Organic eating without the organic prices

So on my Facebook, I OFTEN brag about my shopping adventures and how amazing I am. Let me first apologize for being so unbelievably prideful, I just get so excited! To understand why, lemme give you a bit of info about my family and myself.

[This post was started at 4;35 p.m., with a crawling Lily, lets see how long this takes!]

There are three of us in our household; Eamon, Lily, and me.
We'll start with Eamon.
Eamon was home-schooled, a 4H champion for various dishes, child of a Julia Child instructed mother, and self -taught [wife proclaimed] Iron Chef. When we got married, up to the time I had Lily actually, Eamon did most of the meal planning, preparation...and sometimes clean up!

Lily, up until recently, was a milkaterian so her part in this discussion MAY seem minimal, but you are oh so wrong. Whatever nutrients I am/aren't getting, Lily does/doesn't get as well. So, her adorable parasitic ways have a drastic influence on my diet. For instance, if I eat dairy [especially soft or processed cheese] she gets diaper rash. That my friends, is called a food allergy. Which shouldn't surprise me considering I am lactose-intolerant. [If you think about it, we are forcing our bodies to do something that is very unnatural by eating dairy-especially cow- because our stomachs were made to digest human milk. The closest thing to this being goat's milk. I'm not advocating women be hooked up to udder suckers for mass produced consumption or anything, but think about it...]

Which brings us to the crazy mixed up wonder that we like to call me! I, like many families, grew up on Food Stamps, drank a gallon of Kool-Aid every day, and enjoyed that wonderful chemestry project known as "WIC cheese". Yup, I grew up on gov'ment food, but my mother did the best she could with what she thought she was given.
Allow me to sidetrack momentarily- I think it is a crime that "goverment food" was the crappiest food out there. Our nations goverment made it a point to make the cheapest food, the food that is poisenous to our nations poor, setting them up for constant visits to the doctor, and earlier deaths. By putting us/them on "their" diet, "they" are essentially killing the poor. An outright crime I tell you. Fortunately with the "invention" of the Lone Star card you are given an amount of money to spend at the grocery store however you please.
When I was a freshman in highschool I decided to become vegetarian, and a few years later I found Biblical conviction as well as conviction from the Holy Spirit as to why I should be and should stay a vegetarian. I am now, with much prayer, a pisca-ovo-lacto vegetarian. Which in short means I do not eat any PART of an animal, not even broth. I eat fish and eggs after the Lord told me I am unable [this is only MY situation He was speaking to] to eat the adequate amount of protein for both me and Lily. We occasionally eat cheese [once a week on Pizza Night ;] but other than that, try to keep down on our dairy for fear of a cranky baby and a wrecked septic system]

Ok, so there is a brief...personal... history for all of us.

Most people are shocked to find out I cook 7 days a week, usually two meals a day for the whole family [lunch and dinner for Eamon, breakfast and snacks for Lily, breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner for me] and none of it is "heat and eat" its all from scratch. There are a few exceptions- a speghetti sauce that we LOVE that is cheap, hearty, and good for you, occasional cereal or instant oatmeal, and that's pretty much it now that I think about it.
My good friend/chiropractor/nutrition consultant/call-when-I-have-no-idea-what-to-do-buddy Cindy wrote a fantastic blog this morning on eating organic. I know I, as well as many of her awesome readers have thought, "ya...but you're a can afford that!" A few months ago I challenged myself to eat as much organic as possible without going over our budget. I am very pleased to say, IT CAN BE DONE!

Here are some tricks I've learned.

  • Meal plan- I want to say this is the most important thing for me. I have acquired several cookbooks and blogs that I have read avidly in very small tidbits, to really understand a.) What kind of cook I am [therefore what I am capable of] and b.) What my family enjoys. Meal planning cuts down on the stress of "what to eat"
  • Write a grocery list- this goes hand in hand with meal planning. you will be able to avoid buying food that you don't need and allow you save a ton of money by avoiding the "just in cases"
  • buy bulk- I do NOT in any means mean go to Wal Mart and by the biggest pack of whatever the heck it is in order to save a few pennies here and there! Companies that allow this sort of consumerism are hurting someone, somewhere, and your dollars are fueling it! What I mean is the bulk section of your local grocer. For example; a 15oz can of Kroger brand Chicpeas is $.89. A 15oz can of Kroger brand organic Chicpeas is $.99. A 15oz can of namebrand organic Chicpeas can be anywhere from $1.19 to $2.29! [!] BUT at Sprouts, [look for the "health food" grocery store in your area. Sun Harvest, Sunflower Shoppe, Sprouts, those sort of things are all good. VERY impractical for all of your shopping, but a MUST for this sort of thing.] They have the same organic Chicpeas dried for $.99 a pound! A pound is roughly two cups or 16 oz, BUT once soaked, its almost DOUBLE that! so instead of $.89 for a 15 oz can of Kroger brand, you end up with 16 oz of organic beans for less than 50 CENTS!
  • READ- KNOW WHAT YOU ARE BUYING! Just because something says its organic, doesn't always mean its the best. "Organic" companies are still allowed to use herbicides, some of which are still VERY harmful to humans. An brands that don't neccesarily say organic, can STILL be good for you! For example, Eamon's dad owned a cattle ranch. He had free roaming, grass fed, antibiotic free cattle sold for their meat. They were organic by all means, but his dad couldn't afford the "Organic" liscence, so he never got it : But, any way, if you start to really get to know the companies you buy from, and know what the ingredients are, shopping is going to get easier, quicker, and cheaper!
  • Buy local! This is good for so many reasons! You help your fellow neighbor by supporting his business as well as the growes he/she buys from. The more you buy local, the easier the business can lower their prices. One thing I try my hardest to buy locally is our eggs. We only eat brown eggs from grain fed, free roaming nesting hens. Even at Kroger they are only $.20 more! But just a few blocks down the street from my house [it's very important to support the one closest to you!] Davis Farmer's Market sells a crate of 20 huge, farm fresh eggs for $3.99. Here's the math: when I buy Kroger brand eggs I spend $2.39 for a dozen which is just less than $.20 an egg. When you talk about how many I eat for breakfast [3 every morning! not including lily's egg yolk, or any bking I may do] that is $.60 a day. But when you look at the eggs from the farmer's market, also slightly less than $.20 a day, you may not need me to go further, but because they are so much bigger and filling, I can only eat two, saving TWENTY CENTS a day! The same twenty cents that kept you from buying the eggs in the first place!

Know that this is going to take some time. I started doing this avidly, without wriggle room about three months ago. Now and can shop for the whole week for about $100! Including all of Lily's purely organic fruits and veggies!

All of these things have helped me and my family stay healthy, and very happy. I have decided that I will do a "food" post once a week to show you how we do it in more detail!