Over the past three months I’ve been doing some experimentation with our way of managing the household, meals and finances – with great success. We are now able to eat well and green while reducing cost and food waste and housework!
I examined our situation and came up with a list of changes that could be made.
Both Mark and I are realizing that we are rapidly approaching retirement when our income will be reduced considerably. Now that our kids are both out of the house, I have less mouths to feed and the resulting workload is reduced.
Surely there were ways to expand on this even further? I decided to take a closer look.
First, what could we do to further reduce our workload?
With this in mind, I tried to think of ways to free us from (or at least reduce) cooking, kitchen cleanup and dishes. All of these would definitely make me a much happier camper as I dislike all of them.
The first thing I thought of was to hire a maid service, but this was definitely not the solution as the more time we needed the maid, the more it would cost us. This labor cost would also be over and above our current range of expenses for food, supplies, etc. Rather than reducing, we would be effectively causing our expenses to skyrocket!
Was there an affordable way to order in prepared meals? This seemed like a better idea to me as it would free me from cooking, kitchen cleaning and dishwashing. It would also free Mark from shopping as often and for as much.
Second, was it possible to spend less and still eat well?
I realized that even though we thought our expenses were reasonable as a result of buying in bulk from Costco, our actual total grocery spending per month was way too high. I estimated that reducing waste alone would save approximately $50 per month. Mind you, these grocery bills included personal items, toiletries and incidentals.
Then I estimated we could reduce $160 per month if we could avoid ordering in meals (i.e. pizza, Chinese, etc.) on those days when I was not doing as well and didn’t feel like cooking. This averaged about once per week.
Third, could we reduce food waste and recycle more?
Reducing waste also has an effect here as it falls within the definition of a green lifestyle. Perhaps we could also find ways to incorporate the use of recyclable materials in as many aspects of our routine as possible.
Previously I wrote an article about my discovery of the veggie and dip trays at Costco and how two of these would last the week for lunches as well as sides for dinners. An extra benefit of this has been that we are eating in a much more healthy way, tending to snack on fresh veggies simply because they are so handy.
I also wrote about our buying roast chickens and making broths and soups from the carcasses to put in the freezer. I still do this as it reduces cost and waste even more.
About two years ago, I had announced that I lost 50 pounds. Unfortunately, over some time after that, I gained 35 of those pounds back. I was frustrated with the fact that although I was not hungry a lot, I craved carbs and sweets when I was.
As I knew these were the main culprits causing me to gain weight, I started shopping for low carb products from Low Carb Grocery, including bread, bagels, bars, and dressings. Mark and I found we both loved several of the products we tried and they are now part of our daily menu.
Originally, for our main dinners, we tried a prepared meal company in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Some of the meals we liked and some we didn’t. However, the one thing we didn’t like was that although the portions were quite large, they were not separated in the packaging, rather crammed together and were somewhat unappetizing to look at when dished out.
We decided after this first order to try another company.
I researched more companies and of these, really liked the look of the meals and options available at Casalinga Foods.
Although their prices were a bit higher, the food turned out to be much tastier, the portions were the perfect size for someone trying to lose weight, and the lack of meal prep resulted in very few dishes, pots and pans to wash and much less mess in the kitchen.
With the option of individual and family size meals, we still always have something in the freezer that offers enough for us all if the kids visit.
I did a comparison of the costs before and after, switching to Casalinga’s prepared meals as follows:
Total costs including groceries, incidentals, etc. as described above (were come to by adding up all purchases from Costco, other grocery stores, convenience stores and restaurants) for the month of February were $1,070.
Total costs including groceries, incidentals, etc. as described above (were come to by adding up all purchases from Costco, grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants, Casalinga and Low Carb Grocery) for the month of July were $790.
The net savings with our new methods for purchase and preparation of meals included were $280 per month, as well as numerous hours of shopping, food prep, cooking, kitchen cleaning and dishwashing. The majority of the packaging was fully recyclable.
I would highly recommend this to any busy, stressed Mom, Dad, or couple trying to make ends meet and reduce their workload and stresses. Both Casalinga and Low Carb Grocery are extremely quick and efficient, taking all precautions to make sure the items we order arrive as they should – still fresh and/or frozen, and not damaged or melted at all.
An added bonus of this new lifestyle is that I have lost 25 of those pounds again. Although I’m losing it much more slowly, I feel healthier and I’m confident I can stick to this and continue to lose the many pounds I still need to lose.
Now, we don’t order takeout or delivery very often, and therefore it is a true treat when we do, not just because I’m having a bad day and I’m unable to prepare our meal.
While we rarely have any carbs in our cupboards at all anymore, with the bread from Low Carb Grocery, Mark and I truly enjoy peanut butter toast or grilled cheese once in a while with no guilt.
IMPORTANT NOTE: While we like and enjoy the majority of the products we’ve tried from both companies, there are a couple that we would not recommend.
From Low Carb Grocery, we absolutely hated the Shirataki noodles. They had a slimy texture that we found unpalatable. The Carba-Nada fettucine noodles, however, are amazing and we use them in place of pasta. We did not like some of the creamier dressings and dips. The ones we buy are the vinaigrette style such as the Sesame Ginger and Sun Dried Tomato.
There are a couple of meals we tried from Casalinga that we were not keen on. They are the Bangers and Mash, which we found rather greasy and tasteless; and the Veal Cutlet, which we found somewhat tough and processed tasting. The other meals we’ve tried are delicious.