Thursday, September 19, 2013

Simple Living 101: Part 4-Simplicity in the Kitchen

Uggggghhhhh....chicken and waffles!!!!

More than anything, EH and I love stuffing our faces. I mean...we LOVE food! Who doesn't? Simplifying the food we eat and how we get our food has been a real challenge for me. I remember admitting in the beginning of this blog journey that being a homemaker doesn't come easy for me. I've been a stay-at-home wife for a little over a year now and I finally had to, reluctantly, take ownership of the role.

EH only knows how to make salmon cakes and some breakfast foods (pancakes, eggs, bacon, etc.). I have a slightly larger repertoire but not by much. I learned how to cook mostly by necessity and trial and error in my teens and got a little better in college (my first attempt at making rice and peas and failing miserably still haunts me). When EH and I started living together, we were mostly vegetarian so I didn't really have to push myself much. It was pretty hard to mess up imitation meat and vegetables!

Now that I'm in my 30s, I'm starting to enjoy making meals. I enjoy it so much that we're eating more than ever and spending more than we ever have on food. Here are some of the ways I've found to cut costs and some of the things we're still working on in this area.


There aren't that many options for healthy food in our neighborhood so EH and I decided that we would get our groceries online through the grocery delivery service, Fresh Direct. Initially, like so many other people that we mentioned this to, I balked at the idea. Why in the world would we order food online when we can just go up the block and get it at the supermarket?? Turns out there were a couple of reasons why this was a better choice for us but there are pros and cons.

1. More choice in healthy, organic food. After I had my myomectomy to remove fibroids it became really important to me to eliminate chemicals/antibiotics/pesticides from as much of our food as possible. Ordering online gives us access to the organic foods (produce, dairy, meat, poultry, fruit, etc. ) that aren't present in our neighborhood.

2. Control over the budget. EH and I do our shopping every two weeks with a set budget of $150. We very rarely go over this amount and since it's a fixed amount it forces me to be smart about what we buy. There's something about seeing the total amount add up on the side of the page that keeps me on my best money behavior.

You know how all these healthy living guidelines suggest that you shop in the outer aisle of the supermarket to stay healthy? Well, the same goes for trying to save money. We mostly stay clear of the inner "aisles" which means not many boxed products. Most of our budget goes to buying enough organic/antibiotic free meat, poultry and fish to keep us stocked for two weeks. The rest goes to bags of beans, spaghetti, cans of tomato sauce, rice, milk, cereal, frozen vegetables and dairy.

The disadvantages of this kind of shopping is that we don't really get to take advantage of coupons like other money saving households. There are coupons on the web site but I found that they were usually for products we didn't buy anyway.

Other ways we save

1. Freeze it, baby! By far, the single most wonderful way I've found to save money on my groceries is by making use of my freezer. Because of my freezer I can now buy in bulk like never before. I now purchase two quarts of milk instead of one because I can store one in the freezer and thaw it when needed. At first I was afraid because I thought it wouldn't taste the same but if I take the milk down before the one we're using runs out it gives it ample time to melt. I give it a good shake and it's good to go.

I found this pin on pinterest about freezing everyday foods here and now I freeze things like shredded mozzarella cheese, beans, bread, soups and butter. More recently I discovered freezing avocados and it was life changing! Ok....maybe that's an exaggeration but I love making guacamole for a quick lunch and I would buy way too much only to have them spoil in my fridge. Now I can take advantage of an awesome avocado sale and freeze what I don't use.

2. Eating meat less. I've saved a bunch just by not eating meat/chicken everyday. Black bean burritos are now a staple in our house that we have at least once a week. I'd like to start making more vegetarian options as well, like vegetable pot pies, soups or spinach lasagna, but I'm still working on EH's belief that no meat = not a real dinner.

3. Order an appetizer. Not only are tons of food is wasted in this country everyday but portion sizes have gotten larger and larger. Have you seen what a small drink looks like at a fast food place lately? It's crazy. When EH and I go out for dinner, I'm always amazed at the plate when it comes to the table. Lately, when we do eat out I've been able to order from the appetizer menu and feel totally satisfied. Mostly, this is because my appetite hasn't been what it used to be since I started my PCOS medication but it's a great side effect for me because I tend to overeat.

4. Cook in bulk. Even though I've started to actually use my slow cooker I don't use it nearly enough. Truth is, I forget I have it when it comes time to make a meal. It really is a time saver and allows you to make so much. I've been mostly using my oven to make large pans of lasagna or soups on the stove top. I have a feeling I'll do more of this when children come along.

5. Give yourself a break. As much as we would like to be, humans aren't perfect. Cut yourself some slack if you swing by Mickey D's once a month or end up ordering a pizza, take-out Chinese or that delicious slice of cheesecake every once a while. We try to keep these bad treats to once every two months but if we falter we don't beat ourselves up. We get back on the horse. And you know what? Sometimes, I just really don't feel like cooking a thing and want to go out for chicken and waffles. That's OK too.


We still have some room to grow in this area. I still think we eat out way too much. Most of that is my doing because I forget to take things down from the freezer to the fridge so that they can thaw and be ready to make the next day.  Our biggest issue in the past was running out of food in the middle of the week because I didn't buy enough food to last us.. (I know... bad wife demerit there). I'm happy to say we haven't had that issue in months.


  1. Great ideas. We really need to incorporate the eating less meat. Everyone in the house besides Cate is strictly a carnivore!

  2. I was a little hesitant at first because EH is a carnivore through and through but I sort of had to put my foot down on eating more veggies. I want EH with me as long as possible so I deal with his surliness when he doesn't get meat :-)