Shopping at a local farmers market tends to make things just simple enough for me to stay on track with our healthy eating and our budget. I'd love to share a few of the tips that I've used the last couple of years, especially when we are buying almost all of our food at the local market.
1. Meat, Eggs, Milk This is what that looks like for us each week:
2 Packages of Breakfast Meat (Bacon and/or Sausage), 3 Packages of Dinner Meat (Whole Chicken, Beef Ribs, Pork Chops, Kabobs, Ground Beef, etc), 3 dozen eggs (I hard boil 1 dozen, and we eat the other 2 dozen for breakfasts or Breakfast for Dinner), 1 Gallon Real Milk. I place my order online by email from Stoney Creek Farm before the market so that it is all ready and bagged for me on Saturday mornings.
2. Fruits We love fruit! And this time of year it replaces all of our other snacks so I stock up! I basically buy one of every fruit available. For example, this week we picked up raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, peaches, and apples. The key is to use them! Use the most perishable fruits first, freeze them if they are getting too ripe, put them on cereal, make a Green Smoothie!
3. Vegetables Don't skip this part! My kids know that we will have vegetables cooked in Olive Oil at least 2-3 nights a week. They have learned to request their favorites like squash and zucchini. Nathan loves eggplant parmesan. We eat fresh salads with tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers at least 4-5 days a week. And who doesn't love fresh sweet corn and baked new potatoes! I start with what is most comfortable for my family and then I like to challenge myself by trying something different.
5. Document Your Food Stash I started taking photos of my groceries a couple of years ago. It's a great way to hold yourself accountable, document what you have and to remind yourself of what is in the back of the fridge or freezer. I simply upload the photo on the computer and come back to it during the week. Its a great way to remind yourself that you have two eggplant to use or a package of kabobs that will be great for grilling night! It's also useful for making your list for the next week. If taking a photo doesn't work for you you can always simply make a list of your purchases or even the specific meals you have ingredients for you.
6. Eat What You Buy This is the most important step in staying on a budget. As Americans we throw away a LOT of food. Recipe searches are a great way to "figure out" what to do with those last few items left over at the end of the week. Simple search for "recipe, plus your ingredients" and see what comes up!