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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Organic on a Budget 4/25

Since my family has been making some new food choices in hopes of living a longer/healthier life we have adopted a few"'food rules." Make no mistake, we ENJOY eating, we eat meat, AND we live on a budget. This may or may not be similar to your life style... and that is okay. But, here I will share a rule that we have adopted. You can adopt this rule too, or not. Either way, it will be okay with me. =)

Don't buy anything that your great grandmother wouldn't recognize at the grocery store.

This food rule actually came from Michael Pollan's book, In Defense of Food. I highly recommend this book as it has been a great starting point for me on my own food journey. I have actually been thinking of changing the title of these posts since I think it may be a little misleading. My family is buying SOME of our items organically - but not all. (If you are curious about which ones, visit my post here). To get the biggest bang for our buck we purchase the items that are high on our priority list organically and everything else we just try to purchase whole, which gets to the point of this post.

Depending on your age, your great grandmother more than likely didn't see a lot of the "food products" that we see on our grocery store shelves. Things like Go-Gurt, Cheezy puffs, and frozen meals in a bag or box just didn't exist. The grocery stores consisted of meat, dairy - yes even yogurt, fresh produce, etc - more like a market without all the conveniences we see on our shelves. While these items may seem like shortcuts I believe you can put a much more nutritious meal on your table without the use of these prepackaged "food products" and using real food - meat and veggies and grains.

Of course, your great grandmother was a mother in a totally different time than we do now. The pace was much slower, women were at home, more time was spent in the kitchen, and dinners were at a set time around the family table. For most of us all of this just does not exist any more. Most families rely and/or need two incomes just to get by, kids are in tons of after school activities, and sadly, family meals are happening in the family car all too often.

While I'm not here to chide you for your choices, I hope to inspire you to find at least one night a week to sit down to a family meal. Cook from scratch - or close to it - and get your kids and/or husband in the kitchen to participate. Remember the end result isn't everything, it is an experience! If you already have one night week or you find more time to carve out, challenge yourself to two, three, four, or five nights a week! Just start out slow and build up!

As for me, we are buying whole foods and cooking from scratch as often as possible. While I am lucky enough to only work outside of the home part time (2 to 3 days per week) I do get home late during those evenings that I work away from home. However, that is where my meal planning really helps a lot. I plan my whole week (or two weeks) of meals ahead of time on the weekends and I keep in mind the evenings I will get home later so that I plan something fast or easy on those nights. By doing this, my family is able to have a family meal around the dinner table 5 to 6 nights per week.

And, cooking from scratch need not be as daunting a task as it sounds. For me it is usually a meat (or other protein one night per week such as beans) a starch, and a green vegetable. Occasionally I'll cook a second veggie or bake a loaf of bread, but on most nights it is just a trio on our plates. Most of the meals I prepare include a frozen piece of meat I thaw out the morning of the meal and either fresh or frozen veggies. All of the foods I use are made up of three or less ingredients - meaning not processed or minimally processed. These are the things my great grandmother would recognize at the grocery store! And, I can get dinner from fridge/pantry to table in 30 to 40 minutes - and sometime less! I'm not a chef, I haven't had any formal training, I'm just a mom who knows how to read a recipe and have learned a lot from reading online recipes and watching Food Network - LOL.

If you are joining me on a new food journey I hope you will leave your comments below. Feel free to speak about what your family is doing or hoping to do. And, if you have any advice for me or others leave that here too! Just remember to keep it helpful, upbeat, and positive.

If you are a new reader you might want to read some of my older "Organic on a Budget" posts HERE.

Have you got questions? Are you on your own quest to eat wholesome and/or organic? If you've been shopping a little differently as well and the labels have got your brain in a fog... email me or drop me a comment here and I'll be happy to help you find the answers your looking for! Sometimes shopping in a whole foods store can be overwhelming and leave you with more questions than when you came in!


Nicole said...

Great post. I agree, cooking from scratch doesn't have to take that long. For us, it actually takes more time to load up the family and go through a drive thru, then drive home and eat than it does to cook, eat and clean up after a meal cooked at home. If you menu plan it makes it really easy to make dinner since you'll have all the ingredients you need and know exactly how much time you'll need to cook every night.

Crock pot meals are also great if you're short on time. Throw in a roast with some veggies and potatoes and you have a whole meal that only takes about 10 minutes to prep. So easy.

Caroline said...

Hello! I have been making a few changes in our home regarding the food we buy & eat. First off I have bought organic milk for my daughter since she was around 1 1/2 yrs old. Now I'm starting to buy some organIic fruits, like apples and strawberries. I haven't had the time yet to dedicate to really changing things up but hope to in the near future!! We are in the middle of a move so it has been chaos! But I hope to make some blog posts about this very soon and learn from others as I go.

Just curious, have you purchased your 1/2 cow you mentioned a while back?? I may look into doing this as well!

mike said...

I would encourage you to purchase a side or whole beef and split with 3 or 4 families.It is healthy on so many levels.Pick a small or large,but local farm or ranch that raises steroid,hormone and antibiotic free beef,light grain or grass finished.These ranches. genrally take better care of the land.You know eactly where your food is coming from,and your family will notice the favor difference from grocey store beef.Farmers markets are great starting points.

Denise Sawyer said...

Actually we have purchased a side of beef from a local farmer. We split the meat with 8 families - including our own! We should have enough for our family for about 4 to 6 months. I would also recommend this to others and am getting ready to do a second post about beef soon! Thanks for the reminder! =)