I have 3 young sons. They can eat. Just as the dishes are washed and you lay down the dishcloth, it’s not uncommon to hear a little voice say “Mom, I’m hungry”. Working in the bankruptcy, I know all to well that an unexpected event can have devastating financial consequences on a family. A diagnosis, job loss, divorce – I have watched the unexpected result in financial catastrophe. What, I didn’t see coming (or all of the Mom’s in America, for that matter) was COVID-19. Overnight, I became a full-time remote employee of Foster Law Offices who also had to teach her children at home, while keeping them fed AND inside. Let me tell you, little kids eat 3x as much when they aren’t allowed to go outside and play with their friends. After shedding some tears, I got to work on a new budget and a plan. 3 weeks into this shut-down I have learned, you can actually eat BETTER and ON A BUDGET.
PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!
Whether you are shopping in-person or online, you must have a plan. Plan your meals for the week ahead of time. Make sure to include meals which “stretch” into greater portions. In example, my Easter ham became Ham Manicotti, Ham & Cheese Sliders and Homemade Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese (you guess it – with Ham). At 99 cents a pound, my $15.00 ham was the staple for 5 meals. The fifth meal, in case you were wondering, was mini omelettes with ham (mix up those babies in a muffin tin, cook and freeze). Go through your pantry, your fridge and your lazy susan before you head to shop online or to the store. Every penny counts!
COMPARE & CONTRAST
If you are shopping in store – stick to your list. Directly below the price of the product, there is a “unit price”. Compare the unit cost of different brands & sizes to determine which is the best buy. Packaging can be deceiving, but those numbers don’t lie.If you are shopping online, open a second browser so you can compare and contrast before putting items in your cart.
BUY IN SEASON
Ham & chicken are relatively inexpensive right now. So, now is good time to stock up on these staples and to prepare and freeze for future meals. Purchasing fruits and vegetables in season can also lower your grocery bill. In coming weeks, berries will be in season and extras can be used to prepare jams, muffins and pancakes which can easily be frozen. Preparation is the key to continued savings.
BACK TO THE BASICS
Convenience foods are often more expensive than purchasing the basics and more often, they are loaded with sodium! Take this time to harness your inner Betty Crocker and try to prepare meals on your own. Cut your vegetables, shred your own cheese (you will save at least $1.00 per lb!), prepare and freeze foods ahead of time for the days you don’t feel like cooking from scratch, and keep your fridge/cupboards clean. I, personally, do not have time to prepare meals during the day since I am working – so I do my meal preparation on the weekends or in the evening. I keep a list of meals already prepared and a list of meals I can prepare (I have the items, but the meal hasn’t been made yet) – depending on the day, I pick a meal from the list and that is dinner. The planning eliminates waste, saves time, and guarantees I am able to stick to my budget.
There are lots of community resources out there right now. If you are unable to make ends meet, take a deep breath and know that it is OK. We are all in this together. Many of the local schools are distributing lunches and there is NO restrictions. It doesn’t matter if children were free lunch, paid lunch, or packed a lunch — prior to COVID-19. These meals are available to ALL children 1-18 years of age. Contact your local school district and utilize these resources to ensure your children are getting a healthy lunch. This will take some stress off your plate and allow you to focus on dinner.
Crawford County Lunch Distribution Information: http://www.craw.org/FoodService.aspx
If you are struggling with debt, fighting with past due medical bills and credit card bills or facing a sheriff sale, we can help. Pick up the phone or use our contact form and schedule your FREE CONSULTATION today. Foster Law Offices, LLC is a bankruptcy law firm. We offer bankruptcy and debt relief legal services to greater Erie and Pittsburgh PA.