The Secret of Eating Cheap & Thrifty — Yet Staying Happy About It

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

There’s always joy when you return home from the grocery store and your bill isn’t as high as expected, but what really makes a happy and economical kitchen is a change of mindset — not necessarily just shopping habits.

There seems to be this weird stigma with eating cheap or inexpensively, while still trying to eat as healthy or as vibrantly as the internet tells you that you should. There’s nothing wrong with eating a thrifty meal and enjoying it, but sometimes it feels as though you can be made to feel as though your missing out if you don’t go home with all the latest products, organic specialties and the makings for all the gourmet recipes you heard about online.

One mark of growing up and getting older seems to be that we can afford more luxurious things without worry and because of this, it seems like a badge of honor to say that you’re eating the latest and greatest and can support the local CSA produce farmer and the meat suppliers as well. That’s all well and good, but those who might be making ramen or a rice dish for the 100th time this winter need to know there is no shame in that either.

Even though most households budget for high-end meals or more expensive ingredients, one of the easiest ways you can embrace the meals that aren’t that is to stop thinking of them as such. Prepare inexpensive meals you love, not ones you cook because they’re inexpensive. Yes, blue box macaroni and cheese and hot dogs are thrifty (and possibly nostalgic to some), but handmade noodles and some fresh veggies can be just as satisfying and budget friendly without thinking about “eating cheap.”

It’s easy to fall into the mindset of eating budget food, but in reality, if you plan your meals around what you love, then budget won’t be the defining issue of your meal-planning. You’re not eating ramen because you have to, you’re eating ramen because that warm bowl of spicy broth and soft noodles and fresh vegetables is actually something you enjoy. It’s ok to have lobster taste and peanut butter sandwich taste too, just as long as you always enjoy what you’re eating!