I usually purchase organic foods, but this last week I splurged and bought processed food to give myself a cooking break for the week. What I found was that I spend less buying organic foods than nonorganic prepackaged foods. How can this be? Isn’t organic supposed to be expensive?
Organic is expensive if you buy it processed and prepackaged as well. The key to spending less and buying good food for the family is to buy everything as close to its natural state as possible. Buy dry beans instead of canned. Buy whole grains like wheat, rice, and oats, instead of flour and cereal.
Most condiments and dressings can be easily made at home for half the cost, like ketchup, mustard, mayo, salsa, salad dressings. I began replacing these store-bought items one at a time as they ran out, so there was a very small time investment for each item. Typically 5 minutes, a food processor, and a clean jar is all I need. Most of the recipes I use are from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook.
I buy whole chickens from a local farmer. From this I make broth and use the cooked chicken in recipes. From this famer, who just happens to drive to the city each week, I also buy raw milk. The milk is expensive. I am paying for the cost of transportation as well, but I don’t let a drop go to waste. We drink about ¾ of a gallon and the rest I use to make curds and whey. The curds I substitute for all cream cheese in recipes, and it makes an incredible garlic dip. The whey is used in many other recipes, like ketchup.
I always buy a carton of plain yogurt, although I’d like to learn to make this as well. We make fresh fruit or peanut butter smoothies for breakfast a couple times a week with this. I also use it in place of sour cream in many recipes, if I haven’t made my own sour cream.
Almost all the fruits and vegetables I use during the week are fresh. To lower the cost for these, I only buy in season produce. Our family has noticed a huge difference in the flavor of organic produce as compared the other. Organic tastes so much closer to garden fresh. I also buy nonorganic if I am comfortable with the seller. If I know where the produce has come from and am okay with how it is grown, then I will purchase it and save money. A great place to buy produce in the summer is the farmer’s market.
The items I do purchase in cans, like tuna and whole tomatoes, are purchased when they are on sale in large quantities.
This type of shopping does take planning. Menu planning is a must, especially for using the produce before it goes bad. The menu planner has also become a time planner as well. I can look at the week and determine when I need to soak my beans, if I need to make any condiments, and what day would be best to make bread. Then I note these on my menu planner.
After the list is made I make a first sweep at Costco. Although I don’t get much there normally, they are carrying more organic items. Often the catch is that the organic items are already processed and I would not be saving money. They do carry organic frozen veggies which I like to keep on hand, peanut butter, sometimes olive oil and maple syrup, and recently, organic ground beef. I also buy my nonorganic Tillamook cheese there. Tillamook doesn’t use growth hormones. They also have the perfect little cucumbers for making pickles.
Then I head to the local natural food store for my bulk items like beans, grains, produce.
Items our family has learned to live without include dry cereal, soda pop, juice, canned soup, macaroni and cheese from a box, etc. These items drastically increase the grocery bill.
We also use as little sugar as possible throughout the week. We substitute local honey or maple syrup for sugar whenever possible. The sugar I do purchase is evaporated cane juice. I purchase either in bulk or on sale on the shelf, whichever is cheaper.
I was grinding my own flour with my Kitchen Aid mixer attachment, but something bad just happened to my mixer. The mixing paddles still work, but my grinder attachment will not. It makes a very bad sound. So for a little while I’ll be buying flour.
When we are under budget, we’ll splurge and get a yummy treat here and there, but if we are struggling to meet the budget, we buy strictly what is on the list.
We do notice a difference in how we feel when we do not eat fresh-made organic foods. The digestive system seems to become more sluggish, and we all feel less energetic.
I’m sure we could save even more money buying non organic foods the same way. This would still be better than living on prepackaged, processed food, but there is a hidden cost, a long-tem cost to eating nonorganic or processed foods. By looking back to the industrial revolution, the health problems have changed. Heart disease and cancer were not major issues of that time period. I believe there has to be a correlation between the way we are living and eating now as compared to then. Yes, some things have improved, but I do believe we’ve lost ground for the sake of convenience, cost and time, and the almighty dollar as manufacturers take shortcuts to produce a greater yield for less money. We pay less, they make more. We all win, right? Not.
I must add I truly believe that God will honor the household with an extremely tight budget. Sometimes there is very little choice of the food available to a family. I also believe that God will be faithful to answer the prayers of the believer. Pray that He provide exactly what nourishment your family needs. He will do it. Also be willing to use and eat what He has provided.