimes my two younger ones & I. This saves so much hassle for packing lunches for my husband. And even if I just pull some of the veggies & beans/meat, I can be reative the next day for lunch. While my husband usually gets leftovers…… my younger daughter sometimes grumbles over this idea. I’ve learned to recreate leftover dinner by making it into a soup or stir fry or stuffing it into a burrito for lunch the next day. She hardly notices.

Speaking of lunch, I always pack snacks or lunch when we’re out and about. Popcorn, apples, carrots, muffins, nuts, trail mix & water. It becomes second nature after awhile and saves so much money. Hungry kids are grumpy kids. And that’s no fun for anyone. Bring food. I promise it’s worth the hassle (and your budget will thank you.)

If you’d like to read some more about food you can read my post about my pantry here,

visit the food budget challenge I did here, and see my recipes here.

It was so nice meeting you all. Thanks again for having me Tricia.

Eat well~

Stephinie

Tricia here:  Thank you so much Stephinie for sharing your beautiful blog with us and I can’t wait to dig into your food budget challenge post.  I will see you back here tomorrow for this weeks Pinalong.  It will probably be sickness related as I cannot seem to shake this flu bug.  See you then!

6 Responses to Real Food on a Real Budget : : Stephinie of Gypsy Forest

  1. Holly Gomez March 8, 2014 at 12:56 am #

    I’m wondering about your CSA! $31 on average. If your picture above resembles what is in your weekly CSA that’s great! We also pick up our CSA shares bimonthly but for $90 on average. This includes two dozen pullet local eggs. Was there an annual enrollment fee to offset your costs? Ours does not. I’m just rethinking I might be spending too much on our CSA.

    • stephinie March 8, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

      Yes! That is our CSA. It costs $650 for the whole summer. 21 weeks of veggies. We don't get eggs. Just veggies. This is a late summer share. The first & last three pickups are smaller, but mid summer was enough that I was canning and pickling! We move a lot…… so I've eaten locally in a lot of different locations throughout the US. This is (by far) the best deal we've ever gotten. It was expensive to eat local organic food in southern Louisiana. I feel pretty passionate about supporting local farmers…. so I always try to eat at least some of our food locally and then supplement with the grocery store. Always a balance act for sure!

  2. Olive and Owl March 7, 2014 at 8:03 pm #

    This was lovely to read Stephinie! I'm always wondering what we should be spending. Of course I am in the same boat as you. Food gets all our money. That's where all my focus is and because of it I find us being a very healthy family!

    • stephinie March 8, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

      Thanks KC ~ I'm glad you enjoyed it. It is expensive to eat well….. but I agree it is worth as much money as you can budget. It's amazing how little things like making your own snacks, skipping processed foods, and not eating out can carve the budget down though!

  3. Julie March 7, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    I agree that we are what we eat… and that sometimes we have to make compromises/choices such as spending more money on some items and less on others. lately, our family has been spending more on grass-fed and organic meats and less on out of season fruits and veggies, what a difference in our weekly menu plan! Our (almost) vegetarian family also love rice+ veggie+ bean one pot dishes, it's amazing the number of dishes one can come up with such little ingredients.

    • stephinie March 8, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

      We too spend more money on good protein. That is why we got chickens for good eggs + why we eat less meat. I found that once I started making beans from scratch I really loved their versatility and my body loves that form of protein! I think beans+rice+eggs+salsa is my all time favorite. Especially with greens. We eat some combination of that every week here 🙂

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