Is Organic Food Too Expensive? Don't Stress It Mama, Here's Why! | myhumblekitchen.com

Whenever I write a heartfelt post like this one, I usually get various emails from people that need a bit of encouragement and help. Yesterday I received an email from a woman that needs help in budgeting real food for her family of six children and two adults. Her incoming finances have come to a halt and with that, so has her grocery budget.

She writes…

I was wondering if you had any tips for me. I used to be able to afford raw milk, truly fresh pastured eggs, grass fed meats, and organic vegetables… but lately our incoming finances have come to a screaming halt. I do not have food stamps, I have to feed 6 kids and 2 adults on 150.00 a week. Where I live raw milk costs 10.00 a gallon. :(

What would you suggest to someone in my position?

When I read this email my heart sank remembering the difficult times my family went through last year. I know what it’s like to have your source of income pulled right from under you and then having to pull what resources you have left to make ends meat and still feed your family nourishing food. It’s a very difficult place to be in especially when we have optimal standards of feeding our family.

Dear reader, let me try to help you the best that I can and to those of you reading this post, please feel free to impart your wisdom in the comments below.  I know this community is one to help and encourage one another, so let’s join together today and help as best we can.

First of all, you can do this. It will, however, take time and dedication but it can be done.

25 Day Grace Filled Journey to Real Food

Is Organic Food Too Expensive? Don't Stress It Mama, Here's Why! | myhumblekitchen.com

First things first, if you haven’t already, please join the free 25 Day, Grace Filled Journey to Real Food email subscription – you can join at any time. I have written many posts in this series about budgeting in real food and I even include 3 weeks of free menu plans to help you along the way and free resources including my grocery list of what I buy at Trader Joe’s and Costco to save money.

A Real Food, Food Budget

Second, I’ve also written a series of posts that will give you a better understanding to the basics of budgeting for real food. This will give you a good starting point and introduce you to methods of obtaining local, real food for less money. It may take a bit more work on your part, but it can be done.

How to Feed a Family of Eight on $150 a week

Step 1. Menu Plan

The number one way to save money is by menu planning and then sticking to it. The sticking to it can be a bit more difficult… ahem. Depending on how you menu plan, just make sure you plan according to the season. When you plan your meals around what’s currently growing and being sold at the farmers market, you’ll save quite a bit of money. I personally plan my menu’s after seeing what’s growing in my gardens and visiting the farmers market. I then plan my menu’s around what I have purchased. I enjoy planning this way as it also ensures that my menu’s are vegetable heavy which also saves us money by cutting down on meat.

Step 2. Source Your Ingredients

Local Pastured Meats, Eggs, and Dairy

If you’ve joined the 25 Day, Grace Filled Journey to Real Food or have followed My Humble Kitchen for awhile, you’ll know that the three most important things to buy local are meat, dairy, and eggs. So with that in mind, the best ways to save money on these products are…

  1. Buy local pastured meat with your tax return. This is what my family does every year and it saves us a lot of money and stress throughout the year. I don’t have to worry about buying meat, besides chicken, for an entire year. It allows me to also increase my weekly grocery budget for other things I may need.
  2. Since it’s already the middle of the year, my second recommendation would be to join a local Weston Price Foundation group. In this group you will find many homesteaders raising their own meats on their own properties. Often times, you’ll be able to score great deals by purchasing your meats directly from them. You’ll find that products purchased through this group are simply the best.
  3. If you’re a real foodie, one of the most difficult meats to purchase locally is chicken. It’s very expensive. My number one recommendation would be to raise your own chickens for meat in your backyard. I know, it sounds crazy, but it’s simple and you can easily raise 15-20 birds for about $8 per bird. (I’ll make sure to write up a post on this soon.) It takes about 3 months to raise a bird, so you still have time this year. I know many of you may be thinking, but I can’t cull them myself. No worries. Find out where your local farmers are taking their birds to be butchered so that you can take yours in as well. If raising birds is out of the question, I would then recommend buying organic chicken from Trader Joes or Costco. I purchase from them often as its economical and the birds are at least raised with organic standards. I purchase packages of drumsticks from Trader Joes and boneless chicken thighs from Costco.
  4. As far as eggs, you can definitely read about how to raise backyard chickens from my Urban Chicken Keeping 101 series. If that’s out of the question, I would again check into your local Weston Price Foundation group as most of their members will make sure that they feed their chickens gmo free/soy free feed.
  5. For milk, I also have had to give up purchasing raw as the prices are nearing $10 a gallon as well. With 3 children and 3 cousins that drink a lot of milk, this just wasn’t economical for my family. So instead, we’ve opted for locally produced VAT pasteurized milk. It’s pasteurized at 180F and non-homogenized. The cost here is half of what raw milk costs so it’s a good compromise for my family. Again, you can read all about the differences in milk by signing up to my free 25 Day, Grace Filled Journey to Real Food email subscription series.

For my family, purchasing locally raised, pastured meats, dairy, and eggs is the most important thing. I don’t budge on it, I don’t compromise. In the comments or in our facebook group page, let’s discuss how you source these products at the best prices.

Produce

I save the bulk amount of money by growing my own produce and shopping at the farmers market. If you’d like to get started gardening, check out my Organic Vegetable Gardening 101 post. It really saves me money especially with simple things to grow like lettuces, carrots, and beets.  Also, when the bulk of the summer crops hit like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and eggplants… goodness, I hardly have a need to go out for produce. It’s fantastic.

Grocery Stores

Once I’ve purchased all that I can locally I then purchase the rest of what I need at Trader Joes, Costco, and  HyVee. I can’t say enough good things about Trader Joes. I’m going to share a post soon on why I love it so much and exactly what I purchase through them. If you’d like my list soon, sign up for the 25 Day, Grace Filled Journey to Real Food.

Pulling It All Together

Praise God, my family is currently able to spend a bit more on groceries than our strict $120 per week we were spending a year ago. We’re currently spending about $150 a week for our family of five. Can it be done for a family of eight. Yes, but I would suggest leaning heavy on legumes/rice and eggs as protein.

Per week, this is what I would do. I would make a batch of chicken broth using 12 legs or a whole chicken once every other week. I would buy the chicken at Trader Joe’s. That will get you two chicken meals using the pulled meat plus broth. That would be two meals that I would use for week 1 and week 2, then repeat.

So, per week I would make

  • 1 pulled chicken meal (enchilada’s)
  • 1 chicken meal
  • 2 red meat meals
  • 2 legume/rice meals
  • 1 egg meal

The key to making this work and taste delicious is to think and cook traditionally. People from days of old have eaten very well with very little. So as long as you learn how to make really great and nourishing one pot meals using homemade broth, you’ll find that the meals to make cost little and are nutrient dense that they’ll leave you satisfied for a good amount of time.

Below are some of my favorite nutrient dense meals that I know your family will enjoy.

1. Puchero Andaluz

Can Real Food Be Affordable? | myhumblekithen.com

This is my favorite meal that my entire family enjoys. It’s one of the most simple and humble meals that is made throughout the entire country of Spain. It’s economical and will make for 2-3 meals. This version has more ingredients included but I seem to make the first version (the first link) more often than this one.

2. Chicken and Spinach, Green Enchilada Casserole

Can Real Food Be Affordable? | myhumblekithen.com

3. Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup in the Crockpot

Can Real Food Be Affordable? | myhumblekithen.com

4. A Flavorful Meatloaf Recipe, the Real Food Way

Can Real Food Be Affordable? | myhumblekithen.com

5. A Lentil Soup Recipe

Can Real Food Be Affordable? | myhumblekithen.com

7. Traditional, Mexican Chile Rellenos

Can Real Food Be Affordable? | myhumblekithen.com

8. Red Pepper, Zucchini, and Egg Skillet

Can Real Food Be Affordable? | myhumblekithen.com

9. Turkish Pilaf

Can Real Food Be Affordable? | myhumblekithen.com

10. Self Crusting Quiche’s

Can Real Food Be Affordable? | myhumblekithen.com

These are some of my favorites, but of course you can also enjoy others like real food sloppy joes, red enchilada’s, or simple casserole meals like this creamed sausage, spinach, and potato. They’re all nutrient dense and economical. Also, we’re still trying to finish up our recipe index above, but feel free to check out what we have done so far by clicking on the recipe tab above.

Do The Best That YOU Can!

The last and most important thing that I want to stress is that I want you to do the best that you can with the resources that you have. If you can’t afford to buy everything local and organic, don’t stress it mama. Give it all to God and he will bless you far and more abundantly than anyone else can. So if that means that your meat is not organic or local, so be it. I personally feel that feeding your family whole, real foods, made from scratch is by far the most important thing. Also, don’t feel overwhelmed or cast burdens on yourself that you just weren’t meant to carry. Be free and live free in his grace. Don’t ever feel condemned. That’s what my 25 Day Grace Filled Journey to Real Food is all about. Doing the best that you can, in His grace. If you feel overwhelmed or burdened, join today and also, I would really encourage you to join our amazing and encouraging facebook group here. With nearly 1,900 members, you’ll find that we are all on different paths in our journey to real food but I guarantee you, you won’t find a more encouraging group willing to help one another in which ever way we can. This group blesses me for sure!

Dear reader, I hope this post has encouraged you that feeding your family real food on a limited budget can be done. Most importantly, don’t stress it mama. Our God loves you so very much. Do the best that you can and He will bless you abundantly through all of your efforts.

So, let’s open up the discussion. Please share with us how you afford real food on a limited budget. Where do you shop, where do you get your meats, you eggs, and dairy. Any comment you leave will be a blessing to this community!


23 Responses to Is Organic Food Too Expensive – A Real Food, Food Budget

  1. Shirley says:

    What a great post! So many great recipes to try. I go to the farmers market for fresh fruits and vegetables. At the apple stand they will have a 3lb bag of organic apples for $5. They are smaller apples but perfect for school lunch, at the fruit stand they will have a cup of organic peaches that are very ripe for $1, it’s perfect for making sauce or desserts. Very often I find deals and bargains at the farmers market for less than perfect produce, but nonetheless nutritious!
    Shirley recently posted..Marathon Training – Week 1

    • Diana Bauman says:

      That’s a great tip, Shirley! I always buy seconds as well, specifically on tomatoes. They sell for less a pound and still taste perfect for gazpacho and things like that :D Thanks for sharing!

  2. Joan says:

    Wonderful, encouraging post Diana. I am blessed by your words and I am moved to share.

    To the Mama whose finances have come to a screeching halt: we are here for you. You will be fed, everyone one of you.

    Here’s what comes to mind in ways that might support. I do a CSA. This is Community Supported Agriculture. The concept is that you buy a share of a farm’s produce. The growing season is just beginning and it is never too late to join one. The cost would be prorated for whatever point in time you join. My farmer is still looking for members. I am paying for the season in installments. I receive plenty (underline) of local, organic food, with the bonus of various unlimited u-pick-including flowers for an average cost of $23/week for 24 weeks. If you include all the u-pick of berries, peas, beans, kale, collards, tomatoes the cost goes down even further. We have a program called Healthy Food For All which cuts this cost in half for income eligible families! I bet there’s something like that where you are. I also have a small vegetable patch. Even if you only had a flower pot you could plant one cherry tomato plant and it will give nature’s candy to your little ones abundantly in a month or two. $2 for a plant, on avg.

    My other thought is that your local college/university most likely has an extension that has many options for u-pick, local farms, and high quality food for lower income families. It’s a big thing where I live and there’s tons of wonderful support. Look up Cornell Cooperative Extension and then you’ll have an idea of what to look for in your area.

    I shop at the local co-op. One needs not be a member to shop there. I buy my rice, lentils, nuts and flours in bulk. I use a $5 bread machine I bought at a yard sale that hooks my family up with bread. I know just what goes into the loaf. It supplements the local grain-filled bread the co-op sells for $2/loaf. They made a deal with the breadmaker to offer these loaves at a lower cost. My co-op also has a program that if you are on income-assistance-and there is no shame in that why? b/c people need to eat, then you get a good % off your grocery bills. I was once a “superworker” there working a certain # of hours & I received 17.5% off my bill anytime I shopped! Options abound. IIt might take looking with different eyes, perhaps, but the support is there.

    Another large farm stand has the seconds pile with huge savings. Cut off the funky part (I recall Diana’s post about the semi-bad orange in Spain) and make a pie, mash it with a fork, cut into cereal, eat it with juice dripping down your hand. It’s still good. I bought a lot of peaches that way last year.

    If I think of anything else I’ll write again. Diana, thanks for starting this. I needed to hear your words today especially about the burden part.

    Joan

  3. Bev says:

    I am an uncertified organic meat farmer who grows 90% of our own meats. We are blessed to be able to keep doing this for our families and customers. But without some of our customers who barter with us for services we need it would be much more difficult. For example I have the blackest thumb you could ever imagine.. honestly I think I could even manage to kill a plastic plant
    So the barter system comes into play for me seriously here. We each year look for farmers who are willing to sell us veggies in bulk (I must can goods or we would not have good food all year round), in exchange we trade meats for the veggies, Here are some items we have traded meats for this past year, veggies, fruits, fish, mushrooms, baby chicks, rabbits, carpentry work, yard work, gardening help, babysitting, accounting work the options are virtually limitless.
    Check out your local farm communities, you would be surprised how many folks are willing to share God’s bounty with you for barter or even payments ( yes we do this often for families who are going through tough times as we have been there and done that)

    The best advice is DO NOT be afraid to ask! The answers may just surprise you!

    Bev

  4. Julie says:

    Thanks for this great post. I enjoy reading your blog.
    I was just curious where one would find locally produced VAT pasteurized milk?
    Also, I live in Southern California and I just don’t know anyone that farms. We live in the midst of cities all around and I don’t really understand how to find nearby farmers, if that is even possible. Grocery prices, to me, are just outrageous. I have drastically changed the way my family eats and make most of my own meals but would love to do even better at a better cost. Any advice for my situation?

    • Amy says:

      Try localharvest.org or eatwild.com to find nearby farmers. caff.org or sagecenter.org might help you too. Once you start to find a network of other like minded people in your area, you will find even more resources that are there but just don’t advertise. Hope you find some!

    • Shirley says:

      Hi Julie, I’m in LA too. I looked on localharvest and eatwild before, there are a lot of farmers in San Diego and Central California, so very many to choose from. If you or anyone knows of a good farm for meats and dairy I’d love to know as well!
      Shirley recently posted..Marathon Training – Week 1

      • Caryscia says:

        Watkins Cattle or Novy Ranch have some really great options for meats. Not too sure on the dairy. I live in Ventura County and there are so many options out here and in Santa Barbara county as well.

  5. Michelle says:

    Great post, besides Weston Price, try localharvest.com, put in your zip and it pulls up farmers, co-ops, and CSA ‘s in your area.

  6. D'Ann Martin says:

    I totally agree with Bev’s comment about bartering! Recently, a friend of mine who is a distributor for Young Living Essential Oils found out that I was interested in the starter package. She offered me discounts and even a $20 off coupon, but it was just so far out of my families budget that I couldnt even think about it. I just kept telling her that when I ever get the extra money, I’ll get in touch with her. Recently after a school program (our kids are in the same grade), she approached me and asked if I would be interested in bartering for the oils. I was floored! YES PLEASE!!! So far I’ve babysat their daughter, and hope to do more housecleaning/clerical/babysitting work for them in the near future! Praise God! I never would have asked to barter as I don’t want to possibly offend someone, but this showed me that her and her husband love the bartering system! It taught me a lesson in humility. Also, I live in Binghamton NY, and we have a program called the Mobile Food Pantry through the Food Bank of the Southern Tier. Basically, they take an old beer truck and go around to all the grocery stores and take all their perishable food that is close to expiring, set up in different towns and communities and give everything away for free. Once again, it takes some humility, but through this program I have been able to feed my family wholesome food that is often organic as well! To me, it is the most amazing form of recycling food that even a few years ago would have been sent straight to the dumpster. I freeze or cook the food I get immediately, so the concern of safety or freshness is never an issue. Many communities have wonderful programs that actually often get underused. I believe that God will indeed bless us if we do our best, accept his grace and stop beating ourselves up. A few months ago, I was really struggling with this and then Laura at the Heavenly Homemaker blog wrote a piece on, “God is bigger than a free range chicken.” It helped me so much, just like today’s message by Diana:) I think the message of grace is the one we need to hear over and over again…

    • Joan says:

      Hi D’Ann, I’m in Ithaca! yes, it’s astounding how much goes in the dumpster. It doesn’t have to be that way. I do think our area is progressive with second harvests-and I think there’s a program called just that. I wonder how country-wide it is…

      I forgot about bartering! Yes, mama’s you can barter! is there a service you can do? Something you and/or your partner can do such as carpentry or painting? I’ve bartered massage sessions (I’m a sometimes LMT) for high quality yarn from a local yarn lady. can you knit? knit hats/gloves/scarves/sweaters.

      Another thought that I’m so glad I remembered and used for the first time last year is foraging. I recall the post Diana wrote of the huge apple and pear harvest she had with her friends. I think I have that right.

      Check this out: https://fallingfruit.org/ Here’s their little intro “Falling Fruit is a massive, collaborative map of the urban harvest. Uniting the efforts of foragers, foresters, and freegans everywhere, the map already points to over a half million food-producing locations around the world (from plants and fungi to water wells and dumpsters). Our rapidly growing user community is actively exploring, editing, and adding to the map. Join us in celebrating the overlooked bounty of our city streets! Use the site anonymously or sign up for an account to access additional features.”

      Keep going, wise women! Keep the home fires burning and the tummies full.

  7. Erin says:

    Though difficult to humble oneself, using community/county/public assistance to get through the hurdle is precisely why such programs exist. Utilize a food pantry, apply for assistance programs, etc While the foods you receive with either suggestion may not be exactly what you want, getting a few extras or basic staples may help stretch the food dollars to allow you to purchase the natural products you feel are necessary. When and if you are ever able, you can give back to the assistance programs that helped you or help out a friend/neighbor in need. I truly believe that God gives us valley’s so that we appreciate the peaks. The view from the top is wonderful, but the journey getting there can be just as great when you put your full trust in Him.

  8. Emily says:

    Where I live there is a local gleaning program. It is a group of volunteers that go around to all the area farms and “glean” what’s left in the fields after their market harvest or if the farm is unable to sell everything from a field, or if the produce is a little gone past for market but still perfectly yummy. The group then donates the produce to schools, senior centers, the food pantry, etc. Generally the volunteers that glean the produce also get to take some home themselves. There aren’t many programs like this that I am aware of but maybe you could follow their idea and find a local farm that would give you a call and let you know when you can come through and glean from their fields? Our program has saved thousands of pounds of veggies- there is an amazing amount of food going to waste! Separately from the program, a family friend with a field of corn that wasn’t going to be picked gave my family permission to glean. We ended up with lots of corn on the cob ffor resh eating and a winter’s worth of frozen corn. I’ve also been lucky enough to receive food from the market thatthey can’t keep on the shelf as it is past its expiration date but still perfectly good through this same gleaning program. Maybe starting up a program in your area with some other mom’s?

  9. Breanna says:

    We, too are on low income, and are currently trying to become self sufficient. We are a family of 4. Most of our red meat comes from deer, which we kill in the winter (typically 6), we kill 2-3 pigs for sausage and barbecue (one butt lasts for two dinners and 3-4 lunches). We are raising chickens currently for eggs and meat, but they won’t be laying for another month or two. We grow our own garden with enough produce to can and save. This year we only filled half of what we tilled. Next year I hope to fill it all, but this was our first large garden. We planted many things that are only recommended for fall planting, but they’re all turning out well and we live in sc! We plan to replant many things in the fall. We buy all of our chickens whole (since we currently aren’t slaughtering because they are going to be our layers) and make broth out of every one of them and can it. We have a pond we fish in for meat. We plan to purchase rabbits in a month or two to raise for meat, as they are some of the cheapest to raise and most highly producing animals, and being a taxidermist, I know how to tan and sell hides, another bit of money coming in. We don’t currently use much beef, due to prices for organic/grass fed. We spend $50 per deer we get done, so that’s about $300.we are currently gluten free/ dairy free, and I buy whole coconuts to get coconut milk, water, and make coconut flour. Next year we are going to get fruit trees and nut trees for future use.
    My biggest tip is as soon as you get fresh produce home, preserve it in some way (freezing, canning, dehydrating). One big thing is with rabbits you can get a good amount of meatn starting away with three rabbits. they recommend three because you want to be sure there’s no mistake in male-female. With wire bottomed cages you can move them around the yard and the main source of their food can be grass.

  10. Bethany says:

    Diana, this is maybe they greatest, most detailed post I have seen answering one of typically the toughest questions asked. Fantastic job! Your heart to help is a beautiful thing. :)

    Dear Reader,
    How to feed your family well using the means God has given you can be very very hard! But as I like to say, “Challenge: accepted.” :) I have a family of 5 (going on 6, but she won’t be joining us at the kitchen table for a while so I won’t count her) plus a large dog (whose food is accounted for in our weekly grocery budget) and we have a weekly food budget of $100-120/month. Over the last year or two, it’s been much lower (like $60-75/month) and sometimes higher ($150/month), but where we’re at now is probably a pretty good average for us on a regular basis.
    I agree with Diana’s #1 tip 100%. Menu plan! I’m not gonna lie, making up a menu plan every couple of weeks is hard! But it’s something I’ve committed to doing & something that is truly beneficial for keeping us within our means. I’ve used a handful of different online services for this (FREE trials) over the years, but I always come back to making my own. It helps if you can find at least a week’s worth of frugal family favorites that you can have regularly… Meals that almost everyone in your family will happily eat, that are great at stretching a dollar, and you’ll need enough in your monthly rotation so that they don’t get too boring. For me, this is the biggest challenge. Having 3 kids 6 & under and a sometimes-picky husband, it can be difficult to appease all when it comes dinner time. So strive for around 80% satisfaction. You can’t please everyone ALL the time, so do your best to hit the majority. :)
    The other major tip I have come to embrace is: grace. Maybe you literally can’t afford raw milk & dairy products, all grass-fed meats, and pastured gmo-free eggs. I understand! And I promise you it’s okay. I have to make sacrifices in some areas. All of us do. What is most important is that you sit down with your husband and decide what areas of your diet/nutrition are the most critical to YOUR family & go from there… Make a list. Include reasons why. Prioritize them on a scale of 1-10 or whatever. Then focus on the top 1 or 2 priorities and see how you might be able to make them work within your budget. Maybe you’ll find you can even squeeze in your top 3 or 5. (Wouldn’t that be great!) Sourcing your ingredients like Diana mentioned is great advice too as you try to practically implement your top health priorities.

    Eggs & Dairy
    For us, we buy 2 dz local pastured eggs (conventionally fed… See? compromise) and local VAT pasteurized milk (another compromise).

    Meat
    For meat we do a number of things. Instead of beef (EXPENSIVE!), we usually are able to purchase 1-2 deer from my father-in-law, who hunts & only charges us the cost to process. This year, we got NOTHING. The deer just weren’t there! So we’d been doing very little red meat, aside from the maybe once weekly Trader Joe’s buy of (usually) grass-fed ground beef or, even more rare, cut of beef. But recently we split an eighth of a pastured, grass-fed cow from a local rancher with my parents using some of our tax return. Granted, it won’t last us even close to an entire year, but at least we have SOME really wholesome meat for the summer. I may even be able to stretch it into the fall?
    As far as chicken goes, I have participated in the semi-annual chicken butchering “parties” that our local egg producers hold and come home with 5-7 stew hens (great for soup, shredded meat, and broth!) at a time that way… all for just a day’s honest labor. However, the parties don’t always fall on convenient dates for me since there isn’t often more than a month’s notice, so I miss out more than I’d like. And I resort to Trader Joe’s pastured whole chickens and chicken pieces a lot.

    Produce
    We do have a garden, but I haven’t had much luck with it the last couple of years. One reason is due to time constraints, the second is financial believe it or not (I haven’t been able to amend my soil like it needs), and another is just plain laziness (I’m a watering slacker!) So when I buy, I try to stick to the EWG’s guidelines when possible. Buying from the clean 15 is always a-okay, and I typically purchase organic when it comes to the dirty dozen. This means buying in-season produce most of the time, which is just fine for us. We buy frozen veggies/fruits from Costco/Trader Joe’s in the winter as needed, since this season of babies, babies, babies makes canning & preserving waaaay difficult!

    Where I Shop
    Do you have an Aldi near you? I know not everyone is a fan, but it has been seriously a lifesaver for me! I probably spend half of my weekly grocery funds & am able to get virtually all of our menu ingredients there. The other half generally is spent at Trader Joe’s for meat and other items that Aldi doesn’t carry. I make one monthly Costco run and purchase things that we need in bulk, i.e. toilet paper & shredded cheese. And I probably buy from our Azure Standard co-op once every 2-3 months. I rarely meet the $50 limit for an Azure order, but my mom is a member too so I can add on to hers and we have no problem meeting the limit together.

    Simple is key! I do NOT like boring menus. Unlike the rest of my family, having to cook & eat the same thing over and over and over repels me more than I can explain. I’d almost rather not eat. But if you keep your menus simple (NOT boring), you can keep your ingredients simple too. Throw in a new recipe every two or three weeks to keep things interesting and to test different palates. You should be able to keep the rest of your month pretty stable, so you can afford a little splurge once or twice a month. If not, just try using different spices and herbs in an old family favorite recipe. Who knows? You might end up preferring the new flavor & add a new favorite to your list! And you get to avoid the boring element too. :)

    Good luck! I’m praying you are able to find that “niche” in your cooking & baking that will perfectly accommodate your family’s financial ability and your nutritional needs.

    • Bethany says:

      I should also mention that we are city dwellers and have never been on any sort of assistance program. I don’t say this out of pride, but because: 1) my husband is a pastor (unpaid) and church leadership requires a level of discretion not known to most people — our #1 goal is to live a life “above reproach”, 2) he also works full-time outside the home & we have chosen to live on his one income so I can stay home with our kids and homeschool, and 3) we have worked very hard & have been extremely blessed to become debt-free (outside of our mortgage) & hope to stay that way.
      I’m not casting any stones for those who have chosen to take assistance from the government or other programs/agencies, because I don’t believe it is wrong when it is not abused. However, it is not something we have felt led to do and God keeps providing for our needs so there have been no dire straits to require it. All this to say that it IS possible to feed your family well. It IS possible to do it on your budget. And it IS possible to do it without assistance if that is the Lord’s will for your family.
      I am reading some of the comments above and it sounds like there are some amazing programs out there that do not require food stamps, WIC, or other government agencies! How encouraging! I am not aware of any like those in our area, but definitely research the like around where you live and see if any of them would be a good fit for you.
      Bethany recently posted..Glosser Chronicles: May Review

  11. Sangeetha says:

    1. This is probably obvious but – check EWG’s dirty dozen and clean 15 lists to determine which ones to buy organic.
    2. Sounds obscure but – do you have to pay for your water? If you do, keep the water that you use for washing grains or beans or fruits and vegetables. You can use it to flush, to soak dishes, and so on. You can even use it to water plants. Traditionally (in my country), water used to wash rice was given to the milk cow. For some reason, my building has had many water shutdowns (for some work or the other). It was amazing how just about 2 L of water serve well for the entire day’s worth of washing hands and so on! And using a bucket and a mug instead of a shower or a bath – really, you can do with one bucket of water! That is one minute of a shower.
    3. Sprout beans (not kidney beans or soybeans) to increase nutrient content. Also, sprouted grains are more vegetables than grains. The calories don’t decrease but vitamins increase and fiber and anti-nutrients are broken down, making them easier to digest.
    4. A recipe for soaked and sprouted (sprout for less than 24 hours, if at all; otherwise, it won’t work; this is usually made with mung bean but you can also soak a combination of Bengal gram lentils and/or red lentils and/or and brown rice, soaked for 3-4 hours; drain water, pulse in a food processor or a high speed blender, add salt, ginger, hot chillies and cumin, all to taste, while grinding, and use the batter to make crepes. The batter should be about as thick as pancake batter; somewhat thinner is ok but don’t make it runny like crepe batter) I remember reading on a forum that one mother uses these crepes instead of tortillas for her gluten-free child. I have even added chopped greens or shredded carrots to the batter before use. Or really any vegetable, as long as it doesn’t make the batter too runny.
    5. Another recipe that can be used for any split lentil – to a heated skillet, add as little or as much oil or ghee you want; when the oil is hot, add cumin seeds; when they start to turn brown, add chopped onions, saute the onions, add washed lentils and cook as you would normally cook them. I also add turmeric, freshly ground black pepper (preferably), and crushed garlic to the almost cooked lentils. Or, just a tomato or two, chopped, for the flavour. Or even some chopped spinach or other green. Again with those greens! Yes, much to my husband’s annoyance, I use greens a lot. One thing I like about kale and chard is that they don’t shrivel up anywhere as much as does spinach. So, less goes a longer way. If you want to boost the flavor, you can add crushed cumin seeds-green chillies-shredded coconut (I use the frozen kind) to the finished product.
    I am a member of a co-op and whatever I can buy in bulk and organic from there, I do. Like kidney beans, chickpeas, mung beans, black beans, pinto beans, steel cut oats (I make overnight slow cooker porridge with cinnamon; as you are going to cook it anyway, if you choose to use milk to cook the oats in, I would get the regular grocery store organic milk for this), lentils, red lentils, and more, all organic. Whatever I don’t get there, I buy in a South Asian grocery store. You can get bags of about 8 lb of various lentils and beans for about as many dollars.
    I hope your income increases again soon. Good luck!

  12. This is such a great post! There are so many of us struggling right now to feed our families healthy food while income continues to dwindle. For us, we have had to let go of raw milk and organic meats. We have chickens, but I’m not sure of the quality of the eggs as we buy the cheapest feed. We just do the best we can to eat real food and not worry about the rest of it. We just have to trust our health to God at this point. We eat a lot of rice, beans, and lentils to stretch the meat we do eat. When it comes to veggies, what we can’t grow, we buy frozen as that is cheaper than fresh. When it comes to fruit, we eat a lot of bananas and whatever else is the lowest priced. We drink a lot of water and iced tea and have given up many more expensive items like soda, ice cream, fish, lunch meats, etc. It’s been difficult, but we are so thankful that we are still eating well when so many are going without. Thanks for the post!
    Heather @ My Overflowing Cup recently posted..The Cost of Unbelief

  13. Steph says:

    Loved reading this and all the great comments too!!

    Would you be willing to share how you feed your meat chickens to produce them for around $8??!! We are getting our 1st batch in about a week and still not sure if this will save us any money or if it will cost us more. We mix our own whole grain, soy-free feed for our laying hens and would love to do the same for our broilers! Thank you for the encouraging post! God bless! :)

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Steph, we’re currently paying about $19 for a 50lb bag of gmo/soy free not completely organic feed. In order to keep the cost down, it really comes down to what they’re eating besides feed. So, when I do raise backyard chickens for meat, I give them as many table and garden scraps as I can. I even grow extra brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli) since they grow huge so quickly and give it all to the chickens. Not the heads but the leaves. That fills them up quickly. This year, I’m in limbo about what to do since I may be moving to an acreage, I might not be. So, I think I’m going to purchase some broilers in the first week of july and seed some fall brassicas specifically for them. Lettuce is also so easy to grow and comes in fast. That would be another way to get them some greens. In my backyard I also have a ton of plantain that I’ll let the chickens attack as soon as they seed. They love that. So really, it’s being intentional to what extras besides the feed that you can give them.

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