The second part in our series on being green when budgets get smaller.
Eating healthy (naturally, organically) is a huge part of being green. Purchasing and preparing foods for your family that are organically grown and free of artificial additives is vitally important to the health of your loved ones and the health of our Earth.
How can you continue to eat naturally and organically in our current economy? It’s not as hard as we think.
First, if you are expecting a baby, Breastfeed. No bottles to buy (or wash), no formula to purchase and prepare (or worry over the safety of). If you use cloth nursing pads there is no cost after the initial clothing purchase. $20.00 for a can of formula, I think not! When its time to introduce solids, puree your own organic fruits and veggies. Store them in the freezer in ice cube trays until ready to use.
Buy in bulk. I have been amazed by the variety of (natural and organic) foods available at our local warehouse stores. We are able to purchase organic fruits and veggies, crackers, cereals, meats and dairy. Bulk quantities produce less packaging and are generally cheaper per serving than those found at traditional supermarkets.
Buy local. Foods from local farms are cost effective and healthy. Many small farms offer food that is produced free of sprays, though are not labeled organic due to the cost of obtaining certification.
If you must choose which items to buy organic, go with the the Dirty Dozen. These fruits and vegetables contain the highest amounts of residual pesticides.
- imported grapes
- bell peppers
- red raspberries
Plan a menu, make a shopping list and stick to it! We’ve revised our normal shopping routine so that we don’t deviate from our list. This keeps us to our grocery budget. By planning all our meals in advance (generally weekly), I am able to feed our family healthy, nutritious, natural, mostly organic and TASTY meals.
Use staple items; dried beans, rice and potatoes. I have been amazed at the plethora of meals which can be planned around a bag of beans. Rice is a common meal base in our house because of our gluten free diet. Buy your staple items in the largest quantity possible, so you always have some on hand. It’s so easy to throw stuffed baked potatoes together using the leftovers in your fridge for toppings!
Eat less meat. One meatless day a week will cut your consumption by nearly 15% and therefore cut your meat cost by the same. Even my devoted carnivore of a husband has taken to this idea.
Read labels EVERY time. I became an avid label reader because of our children’s food intolerances. I’ve learned that products change over time, so it is vital to read that label every time. Watch out for artificial ingredients, preservatives (like BHA and BHT) and colorants.
Eat Homemade. Making foods from scratch is often the least expensive. By preparing your family foods yourself, you are in control of what goes in and the quality of the ingredients.
Dilute juice. This is better for the kids anyway as it saves calories and keeps them from filling up between meals. When making concentrate, I just add an extra can of water and no one is the wiser. If I am pouring ready made apple juice, I fill the cups half way with water first. Juice is pricey but the kids still want it. This is a great way to make it go a bit further while keeping some almost empty calories out of the little ones.
Don’t buy prepackaged foods. Juice boxes… Nope. Pudding, applesauce and individual yogurts… no way. Cute, little bags of chips and crackers… not a chance. Instead, buy them in large containers and serve them in small ones. My kids all have Laptop Lunch Boxes which are awesome for waste free lunches, but small lidded containers work just as well. It works nicely to portion the container when you get home from the market and stack the little cups in the fridge or cupboard. That way if the kids want a snack it is ready to grab and go. This also keeps pretzels and crackers fresher because they aren’t in an open package.
Eat to live, don’t live to eat.
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