My brother called and said that his three-year-old daughter was very sick, with unusual symptoms, and that they would know more when the doctors finished testing her. She was moved to intensive care, we were not allowed to visit her, and finally, after five days, they concluded that she had type A diabetes, not the usual childhood diabetes.

My brother’s family life had to change. Before bringing her back home, they had to completely get rid of all the sweets in the house, and it would work better if everyone stayed away from anything with sugar in it, but they were willing to make that sacrifice for their little girl. My brother’s wife was away for half a year to help her daughter manage her diabetes.

Shortly after she returned home, my husband was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and his cousin’s baby was found to be allergic to all dairy, grains, and citrus fruits. They tried formulas until they found one that wouldn’t make the baby sick, one made from meat, at a cost of $6 a pint.

These are just a few cases where a family’s food budget is affected. In these days when the economic situation is on our minds, we not only have to deal with emergency situations, but we have to keep our regular budget under control. We have to be selective and we have to provide nutritious meals while watching carbs and fat and salt intake, so we want to get the best quality we can find for the dollars we spend.

There are so many variables that affect our food budget, such as the number of members in our family and their ages, their food preferences, special diets and nutritional needs, their daily schedules and where we live; some places have higher living expenses.

Besides these, we all have our own variables to consider, and these days advertisements can make restaurants and food tempting, prices can rise, and food production can change due to early frost, contamination, or other situation. . Fortunately, we have a wide variety of foods to choose from and a wealth of information about each to help us.

According to the 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditures report, the food budget of the average consumer, which would be a family or a single person, is approximately 10% of their income. In a 2011 report from a website called Out of Your Rut, we have several statistics on the consumer costs of eating out:

  • A fast food lunch 5 days a week for one person costs $25 a week, $1300 a year. That’s just 5 of the 21 meals that person eats in a week, and if you spent $5 for every meal you ate during the week, you’d be spending $105 a week, which is $5,460 a year.
  • If a couple dines out once a week at a mid-priced restaurant, the average cost is $40, and that’s about $2,080 a year, and they still have to pay for 1,040 more meals that year.
  • A family of four who goes to a fast food restaurant once a week averages $25, which is $1,300 a year, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the median annual consumer income before taxes is $62,481. . Ten percent of this amount is $6,248, so the family has $4,948 left to spend on 1,040 more meals during the year. This means that the money available for each meal is $4.75 per meal.

In each of these situations, the consumer needs to find ways to save money to keep the food budget in check, so here are some ideas:

  1. Control and moderate the amount of food you and your family eat. Many times we are eating more food than we need. According to the CBS News report from the Journal of American Medicine on January 12, 2010, 54% of people surveyed clean their plates at a meal, just like we’ve always been taught, right? (There’s nothing wrong with that because there’s less waste, and About.com tells us we waste 14% of the food we bring home from the store.) So how can we solve this problem and still justify cleaning our plates? We can use smaller plates and we can serve them previously. The Journal of American Medicine says in the same article that in a healthy plate, only half should be meat and/or potatoes, and the other half should be fruits and vegetables.
  2. Avoid prepackaged foods, especially prepackaged meals. We don’t know how much padding is in the package. A pasta mix contains much less pasta than we would get if we bought a package of pasta and added meat and soup to it. How much food value do we get in a TV dinner, a cake, or even a box of mac and cheese?
  3. Eat three meals a day, four to five hours apart. We must try to balance our carbohydrates so that we have the same amount at each meal. A diabetic menu is really a very good standard and helps us balance our intake.
  4. We should plan our menus and make a shopping list once a week so we don’t have to go to the store to find that extra ingredient we need. We can consult the substitutions of ingredients that we find in some cookbooks or on the internet.
  5. We can try some interesting recipes with those kitchen appliances that we have stored in our pantry, the ones that were lovingly given to us as a Christmas or birthday present. I currently have a popcorn maker, coffee grinder, mini chopper, blender and smoothie maker, convection oven, toaster oven, George Foreman grill, pizza oven, cookie pitcher, a bread maker. , and four slow cookers, and I wonder why I don’t have space in my cabinets! Next week I’ll pick one and use it with as many different types of recipes as I can, and the following week I’ll pick a different one. I’m excited to try this.
  6. We can cook from scratch. My family’s favorites are the ones that are cooked from scratch, like my eggless chocolate cake; you might remember the Crazy Cake recipe. My own version of corn gratin has to be a part of all our holiday meals. My version of Chicken Corn Chowder is also a favorite. I bet you can think of a lot of your family favorites and they are probably all made from scratch.
  7. We can buy in bulk, like large packages of meat, and we can cut them into packages that are enough for one meal. How much do we need? If we control what our family eats, we can do what Mama Dip says in her cookbook: Make your food like a skirt that fits. How much leftover do we actually use, or is it part of the 14% that goes to waste? We can also buy cheese in bulk. Do you want to borrow one of my cheese grinders?
  8. We can plant a garden and preserve food. One of our best investments of all time is our freezer. We can incorporate food from our freezer into our menus, because we don’t want to leave food in our freezer for years. Also, we might be surprised at how good frozen vegetables taste.
  9. We can save that glass of wine for a special occasion, since alcohol can really add to the food budget.
  10. Of course, we can take our lunch to work.

One more thought from the Journal of American Medicine: 65% of Americans are overweight, which leads to a host of diseases like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, and more. In fact, we can prevent cancer with the right foods, of which fruits and vegetables are a part, and we can have a lot of them. So we can do two things at the same time: use these ideas to balance our food budget while managing our weight. That’s what Food-Onomics 102 is all about!