Oh Canada. I love you. Having lived here for seven years, you never disappoint me. I’ve learned to love your culture, live music, great beer and wineries, but the single, solitary thing I love the most about Canada right now is my maternity leave. When I talk to my friends and family from Pennsylvania about this year away from work, their first question is, “What’s the catch?”
Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade anything in the world in place of spending all day with my son, but when my income was cut in half, it left my husband and I planning out how we were going to continue eating healthy and living on a “baby budget.”
Shocked. Eye-opening. WOW. Those are the words that come to mind in the past four months when I realized just how much money I was spending and just how much money we ACTUALLY NEED to survive. We hear the term “first world problems” thrown around a lot. We often say the words, “I’m STARVING” too, but the truth of the matter is, that we have an abundance of food right at our fingertips in North America. The reality is that healthy food does come with a cost, but it doesn’t mean your wallet has to take a huge hit.
Shocked. Eye-opening. WOW. Those are the words that come to mind in the past four months when I realized just how much money I was spending and just how much money we ACTUALLY NEED to survive.
Below are my fast four tips on how to make it work with a baby budget, student budget, single income budget, or simply let’s save some money to be able to go on vacation while eating healthy budget!
In North America, our portion sizes have more than quadrupled in the past twenty years. I like to think of the 3:2:1 rule when it comes to my dinner plate. Take three bites of fruit or vegetables, two bites of protein, and one bite of starch. What should your plate look like? Aim for a ½ fruit and veggies, ¼ protein, and ¼ starch accompanied by a small portion of dairy. I personally like to drink a 4-6 oz. glass of milk. If all else fails, grab a smaller plate and take your time as you eat. If we can get our son down for a nap, we take our time and savor ever last bite of our dinner!
I like to think of the 3:2:1 rule when it comes to my dinner plate. Take three bites of fruit or vegetables, two bites of protein, and one bite of starch.
Now that we are consuming proper portion sizes, what do we do with the left -overs? The perfect solution is lunch the next day! Don’t feel like eating the same meal again? You can get pretty creative with your protein. Take baked chicken for example. It can be thrown on top of a salad, made into a chicken salad, place in a pita or wrap, accompanied by a vegetable, thrown into a simple pasta, or placed into an omelet. I used to buy groceries based on specific recipes. Now I buy fresh fruit, vegetables, lean protein and whole-wheat starches, and create my own recipes with what I have in my fridge or countertop. I was shocked at how little food we actually had to place in the recycle bin on garbage day.
Meatless meals have also become my best friend. Tofu is an excellent source of protein and I have learned how to make a wicked stir-fry with whatever vegetables are left in our fridge. Some days my stir-fry has peppers, beans, and broccoli. Other days are kale, mushrooms, and onions. A simple stir-fry is truly quick and easy.
I was shocked at how little food we actually had to place in the recycle bin on garbage day.
Lastly, buy in bulk. Costco has become a regular bi-weekly destination, but many grocery stores have weekly sales on meats, fruits, and vegetables. Even a bag of mixed frozen vegetables can go a long way at a low cost. Grocery stores like Wal-Mart will price match competitors; however, I always hate being “that girl holding up the line” therefore, I stay on the perimeter of the grocery store and look to see what is on sale. The website All Recipes has a wonderful option to place ingredients into a list and it generates recipes from whatever you have on hand.
I hate being wasteful, but buying in bulk, creatively using protein, whipping up a simple stir fry, eating left -overs for lunch, and watching portion sizes, my family and I have continued to eat healthy and save money each month. Perhaps that Disney vacation isn’t as far off as we planned!