You can use money as an excuse to choose cheap, processed foods, but when you’re really ready to dive in I want you to know, it is simply an excuse. Clear heads, energy, regular bowels, and pain-free joints–they do not come from a box. I know I have lurkers who wonder if they can do this. They wonder if they can commit. Their spouse wants to know, “Can we do it on the same budget?”
You can. You won’t break the bank. Read on for more ways to make eating fresh, real food more economical. Read yesterday’s post for more. And tomorrow’s post for even more. NO excuses. Effort? Yes. Excuses? That’s what they are: excuses that enable bad eating.
Learn to cook
Let’s face it. Four years ago, I was just a crummy cook who knew how to boil pasta and mix white flour, butter, and sugar. Since then, I’ve learned how to use most all vegetables and spices. My fear of fish and lamb are gone. My fear of the grill is gone. I’ve learned how to combine what’s left in my kitchen to something my family loves. By learning to cook, you can buy sale items with confidence. You can use cheaper cuts of meat and spices and transform a table to gourmet, although it costs less than steak and chicken breasts. You’ll be able to eye a recipe quickly to decide if it’s a good fit for your family or not. Find a friend and don’t be embarrassed to ask them to help you learn how to cook. It will save you from ill-health and save you money.
Make homemade broth
Never spend money on packaged broth again! Homemade broth just requires leftover scraps of meat, bones, and water (or leftover scraps of vegetables for you vegetarians). Recycling at its finest! You’re making something awesome out of food you’d normally just throw in the trash. How’s that for saving money AND being quite the cook? Make broth to add nutrition, flavor, and save money.
Count the cost of what you don’t buy: soda pop, junk food, breakfast cereal, and meals out
Spend the next two months adding up the price of all the drinks, processed/packaged food, cereals, and meals you eat out. Count it all up. Every stinking penny of it. Every quick run through the drive-through for a latte or Diet Coke. What you tally up may surprise you! Marketers want your money. They’re probably getting it. Especially if you use coupons. Don’t see many coupons for kale. Poor kale farmer. Save money by not buying processed foods and meals out.
Start using the fat skimmed off of meat in place of oil: bacon, lard, tallow
I used to drain all the fat and set it aside to trash when it cooled. Now, I’m much more likely to save it in the pan to sauté some onions and broccoli in or store it in the fridge to use to sauté chicken in later. The fats that we can save from cooking our meats, those are the fats that allow us to better absorb vitamin D and other “fat-soluble” vitamins that we need and are known to be deficient in. I avoid vegetable oil, corn oil, Crisco, and margarine because they incorporate into our cells in “broken” forms which need fixed. Using left-over drippings saves money, saves waste, and avoids use of rancid (spoiled) vegetable-derived oils.
Learn to can. Do it with friends.
It’s fun and creates good memories. I have tons of memories of my mom, Aunt, and Grandma canning together. Happy memories. I have good memories of canning with good friends too. Canning vegetables and fruits picked at peak nutrition saves money and creates lasting bonds with friends and families.
Buy lots of fruit in season.
Then can it. Cook it. Freeze it. Just get it when it’s cheap. 99 cents per pound.
Use co-ops and CSA baskets
Sometimes it takes a knowing a person to get you the information, but most communities now have co-ops and produce baskets where you get fresh-from-the-farm produce at a good price. Amazingly, instead of complaining, most people I know love it when they get something they haven’t had before because they like to “figure it out.” So if you’re willing to learn and experiment, these are great! Ask around, getting fresh produce from a co-op or CSA basket saves significantly.
Drive to the farm
Straight from the source saves money. And many like to chat. I’ve learned so much from our 83 year-old farm woman about chickens, eggs, cows, and canning. She is amazing. Many farmers are talkers and love to share. Buying food from the farm saves money.
Ask a friend to pledge to eat 90% whole, real foods with you
Having a comrade shares the joy, the pain, and the cost. You can split bulk orders. You can get together once a month and cook casseroles to freeze. You can can together. You can share good recipes. Going in with a partner can save money.
Make soup so nothing goes to waste
Learning to use up everything in the kitchen saves money. Soup is a great, economical way to stretch a budget. Of course, you’ll need to learn to cook so you can figure out how to meld all those ingredients together. But with the homemade broth, vegetables you froze from in season, and what’s going south in the fridge, you can make some very taste concoctions. Soups are economical.
Skip those froo-froo drinks
Strangely, this one gets people! Water just doesn’t do it for them. Crazy how far we’ve come when water doesn’t sound good. All purchased drinks seem to cost so much money, even bottled water (which is teeming with plastic run-off). Save money and your health by sticking with water in a glass cup.
There are more
Oh, yes! There are more tips tomorrow. Have you been reading? If so, which tip, in your mind may be the most important? I’m almost bordering on the “Learn to cook” one. Probably second is “Buy it in season.” And probably the most important concept is gathering the drive and effort. With drive and effort, nearly all barriers can be navigated.