A couple of years ago, I started trying to feed my family more nutritious foods. I really went all out like I was ready to conquer the world. I tried to buy mostly organics and cook everything from scratch with all whole grains. Yes, I went in a little over my head!
As to be expected, this was a drastic and overwhelming change for me and my family. That being said, I regressed quite a bit due to the affect it had on our budget, the fact that I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing, and my family was not used to eating that way all the time.
To go from even a partially processed foods diet to a whole foods diet is not an overnight process. I’ve learned:
- It takes time to learn how to cook differently.
- It takes time for your family to adjust to eating differently.
- It takes time for you and your budget to adjust to shopping differently.
Of course, and then to make matters worse, while doing research to determine how to best feed my family, I was bombarded with numerous opinions on the web and in books about the right way to cook and eat. How was I suppose to know which ones were right?
Faced with these challenges, I admit, I got absolutely frustrated. I wanted to throw my hands up in the air and forget about it. I wanted to go back to what I was comfortable shopping for, cooking and eating.
But, how could I do that when the health of my family was in my hands. I’m the one responsible for what’s going into their mouths every day.
Have you ever felt this way? Do you struggle with some of these issues? Or is it just me??
Well, I finally came to the realization that I had to do the best I could with our budget and make the best decisions possible for my family, and then be happy.
Here are some things that I think make the process easier and more affordable.
1. Use Coupons/Stock Up On Sales
If you’ve been reading my site for long, you know I’m a believer in coupons. I even wrote this post a while back about using coupons for buying organics.
Although, I don’t use coupons for foods as often as I once did, I do still use them to stock up on basic cooking essentials when I find a good deal. You can read more about getting the most from your coupons in my couponing series.
Even if you don’t have coupons, but find a good deal, stock up when the product is at its lowest price.
2. Buy in Bulk
One of the best ways to save money is by buying in bulk. This could mean buying the huge container of old fashioned oats at the grocery store or buying active dry yeast in a 2lb bag online.
Also, many times buying meat in family packs is the cheapest route to go. Buy it when it’s on sale, divide it into freezer bags and freeze it. This can potentially be a huge money saver.
Basically, if it’s something you know you can use, or freeze, before it expires, and you can get a larger quantity at a lower price, go for it.
3. Cook Homemade and Freeze
This one is a biggie. Homemade foods is the key to eliminating processed foods on a budget. That doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in the kitchen every day cooking.
Look for recipes that have few ingredients and are simple to make, but use whole, or very minimally processed, ingredients. Add a new recipe or two to your menu plan each week to begin building your new recipe file.
Another great option is to make double batches of muffins, pancakes, casseroles, soups and sauces. Freeze them for days when you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen.
4. Eat More Produce Even If It’s Non-Organic
For so many, buying all organics is just not an option. I mean, let’s face it. Most of the time, they cost a lot more and for some people there aren’t a lot of organic options in the stores where they shop.
However, that is no reason to skip the fruits and vegetables. You’re still better off buying and filling yourself with fruits and vegetables even if they aren’t organic. Try to plan your menu around in-season and on sale produce to stretch your budget further.
5. Choose Whole Grains and Whole Foods
Whole grains is an area that won’t affect your budget nearly as much as you might think. This simply means replacing white breads with whole grain or whole wheat, white rice with brown, white pasta for whole wheat pasta and using whole wheat flour in place of all purpose flour.
Also look for foods that don’t contain MSG, food colorings, high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. Even though these foods may not be organic, they are better choices than buying foods that do contain these ingredients.
6. Consume Less Refined Sugars
Instead of white refined sugar, try to find other natural sweeteners for breads, muffins, pancakes, waffles, etc. A few great options include honey, raw sugar and maple syrup.
You might say that honey is expensive, and it is, however, you generally don’t need as much honey in a recipe as you do regular sugar. I found this Great Lakes Select Honey to be cheaper than what I can find at the grocery store. It’s not local, which would be better, but this is a sacrifice I make to be able to afford to use honey in place of regular sugar.
The raw sugar I use is turbinado sugar. Probably the best sugar to use is sucanat, as it is the least refined. However, we don’t really care for the taste of it, and it costs twice as much as the turbinado.
Grade B Maple Syrup is a favorite for pancakes, waffles and as a sweetener for plain yogurt. Because of it’s rich flavor, a little goes a long way. The cheapest way I have found it buy it is also through Amazon’s Subscribe and Save.
7. Drink More Water
Seriously, this is an area that can greatly impact your health and your budget. After all, your body is made up of over 50% water. Drinking water fits into everybody’s budget, and it’s the most essential liquid you can put into your body.
I’ve personally seen a huge difference in our budget since we have started drinking more water. Plus it has no calories. Who doesn’t want fewer calories, right?!?
8. Grow Your Own Produce
I love to get fresh vegetables from right out my back door. This is the best way to ensure organic produce and save your budget at the same time.
Start small though. Try growing one or two foods at the time and see how that goes. As your thumb gets greener, you may want to add to your garden. I really want to try growing strawberries next. We eat those like crazy!
9. Cut Yourself Some Slack
Last but not least, give yourself some wiggle room starting out on this journey. It’s unrealistic for majority of people to think they can eat all the perfect foods all the time.
If there is one thing I’ve learned through this experience, it’s that you have to do what works for your family, within your budget and keeps you sane. Sure, we still eat at McDonald’s occasionally and even drink a soda every once in a while, and I’m okay with that as long as it’s not a regular part of our lifestyle.
Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty if you can’t afford to eat the way they do or have time to bake all your own breads from scratch. Just do the best you can to eat healthy and be happy about it!!
Do you have any ideas you can add to this list? I’d love to hear them 🙂
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