10 more tips for keeping your grocery budget under control

It’s been a while since I’ve done a budget-saving post, and my last one — “Tips for Keeping Your Grocery Bill Under Control” — got such a great response that I decided it was time to do a follow-up. If you haven’t already seen my “One Week of Eating the Healthy Little Changes Way” post, where I walk you through my process from meal planning to shopping to cooking to help you see my methods in action, check it out first. (And while we’re on the subject, if you have any other questions about my process, please let me know in the comments — and don’t forget to share any genius tips of your own!)

Now, I’m following up with 10 tips for keeping your grocery budget under control — all methods I use and swear by.

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25 ways to make cooking a whole lot easier

There’s no getting around it: If you want to eat healthier, you’re going to have to cook. At least a little. And, yes, often.

When people ask me about the way I eat or how I feed my family I continually hear people say, “Well, I’d like to eat healthier, but I can’t cook.” Or even worse, “I don’t cook.” As though this is an insurmountable obstacle, like, “Well, I’d like to be able to draw with my right hand, but I’m left-handed.” And even then, if you were determined enough to draw with your right hand, I’m sure you would find a way.

Let’s be honest here: Saying that you can’t heat healthy because you can’t cook is an excuse. A cop-out. It’s a barricade you put there yourself. Whenever I hear someone tell me that they can’t cook it’s all I can do to keep myself from saying something quippy, like, “Yes, well, Bobby Flay/Paula Deen/The Pioneer Woman/Emeril Lagasse/your-favorite-chef-here wasn’t born with a spatula in his/her hand. At some point they had to learn, too. If you can’t cook it’s only because you haven’t taken the time to learn.”

OK, enough with the snark. I get that cooking can be tricky and time-consuming and seem totally overwhelming if you’ve never cooked a dish in your life. I’m not saying it’s the easiest thing in the world; what I am saying is that if this is your excuse for not eating better, it’s not a very good one — because anyone can learn how to cook. You may not be the next Giada de Laurentis, but if you get in the kitchen and give yourself a chance, you can figure this out. Yes, even those of you who feel so helpless in the kitchen you can’t even crack an egg. You got this. I promise.

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The urge to purge … your home, that is

I just got back from an 8-day family vacation to California. As with any trip with small children, it had its less-than-ideal moments (like when my poor baby girl threw up all over herself — and my husband, and the restaurant — after dinner on our last day at Disneyland). But overall, it was a wonderful trip and I loved getting away with my family.

The thing about vacations is, it takes a LOT of work to prepare for them, plus a lot of work getting life back in order again once you get home. This is especially true if you have little ones; it seems like you have to pack everything but the kitchen sink — and it sure felt that way beforehand, as I ran errand after errand making sure we had everything we needed before we took off.

My work paid off and nothing was forgotten. In fact, we not only had everything we needed, we had ONLY the things we needed. No extras taking up space; just the basics that took care of all our needs. And you know, it was really nice. For once I didn’t have to sift through an overflowing closet and wrack my brain trying to figure out what to wear each morning, and I didn’t have to clean up piles and piles of toys that the kids had gotten out during the day or dig through drawers of makeup trying to find the perfect shade of eyeshadow. I had exactly what I needed — no more, no less.

And then we came home to a house that’s overflowing with stuff.

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