As many of you know, we try to eat natural and/or organic foods as much as we can within our budget. No, our diet isn’t completely organic, but I try to heavily limit my family’s intake of garbage (i.e. non-food items like hydrogenated oils) as much as possible.
I receive many questions on eating healthy on a budget, so I wanted to write a post with some of the things I do to feed my family things that are good for us, yet stay within our budget.
1) Prioritize. We have a list of the products that are most important for us to buy organic. Our list includes coffee, apples, milk, & lettuce as our top priorities. And as we can, we add other items to that list. The next step in our plan is to add organic beef and poultry to our diet by going in with a few other families to buy in bulk. I would recommend taking a look at this list HERE and making your own list for your family from there.
2) Make it from scratch. Did you know that everything you buy in the supermarket you can MAKE yourself? Sure, it takes more time (that’s why the pre-packaged foods are called “convenience foods”), but it’s the best way to eat healthy for less. You don’t have to buy all of the pre-packed organic foods to eat organic. There are recipes all over the internet for ANYTHING you could ever want to eat. The easiest thing for me is to make several things at a time on periodic “baking days” and freeze them.
3) Use your overage. Yes, many times I come home from the store with over-processed junk. Why? Because I get OVERAGE on it. For example, last week Kroger had their mega event. For each bag of Betty Crocker “mashed potatoes” that I bought I MADE around 30¢. We will not eat these, but by buying 6 bags I was able to put $1.80 towards items that we will eat.
4) Cut back in other areas. You know, areas like toiletries? If you haven’t already, learn how to get all of your toiletry items for FREE by shopping at CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid. Then you can use some of the money that you save by not spending money on toiletry items on the food that you want to get.
5) Email your favorite companies. If there are products that you just LOVE, then email those companies. Let them know how much you enjoy their products, and ask if they have any coupons available. Then, watch your mailbox.
6) Grow your own. I am still very much a novice here, but if you want to learn how to grow a lot in a small space then I highly recommend Mel Bartholemew’s book Square Foot Gardening. Growing your own organic food, and then canning, freezing, or dehydrating it, can save you tons of money on fruits and veggies all year round!
7) Find a local organic farmer/co-op. There’s a farm relatively close us that we go to throughout the year to pick organic fruits and veggies at a fraction of the cost of places like Whole Foods or Central Market. Check out LocalHarvest’s website HERE to see if there is a similar farm near you. NOTE: Most of these places will not be “certified organic” because it costs an arm and a leg to get that status.
Remember, everyone has different ideas about what eating healthy means for their family. There are people out there that will think that I’m not feeding my family enough organic foods, and then there are others who will think that I go way overboard.
Talk with your spouse (if applicable) and come up with a plan that you feel comfortable with for your family.