I hope I'm not terribly boring this week, talking about food and money. It's all I can think about. I have tunnel vision. I am hyper focused. So here is what we, as a group, have come up with this week:
- Organic Food - 'Tis expensive. I price compared today and 6 organic apples were going to cost me $8.49 - 6 standard apples - $1.00, on sale. Now this was ONE store. I know for certain Super Target carries organic apples in 3 pound bags for $3.49 or something, but it was shocking nonetheless. I've linked to this before, but you don't have to buy everything organic. Some foods contain very little pesticide residue. Dirty Dozen List here. I'm picky about this because I worked with pesticides for years and years, read too many warning labels, and can taste the stuff in my food. The top suggestions I read this week when it comes to organics are: CSAs, home vegetable gardens, and frozen foods. Buying frozen as opposed to fresh could really save us some money. Frozen foods are normally frozen at peak times, so in many cases the quality can exceed fresh, which sit around in boxes for long stretches of time. I plan on buying more frozen, chopped veggies to sneak into salsas, smoothies, and rice dishes. Thanks to Crisanne for this reminder.
- Plan. Kellie mentioned her awesome meal planning system. And Barbara did as well (check out her food blog, with the emphasis on meal planning according to grocery store sales. Frankly, I am usually so distracted trying to keep the children in line that I rarely notice sale items. I am paying more attention lately though. Eating in season goes along with all this. Additionally eating seasonal produce should be something that's a real treat. Plums in July, Apples in September, Clementines in December. There's such a pleasant rhythm to that, where fruits and vegetables are a rare treasure. I just purchased some inexpensive Hatch peppers tonight for our quesadillas. Yummy.
- Roxanne mentioned limiting processed foods and baking at home. We are already doing this and it's great for a number of reasons. If I ever have problems here it's just choosing pricey recipes with additions like dried cherries. Ina Garten, I'm talking to you!
- Cheap foods - Here is a list Cheap, healthy foods and another. I plan on trying a sneak attack when it comes to beans, the only cheap, healthy food that could round out the children's diet. Tonight I am pureeing some beans and mixing them into some rice. We'll see if anyone notices. And I need to just force the issue on things like oatmeal and cereal for breakfast.
- I still can't figure out bulk shopping. I hope that my food goes bad. Food that can sit in storage for a long time makes me nervous. But buying larger containers of yogurt and applesauce as opposed to individual servings is certainly a change we could make.
- Rotating grocery stores. We have a rough idea of which grocery stores have the best price on certain items. To make my point, compare an Amy's frozen pizza that is $4.99 at Target and $7.99 at the grocery store nearby. But it's not like that across the board. I make a trip to Target once a week and my husband goes to the closer grocery store. That way we can get the best prices offered at each store.
- And finally, my sister sent me a link to a budget estimating calculator where I learned, drum roll please, our grocery budget is actually right on for our income (excluding holidays). So all this for nothing? No, I still think we can do better. It's a shift in priorities for me. I want to spend my time and money on other things, but there's not much out there that's more important than eating well. And I think if I go about this enthusiastically it could be a good change for the whole family.