I hear you loud and clear. "Organics are too expensive to feed my family. I'd like to limit their exposure to pesticides, trace amounts of toxins from irrigation water, etc. But how can I do this on my limited budget?"
This post is all about strategies. I want to give you some tools to help you fit more organics into your family's food plan, and reduce some of the known substances that cause health problems.
- The top on my list of strategies is to limit juices and beverages. We drink mostly water, filtered from tap water. One bottle of apple or orange juice lasts a couple of weeks, as we have a small glass or dilute it with water to make it go further. Doctors like this strategy, as it reduces the amount of natural sugar intake, reduces calories, and helps maintain a level blood sugar in its wake. Dentists approve as well--less sugar residue on our teeth. The result is a much smaller food bill, allowing for more of a variety of other organic foods.
- Learn how to make one organic hen = 3 family meals with my recipes that start with this link: Roasted chicken, Chicken and Rice, Homemade Chicken Soup. Three meals from one chicken. Not bad, eh?
- If you are not Vegan or Vegetarian, go meat-free a couple of nights a week to cut your cost of putting meat on the table. Try making homemade organic cheese pizza, pasta with pomodoro sauce, or salads topped with cheese and nuts for protein.
- Speaking of pasta, you'll save some serious bucks by limiting your purchases of prepared and packaged or processed foods, especially those with shorter shelf lives. In these times when convenience in king, we sometimes forget that we can create convenience with a little ingenuity. For instance, making double recipes when you cook from scratch, allows you to freeze one meal and eat another today. The next time you need a meal in a hurry, your freezer will be your convenience store.
- Once a month or so I Google "organic coupons" and cash in on these at the grocers. Some sites require you to sign up, and they mail out coupons periodically. Others allow you to select and print those you want, right on the site. On an average trip to the local organic market, I have about $10 in coupons ready to apply to my balance. One last tip: Make a list of your family's favorites and check out those company's websites for coupons. Write to them, asking for coupon offers, and often they will send you some via return email. Bingo!
- Along that same line, watch your favorite stores' sales fliers and newspaper inserts for specials that you can cash in on. When something your family eats a lot of is on sale, stock up. That's why you bought that freezer...remember?!
- When it's time for your periodic visit to the warehouse store (Costco, Sam's, BJ's), take a friend and share the savings. These stores are getting with the program and offering the basics in organic foods. The savings is definitely worth the trip there. However, often you will find items that you choose not to purchase because of the quantity. If your friend likes these same foods, you're in luck. Split the savings and the quantity between your families--perfect!
- Shop for foods that are in season. IN SEASON always means cheaper. If you need some help with this, first find out what's in season . Then plan your menus around these foods and watch your food bill dip again.
- Visit your local farmers market for the best prices on IN SEASON foods. There's no gasoline costs tacked on to the prices you pay, and the other perk is the all-important freshness. Finally, you'll be pumping your hard-earned food dollars into your local economy. This will benefit you in more ways than your grocery budget.
- Do you find yourself gawking at the breads in the upscale bread shops? Why not experiment with your bread maker again...you know, that small appliance in the back of your cabinet that you purchased long ago and forgot about. Dust it off and have some fun trying new breads. Here's my family's favorite breakfast bread, organic cinnamon raisin.
- Watch your waste. In every household there are a few items we tend to over buy, and then some of the product ends of going in the garbage. There is almost always a strategy for saving on waste. At my house bananas used to go to waste far too often. Finally the light bulb went off in my head. Freeze them when they are too ripe to enjoy eating. They still make great banana bread whenever you're ready to thaw them out. My recipe makes two batches of bread or muffins. Freeze one for later, or give it as a gift. What better way to save money than homemade goodies, and your friend or family member will love knowing that you put your own time in on their gift.
- Say "let's skip the dessert". Do you really need dessert every night? Perhaps just on the weekend, or when company comes for dinner. Your waistline will know the right answer.
- When all these ideas still leave you short, focus on meats and dairy for your organic priorities. Why? Because on top of the pesticides, herbicides and other added toxins you'll avoid, meat and dairy products that are not organic often contain hormones and traces of antibiotics used to keep the animals healthy and productive. Those hormones are likely the culprit in our children's increasingly earlier puberty--a big concern to pediatricians.