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Eating Naturally while Spending Less

A few days ago I read an article on Mothering Magazine’s newsletter about eating naturally while spending less.

This article is important to me because we (as are most Americans) are trying to spend less at the grocery store (or co-op). But we also want to buy food that is safe for our kids (organic) and limit our environmental impact.

The article shares some simple but effective tips that hit home with me. For example, this one. We spend gobs of money on organic cereal, and I could pretty easily make up some tasty granola (nut free) for my girls. I hope I haven’t missed the window for them to like it– they are used to the Kashi brand we regularly buy.

“One of the most expensive investments families make each week is on organic cereals. A family of five can go through a lot of cereal, especially packaged boxes. While making homemade cereal does take a little bit of time, buying the ingredients in bulk and making a large weekly batch can cut your breakfast bill in half, depending on your family size. Most granola recipes mainly consist of using rolled oats, sugar, oil or butter, and dried fruit and/or nuts and don’t require much hands-on time during cooking. Buy a large storage container and, as a minimum, double a granola recipe for a week’s worth of cereal.”

Readers, do you have a homemade cereal or granola that your family loves? Please post the recipe in the comments!

And this tip, although painful for a lover of salty organic snacks:

“Eliminate Organic Snack Food Purchases

While definitely not the easiest to do, try to refrain from loading your cart with organic snack food.
While it may be organic, it isn’t necessarily healthy. Just as with conventional foods, chips, candy, chocolate, fruit bars, fruit wraps, and cookies are OK on occasion, but can really rack up the grocery bill and your sugar or fat intake. Find the willpower to reduce these purchases and replace them with healthy alternatives that are cheaper and acceptable as daily snacks, such as organic peeled mini carrots, grapes, applesauce, and homemade air-popped popcorn. (Organic popcorn kernels can be purchased in almost every bulk section for under one dollar/pound.)”

Shining a light in my grocery cart is a good and necessary (although sometimes embarrassing and humbling) act for trying to cut back on spending. Eating less packaged snack type foods is healthier for us and for the environment. Does Pirate’s Booty last more than one day in your house, anyway?

At ABCnews.com, a recent article shared some of the same money saving ideas as the article from Mothering. The tip of cutting back on eating meat, will save costs to the environment and your pocketbook. Just cutting one meat meal a week and replacing it with beans or eggs will reap significant savings.

How to beat the snacking bug? Both resources call on ditching the chips, pretzels (the horror!) and organic snacks in exchange for—-popcorn. Not from those microwave bags lined with chemicals and destined for one time use, but from an airpopper or my favorite (but not so low fat) on the stove.
And have you heard of SustainLane Greensavers? They publish weekly newsletters containing coupons for green products and food. You can use the coupons online with a coupon code.

Readers, what are your tips for cutting spending on food? How are you managing increased food prices in our tough economy?

image: housemade granola and tea at red & black cafe, portland by cafemama on Flickr under Creative Commons


  1. I’m trying to move away from prepackaged everything. It’s really hard because of the time commitment, but we are definitely saving money and eating more healthily. (The biggest money saver? Making our own yogurt.)

  2. Make your own bread! Once we bought our first home we had to cut our food budget in half. We did and we’re eating better for it. Making bread can be time consuming but there are great recipes that only have about 10-15 minutes prep time that are whole wheat (of course the bread has to rise). You can make your loaves for under $1 compared to spending $3+ on decent store bought bread.

  3. Great suggestions. As a Nutritional Biochemist, I whole heartedly endorse the comments in this article.

    While organic IS best, low fat, low salt, high fiber, quality proteins (animal, vegetable, soy, nuts, seeds and grains) are the best foundation for long term health for kids and adults.

  4. Under Pressure says:

    My pressure cooker is my best friend. Dry beans, brown rice, barley, and other healthy and cheap but time consuming ingredients are a snap to fix in a pressure cooker. Buying dry beans/legumes and rice/grains rather than canned and instant rice is SO much cheaper. Beans can be quick cooked for 10 minutes rather than soaked overnight and then cooked in fresh water in a pressure cooker in 20-40 minutes rather than hours.

  5. Under Pressure says:

    OH yeah, and make your own pasta sauce from either canned or fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste and herbs/spices. Store in jars in the fridge.

    I use all organic ingredients and my pasta sauce costs about $4 to make 3-4 jars of ORGANIC pasta sauce. Yeah, I make it in the pressure cooker, but you could do this in a slow cooker as well.


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