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Real Food On A Budget

on June 10 | in Real Food | by | with 13 Comments

Fake Food is Cheap

People often ask me how I can afford to “eat organic.” It’s so expensive, they say. And they’re right.

Sort of.

Thanks to heavy government subsidies, foods produced by cheap corn and then trucked all over the nation are often less expensive than locally produced goods. Corn is everywhere, even though you can’t see it. As Michael Pollan wrote:

If you are what you eat, and especially if you eat industrial food, as 99 percent of Americans do, what you are is “corn.”

. . . Take a typical fast food meal. Corn is the sweetener in the soda. It’s in the corn-fed beef Big Mac patty, and in the high-fructose syrup in the bun, and in the secret sauce. Slim Jims are full of corn syrup, dextrose, cornstarch, and a great many additives. The “four different fuels” in a Lunchables meal, are all essentially corn-based. The chicken nugget—including feed for the chicken, fillers, binders, coating, and dipping sauce—is all corn. The french fries are made from potatoes, but odds are they’re fried in corn oil, the source of 50 percent of their calories. Even the salads at McDonald’s are full of high-fructose corn syrup and thickeners made from corn.

Thanks to documentaries like Food, Inc., people are becoming leery of high fructose corn syrup, pesticide, MSG, and GMO  laden foods . . . and they’re changing their buying habits. Unfortunately, companies have capitalized on this and begun offering organic versions of fake food (highly processed foods with minimal nutritional value).

Organic Fake Food is REALLY Expensive

Organic corn dogs, pop tarts, and imitation Oreos are both expensive and unhealthy. Yes, they are healthier than the original, but not worth the price. People that simply want to take everything in their junk food pantry and replace it with an organic version are headed for two major letdowns: They won’t feel much better and it’s going to cost a fortune.

Real Food is More Expensive Than Fake Food

. . . but less expensive than the diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol medication you’re going to need if you stay on the junk. Whatever your budget, you can afford to buy real food. Here are some of my favorite blog posts on how to do just that. Check them out!

First up is Kristen, the genius behind Food Renegade. I can say genius because I knew her when she was an undergrad in the Philosophy program at DBU and she is extremely intelligent.

I feed my family of four nourishing, real foods on far less than the federal food stamp allotment for a family my size ($668/month). It takes a lot of thought, planning, and detective work to eat this way, but I do it.

Food Renegade, Eating Real Food on A Budget

This one is a MUST READ for anyone interested in getting the most bang for your buck. Ann Marie (aka Cheeseslave) does a fantastic breakdown of the per ounce cost of nutrient dense foods that is very eye opening. And her case for pastured eggs as a budget food is really good. My favorite part though, are the Trader Joe’s egg cartons. Don’t miss that.

It’s true that pastured eggs cost more. But isn’t it obvious that it is worth it? You’d have to eat 5 supermarket eggs to get the same amount of vitamin D from one pastured egg. You may be able to buy a dozen eggs for a buck or two at the grocery store, but you get what you pay for. The national average for pastured eggs is about $4-5 per dozen. However, they are worth that in terms of nutrient density.

Cheeseslave, Pastured Vs. Free Range Eggs

Kelly the Kitchen Kop has put together an index of all her money-saving ideas. This woman is my hero, ya’ll. She rescued Chinese food from never-never land and put it back on our family’s real food table. If you’ve never tried her egg roll recipe you’re missing out. Check out her post: Nourishing, Frugal Healthy Meals for cost cutting and recipe ideas.

Also, don’t miss The Nourishing Cook’s “Bang For Your Buck” recipes. In the coming weeks and months I will be posting more tips for how to save time and money without compromising on nutrition, but I need your help.

How do you stretch a dollar in your kitchen? Tell us your frugal secrets!

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13 Responses to Real Food On A Budget

  1. We spend less when I make a menu each month. That way I know exactly what to buy. If I don’t do this, I end up going to the store every week for items for meals, and I end up buying more things that I don’t need.

    • Heather says:

      I totally agree, Tiffany. If I have a meal plan and check which ingredients I already have in my house before I leave I spend MUCH less. Before I did meal planning I would come home with two cans of spaghetti sauce only to find three more in my pantry that I had forgotten about ; – )

  2. I’m doing a whole series on exactly how to make this work this month! If you’ve got any other ideas, tips, etc. I’d love to hear them!

  3. When it comes to healthy foods, the USDA reports that there are 127 ways to eat a serving of fruit or vegetables for less than the cost of a three ounce candy bar. Obesity isn’t an issue of economics, it is an issue of personal responsibility, both for the foods that we eat and also for the physical activity we participate in.

  4. Amy says:

    Thank you for this blog. I got linked to your blog when doing a search on potty-training. loved what you wrote as I am currently starting day 4 of lora jensen’s 3 day plan LOL. I noted in your blog that you grind your own wheat, and I thought “whoa, this is one serious organic mama”.

    I am part of the typical food consumers but starting to explore other options. I am not someone who likes to recreate the wheel, so any suggestions of how to find/eat nutrient rich foods without breaking the bank will be very appreciated. I will checkout Kate @ modern alternative mama. My question is how do you find the time (grinding wheat…) and how did you get started?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Amy! So glad to “meet” you! You’ve asked some very good questions which I will try to cover in future posts. Until now I could afford (time-wise) to put together a few elaborate meals per week but that’s all about to change. We are expecting our second child in September so I am spending a lot of my time right now identifying quick, nourishing recipes for busy moms. I’ll be posting tips soon. My other focus is on “real food for less,” another series I am working on as part of our family’s effort to make the most of our budget.

      For me, getting started was a result of a health crisis I experienced in my early twenties. After years of eating the Standard American Diet (SAD Diet) my health was failing fast. I was a young newlywed that lived every day in severe, almost debilitating pain. I went looking for answers instead of drugs to deal with my symptoms, and every road led back to what I was eating. After some help from one amazing doctor (I tell that story here: http://www.mommypotamus.com/what-is-a-mommypotamus/) I have been able to keep my health vibrant through nutrition. Incorporating whole, organic, grass-fed and locally produced foods has literally transformed my health and that is why I’m so passionate about it. I can’t remember what all my early steps were on this road but I’ll try to look back and put some tips in a future post. Great suggestions, thanks!

  5. Rena says:

    I agree with meal planning & I build off what I have left in the pantry not used the week prior. Then I go off what meats/veggies are on sale @ Cenrtal Market. I am very interested in learning more about the co-op. I know baby is on the way very soon, but would love to converse in the future. Many blessings to your family. R

  6. Shawna says:

    Hey- I live in Fort Worth and was wondering if you can tell me a great local source for grass fed meat, real “free range” chicken eggs. Milk products, too…although I have never tried raw milk before… I read Michael Pollan’s book “Omnivore’s Dillemma” over Thanksgiving and I am determined NOT to support the atrocious conditions that farm raised animals face…but I am not wanting to go Vegan either :-) I was really astonished to learn the truth behind the industrial organic industry. I no longer feel good paying over $3.00 for cage-free organic eggs at the grocery knowing that these terms are largely rhetoric, and the only real difference between the $3 eggs and the $1 eggs is that the hen feed is “organic”. I wish I could start a grass farm :-) I really love cows, and I also love to eat their products. But I think this can all be done in harmony with nature.

    • Heather says:

      Hi Shawna – I’ve created a list of local farms under the “Local” tab in the top right navigation. Each farm has different standards products, but they are all WAY better than anything you can find at Whole Foods. Actually, some of them supply Whole Foods with meat and such, but you’ll pay double for it there.

      Recently I’ve been ordering meat from Paidom because they have a variety of meats (not just beef) and so it’s simpler for me. However, I buy eggs and bones for making broth from Rehoboth Ranch. I have to drive to the Coppell Farmers Market to pick them up but it’s worth it to me. Truly pastured eggs where no grains are fed are very rare. I only know of one farm and it is REALLY FAR away. Rehoboth does feed their eggs non-GMO corn and soy as a supplement to the bugs they get in the pasture, but that works for us.

      Many farms that are far away deliver to Fort Worth on a regular schedule, so check around and see who has a drop off point close to you. Hope this info helps!

  7. [...] point is, some concepts by definition exclude others. Last summer, after creating only one post in what was supposed to be series about real food on a budget, I started to believe those two terms [...]

  8. Tina Chalfant says:

    Thanks for this! I am newer to your blog and I really appreciate the information and encouragement that you offer. Keep it up!

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