1. Take advantage of foods that are in season. This is a great time of year to capitalize on all the great produce that is out there. Summer provides us with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, so even the cost of organic produce is quite affordable. Eating foods that are in season is also more nutritionally beneficial too. It’s a win-win!
2. Consider buying local. Are there some local farms near by? Consider taking a drive out there and inquire about their farming practices. Many local farms do not use pesticides or herbicides, many of their livestock are pasture raised – but they do not promote themselves as “organic” as there are fees associated with these certifications. For example, farm fresh eggs are fantastic and a fraction of the price of the “organic free range” eggs found at grocery stores.
3. Look into food co-ops or CSA (Community Shared Agriculture). In our area (Southern Ontario) there are quite a few. I personally have used a CSA for organic fruits and vegetables. I would get weekly shares for under $40 – and I was never disappointed with our weekly shipment.
4. Grow your own garden! Again, summertime is the best season to grow your own veggies. Some veggies are easier than others, some only require a stand alone container! This is a great activity to do with your kids, and in turn, it will encourage them to eat their vegetables.
5. Don’t be afraid to stock up on sale items! Whenever cupboard necessities like Almond Flour, coconut milk, nut or seed butters go on sale – STOCK UP! I do the same with frozen cuts of organic meat that butchers are clearing out. This saves me a great deal of money.
6. Evaluate your portion sizes. Organic meat is not cheap, this we all know. We have a 4 person household, and when I buy organic chicken – or some great summer steak, I tend to cook enough to stretch it into 4 servings. For example, 2 good size chicken breasts can be divided 4 ways – we fill up our plates with even more veggies and our portion of meat is right on par with where it should be. In the Fall and Winter months (comfort food season) – this is even easier; meat servings can be stretched by adding them to soups and stews and bulk up these soups and stews with a load of vegetables.
7. Eating Healthy tends to keep you at home. I discovered this quite quickly when we went grain and dairy free. Long gone are the days of hitting a drive through or ordering the Friday night Pizza! The majority of our meals are planned, prepared and consumed at home. This will increase your grocery bill, but once I factored the lack of eating out into the equation, I realized that we were spending less! Before you fear your grocery bill, be sure to take an accurate look at what you are spending now – and make sure that all those drive-thru meals are included in your monthly grocery bill. You will notice the costs savings realized by eating at home will balance out your overall grocery budget.
8. Make it yourself. It is SO easy to get caught up in the world of overpriced packaged goods that are marketed as “healthy” (items with labels that promise to be “gluten free”, “fat free”, “lactose free”, etc) These catchy buzz words are just that – catchy buzz words. What happens when you remove gluten from a muffin? What happens when you remove fat from pudding? The taste of the food changes, for the worse. So what do they do to make it better? ADD SUGAR and lots of it. Trust me on this – make your own food, using REAL ingredients. Sweeten food with honey or medjool dates. These food items are not that expensive and you don’t need as much to achieve the desired “yumminess” factor. The same extends to seasoning mixes and sauces. It is so easy to make your own, and as a result control the salt and sugar quantities. Making your own will also ensure you avoid all those other questionable ingredients that most of us can not pronounce.
9. Educate yourself on ORGANIC necessities. Some foods actually have a fairly low pesticide load. Read up on the “Dirty Dozen” type lists and make a more educated decision on which foods should be organic. There are MANY lists like this one out there – most of them will say the same thing.
10. Budget, plan and EAT YOUR LEFTOVERS. Set a realistic budget and from there create a meal plan. This is intended to get you started; this does not have to be a weekly chore. Once you get the hang of cooking and eating a clean diet, budgeting your grocery bill will become much easier. Making sure you stretch your food as far as it will go will also offset costs. Make soups with leftover meats, or add cubed leftover chicken on salad for your lunch – there are many ways to ensure that you use and consume your leftovers.
Lizanne Rowe, Family Food Coach, Natural Care Clinic