Eating Only Homemade Food for 10 Months and Counting...

Homemade Croissants

Our last trip to a restaurant was back in February. That was also the last time I ordered a coffee from a cafe like Starbucks. Since then, we have not ordered any takeout from a restaurant, not even pizza. I almost ordered pizza one time for Halloween when I had a 40% online coupon but decided it was still much cheaper to cook a homemade meal. It's been one of those sacrifices we've had to make during the pandemic. For health safety reasons as well as for budgeting. We are still in conservation and rationing mode right now.

I'm used to living frugally since I was brought up that way. When times get hard and we need to cut back, I just do it. We don't feel deprived because I can cook and bake us special things. If you follow my blog, I have been making a lot of macarons during the pandemic. Lately, I have been making croissants. These are the sort of pastries and desserts we used to treat ourselves to at our fancy neighborhood bakeries. One of our favorite bubble tea places closed down but I can make us bubble tea from home. I do proper meals too, not just desserts. Lol. It's more work for me but we can still enjoy most of what we used to eat. The only thing I miss is maybe fish. It's something we had to cut down on because it's so expensive.

We do have kids and so variation in meals is definitely important. When I know that a meal will last longer than three days, I freeze part of it. That frozen bit becomes the kid's lunch a few weeks later. We don't eat leftovers for more than three days. Often the food only lasts us two days. Sometimes, I make new food out of old food so the kids are more interested. Our kids were raised to eat everything or at least try everything so that definitely makes my life easier. My husband is flexi-vegan and my daughter does not eat mammals so I do have to work around their dietary needs. But that also forces us to eat more vegetables, which is good for all of us and the planet. The kids are growing fast and eating more and more. It's amazing how much more I have to cook these days. I generally love cooking but during the pandemic I even found myself sick of having to come up with meals every single day. On top of attending Kindergarten and other stuff I have to do every day.

Here are some of the items we buy in bulk (mainly from Costco) to save on food costs:

  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Pasta (only if it's on sale)
  • "00" flour (to make my own fresh pasta)
  • Potatoes
  • Dried chickpeas
  • Dried kidney beans
  • Can corn
  • Can black beans
  • Can diced tomato, can tomato paste
  • Flour, sugar, nuts
  • Carrots
  • Onions
Since we have to stay home a lot, I try to make more things from scratch. I have already been doing a lot of this before but I'm doing even more now. I make my own kimchee, sauerkraut, pasta, sauces, and meatless meat etc. But when things we like to eat go on special, I stock up. I base my meal planning around what is on sale that week at the grocery stores and I love using cut out and digital coupons. I admit it's a lot to keep track of but I do this all the time. It's second nature for me. I have a working memory of what we have at home in our pantry and fridge. I know most of my recipes by heart so meal planning and cooking is fast. I also rotate our inventory and check periodically to make sure we are using or eating everything before it is wasted. My goal is not to waste any food. In reality, I probably waste 2-5% of our food. Being a stay at home mom has its advantages and if I worked more, I would probably let a few things slide and we wouldn't be able to save as much on food. Which would be fine since we would be making more money as a family.

Homemade Siu Mai

To be fair, we have purchased a few items of processed foods from the grocery store like frozen pasta meals, frozen meatballs and dry instant noodles. Our meals are probably 90% homemade and most of the time from scratch. Are you curious how much we spend on food every month? It varies but we average around $600 every month. We're a family of four and our kids are 12 and 5. We mainly shop from Costco, Trader Joe's, QFC and sometimes the Asian Food store, since it's further away. Back when we lived in Canada and it was just the three of us, we used to spend around $250 every month on food. We were able to take advantage of more Asian stores and Superstore and that saved us a lot of money. That was also 7 1/2 years ago. For the type of things we eat, food just costs more in the USA.


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