Sunday, September 23, 2012

Eating Organic on a Tight Budget

Eating organic on a tight budget is hard, but not impossible. It was ingrained in me that I "couldn't afford to eat organic" for years, and I honestly don't know where that came from. Sure, organic produce is a little more expensive, but when you look at your grocery bill as a whole, organic living doesn't break the bank.

Healthy Eating Costs Alot. False.

     For example, before we sought out to eat "real" food, I was spending $3 on a box of 6 granola bars, $4 on a box of 6-8 fruit snacks, $3 or more on a small jar of peanut butter (we make our own now), and I can't count what was spent on cheese. The biggest difference now, is we make our snacks, and rarely buy packaged snacks. We also eat little dairy products, so what we do buy, like eggs and butter, we buy in bulk and save $. Also, because we are a bigger family, one box of a snack wouldn't cover my families needs, I would usually have to buy 2 or more packages of everything.
    So when you take into consideration that we are saving money on those items, I can pay an extra $1 per pound on apples, or chard. Look at your bill, and see what things (like snacks and other convenient items) you can make yourself and save money on!

   Doesn't this take a long time? Yes. Honestly, because I have struggled with health, there are many weekends I do not have the physical ability to prep our food for the week, like today, but start by replacing one item at a time and it will eventually become a good healthy habit.

What is "Real Food"?

   If you are saying to yourself, "I want to get healthy but I have NO idea where to start". Here's my 1.2.3...

Look at the labels on your packaged foods. Throw away anything that says in the ingredients:

  1. High Fructose Corn Syrup
  2. Monosodium Glutamate
  3. Hydrogenated, or Partially Hydrogenated Oils (of any kind)

You are on your way! Wait,  you say? There's no MSG in anything anymore! Oh my dear friends, check your Doritos, or your Ranch Dressing. Sad, sad, sad. It snuck back into everything while we weren't paying attention.

Discontinuing buying these items will save you money right now! In fact, Costco sells Organic Heinz Ketchup, with no HFCS, for $6.99 for 2  44oz bottles! We were paying 2.99ish per bottle of the bad stuff before with almost half that size bottle!

Organic Produce

Lastly, I want to address produce. I am not a big believer in everything being "organic" labeled, story for another time, but regarding produce, there are pluses and minus to organic. If you are like me, watching your wallet, your saying, "what produce absolutely has to be organic for my family to be safe?"

Well, let me just tell you what I do, and maybe that could help? First, it depends on what I am doing with it. Personally, I don't care if it's organic if I am cooking it. I figure the toxic stuff will die when its boiled. If its not something I am cooking thoroughly, or I am eating it raw, or juicing it, I follow the Dirty Dozen list. Basically, organic produce is better for you, as it is thought to be more nutritious, but no one really knows how much better. What we do know, is depending on the amount  pesticide saturation, organic produce is proven to be safer. For my pocketbook, I follow the dozen, plus the extra two. (Because I juice raw veges daily to boost my immune system, I want my greens organic.)

The lowest priced organic produce we have found here in the bay area, California, is at Trader Joe's and Sunflower Market, though we are investigating purchasing from local farmers.

What have you done already to get healthier? Do you have any tips or tricks on saving money and eating well? I'd love to hear!

Happy Sunday!
- gina