Nutritional Eating on a Budget

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Why do we think it is impossible to live nutritiously and organically on a budget? It is because we are buying everything in a box or can! These pre-made packages of so called “organic” goodness are not as healthy as I originally thought and they jack up the food budget. The simple solution: make them yourself! It really is not as hard as you think.

My Organic Journey

When I was young my mom was quite a healthy and budget minded cook. We had all varieties of healthy hot cereals for breakfast, bought grains and legumes in bulk and made our own bread. Over time as my dad became more established financially and more children were added we became more relaxed as to our eating habits. Top-a-ramon, and boxed macaroni and cheese here we come! It wasn’t until my younger brother was diagnosed with diabetes at age nine that our eating habits took a turn for the better.

We began to study and become informed on the glycemic index, low carbohydrates, etc. My mom, sisters and I took a course together from Sue Gregg on the value of cooking with Whole Grains. It was both eye-opening and very informative. As I began to prepare to get married, I began to make steps towards increasing my knowledge. Here are the steps I took after getting married. I didn’t do all this at once, otherwise I would have been thoroughly overwhelmed. I took small steps but beneficial ones. Each step took anywhere from a few weeks to a couple months before I began incorporating another step. I waited till I was comfortable and it was incorporated well into our lifestyle and schedule:

1. Eliminate white flour and white sugar – replaced with whole grains, grain mill, rapadura, maple syrup and honey

2. Make my own bread

3. Bought raw milk and farm fresh eggs from local farmer

4. Started making kefir, and incorporating it in nutritious smoothies

5. Began soaking my grains

6. Started buying in bulk – grains and legumes – using the wonderful resource of Azure Standard for these purchases. You can use this resource wherever you live because they ship as well!

7. Buy locally grown produce – starting to use a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) this year! The one I found actually delivers the produce to my door and costs only $11-12 a week for produce. You get your produce the freshest possible going this route and you are supporting the local economy!

8. Buying chickens from local farmer, making my own stock

9. Making more of my own dairy products: butter, creme frache (European sour cream)

10. Making more of my own condiments: mayonnaise, dressings

In the future I may start making more of my own condiments, so as to eliminate things in a can or container…processed foods. I have come to realize the more you incorporate grains into your eating, the more satisfied you will be without have to eat a lot meat…stretching it further! This is especially true if your incorporate the benefits of soaking your grains. (More to come on this next week!) I have been able to limit my grocery stores trips from twice a month to once a month for the first time with the working out of a monthly menu plan! Little steps are helping me lower my higher food budget of $400 a month (with buying all organic) to just around $300 and going down..and we are eating a lot of fresher food and more nutritiously as well! My goal is $250-$275 a month on food…I’ll keep you informed on my progress!

Know What You Eat

The important thing is to be informed! Don’t just eat whatever. We are responsible for the health and well-being of our households. The Proverbs 31 woman brought her food from afar. She was seeking to provide the most healthy and nutritious food she could for her family. We must take thought to what we are supplying our bodies with. We are to glorify God in what we eat and drink but we are to also take thought as to how this food might better equip us for the service of God and the well-being of our bodies to complete that task.

Helpful Links

Dirty Dozen – Stephanie talks about how to pick the best fruit without the pesticides on a budget!
14 Tips for Eating Healthier on A Budget – another great post by Steph!

Deeper Shade of Green – Amy (Clothesline Alley) has a helpful post on living more green and nutritiously. Lots of great links and info!

Check out my Natural Living Resources links to all sorts of coupons and resources on organic living!

To be continued…how to’s on making it yourself & how to make a monthly menu plan!

More ideas on Frugal Fridays!

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

34 Responses to Nutritional Eating on a Budget

  1. Amy June 15, 2010 at 6:27 am #

    Hi there…My husband and I just recently tried the RAW milk thing. Since I grew up in the country, I have had it before, and knew as a kid that I didn’t care for it much, but thought we could try it anyway and I could “learn” to like it. But much to my disappointment, it made me want to vomit! :( It was just so grassy and dirty tasting, and the aftertaste was killer :( Do you have any suggestions as to a way that I could become accustomed to it?

    Thanks so much

    • Lindsay June 15, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

      Sounds like you have a bad source. Raw milk tastes amazingly creamy and delicious…no dirtiness or grassiness. I would find another source.

      • Amy June 29, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

        unfortunately that is the only source that is close enough for my husband to pick it up from after work. we only have one car and I have spent the last year in the hospital, so traveling or doing a coop with a bunch of people where we have to go pick stuff up just doesn’t work :( Guess we will just stick with the amish milk we found at whole foods. it is vat pasteurized but not homogenized, and i love the flavor of it! Thanks for the response :)

    • Carrie June 19, 2010 at 1:57 am #

      We buy raw goat’s milk from a local farm that is a very clean and all around quality dairy goat farm, and I too have not liked the taste of the milk. The grassy aftertaste is what I notice, but what’s interesting is that my husband doesn’t notice it at all. My mother in law says that at least for goat’s milk (maybe for cow’s too?), certain people are able to detect that taste (some sort of enzyme or protein or something in it) and others simply don’t at all. Something to consider? I have found that making our goat’s milk into kefir diminishes that taste greatly and if used in smoothies I can’t notice it at all. :) Hope that helps!

      • Amy June 29, 2010 at 1:36 pm #

        thanks so much for the thoughts :) my husbands mother is supposed to be bringing up some raw goats milk for us to try when she comes for the 4th. :) maybe I will like it! :D

  2. Lori Anderson March 22, 2010 at 8:02 pm #

    I’m a member of Frugal Living NW BlogFrog community and found your wonderful blog through their link. A great article and wonderful tips. Keep up the great work!

  3. Diana Tyree February 25, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

    I don’t know where all of you live but somethingbetternaturalfoods.com and clnf.org are two coops that are in michigan but deliver to alot of states. I have ordered for years with some friends and meet the truck to pick up my delivery. If anyone would like more info let me know they have really good prices and products. Diana

  4. Renae July 3, 2009 at 9:26 pm #

    Lindsay – you amaze me constantly! :D I’m so glad I’m catching up on all these archived blogs. I’m very naive in this whole area and you are teaching me so much! I’d never even heard of CSA, so I clicked the link and there actually is one in our (remote) area! I’ve emailed them and I’m excited about the possibility of buying fresh home-grown produce and eggs from them! Yay!!! Thanks again (and again and again…)!

  5. Jennifer Barker March 14, 2009 at 3:40 pm #

    I love, LOVE you blog! I have been praying for the Lord to show me how we can eat healthier and not break the bank. I look forward to reading more.

    If you would, please pray that we will be able to purchase raw milk in North Carolina. It’s against the law for human consumption.

    God bless you.

  6. Sherri Lackey February 16, 2008 at 12:48 pm #

    This is good advice and I do thank you for your post. I’m struggling to feed my family healthier food. I say ‘struggling’ because I live in a state that does not have a large population. At times I think I have a lot in common with pioneer women at the dawn of our nation. There is no organic section in my local supermarket. By the time any fresh produce reaches our stores most of it is pretty sad looking. As for local grown produce, the bulk of it comes from Hutterite colonies which produce food much like any other commercial food grower. Once a month we drive 90 miles to shop at Wal Mart which has a limited organic section and the only health food grocer in that town has enormous prices on their items. Thankfully Azure Standard, which you mentioned, does stop by our little town every other month.

    I am learning to organize my time in the kitchen a little better. I have to plan ahead since Azure Standard only delivers every other month and I shop 90 miles away at the beginning of the month. Since fresh produce only lasts for a short while, I have to plan menus with fresh produce at the beginning of the month and serve frozen produce the latter half.

  7. Emily C January 28, 2008 at 9:18 am #

    Tell me how you make crème fraîche!!! I must know!

    • Lindsay January 28, 2008 at 9:46 am #

      Emily, I am planning on posting about this in the near future. It is amazingly simple!

  8. Carrie January 26, 2008 at 12:39 pm #

    I was so happy to see this encouraging post! I have to admit I was a little overwhelmed by all the nutrition information on your website. Even before you did this post I told my husband that I think we should do one nutrition change per month. My January change was to purchase some coconut oil for cooking! I also discovered some healthier bread at Costco that I think is a good choice for our family at this time. I was buying the 100% whole wheat Cascade Pride from Winco, but it did have the high fructose corn syrup in it. The Kirkland Multigrain 100% whole grain bread has 5g of fiber per slice and 6g of protein. It does have some brown sugar and sugar in it, but for the convienience and price ($3.69 for 2 large loaves), it seems a better option. Also, where do you find your pretty photographs to put on your website?

    • Lindsay January 28, 2008 at 9:45 am #

      Carrie, I get all my photographs from: http://sxc.hu/
      These are free to use once you set up an account. I use these to avoid copyright issues.

  9. Dana January 26, 2008 at 12:19 pm #

    Thank’s for your comments Mrs. Taft and Lindsay. I make every thing I can from scratch, we consider store bought dressing a convenience food. I garden, make my jams and jellies, can copiously ( I like aliterations), dry fruit, and scrounge. I figure the worst they can do is say no, so have gotten damaged fruits and veggies for free. I actually enjoy the challenge. Usually.
    I wish I could get my picky dogs to go raw!
    Dana

    • Jamie November 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm #

      Dana- even if your dogs won’t eat raw (which can be dangerous if you have young children in the house), you can make them food that they will love and still save a lot of money!

      For each meal, cook up some meat (its a good idea to add in some liver/organ meat once or twice a week). You can get organic chicken necks and other meat scraps from a local grower pretty inexpensively, just ask (like 10 cents a pound)! Add cooked rice (brown is best) and veggies. Our dog loves frozen, raw squash cubes or pureed pumpkin/squash but doesn’t enjoy the squash unless its frozen or pureed… weird, I know! You can throw in carrots, broccoli, apples, bananas, etc… whatever you have on hand! You can precook a week or more and freeze in quart size yogurt tubs, defrost as needed and serve! Another way to get picky dogs to eat is to add fresh or frozen blueberries and/or yogurt/kefir to their food! This also adds good digestive enzymes and helps prevent bladder infections and skin issues.

  10. Erica January 26, 2008 at 4:56 am #

    Tia,

    Actually I’ve heard that many people with issues with lactose do very well with raw cow’s milk because it contains a number or beneficial enzymes and bacteria that aid in digestion, among other benefits…and the fat aids in the absorption of calcium and other vitamins. We don’t do raw milk b/c my hubby is not convinced of the safety (yet!)

    Also, re. beef…conventional beef is very bad for you, because it’s raised on feed lots in terrible conditions, fed a diet of grain (which ruminants should not be eating). Pastured, humanely raised, non-hormone fed beef is actually very low in saturated fats (comaparatively) and contain CLA (an omega 6 fat that fights cancer and builds lean muscle tissue), omega 3 fats (prevent obesity, diabetes and heart disease), stearic acid (a saturated fat that lowers LDL and alpha-lipolic acid (essential for metabolism). I encourage you to look into it. Nina Planck’s “Real Food: What to Eat and Why” is a wonderful book that addresses the importance of eating as naturally as possible and talks about the health myths that we are sold. (and I am NOT a conspiracy theorist or anything)

  11. Tia January 26, 2008 at 2:30 am #

    Yah, but whole milk is not healthy. Actually cow’s milk isn’t the best thing to drink. Our body cannot digest cow’s milk very well. Rice, goat or coconut milk is best.

    My family and I are vegetarians, but only in the last year. We only ate poultry and fish. Beef and pork were cut out at least a decade ago. Beef is almost as unhealthy as pork. (altho people do think pork is the other white meat lol) My eldest daughter has never had any meat or fish outside the womb. She never cared for it. She’ll be 4 this May.

    We do eat eggs tho, as a source of protein. Next summer, I plan to start a veggie garden. Then I don’t have to pay for produce. And there is a local farmer’s market, so I can sell the leftovers! There is only so much you can eat before it goes bad.

    • Lindsay January 26, 2008 at 9:22 am #

      Tia, I would recommend you check out Real Milk. It will inform you as to all the health benefits of raw cow’s milk. It is actually very beneficial and necessary. It says:

      “Butterfat contains vitamins A and D needed for assimilation of calcium and protein in the water fraction of the milk. Without them protein and calcium are more difficult to utilize and possibly toxic.”

      Our society has been deceived into thinking that raw milk with all the butterfat is bad for us…it just isn’t true.

      As far as beef goes, as Erica says below, beef can definitely be harmful unless you buy it right from the farmer and it is nitrate free and grass-fed, etc. Visit: Eat Wild.com for all sorts of information on the benefits of eating grass fed meat.

      Hope that helps!

  12. Autumn January 25, 2008 at 8:37 pm #

    So, I must ask how you are only spending $12-13 on produce…are you no longer doing Organics to you? Also, I am wondering how you save money on making your own butter…I thought it was actually more expensive due to the fact that you have to use all the cream of the whole milk (I was instructed that whole milk consumption is the way to go, therefore I didn’t want to drink the skim milk).
    And also;), can I get a start of creme frache from you sometime…mine died a while ago.
    Great blog Linds, you are an inspiration to cook healthy and save money too. Love ya sis.

    • Lindsay January 26, 2008 at 9:14 am #

      Hey sis, in regards to the produce being $12-13 dollars a week, I was referring to the CSA I signed up for that starts here in February. I will send you an email. I use the cream from my raw milk to make butter (so I don’t have to buy any other organic butter). I am getting all the benefits by eating the butter and the rest of the milk, just dividing it out..I don’t see how this would hurt, as I am still using it all.

      • Fatimazahra December 31, 2009 at 12:42 pm #

        Hello!!!
        Hey, can you please explain to me CSA and such? ALso send me the link please?I’d like to ask a few more questions about this, I am not sure if it’s just in a certain state/city? How is it 12-13 dollars a week? Do they send you raw milk also? If not, how do you get it? I LOVE this, in my hometown in Morocco we do this exact thing. However, it’s really hard here in America to get farmer’s produce at a good/cheap price. So thank you very much for blog, it’s refreshing and amazing.

        Thank you so much,
        Your sister in Christ,

        Fatimazahra

  13. Mrs. Taft January 25, 2008 at 2:18 pm #

    Dana: This website is pretty helpful for prioritizing:
    http://www.foodnews.org/index.php

    I find that trying to buy healthy, organic things from the health food store or even the regular grocery store can get very expensive. If I have to go that route, then I need to prioritize. However, most of the things that Linsday listed are actually often a cheaper way to get the healthful things. It is nearly always cheaper to make things yourself. Buying from farmer’s markets, crop shares, and local dairy is often cheaper as well (even in with gas).

    Another thing I’ve done is to evaluate the ways I spend money elsewhere. I’ve eliminated most of the harmful cleaning agents from my household and either gone with natural things already found in my pantry (like vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide) or found a cheap concentrated natural cleaner like bi-o-kleen. My sister feeds her animals on the raw diet, and is able to keep costs down that way (rather than on expensive healthy pet food). I also try to buy food in bulk and avoid convenience foods. I make my own convenience foods :)

  14. Stacy January 25, 2008 at 2:18 pm #

    Great post! Thanks for all the wonderful information.
    Stacy

  15. Dana January 25, 2008 at 1:38 pm #

    This a good post but is not reachable for some of us. I do all of these things to some degree, but I only get $500.00 a month for food, cleaning supplies, animal needs, birthday gifts, and any underwear needs, which are pretty nonstop, for a family of 11. Three of us also have health issues that require a more expensive diet. Maybe a post prioritizing organic spending would be good.
    I have been enjoying your blog, I have it on my Google Reader.
    Dana

    • Lindsay January 26, 2008 at 9:09 am #

      Dana, I commend you for your efforts to feed your large family on $500 a month. I honestly don’t know how I would do it. Our food budget does include all the other household supplies, toilet paper, etc. as well..that is why I have cut most of those out. I understand dealing with health issues can require a more expensive diet. I am working on a post on prioritizing your spending…maybe that will help a bit. ;) God bless!

  16. Chrissy January 25, 2008 at 1:24 pm #

    I agree with the little step process. Thanks for sharing the links!

  17. Jennifer January 25, 2008 at 1:00 pm #

    Great post, little steps is definitely the way to do it.

  18. Laura@heavenlyhomemakers January 25, 2008 at 11:57 am #

    Wow, you must have “Nourishing Traditions”! I loved your post! I could have written the exact same list of 10 things that you have incorporated into your lifestyle! How fun to read about someone else who cooks a lot like I do!

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