I must confess…I don’t have it all figured out. I wish I did. I wish I could provide you with ten simple steps to eat nutritionally and organically on a budget. But no…month by month, it seems like it just doesn’t quite work out as I had hoped. My $300 budget has often resulted in a final bill of $350 (my goal has been to get it to $300, although our budget has a buffer of $50), and that is really with nothing fancy, and includes our groceries and general household products.
With my knowledge of health and nutrition and not being able to buy everything organic has resulted in fear and worry at what the end result might be. The Lord has graciously and gradually brought me to the understanding that He is indeed sovereign! I can fret till I am blue in the face, but God is ultimately in control! I have a strong conviction that we are to eat healthy in order to be fit for the Master’s use, but again, it will not add a day unto my life apart from what has already been destined by the Father!
I have learned a few things lately that have helped me in the process of eating nutritionally on a budget, and I pray they may be of some assistance to some of you.
Make it Stretch – Use Less
The key lesson has been to make things stretch – also known as USE LESS! – especially when it comes to dairy products and meat, as these are the most expensive items and I believe the most important to purchase carefully.
Here are a few examples:
Butter - I love butter! Often times I can greatly over use it as well. It must go on my bread, my toast, my bagel…everything! Well, maybe not that extreme, but close enough. I love my Kerrygold grassfed butter, but at $2.49 for 8 oz, it has to stretch. My goal this month was to make it last for 4 weeks. That might not happen, but it has been a good motivation. In an effort to meet my goal, I started using less. Less on my bread, less to butter my potatoes, etc. We are at three weeks and I have 1 oz left! We may just be going a week without butter, but hey, at least the butter we ate was of high quality.
Read more about this wonderful butter on Kimi’s blog.
Homemade butter from raw milk is even more nutritious and frugal! I make my own butter for general cooking and use the kerrygold variety for most of my baking.
Cheese – I buy raw cheddar cheese in 5 lb quantities, grate it all up and freeze it in week size portions. For our family, I try to make it stretch for 5-6 weeks, so I divide the grated cheese into 5-6 bags, and put them in the freezer. I stretch the cheese to last by using week by week portions. It really is not all that noticeable to use less cheese on my sandwiches or as a topping for that baked potato…it works!
Maple Syrup - this is another expensive one! I would rather avoid the sugary syrups at the store, so maple syrup is the best alternative. I have found you can add a little water to each batch for that breakfast meal, and you really can’t tell!
Milk – I have been getting one gallon of raw cow’s milk each week from my local farmer (and at $7.00 per gallon, that’s not too cheap), but we definitely could drink more if we had it…1 quart becomes kefir, 1 quart becomes yogurt, and we are left with 2 quarts for drinking and any various cooking/baking needs. Well, instead of drinking tons of milk, like we could, we are drinking more water!
Use Ground Turkey
You can buy quality free range ground turkey at around $2.50 per pound (from Azure Standard), whereas quality grass fed beef can cost you anywhere from $4-6 dollars per pound. Replace ground beef with ground turkey and you won’t notice any difference (except maybe in hamburgers). In combination with any other ingredients ground turkey tastes the same and is still good for you.
Meatless Meals – Lentils
Starting to serve one lentil meal per week has cut back on the need for meat! We have found a few good lentil dishes that we actually really enjoy. (Check out Sloppy Lentils & Spicy Lentil Soup). Lentils are both nutritious and very frugal! I also do a main dish salad every week which helps as well. You can really stretch a little meat this way.
Quality nitrate-free lunchmeats are expensive! Our Trader Joe’s sell a small pack (10 slices, I believe) for around $3.50. Why not experiment with egg salad or simple peanut butter and jelly! Yum!
Not to Many Choices
I have found that I really only need two different types of oils for all my cooking and baking needs (olive oil and coconut oil over here), and I really only need two different kinds of natural sweeteners for the most part (honey and rapadura)! I love experimenting with new things, but when it comes down to it, it can really add up. So I simplify.
Make It Yourself
Starting to make the majority of my own dressings and condiments has been very helpful on cutting down the grocery bill, and they last! I haven’t had any of my homemade products go bad on me yet! (Check out homemade dressings & ketchup).
Dirty Dozen Guidelines
I have found this list to be the most helpful in guiding me which products should be more of a priority in buying organically. The Dirty Dozen list is also a good resource for which produce items are more heavly sprayed over others. That being said, I don’t buy organic oranges or avocados, for example.
Those are some simple ways that I am trying to serve the best for my family! I would love to hear of some your creative tips in this area!