7 Tips for Feeding Your Family on a Budget
- Editors of FitBump
- Nov 05 2013
- 0 comments
A few years ago my family and I attended a Memorial BBQ, filled with lots of flags, water balloon fun, and of course FOOD! It was hosted by a very kind and hard-working family who have 8 children, with a 9th on the way! After I found out how many kids they had AND that 5 of them were BOYS I wondered....."How in-the-heck do you feed them all!?" I mean let’s be real. My family of 5 devours $200 worth of groceries in only a few days. Granted those foods include many organic products, gluten-free items for my middle son, and TONS of fresh produce for juicing, but I can’t imagine what it would be like for 10 of us! Many times when watching the weekly grocery bill being tallied up I pray and cross my fingers that I don't exceed $250. Are we the only family spending this much on food? A fellow crunchy mom at the BBQ told me that everyone in her 5 person family, besides her husband, eats gluten-free and they all stick to a mostly organic diet. I seriously gave a sigh of relief when I found out her grocery bill was as ridiculous as mine! But it got me thinking...why does it have to be so expensive to nourish ourselves with real food? So I did some digging and found out, you don't have to hock a kidney on the black market to get affordable, healthy food. You've just got to get a little crunchified knowledge!
1. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is the freshest way to get produce picked from the farm that day. Here's how it works: local farmers sell "shares" of their harvest to the public, customers buy a share and get to pick up a box of locally grow, seasonal food each week. The cost will vary from program to program, but will usually run you $20-$40 per week for the growing season, which is about 22 weeks. You can find your local CSA program here.
2. Driving through a suburban neighborhood in our town the other day, it was refreshing to see so many houses with backyard gardens. Growing your own food is one of the easiest ways to ensure the quality and cut down on the rising prices of produce. Now this doesn’t mean you have to have an elaborate garden with rows and rows of fruits and veggies. Start small. Whether you have acres at your disposal or a little bitty terrace on the roof of your city apartment, even growing a few tomatoes and fresh herbs can shave money off of your grocery bill!
3. Do you know why supermarkets can charge $3.99/lb for a bag of grapes in the dead of winter? It's because those grapes had to be flown thousands of miles from Chile or some other warm country, which involves lots of fuel, lots of labor, and probably lots of pesticides. When at all possible, buy your produce fresh, in season, and from a local farmer. Not only will the quality be superior, but the price won't be inflated to account for transportation AND you'll be helping to sustain your local economy.
4. So now you have your garden growing, but it’s such a success that you've got 4 lbs. of green peppers you're not quite sure what to do with. You could freeze them, but what if you REALLY wanted some fresh blueberries for a tasty new smoothie recipe? Try taking your bushel of peppers down to the local farmers market and asking for a trade. Many times farms have a surplus of one particular item, so if you have something to offer them that they don't sell --- it might be your lucky day! The farmers are able to make more of a profit and you just scored fresh berries. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me
5. Keeping up with sales and catching them before they expire can be daunting. The online market is riddled with deals, discounts, and bargains you might not be able to find in your local store. Vitacost.com is an online store that has slew of healthy living products. Most of these sites not only have lower prices, but they also reward you for referring a friend or throw in free shipping.
6. Now, I'm not talking about going down to BJ's or Sam's Club and loading up on 5 lbs. of cheese balls. BUT, when grocery stores are giving two-for-one deals on items you know will get eaten in your house, stock up. If I see that strawberries are on sale I'll load up on them and freeze half the batch for juicing or to add to a delicious bowl of oatmeal and honey (YUM!). Buying dried beans and nuts from the bulk bins at grocery stores is another great way to save.
7. I'm all for having pesticide and herbicide free food. But as the Dirty Dozen list points out, there are only a handful of fruits and veggies we need to worry about having high levels of contamination. The rest can be put through a simple vinegar wash to rinse away the chemicals. Don't waste your hard earned money on foods that don't need to be organic.
8. I have to admit, this is something I don’t do enough. When going food shopping I have a rough idea of the meals I'll prepare the upcoming week but, there are many times when I forget to pick up an item we really need or buy duplicates of things I already have. Making a menu for the week can really help with avoiding excess and making sure everything you do have gets eaten.
Nacia K. Walsh is the Founder & Editor of Granolaville.com and the President of The Granolaville Group, a company's whose mission is to empower mothers with the support, tools, and "crunchy goods" they need to create a life that nourishes them. Nacia has written for various local and national publications including Babble.com and the Sesame Street Newsletter. After 3 natural births of her own, Nacia decided to put her experiences and passion for natural birth together by creating SoulFueled Mama, a full service birth support company. This fall she will be launching Ready To POP!, a dance class designed for pregnant women that allows them to shake their booty, connect with their baby, in a fun total body workout.