How do you eat organically on a budget? This is one of the top five questions we are asked on the practical side of living a healthy life. There are many ways to pull it off. Here are a few that we have adopted at this time.
First, we have a hierarchy of poisons that we avoid. The most important toxin for us to avoid is hormones, next antibiotics, after that inorganic fruits and vegetables. Most of the produce we buy is organic. We do our best not to buy anything boxed. But, if the reality of a family is that they will eat something from a box for whatever reason, be wise and buy the item with the least amount of offensive ingredients. The top of the list to avoid in prepared foods is usually partially hydrogenated fats. We also avoid soy which is in many ‘healthy’ foods. So if you really love granola make your own and use coconut oil and butter. For families with multiple sensitivities I know this is challenging. Our family functions no differently in this than many others. We just know exactly what all of ours are, which is a double edged sword.
Another way to save money is to have planned meals for the week. We do this and know of some families that just keep each week’s menu for a couple of months while rotating them around every 4 weeks. This saves time and money. We do like a little more spontaneity with our meals on occasion. We have just recently started buying in bulk, and only meats. I would imagine that some of that decision depends on the size of your family. Produce can spoil before you are able to eat it. If you have a garden and are able to can your foods, this would of course be another way to save money.
You may not always be able to eat organically. The fruits/vegetables with thick or easily removable skins can be purchased inorganically and then the peel can be removed before you eat them. I don’t find that fresh organic produce is really that much more expensive than conventional, but maybe that is just where we live. For protein I would consider some less expensive cuts of meat that can be stewed to tenderness. We often use a crock-pot and this helps. We do order chicken, turkey, ham hock, whole chickens and salmon through a local co-op. I try to make my bread, but sometimes buy it. We get eggs from a local farm for $2.75 a dozen and they are only a day old. They are not organic, but are free roaming, and have a good diet. I have been to their farm so I know how they live. I do pay a high price for good dairy. I pay $7.25 a gallon each week for raw milk. It is delivered to our area and because of its overall benefits, the price is worth it to us. Their cattle are only fed grass year round, no antibiotics or hormones and their milk has a wonderful fat profile because they are never fed grains – this is critical (for more information see: www.westonaprice.org). I am able to buy natural boneless, skinless chicken breast for $3/pound!! It is not organic, but basically just the feed isn’t organic. They are not given any hormones or antibiotics.
Here is what I am feeding my family this week. I bought a 5lb organic bone in turkey breast through our co-op and baked it in the oven. I put the remainder of turkey with the bone in the crock-pot for 10 hours and made stock and I have used that to make a large pot of turkey soup that the girls and I will eat everyday for lunch this week. I just change around from crackers to breads with it and vary the fruits. I know, it is summer, how can you eat soup? But really, aren’t most of our meals warm? Next week the girls and I will eat variations of a bean burrito – easy, fast and cheap. Then, I often vary PB and honey or jelly because the kids love it. The girls may prefer more variation, but I figure it helps teach thankfulness. It could be a lot worse.
Monday – eggs/toast/raw milk Tuesday – banana blender batter muffins, fruit w/walnuts, milk Wednesday – more of Tuesday Thursday –Oatmeal soaked overnight in fermented dairy (kefir, yogurt, buttermilk) Friday – Cream of Buckwheat w/ butter, maple syrup Saturday – Soaked Kamut flour pancakes/eggs/juice Sunday – Quiche/fruit/green tea and/or green juice
Now that we have access to sweet tasting raw milk I use that for the children to give added protein to any meal that may be missing that component, but I don’t give it every day. One gallon will last us a week and sometimes I have leftover. If I couldn’t get raw milk I would not give them milk. They would get kefir or yogurt. I have some kefir grains which you can purchase at various places and reuse the same ones every day. If it gets to strong tasting I just give it to the dog, she can use the probiotics too. I buy produce fruit weekly, have the grain stored to grind when needed and store the oatmeal. Yes, the organic pure maple syrup is pricey but I buy it at Costco, they now carry a few organic items. I also buy organic butter, spring mix (enough to feed us with salad 5 nights a week) for $4, a 6 lb bag of frozen organic fruit for $10, crackers and applesauce.
For dinner I may spend a little more money per person because Scott is home and he doesn’t like beans, so I try not to give those to him too often. I do buy ham hocks, put them in the crock-pot with Navy beans and some bacon drippings from natural bacon. I know, can you believe that, but, I would rather use lard and use a small amount than to have no one like what they are eating (including the cook). I also make home made cornbread with that meal and sometimes add spinach to the soup.
DINNER Sunday: Roasted Turkey breast w/homemade gravy, mixed green salad, rolls, homemade spearmint tea with honey
Tuesday: Chicken breast cooked in cast iron skillet in red palm oil, herb mix salad with rolls
Wednesday: Turkey sandwiches w/ pickles and fruit
Friday: PIZZA and homemade salad.
Saturday: Egg salad, green salad and a cookie with spearmint tea.
All my salads are made with home made salad dressings, well, except mayo, I like Hellmans.
We are not a big snack family. I give the girls fruit, sometimes cheese with fruit and crackers if these foods are digesting well with everyone. I often make smoothies with coconut milk and frozen fruit. Sometimes I make popcorn, but too much of that is hard on our tummies. If I had a teenage boy, maybe I would make hardboiled eggs for snack, some granola and there is always the good old veggie tray that you could make once a week and serve with sour cream and some seasonings. I know, this may be a lot of food preparation, maybe some of the food prep could be delegated each week to family members at home. I might even consider stew in the crockpot for the boys. It would help fill them up.
All this said, I do remove and change our diet as our bodies change. There have been times when some haven’t done well with dairy, or chicken, or fats, or, you name it. Each body is unique and even within families there are different needs. Hope this helps to encourage you to feeding your family as best you can.
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