Food anywhere can be an obstacle as a family, because guess what, when you are a single person or a couple, eating out won’t dent your pockets all that much. Add 4 or more people into that equation and it will always leave you questioning how you spent so much money that week. So how do we feed a family of 6 economically?
One of our goals is to keep a practical budget. Food in the States was always a major expense, especially when we tried to eat healthy. Buying a car full of veggies/fruits and various other items looks great when you unload them onto your counter, but then within a few days you have no idea how that major shopping trip left you with nothing in your cupboards. The thing about fresh food, you kind of need to consume it quickly. Also, the thing about fresh foods, they cost a lot more than you wish. One of the very nice things about living here, there are so many fresh fruits/veggies that are incredibly cheap in comparison. I still needed to learn how to utilize it all where is makes economical sense. I can buy $50 worth of fresh food in a week but if I don’t know how to use them, they all go bad and I just wasted my money and starved my family…and I’m dealt the many questions, “what is there to eat, I want real food…pizza please!”
(Warning! This paragraph is basically a recipe:) Potatoes are a big product here, and there are many varieties, some I’ve never had or even seen before. Fun fact: potatoes come from the Andes! So you have to ask yourself, (especially if you are trying to eat healthy) what are the different ways I can use this produce? Last night I made a potato soup as a side to our meal. Soups are big down here, so I drew inspiration from where I am living. I used stock from a chicken I had made 2 days earlier. I saved my broth, threw in some potatoes and boiled them down, then I threw in a different variety of potato, some carrots, charred onions, fresh garlic and a pinch of this and a dash of that until I liked what I was tasting. Then, true to the potato soups around here, we topped it with avocado and queso fresco (cheese). It was delicious, simple and economical. That wasn’t my whole meal but the point is, I need to utilize the foods in various ways to, 1st to keep it economical, and 2nd interesting.
We braise a lot of foods, make a lot of soups, eat lentils a lot, and repurpose foods constantly. I started really trying to be conscientious about utilizing all the foods I had when we lived in Florida. Grant used to work out in the country and his coworkers were avid hunters. Several times they had given us deer meat. It honestly made me more aware of where it came from, the process it took to get to us, and the fact that we were gifted it. I wanted to utilize every part of it.
It is easy to be disconnected from food when it doesn’t look like it does in its raw and whole form. I know that is a movement in the U.S. even now, but we are actually living in a country where it is just common place, farm–>table. That is a reinvented concept in the States, and what is cool is that it’s just life here. I know when I get back to the States that I will greatly miss the vast food opportunities that are so easily presented here. There are fruit/veggie marts on every block, and each block has at least 2 on them, not to mention the pop up stands of people selling from their cars every five feet.
Don’t get me wrong, there are supermarkets here, namely, the Supermaxi, which is comparable in costs to the U.S. I can go into the supermaxi and drop $150 easily, but if I shop on the streets that price is cut in half or more. I can get all of my grains, fruits, meats, veggies, etc etc locally. I only go to the grocery store for certain oils, vinegars etc., things I just can’t get anywhere else.
Eating healthy and economically takes some conscientious effort to be sure, but it is rewarding. We enjoy being able to find ways to live inexpensively but healthy, because they seemed mutually exclusive, but we are finding it is not. I think there are a lot of food principles that we will be able to take back and use while we are in the States or anywhere for that matter.
The reason I bring food up as a topic for a blog post is because food is a HUGE part of any culture. ….And everybody loves food. 🙂 Truthfully though, traveling as a family sounds expensive, but if you want to sustain yourselves, food is one of the major expenses. Honestly, it still is for us, but it doesn’t empty our wallets like it used to. Buying like the locals (big saver), repurposing foods, cooking from scratch (more time consuming but less money…tip: turn your children onto cooking, it saves you time and effort lol) Buying dry beans (pressure cookers are amazing and saves so much time and is great for producing delicious chicken broths in less than an hour). I could go on and on and probably went on too much already. Buen Provecho!