It is cheaper to buy chicken nuggets or a hamburger than a sub sandwich.
It is cheaper to get a frozen dinner than the ingredients to make pasta and sauce.
It is cheaper to eat canned vegetables than make a salad.
It is cheaper to buy white sandwich bread than make wheat bread at home.
It is cheaper to eat at Taco Bell than to make tacos at home.
It is cheaper to make Kraft Mac and Cheese than to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.
One big reason I think we eat so many convenience foods is that they are cheaper. It costs more to cook from scratch--for just about anything. The one exception I can think of is comparing eating at home to eating at a sit down restaurant.
A few years ago a friend of mine started doing weight watchers. She was floored by how much she had to adjust their food budget, since both she and her husband were doing it. The increase in fruits and vegetables that she needed to buy shocked her. She had been (and still is) a huge coupon shopper. She saved a lot of money cutting coupons every week.
I was updating our budget this week. It floors me how much we spend on food every month. It has doubled in the last 5 years. We did also add 2 children to our family of 3 five years ago. Even so, food costs have gone up a lot.
So, is it worth it to budget more for food? Or should we eat more convenience foods?
I think it's worth it. I think you can cut back on splurges and spend that money on eating healthier instead. In the long run, it's so much healthier for you and your family. And food made from scratch does taste better, I think. There's so much salt (a ton!!) in prepared foods along with artificial sweeteners and preservatives. None of which seem very good for us.
I know there are extras in our food budget. I like to chew gum. I like to make cookies for us and to share. We like fish and shellfish (more expensive items). And my husband just told me that he likes to have sandwiches with deli cold cuts (not the least expensive item). Knowing those are my splurges, I try to be careful about them. I clip coupons for gum. I watch for fish and shellfish to go on sale. And I go to the deli counter at BJs--which is far cheaper than anywhere else. I like to get the Kretschmar Honey Ham thinly sliced for $4 a pound. And sliced American cheese there is only $3.49 a pound (I think it was $6.49/pound the last time I checked at Giant).
I see so many kids overweight today and it worries me. I think we need to be careful about what we feed our kids and what tastes/penchants we are encouraging in them about food. In my last post, I wrote about high fructose corn syrup. It's expensive to get away from it. It means a lot more cooking from scratch. And it's often hard. But, I think it's worth it. I believe it's worth it.
One of the ways to get more fresh fruits and vegetables is to find affordable farm stands or farmer's markets. Another is to do pick your own and freeze the fruits of your labor or make jam. Another is to get good cookbooks with easy recipes that make you want to cook from scratch. Good cookbooks really can make life easier and help you know how to use more fruits and vegetables in your cooking. It's a good investment. Another way is to avoid temptations. Find a few quick items that don't have all the artificial stuff in them that you can feel good about eating when you need them. It will stave off the temptation to eat out when you don't feel like cooking.
The final way that's coming to my mind is to have a plan. This is one that I'm always working on. I'm organized, but not regimented. I am continually trying to be good about sticking to my plan and my goals. It's so easy for me to get mired down in my day to day life that sometimes I forget why I'm doing what I'm doing. And when I forget--it's easier for me to slide.
I hope this entry makes sense. I'm afraid my mind is beginning to ramble--which is a clue to me that I better scoot and go drink my coffee!