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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How to Afford Real Food


The cost of food has been going up lately, and is expected to go up even more with rising fuel costs.  Most of us agree that we all could eat better so how can we do that with limited time and budget?
For many people who go on a “diet” or make changes to lifestyles it also involves spending more money. So what are some ways we can stay within our budgets and not break the bank on buying higher quality food? 
  1. Don’t Cook Separate Food for each Person - Baring any spherically  needed special diets, everyone in the house eats the same. This means if little Joey needs to be gluten free you make most of the meals gluten free. Really it won’t hurt the rest of the family.
  2. Buy Local – even if you don’t have a farmer’s market near by, you can still buy local. There is always someone who has extra eggs to sell, or more vegetables than they can eat in their garden.
  3. Swap with a friend or neighbor Do you have a bumper crop of squash and your neighbor perhaps has more tomatoes than that small town in Spain that does the tomato fight? If so , then swap with each other, win-win in my book.
  4. Eat within the Season – not only does this help your pocketbook, the food always tastes better in season. Anyone want a January peach? I didn’t think so.
  5. Shop the Farmer’s Market – these are a great resource, we have been known to get free food at the end of a market day because farmers don’t want to load it up and take it home.
  6. Eat Less Meat  - when you eat less meat, you can eat a higher quality of meat and not spend anymore on your food.
  7. Eat more Beans, and Nuts  - It has only been in the last century that Americans have decided that each meal must have meat.
  8. Divert some of your other Budget Items to Food – Really, think how much you need that new pair of shoes, I know they are pretty but do you have more shoes than you wear already? That shoe money can buy a couple of nice grass fed roasts that will make at least two meals each. (I do love shoes, but come on even for a mostly vegan person like myself – I still do want some good steak)
  9. Don’t' buy junk food. There I said it. Junk Food is just that- food that does not nourish the body or soul. Junk Food in my house is defined as any food that is artificially colored or sweetened, or uses hydrogenated anything.
  10. Grow or make more of your own food. We recently started making our own Cliff Bars at home. This takes my dear husband about an hour a week, but we end up with the equivalent of 30 bars. We also put in a small kitchen garden each year.
  11. Eat out Less – how much do you spend on eating out? I cringe at the thought of eating out or having to drive through the drive-thru because I know how much Real Food I could purchase with that money. Hmm $40 on a a meal out for the family or my meat share at the co-op?  Let me think about that.
  12. Eat Leftovers – We regularly have nights where I don’t cook dinner but rather we will clear out the leftovers from the fridge and have a leftover buffet.
What are YOUR favorite ways to say money while eating Real Food?

This post is linked up with Green and Natural MamasYour Green ResourceSimple Lives ThursdaysLiving Well Blog Hop


Sue said...

Great post!
Gardening is great! Just had some Swiss chard from our yard with supper tonight! Our farmers market is actually about three times the price of the local fresh fruit and veggie venue. Stinks for us, but the day I went with $10 and came home with three squash really helped me to see that the farmers market isn't best for us around here! There is one I can try, but it is half an hour away, so not sure that would be worth the gas money.

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

Sue, good point - not all Farmer's Markets are created equal. I personally shop at several stores to maximize my food budget. But I plan my trips to coincide with other errands to minimize travel and gas usage.

Cassie said...

Awesome post! But the meat thing.... While it saves money I don't really think its only in the last century people thought they should have meat at every meal. That's pretty much what humans used to do as primitive people. You know, kill the buffalo and eat it every meal until its gone. A lot of very healthy traditional cultures eat meat at every meal and are very healthy, much healthier than Americans who don't eat meat.

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

Cassie, yes, eating meat can be healthy, but what probably is healthier is that people who eat a high protein diet usually don't eat garbage food, so that saves them money. But pound for pound beans are less expensive than meat and when you are trying to transition to a healthier diet beans will help stretch that budget and allow you to eat a better quality protein. At our house we usually have some high quality meat everyday, even if it is just two ounces, per person.

Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama said...

Fantastic tips!

Thanks for linking up at the Green & Natural Mamas Linky!

Marissa Nichols said...

I'm so baaaad at the first one. But hey, it's lent...Spaghetti for all and no (exceptions!)

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

Marissa, the first one is my sanity saver as well as money saver. If my kids don't like what I am serving then they often end up making themselves something else to eat. But then again, even the 7 year old can cook.

Dreena M. Tischler said...

We are actually saving money using our CSA because those veggies are the only ones I put in our meals each week, then we just buy fruit. I don't know why it's working because I was spending much more on veg before but I have even had enough excess to put somethings in the freezer. Also definitely cooking from scratch.

Jacque said...

I have to know, what does everyone else do during the winter? I grow a fair-sized garden in summer, and I do what I can to freeze, dehydrate, or can what my family doesn't eat at the time, but over the course of the rest of the year, it really doesn't make much of a dent in our weekly veggie needs. And there just isn't anything growing locally. What do the rest of you do?

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

Great question Jacque, it is so hard in the winter to save on the produce, I am lucky to live in a climate where I can use a cold frame to get things going in starting in January and some years I can keep parts of the garden going till Christmas. Not every year mind you but some years. This past year I joined a warehouse club store. I buy almost exclusively organic vegetables there and I have been able to recoup my membership fee in the savings in just two months. I don't know if that is an option for you, but it has certainly helped us.

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