6:50 AM

The 'B' word

Posted by Nicole |

Yes, I'll go there - the BUDGET! I know there seem to be a lot of bloggers who post on this - especially tips on more inexpensive meals and how to cut costs here and there. I devour those articles hoping to find the magic answer to all my problems. Actually one problem.

Good food costs money!

When we started our traditional food challenge I was super excited about the new diet, the whole milk, sourdough bread, trying my hand at new recipes and seeing my health improve. I was already cooking from scratch so that wasn't much of a stretch, I just began cooking with better quality ingredients. Which translates for us to a bigger amount of money going towards food. I definitely buy into the value of investing in our bodies and good food does that. However, when there really isn't room to budge in other areas of the budget, what is a family to do?

We have a family of 5 living on one income with increasingly hungry, growing boys to feed. We live in a part of the country with a fairly high cost of living. My desire is to feed my family wholesome, homemade food that will nourish their bodies and knit our family together. There really is something about sitting around the dinner table as a family that is so precious. This time of year we love to eat outside on our deck where we can just hang out and talk together after dinner.

So while my style of cooking (from scratch) hasn't changed, the price of ingredients has increased. Eggs, milk, organic fruit and veggies, and meat are the more expensive items on the list and I have been taking measures to ration/get the most bang for my buck with these items. I have increased the legumes in our diet. I have cut back on the baking of sweets. I buy local as often as I can. There are still times however as I pass by the non-organic veggies on sale as I head towards the small, overpriced organic section that I wonder... I know why I choose some things over others but to what extent is this the best use of the money we make? How can I truly feel good about spending more on food when there isn't a lot of money overall to spend?

The farmers' market is a good place to spend my food money, however how do I know if I am still getting a good value for the product? The rainbow chard I bought this weekend was so beautiful and fresh it was easy to shell out $2 for a bunch - but really? Is that a decent value for a small side dish that my kids will hardly touch?

We are growing a small garden this year and that helps. Someday I would love to have chickens but that isn't feasible where we are now.

I guess my struggle comes from aligning my culinary values and tastes with our limited budget. I hope to eat well but not stretch our budget further than it can go.

So my question is this, what does this ideal actually look like? Do some of you make nutritious sacrifices for the budget or the opposite? Or am I missing the point? What are some great ways to feed a growing family without costing a fortune?


Anonymous said...

For myself, I really had to stop reading all of those blogs dedicated to buying groceries for 50.00/week or whatever. I was getting so annoyed at the low prices, but not realizing they are stocking up on Poptarts & the like.

I figure, I've got to be saving money somewhere. :)

Anonymous said...

I do make nutritious sacrifices for budget, because that's the only choice I have right now. Admittedly, I could probably get meat cheaper by buying a side of cow, but where could I store it in my studio apartment? There isn't room or money for a chest freezer. I can't have chickens or a garden. We do the best we can.

We buy local non-homogenized grassfed milk- but it IS low temp pasturized.
We get pastured eggs, because I volunteer at the community supported kitchen that sells them.
We buy grass-fed beef-but really ONLY ground. Anything else is a huge treat.
We buy rocky or rosie whole chickens. They aren't pastured, but at least they are affordable, and we make stock with them. They're a little better than some other commercial chickens.

Basically, we emphasize different things, make trade offs. I'd rather get non organic produce (other than the dirty dozen), and get pastured butter. If organic cabbage is plenty cheap too, great, but if the carrots are 50 cents more a bunch for organic...

Also, we DON'T buy at the farmers market mostly. Its too expensive. We buy our produce at a locally owned market which happens to sell produce from many of the same farms that sell at the farmers market, but at better prices. (they buy in bulk). Sometimes, our produce comes from 1 state away. (never really more than 1 or two states away though, except for a few treats like mangos). If I had a large family and no store like monterey market, I would get a CSA box. I found that in a small family, it was too much food, but in a bigger one, it might be fine. Definitely less expenssive.

The balencing of budget is deciding what trade-offs your willing to make. For me that means prioritizing good protein and fat over organic produce, and veggies over fruit (usually veggies are cheaper, so we get lots of veggies, and a few fruits).

"Farmer" Elaine said...

Try square foot gardening if you want to cram more vegetables on a smaller portion of land. Get to know your farmers, they may give you deals. Especially if you come at the end of the farmers market. Try your hand at canning when in season, so you can eat local all year long. Things like beets that are cooked before lacto fermenting are a perfect choice. Make more from scratch, such as tortillas from sprouted grains, only takes five minutes and they are so much yummier. Good luck1

Anonymous said...

Using a chicken tractor, we have hens in the city, even though it is technically not specified as legal. Maybe a chicken co-op would be something your neighborhood would be interested in. Possible a large park would allow space for it, or a nearby neighbor with enough room. Research a bit about chicken tractors and other alternative chicken keeping methods and maybe you'll have fresh eggs closer than you think. Also, it's not a huge stretch to look for someone with more space that you have, who is unable to care for it. There are often elderly people who would love to have a garden and chickens, but can't do much of the physical work. Voila, co-op...

Post a Comment