Healthy Eating on a Budget (an interview with Steph Jenkins)

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We all know homeschool kids are basically hobbits. Homeschool families especially seem to experience a constant stream of feeding people at multiple meals and snack times a day! Can a homeschool family really enjoy healthy eating while staying in their budget? Steph Jenkins from CheapskateCook.com is here to chat all about meal planning, snack times, encouraging independence, and more. Plus, as a fellow 2nd-generation homeschooler, Steph brings a unique perspective to our conversations about homeschooling. You won’t want to miss this interview!

Be sure to check out all the other interviews in our Homeschool Conversations series!

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Steph Jenkins Cheapskate Cook interview healthy eating on a budget for homeschool families

Who is Steph Jenkins?

Empowering you to save money and eat healthy, Steph Jenkins writes at CheapskateCook.com, where she shares recipes, grocery hacks, tutorials, and daily motivation to guard your health and your budget. Follow her on Instagram for real-life silliness and practical inspiration, and go here to learn how you can feed a family of 4 real food for $60/week.

Steph Jenkins Cheapskate Cook interview healthy eating on a budget for homeschool families

Watch my interview with Steph Jenkins

Show Notes {with video time stamps}

2nd-Generation Homeschooling {0:50}

Steph was homeschooled herself from the beginning, as was her husband. “When it came to our own kids, it was a very natural decision,” she said.

I know that [homeschooling] works, and I’m not afraid of it,” she continued. It can feel scary to homeschool if this is all new to you, but Steph encouraged all of us that it can work, and work well! “I’m a very chill homeschooler,” she smiled.

If you’re new to homeschooling, remember that you don’t have to put a lot of unnecessary stress on yourself!

When the Jenkins kids were very young, Steph’s husband was in a horrible accident and she was his full-time care giver for several years. They continued to homeschool through that challenging time. “Because I had grown up with this mindset of ‘this is what is important in homeschooling, and you can let the rest go.’ We learned how to be very flexible with our expectations for ourselves, our kids, and their education. That’s the beauty of homeschooling. You can make it work for your family and whatever your family is going through in that season.

“You’re the boss. You get to make the rules and decide how it works,” Steph encouraged.

Healthy Eating on a Budget Homeschool interview Steph Jenkins

Homeschooling Hobbits, or How to Keep all the People Fed {6:00}

Snacks {7:06}

The Jenkins family established a snack rule a few years ago that made things much simpler: If you want a snack between meals, it has to be a fruit, vegetable, nut, or dried fruit.

It forces the kids to ask the question, “Am I really hungry?” (Because they’ll always be hungry for cookies!) “You’re giving them good food, and you’re also helping them listen to their body,” Steph said.

You can encourage independence in even very young children to get their own snacks.

Lunches {11:00}

“You have a plan and it works for a little while, and then something changes.” Steph reminded us that plans and routines often need to be tweaked and changed as family life seasons change. Listen to the full interview so you don’t miss her tips for different helpful options!

Dinner {14:16}

Dinner helpers: part of the goal charts for Steph’s kids includes taking a turn as dinner helper for the week. Whoever is helping Mom with dinner is chopping, washing, mixing, or providing whatever assistance is needed. (Life skills, hurray!) It also gives that one-on-one time with Mom that is so valuable.

Meal prepping and “Planned-Overs”: if you’re cooking chicken for one meal, they’ll go ahead and cook ALL the chicken for the whole week. A batch of chicken can last for a week or a week and a half!

“The most important thing is to find something that works for you. We tend to over-complicate menu planning…All you need to find is the little thing that works for you right now.”

Our family often goes to a simple grain + meat + vege combo for dinner. As long as I always have bags of frozen soup veges in the freezer, I can make something quick and easy at dinner time.

“The main thing is to not think about dinner at dinner time. Think about it in the morning,” Steph said. Dinner is coming every day, ready or not!

Steph Jenkins interview menu planning healthy eating on a budget

Is it really possible to feed a family on whole foods without breaking the bank? {21:00}

If you want to save money and eat healthy, Steph said there are 3 things you need to be willing to do:

  1. Be flexible and adjust expectations
  2. Learn to creatively use what you already have
  3. Be willing to try new things
Budget-Friendly Clean Eating Menu Plan Steph Jenkins interview
Budget-Friendly Clean Eating Menu Plan (Feed 4 people for $60 a week – without beans and rice!)

Steph shared something someone once said that challenged her: “If you are consistently throwing food away, your grocery budget is probably too big.”

This is more of a mindset shift than a quick and easy fix!

Budgeting Homeschool Family

Questions for each Homeschool Conversations Guest {26:20}

What are you reading lately?

What is one thing you would say to a new homeschool parent?

“The plan that you have right now is not going to work…You’ve done all the reading…played through all the scenarios, so you have this tentative idea. But you need to be willing to be flexible with it…This isn’t a set-in-stone kind of thing! It’s ok if you feel like you have to adjust things.”

Find Steph Jenkins Online

Check out all the other interviews in my Homeschool Conversations series!

Homeschool Conversations Video Interviews


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