We are always looking for ways to save money today. Regardless of your income and your financial situation, saving is in the forefront of our minds. Who wants to waste money anyway? In fact, even shopaholics get into trouble with their spending because they always give in to sale events – even when they do not really need it. Their reasoning is they want to save by availing of that discount. Of course, we all know that what they are doing is actually the opposite. But nevertheless, it goes to show that we all strive to save.
One of the areas in our lives that we are careful to cut back on is food. We want to save on food but we also do not want to sacrifice the nutrition that our family needs. But did you know that there are many ways to cut back on this expense category without compromising the health of your family? Abundance of food intake does not necessarily mean you will be healthy. Sometimes, it leads to obesity and we all know that never leads to good health.
How the Food Stamp Challenge can help you lower food costs
If you want to find out how you can save on food, why not do the Food Stamp Challenge? The Food and Research Action Center explains that this is when you try to live the life of low income Americans when it comes to food costs. Based on the FRAC.org site, participants will live the challenge for at least a week. They will live on $4 per person per day – at least for food. According to the site, the participants find it hard to choose the food that they will eat while sticking to the $4/person limit and still eat healthy.
According to FeedingAmerica.org, the average gross income of a low income family is $744. The net income is at $338. In some households, the usual expenses of child care, health costs and shelter amount to $331. That leaves them with less than $10 for food. Most of the people availing of Food Stamps have children, elderly or disabled members in the family. They are referred to as the vulnerable families.
Also called the SNAP, these food stamps really help these households feed their family without compromising the other important expenses in the house.
FRAC is only one of the many organizations that support this effort to educate people about the food problems of low income families. This challenge became popular through the effort of FRAC allies when they did it back in 2006. Politicians, students and the average members of the community have tried doing this to understand how difficult it is to keep healthy while living on small resources. After all, food is not the only expense in our household budget. We also have to spend on housing, cars, education and other expenses.
Learning how to save on food costs will help you get started on lowering your monthly expenses. To better understand the value of money and good nutrition, we strongly encourage you to do the Food Stamp Challenge.
Low cost food to buy when taking the Food Stamp Challenge
The main challenge for participants is usually knowing what to buy. While you want to stick to the $4/person budget, you also want to make sure that you will not deprive your family of the nutrition that they need. But how can you do that with the budget provided?
EPI.org, the official website of the Economic Policy Institute identified that food takes up 9.6% of the average household budget. The website shows that the average food expense based on the number of family members are as follows:
One parent, One child: $369 (food); $3,949 (household expense)
One parent, Two children $546 (food), $5,017 (household expense)
One parent, Three children $735 (food), $6,175 (household expense)
Two parents, One child $598 (food), $4,688 (household expense)
Two parents, Two children $754 (food), $5,389 (household expense)
Two parents, Three children $921 (Food), $6,557 (household expense)
Although this is the fifth expensive expense on the list, a lot of people tend to waste too much money on it. In some cases, they spend more than what they should because they opt to eat out more than necessary.
If this is the type of lifestyle that you lead and you seriously want to encourage your family to save on food expenses, then the Food Stamp Challenge should be a great place to begin. The first thing that you need to do is to start cooking your food at home. Brown bag your lunch and avoid those take out lattes for now.
While that will help you cut down on food costs, it might not be enough to keep your expenses within the $4/person budget. That means you have to make wise decisions about the food that you will buy.
Here are some of our suggestions for cheap food that are still very nutritious.
Brown rice. This food intake takes long to digest so you can really get your fill despite a small consumption. That is because it is very rich in fiber. It is not as expensive as the other alternatives and it is rich in minerals, antioxidants and vitamins.
Beans. This is a great alternative to the brown rice. You can buy it in bulk and it will last a long time. Bulk buying saves you a lot of money so this is a great idea to stretch your money. When you cook it, 4 cups will expand to become 9 cups. You can flavor this with a lot of spices so it can be use in a lot of dishes. For the nutritional benefits, beans are rich in fiber, protein and it can provide the body with iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and copper. It is low in fat and also sodium. It is a great way to stay healthy and keep your costs down.
Green vegetables. Broccoli, kale and spinach – these are all rich in nutrients and will protect you and your family from a lot of diseases. Lettuce is also a great way to stuff you up and keep healthy without spending too much money.
Potatoes. This is one of the most versatile vegetables that you can cook in various ways. It is rich in Vitamin C, fiber and potassium. Potatoes are known to be fat free and is a great way for people to start losing weight in a healthy way. But if you fry them, they will become less healthy.
Frozen vegetables. This is a great way to buy in bulk and make it last. These are usually frozen when they are at their peak so they retain the flavor and nutritional value. They will not lose their ripeness while in transit like some fresh vegetables do.
Consider these food options when you go to the grocery next time. This will help you complete the Food Stamp Challenge and still keep healthy.
As you strive to save on food, to complete the challenge, you will slowly realize the many ways that you can be a smart spender. It should be a great feat to be able to shop and save at the same time. All it takes is some knowledge on how to do it, planning to guide you through it and discipline to help implement it. If you have these, then you should now have any problems to cut back on your expenses.
If you really want to be smart with your money, you have to do more than just save on food costs. To help you do that, you need to create and implement a budget plan. Here is a video from National Debt Relief to help you budget for your household.
Diana hates debt just as much as you do. She is a finance writer for National Debt Relief. She aims to provide the best information to win the battle against debt.