We have had to greatly reduce our food budget for some time now- I used to make a bit of extra money during the school year (SAHM), and may again this upcoming school year, but I feel like our quality of eating has gone way down this summer and I have been struggling to get out of the cooking rut I'm in! I know I really need to think & plan it out, but I would like input from any mamas who may have weighed this comparison in the past:
Do you think it's less expensive or equal to:
-prepare meals using some partially-prepared & mostly GENERIC (no organic, but often "natural" and non-gmo) for family meals
-prepare meals using primarily ORGANIC and local or natural ingredients from SCRATCH (such as bulk & whole ingredients).
obviously, if the comparisons were generic part. prepared vs generic scratch or organic part. prepared vs organic scratch, in my experience making things from scratch typically comes out way cheaper in the end, especially when i was cooking gfcf for my son for years. I am more curious, in our situation- where I feel like I am selling myself short by getting a lot of "easy" stuff that is low budget lately, that I could be feeding my family organic/ way healthier for the same price if I spent more time prepping & cooking from scratch.
Also I had started transitioning our diet to vegetarian (my preference), and that's kind of bounced back too, and I think veg cooking would keep our grocery bill down too! :)
Can you try offering the organic foods that require less preparation?
I don't really "cook," I just bake & serve. A piece of fish and sliced tomatoes and scallions under the broiler; a spiced up burger patty or sandwich steak browned & served with cold salad; sausage crumbled over organic canned beans...
What prepared foods I get are organic and I only use them about twice a week. I also make up large batches of side dishes, such as stewed vegetables, and then freeze them in portioned containers. This all saves time day-to-day.
We eat a lot of cold food too, like fish salad, cold roast, hard boiled eggs, cheese, cold sausages. Chef salad could become a staple. These take very little preparation.
In terms of saving money, be sure you are making and serving accurate portions. I think that many families serve portions that are too large; even a little too large is not needed nutritionally and thus is a waste even if it's eaten and not discarded.
You may also have to deal with picky eaters who want lots of variety, but that's learned and can be unlearned.
I think you could still be healthy with a mixture of "prepared meals using some partially-prepared & mostly GENERIC (no organic, but often "natural" and non-gmo)." I don't do all organic, I may be doing it wrong or looking in the wrong places, but it's expensive!
It's all about finding staple foods and changing the seasonings, sides, add-ons, etc. You can cook chicken a million different ways, and most are really quick and easy! Not every dinner has to be a big production, sometimes we just do cereal (is that too lazy? it works for us).