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Eating well on a shoe string budget

Published: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 11:10 a.m. CDT

A few people have asked me recently, what do you do for food on a budget?

I have a secret for you.

This is the one part of my budget where I fail, over and over and over again.

Granted, I don’t go over-budget. I know exactly how much I usually spend, so I plan for it. The problem is, I know that I could not only cut that number in half, but I could be eating healthier and be spending less time doing meal preparation while I’m at it.

My problem is, my schedule is unpredictable. I can think that I’ll be home  over the lunch hour or in time for dinner, but then something will come out of nowhere and I’ll be out and about, denied any option other than hunger cramps or fast food.

What I TRY to do, though, is plan my meals at the beginning of the week.

This leaves me two really good options, if I want to be time conservative: The slow-cooker and frozen meals.

Lately I’ve been trying to do more of the latter. I’ll sit down during a lunch hour one day and mass-produce whatever it is that I’m having to eat. Usually that means my freezer is soon full of frozen burritos, which at less than $1 apiece, is a great deal for fast, easy and healthy lunches.

What do these entail? A bag of frozen corn, dried pinto beans, brown rice, green and red bell peppers, onions, taco cheese and a healthy serving of hot sauce. What you end up with is a far better burrito than you can buy at the grocery store or at any fast-food joint. I might even argue that I give a few Mexican restaurants a run for their money.

If anyone is interested in a more specific recipe for these, contact me and I’d be happy to help you out.

Now, in one hour, you’ve made 24 burritos that you can use over the next several weeks for any meal of the day if you don’t have the time for something else.

This is exercising frugality of the wallet and of your schedule, enabling you to better plan for lunches on the go and other instances when you just don’t have time to cook.

As for the slow-cooker, I’m still working on getting into a routine with it, as well as learning some healthy and cheap recipes. If anyone has any they’d like to share, you should know my email, mnosco@jaspercountytribune.com.

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