groceries groceries ooohlala UPDATED

*UPDATE: I added a section by Nick at the bottom since I got a few comments and emails about how I "got Nick to go meatless". I promise you, it was a gradual shift and I'm thankful for the grace and wisdom he's had - not really to let me remove meat from our diet, but to ultimately shift our entire diet. Nick is an amazing little chef and cooked for us mostly when we first married, so he's been extremely gracious to give me 
reign in this area of homemaking. *


One of the most frequent emails/formspring questions I get is about our grocery/eating/budget system. How do we eat healthily cheaply? Usually I prefer NOT to answer this question because I feel like our system/budget works for us and I'm think it's TOTALLY ok if it doesn't work for others. I'm sure some people might think we spend way too little and some people might think we spend way too much. It's just right for us! Some people might think we eat far too healthy, some might think we eat too much junk, but it's just right for us! However, I have a few tips & tricks that have been really helpful to us, so I'm up for sharing. 


i just think these carrots are pretty. carry on. 


A few broad points: 
- I don't coupon. I'm so glad if you do. I think everyone has to choose their "things", and couponing is not mine. I love getting a good deal on shampoo and I know I could probably find some better deals on soy milk and diapers. Maybe one day the Lord will give me the capacity for the cutting and the sorting, but it's not today:). Plus you just don't find a lot of coupons for sweet potatoes, black beans, and quinoa. And we eat a lot of stuff like that. 
- I LOVE ALDI. Aldi is like a discount europeanish market without any kind of flair. You bag your own groceries, you pay $.25 for a grocery cart. BUT almost all the processed foods are hfcs-free and there is an incredible amount of CHEAP produce. It's a lot like Trader Joe's without any fluff. It should be known, if we lived in a town that had an Aldi AND a Trader Joe's, I'd go to both - no hesitation. I think Winco is pretty similar to Aldi, please find one or the other near you or MOVE. I estimate that what used to cost us about $150 at Trader Joe's, would've cost us $200 at a normal grocery store, costs us $70-$80 at Aldi. Those are my rough calculations. 
- We don't buy meat. It just helps. When nothing in your cart is over $3, you can't really go wrong. Milk and Meat = definitely over $3. 
- So on a normal week, I go to Aldi for our processed food (cereal, soy/almond milks, canned goods, granola bars, frozen waffles {uh huh, don't hate}, veggie chips) and some of our basics (coffee, eggs, string cheese for kids, bread, almonds). This costs us about $50 and I get $20 in cash back at Aldi and go to town at the veggie stand. I go to a REALLY cheap produce stand here in South Carolina, and $20 buys me bananas, apples, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, grapes, strawberries, canteloupe, and usually a few other random goodies. THEN I go to Earthfare for our bulk grains and healthy odds & ends,  - quinoa, buckwheat, dates, soy protein drinks & bars for me. I spent anywhere from $25-$30 here, rounding our weekly budget out to about $100. 
The week I detail below cost exactly $100 and some change. 


Here's an example menu of exactly what we ate for dinners
 (and a guesstimate for lunches) last week for $100
(sunday) breakfast for dinner. pancakes, frittata, homemade biscuits, toast. 
(monday) quinoa black bean burgers & carrot fries. 
(tuesday) vegan lasagna
(wednesday) bacon & grilled cheese swiches with salad (protein shake night for mom)
(thursday) out to eat! Earthfare kids eat free night!
(friday) homemade pizzas
(saturday) quinoa stuffed peppers


For breakfast the kids will eat any of the following: cereal,
 frozen waffles, yogurt & fruit, bagels, toast & pb, or oatmeal. Mostly, it's just cereal:) 
For breakfast I eat: a protein bar, an omelette, 
soy yogurt & granola, or buckwheat bake.

For lunch the kids eat: pbj, hummus & honey wraps, 
leftovers, veggie plates, or mac & cheese. It happens. 
For lunch I almost always eat: a big spinach salad with 
either a roasted sweet potato or carrot fries. Or a protein shake. 

Snacks we do: granola bars, fruit, veggies & hummus, 
energy balls, or homemade popcorn

Nick eats: cereal or eggs for breakfast. Granola bars & fruit to snack on. 
Leftovers or a salad for lunch. Cereal at night when my dinner is too light:)


Thoughts from Nick: 
For me, why meatless is ok:
1. It is a great way to honor Jess and fulfill the command for husbands in 1 Peter 3. Honoring her interests, passions, and very importantly her call as a wife and mother.
2. My personal goal of stewardship of self. I think our generation knows enough to not eat crap. I want to be able to work as hard as I can, as long as I can...until God calls me Home. Eating and exercise is a great way.

Tips for men/women:
1. Some might disagree, but men should eat what their wife cooks...or try. But it is a two way street, cook as well as you can, especially if it is tofu!

2. Grace and freedom, easing into: eating is not bound by law. Paul spent most of his ministry combating dietary restrictions. I eat at home how my wife cooks,...but if I am out, meat in moderation is ok. Ease into it for your husband's sake, don't go from steak to tofu. It really requires grace for the husband...and grace for the wife from the husband.

Last thing: this might sound stupid, but this is a heart issue. Why do you want to change the way you eat...or as husbands why do you not want to change the way you eat. Ultimately there is pride and selfishness somewhere so forgive and repent often...repeat if necessary, because it will be!

And now you know why I love him so much. 
I definitely don't think it is the perfect model for everyone, but for now - it fits our budget and our desires for healthy living. In the future, I'd love to do more with local farms - but right now, they're just too expensive and the produce stand serves us well! 
I hope you are all not bored to death, and I promise to blog about something FAR more interesting tomorrow. 
Um, well. Maybe not. I can always try.