Very Limited Income for Real Food Purchases

farmers_market

Apparently I have declared it to be Real Food Budget Week here at Heavenly Homemakers. There’s just a lot to say about real food and money…so I just keep going with this subject. :) If you missed the other posts, be sure to read Our Real Food Grocery Budget 2011 and No Grocery Budget Comparing Allowed.  

Several have asked me to offer suggestions for how to eat a Real Foods diet while cutting back on the budget because of a super low income. This is a hard question for me to answer because I feel that it is very important to invest money in good food. Very important.  If you recall, I used to be a Coupon Queen and spend only about $100/month on groceries back when we had only two kids. I’ve come a  long way since then, learning about real food and health. I now understand that food is NUTRITION for our bodies…and we need to be careful and intentional about what we feed our families. It costs money to eat well, there’s no way around it…more money than it costs to feed our families food that contains little or no nutrition. 

At one point during our family’s Healthy Eating Journey, we were making less than $29,000/year (with no benefits) for our family of six. We were still able to eat a healthy diet, because we made it a priority and because we were creative and because God is good and provides…all the time.

For some of you, $29,000 sounds like peanuts…for others,$29,000 sounds like a fortune. If you’re barely making ends meet, what are you to do?

The question has been presented to me from a reader with a very low income and a family of five:  How would you eat a whole foods diet on only $50/week?    What would you cut out? What would you keep?

First let me say that whole foods or not…it would be very hard to feed five people with $50/week and I would encourage you to find a way to supplement that budget if at all possible. In my next food budget post (because this truly is turning into a little series!), I’ll talk about food budget creativity and share how I was able to help supplement our family’s grocery budget when we needed to spend more on groceries but didn’t have the cash flow!

For now I will address, as best as I can, what I would do if I was only able spend $50/week on groceries….

Food I’d Keep:

  • Eggs – free range if possible
  • Raw Milk – though we’d likely cut back to 1- 2 gallons a week
  • Butter
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables – in season and rationed – and I’d look high and low for free sources and I’d garden like crazy
  • Venison – hunters often love to hunt but don’t always like the meat
  • Beans – I’d likely get much more creative with my bean recipes!
  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Wheat to grind and make my own flour

Food I’d Cut Way Back On:

  • Meat – which is tough because we LOVE meat and feel like getting good protein is very important! I’d likely focus more on buying chicken than beef, because I can stretch a chicken to last six meals if need be. Or I’d skip the ground beef and buy soup bones and oxtail so I could make rich beef broth and stews.
  • Cheese – this would have to be a special treat

Food I’d Cut Out Altogether:

  • Sweets – these would be VERY limited – birthdays and Christmas only maybe?
  • Purchased snack food – I hardly buy these anyway, but occasionally I splurge on a bag of chips or a box of Cliff Bars for a trip. 
  • Juice – again, I rarely buy juice anyway, but if I only had $50/week to spend on groceries, this would never make the list.

I know I’m not doing a great job of making these lists and there are a lot of holes. What about oil? Spices? All kinds of other things I’m leaving out? 

In my next post, I’ll address some creative ways we save, earn and come up with great sources for food.  In the meantime, help me round out these lists!! What would you keep, cut back on and cut out altogether if you had about $10/person/week to spend on groceries?

Comments

  1. Gina says

    I think your list is great! I have found that beans and oatmeal are 2 cheap healthy options. I’d love to know how you can stretch a chicken to last that long though! There is only 3 of us and we can get maybe 3 meals from it and then I make broth with the carcass.

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    Holly in Virginia Reply:

    You’d use the meat, precooked and shredded in casseroles, soups, and that
    sort of thing. Instead of the main component meat becomes an enhancement.

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    Jen McLaimtaig Reply:

    I would be curious too – what size chicken you usually start with. I think mine must be on the small side since I usually max out at 2 meals with chicken and a couple more counting the chicken broth

    love the other ideas too!

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  2. Chelsea M says

    Laura I’m really glad your posting on this topic. I could use all the ideas I can get. We have a family of five(three kiddos and two parents) and currently a budget of about $26 per person a week. To cut down on costs I buy all my spices and grain products(pasta,rice etc) from the large bulk section at my local “cheaper” grocery store. It’s employee owned and you bag your own groceries which helps with lower prices. And I think in general buying in bulk instead of packaged is cheaper no matter where you buy from. Unfortunately with the cheaper price I often forfeit quality when it comes to the produce and meat. So when things are on sale at better quality stores I go for those. lately I’ve also been trying to cut down on meat and dairy to make our budget stretch more so we don’t have to rely on food boxes or help from family at months end. I’m using more dried beans and whole grains which I know are also healthier as well as less expensive. Still trying to get the whole soaking/ sprouting thing down…BTW I’m loving trying out your recipes! I’m wanting to try doing our own bread soon.

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  3. DorthyM says

    There are only 3 of us, all adults now, but we also have pets. On one small income and a good portion of that taken up by gas for the car, I need all the help I can get on feeding my family nutritiously as possible for very little money. I’m planning on gardening, but so far haven’t been lucky enough to find a hunter who would be willing to share venison. We eat a lot of beans and rice. And (sad to say) cornbread. That wouldn’t be quite so bad but I prefer fried to baked cornbread. Thanks to another site that i check out sometimes, I found a good recipe for taco style lentils and rice. My son loves it, and it lasts our family a couple of meals.

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    Penny Reply:

    Could you please share the website where you found the taco style lentils and rice>? Thank you!

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    Kathleen Reply:

    Lentil Rice Taco Filling

    1 1/2 cups uncooked lentils
    1 cup uncooked brown rice (long, short, jasmine, all are ok!)
    6 cups chicken broth (I make mine from Organic Better than Bullion Paste, available at my regular grocery store)
    1/4 cup taco seasoning

    Combine all ingredients in a glass 9×13 pan. Stir until taco seasoning is well mixed in. Cover with tin foil and bake at 300 degrees for 1.5 – 2.5 hours, or until there is no more liquid in the bottom of the pan. Just keep checking for remaining liquid. I found the time varies depending on which oven I use. It cooked faster at my house than that of a family member’s. Serve in taco shells, hard or soft, with your favorite toppings. We like crunchy taco shells to contrast with the soft filling.

    This made enough for 4 meals for my family! We froze remaining portions for other south-of-the-border meals like taco casserole, baked nachos, burritos, etc. I freeze it in ziplock quart bags. We are a family of 4, 2 adults+2children ages 2 & 4. This is the only way I can get my kiddos and husband to eat lentils!

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    Penny Reply:

    Thank you for the recipe! This sounds SO good to me! I just wonder if Laura were making this would she use tin foil to cover the dish while it bakes in the oven? Laura, your input please??

    Kathleen Reply:

    I don’t have a cover for my 13×9. I’d only use a glass cover if I had a cover. I avoid foil almost every way I can. The foil in this recipe never touches the food. It only serves to keep the heat in so the rice and lentils absorb the moisture.

  4. Fiddlesticks says

    Oatmeal would definitely be on my list to buy. I think those other staple things like spices, oil would have to built in and used sparingly.

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  5. Jessica says

    I currently have a budget of $22 per week for one person. It is a new years goal of mine to eat more whole or less processed. I think it is important to follow some of the same guidelines couponers use:

    Stockpile when you can: you have mentioned this in several post in this “series”. Stock up when things are in season.

    There are coupons for “real” or “whole food”. Today alone I was able to print off coupons for organic salad and organic milk. Granted these items are going to be a higher price then their “processed” counterparts but the coupons help. The other day I was able to get one for organic potatoes.

    Be creative. If you have the ability to get something organic that you normally wouldn’t eat take it. Use a ingredient search engine like recipe puppy (http://www.recipepuppy.com/) to come up with ways to use it.

    Just some idea’s.

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    Lisa Reply:

    Thanks for that link – I think I’ll really like that website!

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  6. says

    Thank you for posting on this! For our family of four our food budget is $200/month. Our sons are 17 months and 2 months. That means I have to eat plenty to produce enough milk for the 2 month old and the 17 month old doesn’t eat much (but is on a mainly gluten free diet due to behavior and development issues). It has been so difficult! We spend a good portion of our money supplementing my sons gluten-free diet with some snack foods he can enjoy. And, unfortunately, I can’t eat any beans b/c of the gas issue with my 2 month old :(

    I am so looking forward to other suggestions! Lately we have been eating a lot of eggs and oatmeal. We are lucky enough to have a WONDERFUL source for grassfed beef and we can stock up during the summer months on ground beef for 2.25/lb (we use birthday money and gift money to make this purchase).

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  7. says

    Great post Laura. We have been trying to cut down on grains and starches to help combat post holiday weight gain. This month my grocery budget has been a runaway train!

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  8. Diane says

    I too am wondering how you stretch a chicken to 6 meals, I can usually make four out of it: 1.) chicken as main dish. 2.) Add bits in a salad or stir fry. 3.) Mix remains with bean or rice and make it Mexican and 4.) Use the bones to make stock.

    Lentils are a wonderful filler, I have had lasagna made with lentils, just replace the meat with lentils, it is really good.

    Thanks for the posts, love this topic.

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  9. Ashley says

    Carrots and cabbage are very inexpensive, and lentils are great because they are so nutritious and fill you up at the same time. Bulk popcorn kernels, homemade yogurt, big bags of grapefruit, bananas, garlic… these are all very nutritious and cheap foods. :)

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  10. says

    Oatmeal is a definite winner for breakfast. It’s healthy, and it cuts down on the milk intake for breakfast…. not normally something I’d be glad of, but sometimes, needs must.
    We grow our own veg – this year was not a good year because of the weather, but even with a poor harvest, we still have the blessing of potatoes, carrots and leeks for free…. and it’s January! Of all things, this has been the greatest blessing to us.
    There are six in our family, but hubby’s brother eats with us most of the time, so we’re basically feeding 6 adult portions and 1 child. Food is by FAR our biggest spend, and we seemed to have reached our down-limit (we’re in the UK, on an island, so getting cheap food is very difficult, and having choices of where to shop is limited.)
    I posted last year on some of my budgeting:
    http://homeschoolonthecroft.blogspot.com/2010/08/week-of-meals.html
    Love, Anne x

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  11. says

    I think it’s helpful to keep in mind what is available seasonally AND locally. Food that is grown naturally and close by is going to be less expensive to purchase. I’d suggest checking Craigslist for things like pastured eggs and even local produce. Often people will list garden overload on there. Also check with any local universities. I just discovered ours has a “test orchard” where the ag dept is learning to grow fruit in our climate and all the fruit they produce — they sell cheap! We’ve lived here SIX years! LOL

    You really, really have to work hard and be inventive on a budget and it can get so overwhelming at times. I often want to throw in the towel and just go to the grocery store! But the quality of food and your time is an investment in your family.

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    Lori Reply:

    what a good idea to check craigslist! I did remember seeing beef for sale when I was looking for a freezer. I am definitely going to check that out especially in summer this year.

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    Lisa Reply:

    I never thought to use Craigslist for local food – thanks!

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  12. says

    I would say peanut butter should be added to the list – usually inexpensive and can add some great protein to toast, sandwiches, waffles. I would also say oatmeal or something along that line for breakfasts. And even though you’ve only got $50 bucks – I would still coupon like crazy…. it may not be the BEST foods out there but you can find some things – they have come a long way in what they are promoting lately. You can find coupons for organic and all natural foods all the time anymore. You just have to be willing to look – and work. Saving money is a full-time job itself. Thanks for all your wonderful advice. :)

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  13. Alison says

    I have been there, actually we are still there. :) Our family of six(all of us teens or older) can eat for 50 ish a week, but it is harder on weeks that we have to purchase toilet paper. Also, we own a bakery so we have all the bread we can eat. Obviously, carbs are a stable of our diet right now. To supplement them we eat a lot of eggs, from our own chickens, potatoes, beans, rice, vennison, and cheap chicken(sometimes we raise that ourselves). Rice casseroles and bean soups can be very inexpensive and require the most simple of ingredients.

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  14. elizabeth says

    We are probably in the same boat as a lot of your readers during this economic recession: the grocery budget has already been increased as much as possible, local choices are very limited (the local CSA, for instance, being ridiculously more expensive than the supermarket), gardening & hunting not an option, and the faces at the table are still hungry! ;)

    My thoughts:

    1) First priority is keeping everyone’s tummies full. If it means a lower quality food, then be thankful you have food. If I’ve fed them one ‘nutrient-dense’ item but they are still hungry, that is not a good deal. It’s okay to serve beans & rice instead of grass-fed beef. Just don’t buy ramen noodles! :)

    2) When compromise is necessary, keep it to a minimum. I can’t afford a $48 organic turkey, even if it did last several meals, so I stocked up on 39 cent/lb turkeys at Thanksgiving, and we space out the eating of them. I’ve very thankful to have any meat, especially when we have company. Eat it infrequently, and it not being top-notch quality won’t be such an issue.

    3) Pray, pray, pray. When I was pregnant and needing extra protein, the Lord kept providing organic beef on clearance for the same price as regular beef. Little miracles are not unusual when you’re asking God for help and honestly willing to be content with what you have!

    4) If your budget has a tiny amount of wiggle room, spend it on fats. (Though others’ opinions may differ and I’d be interested in what your number one priority is.) If you buy only one item organic, spend it on butter. We buy organic butter, olive oil (even if you can’t get top notch quality, aim for one in an opaque container with an expiration date), and coconut oil. Just try to avoid the yucky vegetable oil. ;)

    5) In every thing, give thanks. Don’t forget that the mind is as powerful as diet! Fretting about your food is stressful, and we all know that stress is unhealthy. Think of hungry people and give thanks that you have food, and that you have something better than ramen noodles. Non-organic apples are still very good for you! I believe that a good attitude minimizes the impact of mediocre diet. (At least, I’m certainly hoping so. Ha!)

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    Holly Reply:

    Elizabeth, your sweet spirit was a blessing to me this morning!! Thanks for the tips :)

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    Tricia Reply:

    Thank you for reminding us of #3…pray, pray, pray!

    Along with prayer, don’t be ashamed to share your struggles with friends and family. You never know who might have “extra” produce, meat, etc. or what resources others have found that could benefit you as well.

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    sharon Reply:

    I must agree. on months when our budget just wasnt stretching, my sister came to the rescue when i told her my woes, she had extra beef and veggies! Dont be ashamed to go the local food bank or fmaily and friends. if ur children arent getting enough nutritiion, dont be ashamed to see if you qualify for food stamps to help. So many more fmailies are struggling this year, i work in a community office that assists with utilities and rent, half our clients this year are people who ahve never needed assistance before. and its very embarrasing for them to ask for a food referral or for help with their high electric bill. our small community has had factories leave and many layoffs. jobs are scarce. If your family is doing without, dont be ashamed to ask for help!!! My sisters are my support group and my lifeline.

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    Jana Reply:

    Good Stuff! Thanks for your post!

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    Ivy Mae Reply:

    Your comment really speaks to me in our situation–we are really
    struggling right now and I can easily lay awake at night worrying.
    God has miraculously provided unexpected little bits of money here
    and there and I am happy to say that we’ve been able to buy groceries
    every week. I think the worst weeks are the times when I need to buy
    diapers, olive oil, flours, and dog food all in the same week, which
    sometimes happens. However, when we bless the food now I can definitely
    say there is a new appreciation there, and we’re praying constantly about
    it. Looking forward to putting in the spring garden, too!

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  15. Darcy says

    Well, my budget rounds out to $10 a week per person for most months (there are a few months where it goes up to $15) and I am able to get some organic foods, hormone-free and antibiotic free meat and we still have plenty of food.

    The things that help me the most are:

    –We have our own goat for milk. Feed costs us about $20 a month and that gives us plenty of milk for my family of 10 and am able to make some cheese and yogurt for most of the year (supply is down now because of breeding time).

    –We have our own chickens for eggs and we have friends who share their abundance.

    –My husband hunts and we tell everyone we know that we would appreciate venison (this year my husband got one, but received another three).

    –buying in bulk. This is something we had to gradually move into because it took 1/2 my budget to buy a 25lb bag of spelt flour (we have wheat allergies), but once I bought that, the next week I could buy something different in bulk. Now that we are three years into it, almost everything is purchased in bulk. Of course, if you can find people to split bulk with you, you can benefit from the lower price and not have to put out so much money at one time or have to have the storage space to store it all.

    –I shop the sales and then make a menu from what I bring home. Sometimes this gets boring, but it works.

    –dry beans. I use beans for at least one evening meal a week and at least one lunch meal.

    –make your own bread.

    –sourdough. This is something I have recently discovered. I love it because I can make pancakes without using milk and baking powder, using 1/2 the eggs and baking soda.

    –make a lot of things like pancake syrup, chocolate syrup (luxury for us), salad dressings, etc.

    –garden and preserve and/or tell others who garden that you would love to glean whatever they don’t use. I was blessed with that this year as for some reason my garden didn’t produce as well as normal. We picked beans, corn, cucumbers, cabbage and squash.

    –farm market in the summer as much as possible.

    –never look a gift horse in the mouth–if someone asks us if we could use something, I usually don’t turn it down. For example, we normally don’t eat pork, but if someone gives us pork, we will ask the Lord to bless it and thank Him for His provision for us and eat it anyway.

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  16. says

    I appreciate your honesty so much. I love that you put it out there honestly and openly. More helpful than you know. I’m facing being laid off and my family is seizing this opportunity for me to stay home with my kids. So, our budget is about to undergo drastic changes. But, it will be manageable. Thanks for everything you do!

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  17. says

    Canned tomatoes (and sauce and paste). Very versatile, cheaper and in many recipes better than fresh (and fresh are pretty easy to grow for even more versatility). Soups, stews, chilis. Flavored diced tomatoes are still cheap and can get you out of having to buy extras (onions, garlic, green pepper, olive oil). Also, when looking for spices, the Mexican spices (usually in little bags instead of jars) either in the spice aisle or sometimes near produce are MUCH less expensive than even store brand bottles.

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  18. Casey says

    Popcorn would definitely make our “keep” list! That is our snack instead of chips, etc. We can buy it for a little less then .50/lb at Rural King.
    Thanks for the great blogs!!!

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  19. says

    I think a lot of people can get money tied up in convenience foods and boxed or premixed stuff. It takes more time and a little extra money up font, but there are lots of ways to save here. Plus, it’s healthier since I control the ingredients. I mix up my own pancake mix at a fraction of the price, taco seasoning, granola, etc. There are no frozen or boxed meals here, most everything is homemade from scratch. I make homemade soups and freeze them in smaller portions so we don’t get sick of them.

    Our breakfasts are set: choice of oatmeal (bought in bulk) or cereal (generic non sugary or organic cereals bought with coupons) with milk. weekends bring pancakes (my mix).

    We get our meat and eggs from a CSA. I stretch the meat and make broth from everything to be used later. Sure wish we had land so we could have our own animals and save on that.

    We do garden as much as possible and can a lot (no money spent on stir fry veges, cooked tomatoes, tomatoes juice, green beans, tomato sauce, salsa, pickles, applesauce, canned peaches, frozen strawberries, relish, ketchup, jelly, etc) We live in an area with orchards so we go and buy up the ‘slightly damaged’ fruit and make our jam and can peaches, make applesauce, apple butter, etc. These canned goodies also make great Christmas gifts also saving money. I also offer help to my gardening neighbors (which usually results in gifted produce). I have two friends with large gardens and when they take a summer vacation, I go over daily and water in exchange for all the harvest that week. It’s hard work, but I canned 8 quarts of pasta sauce and 7 quarts of tomato juice and stocked the freezer with green peppers from one week’s work.

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  20. Jessica says

    I would second the suggestion of sourdough. You can make VERY inexpensive, nutritious bread that way. And I would concentrate on soups made with bone broths to get extra protein out of that chicken. It might be helpful to look at how other cultures eat too. Mexican foods are usually simple and inexpensive. Develop a “peasant’s palate.” One of the things I love about the Little House books is reading about their simple, wholesome meals. They saved the four course dinners for Christmas and ate much more simply than we do.

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  21. Erica says

    Thank you Laura. This is a great list! Last year we went 6 months with no income and gave up most all organics. I just bought regular “real” food-not convenience things and planned what produce& meat to by based on sale flyers weekly specials. God was very good to us.

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  22. DreamingofSpring says

    Another thing for those on fixed income–Angelfood Ministries and Share Wisconsin–they both have a produce box and Share (which is found in many states sometimes listed as Fair Share) has an organic produce box with at least 15 pounds of OG produce for $15.00–I get 2 of these each month for $34.00 (includes shipping and handling) and it always has potatoes, carrots, onions, apples , and oranges and then something extra for a treat–but the staples in the box do not go bad very quickly if stored properly and help stretch my budget. The meat from these companies are sometimes OG but not always–so be sure to check–but as for produce–they help with that part of the budget!!

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    DreamingofSpring Reply:

    Another thing I forgot to add–not everything needs to be organic–there are many items in the produce aisle that may not be worth the extra money to go organic for–there are sites on the internet that let you know what the “dirty dozen and the clean 15 are” so if you cannot go organic at least you can pick the least offensive non organics. Hubpages.com has a great list of the most common produce found in most grocers in order from worst pesticide load to least — its a great list and can help with the decision to buy OG or not!

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  23. elizabeth says

    Oatmeal, dried beans that I crockpot and then freeze, rice(white and brown if I can get a coupon), and *clean 15* produce. Nuts. I struggle with getting produce most of all. I want organic but it is just too expensive. I stick to stuff with peels like citrus and bananas. Living in Fl I am able to get avocados and mangos from friends with the trees. Right now we can get strawberries locally but not organic. I know strawberries are on the dirty list, but I bought them anyway ;)
    Laura, I use ALOT of your recipes for baked goods with whole wheat flour. Muffins etc for breakfasts, snacks, sides. For dairy I get organic if I have good coupons, otherwise I stick to the kind without rsbt. We do buy cheeses bc my kids love it. I can stretch it good in bean dishes. I like the greek yogurt for the protein but it is expensive. I would love to figure out how to make it. Also I would like to get some of my own produce growing, since we have a long growing season. I have a black thumb and am a little afraid to make a big initial investment only for it to fail.

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    Adrienne Reply:

    To make Greek yogurt –
    Simply strain regular yogurt – storebought or homemade – in a linen/muslin lined colander. Set colander in a bowl in the fridge for 4-6 hours, depending on thickness desired. Keep in the fridge long enough to drain and you will have a “yogurt cheese”. The whey can be save and used for breadmaking, soaking grains, etc..

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    elizabeth Reply:

    Thanks guys for this info!

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    Emily Reply:

    Greek yogurt is basically just regular yogurt that has been strained of extra liquid.
    Here is a recipe using whole milk yogurt:
    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/greek-yogurt-recipe/index.html

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    Lori A Reply:

    You can get a culture from Cultures For Health on the internet and
    make your own. Well worth the investment in my opinion.

    I keep seeing organic milk as a priority for people. Please rethink
    this expense and try to find a local source for milk, if not raw at
    least low-vat pastuerized, non-homogenised or cream on top. Almost all
    organic milk is “ultra-pastuerised” which means it has next to no real
    value in drinking it… use coconut milk instead or just go dairy free.
    Or make yogurt or kefir instead.

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  24. Hezzie says

    I’ve found that one of the greatest ways to stretch the budget is to EAT LESS! We try to eat smaller portions.

    I try to make my casseroles in an 8×8 baking dish rather than a 9X13. There are only 4 of us and although there are no leftovers, we are still satisfied and I’ve used a smaller amount of ingredients to make the meal. The typical American usually eats way more than they need to at a meal- don’t they say you should be ‘satisfied, not full’?

    Hubby misses the leftovers, (He used to eat them once we all went to bed!!) but our budget and our waistline is better for it.

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    Jana Reply:

    Thanks for posting this! This is a good reminder for me today!

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  25. Michelle says

    Hi, I’d add frozen vegetables to the list. I’ve seen 1 lb of organic broccoli, green beans, snap peas, or mixed veggies for 1.99 at Whole Foods or at our local conventional grocery store (check for store organic brand). I buy these to cut our costs when fresh costs more than frozen.
    We don’t have Trader Joe’s here, but someone told me they have really good deals on organics and such.
    Such good sharing of ideas to help cut our costs! Keep it coming.

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    Michelle Reply:

    Oh, provided you don’t/aren’t able to garden these things yourself. :)

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    Chelsea M Reply:

    we have whole foods here but I’ve always heard it’s super expensive…but then again you pay for quality right? Although 1.99 for frozen organic veggies sounds pretty good. We are apartment dwellers and have no space allowed for gardening.
    Our other main organics store is New Seasons Market I was very blessed with a gift card from there for Christmas and spent most of it on their grassfed beef and chicken, not organic but way better than what I get at Winco I’m sure.

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    Lori A Reply:

    I can get some really good deals at Whole Foods, such as $3.99 for
    grass-fed beef, $2.50 a pound for free range chicken, etc. Sometimes
    their sales are better than Costco or other “food-saving” stores.

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  26. Esther L says

    You know, Laura, I love this series! After I received my Nutrimill for Christmas (yipee!), I searched high and low for reasonably priced wheat. We don’t live in a wheat producing area, so shipping was incredibly cost prohibitive. My dad suggested trying the Amish bulk foods store. What an amazing discovery! Not only were they able to order the wheat, they gave me a discount since I was buying the entire 50 pound bag. While at the bulk food store, I checked out the prices on oats, spices and flour (out of curiosity)–the prices simply couldn’t be beat! Although it’s a 3 hour round trip journey, for the money we save, it’s completely worth it. We just make sure to shop bulk foods twice a year and then properly store them at home. I would highly suggest if anyone has access to an Amish bulk foods store, to check it out and see if they can save some money.

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    Lori A Reply:

    I second this! If you have an Amish community near by, they are a
    great source for many items, free-range chicken, pork, eggs, butter,
    honey, bulk anything, etc.

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  27. says

    1. I agree with the oatmeal. I sometimes eat it for lunch with apples as well.
    2. I use rice and beans to help stretch meals…in tacos, in stirfry, with hamburger&cheese, with broccoli and peas.
    3. My husband is a hunter and he gives any deer away to a couple of families that need the meat. (I don’t eat venison.) He takes the deer straight from the woods to their house. If you are having trouble finding someone who is willing to share the meat, offer to pay/help with the processing fee.

    Thank you so much! This series of posts are coming at the perfect time. My husband quit his job yesterday and will be leaving for Austin in two weeks for a month. When he returns he will be working from home (which I am super excited about!) and I will now be responsible for feeding him 3 times a day instead of 1. lol I’m hoping to use this time apart to rework our budget, create a new menu plan and move ahead with a Real Food diet, which I’ve been wanting to do for a while. So thanks!
    :) Sheila

    [Reply]

  28. Cora says

    Oatmeal is a definite for us, I have been looking into getting it bulk to save money. I eat it a ton because I am a nursing mother and it helps with supply. I love my co-op and could never stop that. We get a box of organic fruits and veggies every week for only $25.00 its in season, organic, super tasty and usually we get so much doesn’t even all fit in the box. Plus it encourages us to try new foods. I never at turnips or parsnips before signing up. Coconut oil is an absolute must for us as well because it helps with my thyroid but I have found if I buy it in town I pay double what I do if I buy it online even if I have to pay shipping.

    Of course beans, rice and lentils are a huge help to stretching the grocery budget and meals.

    [Reply]

  29. Barbara says

    When we are low on funds and/or food (meat/protein in particular) I go to this list that I got a few years ago (sorry, I don’t remember where). You can eat cheap, but healthy by creating complete proteins.

    Foods that can be used in combination to provide all of the essential amino acids needed to be a complete protein are rice, beans, lentils, nuts/peanut butter, corn, and potatoes. The following are examples of combinations of “incomplete” proteins, that when combined, make “complete” proteins.
    • Rice and beans
    • Whole Wheat cereal and milk
    • Corn and beans
    • Milk and Peanuts
    • Milk and Beans
    • Potatoes and cheese

    [Reply]

  30. G'ma Neise says

    Laura I love all your ideas and the ideas of your readers. We are a family of 4 at home but on weekends the other 13(children, in-laws and grands) are home at some point to eat. I spend about $60 a week on food. We get all of our meat fromlocal farmers which helps alot. and I am lucky to have an Amish bulk food stores about 35 minutes from my home so I get a lot of bulk items there…like oatmeal,flours, spices,sea salt ect. I feel very blessed after reading the other post to have it so close. I am also blessing to be at home full time and able to make most of our food from scatch. Thank you for your blog I love it and read it daily.

    [Reply]

  31. says

    Great subject to blog about! We’re a family of five, on a $280 a month grocery/hba/paper goods budget, and I’ve just started transitioning us to a whole foods/organic diet. The things that are so expensive to me is meat and dairy. I think your list is right on-minimize the meat, and cut back on dairy. For us, I haven’t been able to start buying local/organic meat yet, but I’m looking for a source. There’s no way I’m going to pay $8lb for organic chicken breasts at Meijer! But I have found several local farmers who sell beef and pork for around $2-$3lb.

    Dairy is an area I’m still researching. Raw is illegal here (and I’m uncomfortable with farms that do ‘cow shares’ to get around the law). But, the organic milk I’ve found at our grocery store is ultra pasteurized, which I’ve read some pretty bad things about. So for now we continue to drink regular milk. But I have switched to organic/free range eggs and organic butter. Cheese is something we eat a lot of, but can’t even find organic (will be looking at the farmers markets this summer though!).

    [Reply]

    Lori A Reply:

    Out of curiosity, why are you uncomfortable with a cow share? Have you
    researched the benefits of raw milk? Visited the farms and gotten to
    know the farmers and how they raise those cows? I would suggest doing
    that and then see if you’re still uncomfortable with that idea.

    [Reply]

    sara Reply:

    Lori-I’m still very new to all of this, so bear that in mind :) But,
    from what I’ve read so far-farms are doing cow shares to get around
    the law-which makes me uncomfortable ie. they’re breaking the law.
    I recently read of several farms being prosecuted for doing this
    practice.
    Ideally, I’d like to just cut out cow milk completely. Me and
    two of my kids don’t like it/drink it. However I use it a lot in
    baking, and my husband and son drink a lot of it. I’ve just started
    looking into alternatives to cow milk-like coconut, rice, soy etc. I
    don’t know what the taste difference is though, or if any of these
    can be substituted in baking.

    But again-Just starting on this healthy eating/lifestyle, and what
    I do right now for milk will probably be very different from what
    I do in six months :)

    [Reply]

    Lori A Reply:

    Sara, trust me, we’re all on a journey and what we do today may not
    be what we do tomorrow regarding health and diet. I am constantly
    learning different ways of cooking/eating and adjusting to what
    works for my family and their health needs.

    I am lucky to live in a state where raw milk sales are legal.
    However, when we were looking at moving to a state where it was not,
    I looked into cowshares. To me, it is not illegal to have a cow share,
    (despite if they are being prosecuted for it), therefore I wouldn’t
    hesitate to do so.

    My daughter had to go dairy free for about a month and a half and
    during that time I think we tried every kind out there except soymilke..
    Coconut milk was the most satisfying for us. Considering that we
    didn’t care for coconut, that was surprising. Especially since we
    love almonds, I thought that would be our choice. Regardless, you
    can try different kinds of milk and go from there. From what I
    found out, you can interchange coconut milk, and I assume most of the
    others for cow’s milk in recipes. It wasn’t as difficult to go dairy-
    free in cooking/baking as I thought it would be. Just substitute
    coconut oil for butter in any recipe, and coconut milk for any
    dairy milk. Now giving it up for ice cream, cheese, yogurt and kefir
    were all together much harder!

    Lori Reply:

    So just a thought, I saw at Feel Rite (that is the “natural” store here in WNY) they have just pasturized milk. It is not homogenized, which is actually way worse for you than the pasturizing. It still costs alot, but if you check out a natural store near you you might be able to find something. Milk is really important to me cause I have a baby who drinks it so I just thought I would let you know what I found. Raw milk is illegal to sell here in NY too but I just get it from a friend who has their own cow. If you can find someone who has a cow they would probably give milk away. My friend gets 8 gallons of milk a day. I want to get a cow someday…

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    Oh and I wanted to say that I have yet to find organic or raw cheese anywhere as well! Well I think Azure Standard has it but they don’t deliver anywhere near where I live. I want to learn to make it but cheddar is aged and that seems really hard to do and that is what we eat the most of.

    [Reply]

  32. Kristin says

    We feel called to make many of these whole food, nutritious choices while we are living on my husband’s graduate student stipend and a few piano lessons I teach a week so I can stay home with our son. God has answered our prayers so many times and provided in unexpected ways as we are following where he is leading our family.

    Our best investment this year was our garden!! We put in about $50 including a small fence to keep rabbits out, some materials for tomato steaks, and small plants and seeds. Once we started harvesting, we kept getting more and more veggies! I just felt like God jut kept popping up more food for us. I spent some good quality time canning and freezing and we are still eating veggies, spaghetti sauce, tomatoes, and beans from our garden!

    My husband also got three deer this year, so we will have plenty of red meat to get us through until next years hunting season. Also, he started hunting pheasants this year, so I have founr whole ones in the freezer waiting to be soup or a casserole. He spent a lot of time butchering those deer and skinning pheasants, but it was well worth it!

    [Reply]

  33. says

    Don’t forget about backyard foraging. If you have a pesticide-free/fertilizer-free yard, you can find many great edibles in your own backyard. Dandelions, Lambs Quarters, Chickweed, Wild Garlic, Purslane, etc. Nutritious, Delicious, and totally free.

    [Reply]

    Lori A Reply:

    EXCELLENT suggestion! You can learn a lot about those things at
    http://www.learningherbs.com (no, I don’t work for them, but I’ve learned so
    much that has helped our health from that site!)

    [Reply]

  34. sharon says

    I have found that almost every sunday I cam get a coupon for cage free eggs. They are about 1.50 more expensive then the regular brand, but with the coupon it’s only about a dolalr more expensive. I live in a rural community, walmart is our main store. I get the sale ads from cheaper stores in the city from a friend who lives there, and walmart comps their price to match. chicken is much more expensive than burger, so we eat a lot of burger. once a week we have a pot of beans with cornbread or garlic biscutis. oatmeal is great and my kids love it! This year will be my first year gardening and canning, i’m super excited! last year, a couple neighbors had an abundance of tomatoes and other goodies, we grabbed them up! frozen organic vegetables are easy to find coupons for….and are on sale frequently. it is important to remember that you do the best you can to kee your family fed, if it means beans s4 nights a week, so be it. if it means you can’t eat “organic” beef so be it, don’t beat urself up. be grateful for what you can do and thankful to God for what he has provided. I encourage everyone to garden for themselves. Tomatoes can be hung in hanging baskets, potatoes in buckets. get creative!!!!!

    [Reply]

  35. says

    I know this isn’t a permanent solution, but for anyone that is in dire financial straits, there are WIC programs that will provide assistance with milk, cheese, eggs, grains, and even some produce. Obviously not organic, but it’s about $30-$40 worth of food per month, which can make a huge difference when you are having trouble feeding your family. I was 4 months pregnant when I was laid off, and this program offered much needed support for our family.

    [Reply]

    Kristin Reply:

    Luckily our WIC in Montana has started allowing organic produce and milk as well as non-hydrogenated non-sweetened peanut butter into their WIC program!!

    [Reply]

  36. Allyson says

    One great way I have found to save on spices and other needed items is to buy them at our local natural foods store. They typically have spices, flour, grains, etc. in bulk bins, and it is WAY cheaper to buy those things there.

    Hope this helps!

    [Reply]

  37. says

    Such good advice around here!

    I would add:
    *Buy in season produce and keep your organics to the dirty dozen…. besides local sources Trader Joe’s is a great place to buy organic veg verses the regular store where prices are off the chain
    *Play the drugstore game for all your non food items to save money.
    *Switch to cloth when possible (mama cloth, dish cloth, etc) and make your on cleaning products
    *Sign up for Swagbucks and redeem for Amazon gift cards which I use for grocery items and some *splurge* items
    *Buy in bulk and split the cost with friends ( a side of beef, or pantry staples)
    * If you have an Aldi’s near by try shopping there, they have antibiotic free chicken and hormone free milk for great prices.
    * Eat beans and rice more often

    [Reply]

  38. Shawna Cale says

    I am blessed and have not had to live on a $50 budget as an adult, but as a kid my mother and I lived on very little money. Not sure what we spent on groceries, we had no budget. But I learned how to cook with what we had. We didn’t have computers back then which make it much easier when my family has tight times now. I often will put ingredients I have into the computer search and find a good recipe. As American’s I find we waste a lot or even say we have nothing to eat when we have a full cabinet/refrigerator. When I have little food budget money left at the end of a pay period we have more creative cooking going on. Last week I found a recipe for vegetable lettuce wraps. It said use whatever veg’s you have cut up small and add to rice, it was so yummy and something I wouldn’t have made if I had used money I don’t have to go to the store. Today, I am making homemade bread in the bread machine and the kids can have cheese or peanut butter to go with it and whatever fruit we have left. Sure they want bananas and grapes which we are out of, but I always tell them Mom’s food budget envelope is empty, if you want to spend your own money on food that is fine. Their answer is typically “no”, however, we are also out of eggs and my son did think about buying some eggs. Sure wish we could have chickens. Instead he had oatmeal. I also remember eating very little until payday growing up and then having a feast on Friday. It sure made me appreciate food/money/work much more. I want my kids to learn the same thing.

    [Reply]

  39. Rebekah says

    It is interesting that you are posting about this. I am teaching a class in our community next weekend about Practical Ways to Free Up Your Budget. I’m focusing on finding the extra dollars in your home routines, saving huge on food yet having all you need (without coupons), and overcoming holidays and special occasions with your budget intact. It will be a 4-hr workshop so obviously I can’t even begin to outline it here, but the food focus comes off of our family needing to get by on $50/week. There are 4 of us, and although the baby is almost 2, he eats about as much as I do! :-) Our food journey has been over the last 3 years and I find it’s easier to make the money stretch now than it was before I was making healthy choices in all 3 of those areas. Anyway, if anyone is interested in more of the details of the class or wants to purchase a DVD of the workshop (if I can get it recorded), email me at sistersfam at bendbroadband dot com. BTW, that $50/week has to stretch for clothing needs, windshield wipers yesterday, and any little extras I’m saving for (bulk food purchases, fabric, new kitchen items :-)).

    [Reply]

  40. janna says

    This is almost exactly my grocery budget for our family of 5 (I have three boys- 13,11 and almost 10). Beans are not happening at my house because my hubby HATES them. Here is what I cut out:

    cereal
    snack foods
    pretty much anything frozen besides veggies and some fruit
    most beef
    laundry soap (I make my own)
    cleaning supplies (I make my own)

    Here is what I always buy:

    chicken
    wheat (I make all bread products and baked goods)
    oat groats (I have a flaker)
    vegetables and fruit
    milk
    butter
    some cheese (although for Christmas, my hubby got me a cheesemaking kit to make our own mozz and ricotta)
    spaghetti sauce

    I am hopeful as Azure is coming closer and closer to me that I will eventually be able to order through them and save even more!

    I tried gardening last year and am hopeful this year will be more successful and we can grow more to preserve and freeze.

    Love your blog/site!

    janna

    [Reply]

  41. Jana says

    This is such a great post! And I am loving the comments. All good stuff here. The only thing I can think to add is calling the companies that you purchase items from and see if coupons are available. I have not yet tried making homemade yogurt (still a little nervous, but it is a 2011 goal) and so we buy greek yogurt or non-fat plain Dannon. And if you call the 1800 number on the back often times you can get coupons. Now, of course it is best to get food that does not come out of a box, but if you do use items like that, this tip should help.

    Lastly, we make homemade granola in our house as an alternative to oatmeal. I use a recipe and many others out of a great cookbook, called More with Less.

    Thanks again everyone!!

    [Reply]

  42. Kristen says

    Hi,
    I just heard of your blog from money saving mom. This is very weird because my hubby and I have been kind of pushed into a corner with my two jobs so we’re trying to work around if I only had one of my jobs (and that one is overnight so we’re trying to find every possible way to save money and unfortunately we live in Florida which is extremely hard to find farms and people who have veggie gardens (lots of people have gardens although it seems they are anti veggie gardeners lol and raise animals and we don’t know anyone who goes hunting regularly up north so we are in a very tight spot where our grocery budget is all that we can tweak and we can’t seem to find anyway to make it cheaper). We don’t have scratch and dent places or a place to buy bread or cheese and milk. We have a very hard time getting our groceries under 60.00/week for my hubby, myself and our almost three year old and even then we don’t make dinners with what we buy, we eat very unhealthy food because we end up going and getting dinner at fast food places(I’ll admit that I am in my early twenties and my hubby is in his early mid twenties so we both have no clue how to cook…he cooks better than I can) and two nights a week I work overnight and then work day shifts at another job so we don’t really have time to cook or learn how to cook!!! So maybe that’s why we spend so much because we don’t know how to cook and don’t have crazy time to make dinner!!! I like your site and I’m excited to hear what you have to say about saving money and eating healthy on a very tight budget. I hope you can teach my hubby and I how, through your site, to get a handle on our grocery craziness!!! Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Kristen Reply:

    Oh and that’s with us using tons of coupons!!!

    [Reply]

    alyssa Reply:

    Hang in there and don’t stress! :) We are all in different situations, so we each need to learn from each other, and then do the best we can with what we have. Take baby steps….you’ll get there! Don’t know if you’re a long time reader with moneysavingmom or not, but definitely keep reading her blog! She has a lot of experience with penny-pinching, and I’m excited to see that she is using more and more healthier food on a budget. Do you have a friend or relative who cooks well? If so, ask them to teach you something. Be willing to learn, and to learn from your mistakes. Just wanted to be an encouragement…hope that helps! :)

    [Reply]

  43. says

    We like to buy our spices and seasonings in bulk, either at our local Winco or at a local weekly farmer’s market. There’s a “spice lady” there with an amazing selection of bulk spices, seasonings, coffee, tea, and even potpurri!

    [Reply]

  44. Lori says

    So I am actually so excited about this “series”. My sister just shared with me that she cut her budget down to less than mine and I was shocked. (however I have to keep in mind she doesn’t buy organic anything and lives in a different state than me) I have been blowing my grocery budget every week lately. Though my “groceries” include toilet paper and diapers and shaving cream and such.
    I have decided to compromise on the soaking thing for now and I get alot of wheat pasta. My hubby likes it, its cheap and I canned my own spaghetti sauce and tomatoes this summer so it really works out for me. I also have a source for free raw milk and I get 4 gallons a week. Which is a huge blessing. Homemade Mac N Cheese and alfredo sauce is so easy and cheap since we have that milk. Cheese is one thing I don’t thing we could cut. My hubby just loves cheese and will each any vegetables as long as there is cheese involved :
    ). I can usually get that for $3/lb so that isn’t so bad. Now if only I can find free meat… I have to find me some hunters! And get brave enough to make venison. Laura, you should post some venison recipes!
    My thot on how to save the most money on a small budget is to save up to get a freezer. I think it is so important. That will be our next big purchase at my home (I just ordered cloth diapers this week so hopefully will be saving there). I am hoping to find one on Craigslist. Bakeries often give away their day old bread. I have a chance to get Panera bread each week and though it is not soaked or sprouted it is free and can really help when I don’t have alot of money that week. I freeze it to make croutons, pizza crust, etc. This summer I had access to so many free vegetables (though they weren’t organic they were vegetables ) and if I had had a freezer and didn’t live in a tiny attic appartment without a kitchen I could have saved a lot more by canning and freezing more.
    Rice is also super frugal and I wish my hubby liked it so I could use it more. I actually got lentils this month cause I have been reading alot about how that can stretch meat. I have been scared to use them but hopefully it will work out :) Any tips on how to prepare them the healthiest way?
    Sometimes I forget about oatmeal for me and my son. We both love it and it is so easy. Well, I didn’t forget this month however I just happened to spill an entire can of it onto my mop and tool bag in my pantry so it wasn’t salvageable and I just didnt’ make room for it in my budget yet :)
    Laura, I like how you say that healthy food is a priority. I have been trying to think like that. It is also very important to me to make food my husband wants so he is happy with eating healthy.
    Now you just need to run a series on how to save gas/deseil when your husband has to drive 1.5 hours to work one way and I’ll be all set :)

    [Reply]

  45. says

    I’m with you all the way Laura. I would but back on meat and add more beans to the recipes. The store bought snacks are working their way out of my house, try to make more healthy snacks. I would have to keep the sweets but make them with honey, whole wheat and sucanat. Growing your own fruits and vegetables are a great way to eat healthy and save tons of money. Almost time to get out there and till up the garden. :)

    [Reply]

  46. says

    I understand where you are all coming from! I try to spend $70/week for a family of 4 (2 adults, 1 toddler and 1 infant). I don’t know if this is really what it averages out to or not since I stock up when things are on sale so spend more some weeks and a lot less on other weeks (just produce). At this point we focus on whole/real foods and forget about “organic” especially in the winter. This year we will try to garden (and get from local gardens) some things — beets, carrots, peas, bean, berries, apples, corn, onions, garlic (because of allergies we can’t eat tomatoes, peppers & potatoes). We eat meat only two meals each week (plus leftovers if there happen to be any). We eat eggs for two meals each week and beans/lentils for at least one. Also lots of grains (but whole grains and homemade). I agree that it is important to fill up the tummy rather than have all organic. I can get whole wheat flour, rolled oats and brown rice for very cheap, so I “splurge” on healthy fats (coconut oil & butter) and cheese. God provides! Over and over again!

    Here is our winter menu: http://livingsimply.weebly.com/1/post/2011/01/menu-planning.html

    [Reply]

  47. Amy Sirk says

    What a great subject for discussion. I began gardening out of necessity. I was not able to keep the household afloat and provide quality food as well. So I started growing what I could. I started out with foods I loved but could not afford. Fresh salad greens were a big luxury so when I could enjoy my home grown salads every day for lunch I felt like a queen. Raspberries and blueberries were also not in the budget. I kept adding garden beds and growing more and more until we have an abundance no matter how much I earn or don’t earn. This year I hope to harvest the first of our Asian pears. Won’t that be a treat?

    [Reply]

    jen Reply:

    I would love to add…when gardening get to know other who garden and ask them what works well in your area. I have often found people who would love to give me produce or plant-like raspberry bushes-while just learning how to garden from others. Community gardens are making a come back and are a great way to supplement your family too.
    I love this topic thanks for writing about it! It is so relevant for my family!

    [Reply]

  48. says

    My two cents on this great topic:
    If you can’t give up meat, buy it smarter. I’ve heard people say “I was broke so all I could buy were hot dogs”. Hmm. In my area, hot dogs are $2.50 for an 8oz. pkg. That’s $5/pound!!! You could eat steak cheaper! So when buying meat, figure the cost PER OUNCE, not per package. Also, don’t overeat it – the amt. of protein you need for a WHOLE DAY is about the size of a deck of cards. Most of us eat way more meat protein per day then we need to.

    It sounded so depressing when you suggested giving up treats. When you’re broke, feeling like you can’t have anything enjoyable makes it harder. Instead, redefine what you consider a “treat”. As an example, a peach or apple, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and baked provides a sweet end to a meal that is also affordable and healthy.

    For me, I personally wouldn’t give up oils, nuts, spices because those are the raw materials I use to make many things homemade – doing so enables me to cut out the expensive, pre-packaged junk food and make healthier versions of the same things.

    [Reply]

  49. Vicki says

    When our children were small we had a hard time feeding our family. I learned to measure out hamburger so it would go farther. We put in a very large garden and I canned and froze everything I could get my hands on. I bought eggs from the store not free range. I couldn’t afford it then and still can’t. Some items are just impossible to buy. For a birthday or holiday I planned way ahead to buy a cake mix or something special for dinner and save it for that day. You are right….eating healthy is very expensive.

    [Reply]

    Leanne Reply:

    You are so right is is very expensive to eat healthy organic foods the way Laura does. Here in TN organics are not that popular so they are VERY VERY expensive, farmers that grow and raise free range meat are almost nonexistant and when you do find one expect to pay 20.00 for a 4lb chicken, Raw milk is illegal for sale, and well farmers look at you like you have grown 3 heads when you ask for grass feed meat. I live on a farm have all my life, my dad owns 400plus acres, he has farmed all his life, so we get our beef and pork from the farm, its not total free range but we know what its been fed! We have chickens that currently don’t lay in the winter for our eggs, I grow a 1 acre garden but lost it all due to hail twice last year. I am the one who posted the question and to be honest. My family isn’t poor 200.00 a month for groceries is a good budget to me. We are hunters, we put all the venision in the freezer we can, sometimes its still not enough though. Here to buy raw milk you have to buy cow shares for 60.00 a month you can get 8 gallons , that is WAY too expensive! I would just love for NT style eaters and ppl to realize that not all their cheap resources are readily available to everyone! Take Azure Standard i would order from them but they don’t deliver here, so while I love all the advice in the healhty eating journey post, it bothers me to see that you say go get another job, make more money to feed your kids better, put in a garden, we have always done those things since the time I was a little girl. I am a farm girl, and can still tell you eating NT style is very expensive doesn’t matter how you look at it! It really bothers me too that everyone thinks we are just so poor and stretched thin, we pay our bills on time do the Dave Ramsey budget and live a very happy good life! I don’t buy prepackaged foods, cokes, or anything like that and I am not new to all these things mentioned. I would just love for eveveryone to see that it doesn’t work for everyone to eat all NT style, its even impossible we eat very healthy I think but not everything we consume is organic and free range. I wouldn’t call us super low income either, we homeschool 3 children as well. We are your normal middle class family who loves the Lord, and would love to eat all organic free range foods but its just not possible, I do know though that I have prayed about this much, and the Lord has showed me that no matter how healthy we eat HE is in control of us, our bodies our health, our children, our paychecks. IT is HE wwho allows us to have the blessing we have and just because we can’t eat that way doesn’t mean our Food isn’t BLESSED!! I am so glad I prayed so much about it because it is then I got real peace about this topic, and freedom from the bondage of thinking the only way we could be healthy was to eato eat NT way, which is not true at all! I do the best I can, and let the Lord take care of the rest, its not a question here, it is definately expensive to eat the NT way. I am sad to say I have learned nothing new, since the question. I just hope everyone realizes that its the Lords job to determine our health, eating healthy is so much better for us and helps us stay healthy but in the big picture, it is he whom sustains us.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I first would like to say again (as I said when I responded personally to your original question) that I’ve NEVER said that YOU MUST EAT THE WAY LAURA DOES!!! Nor have I said that your food isn’t blessed.

    I’m very sorry that you have gotten that message from my posts. If you read through all the other comments, you’ll find that there are MANY others who also are not able to buy $12/gallon raw milk andI don’t blame you or any of them for not wanting to fork out that much money. I am VERY BLESSED to have such wonderful resources for lower prices on good/whole foods.

    All I’ve done/have been doing is to offer suggestions of what has worked for ME…that’s all I know. And as far as I understood…that’s what you wanted me to do…offer some suggestions.

    I DIDN’T say that I think you should go get another JOB so that you’ll have money to buy expensive food. NOT AT ALL. I’m pretty opposed to the idea of anyone taking another job outside the home (thus taking away from family time) just to pay off debt or have more money for stuff – even food. What I was suggesting (although maybe I didn’t say it very well) was that our family has done bits of this or that to earn some extra money so that we’d have enough money for what we needed. Just about everything we’ve done for extra money has INVOLVED our whole family, which was a double blessing.

    I’m sorry you didn’t learn anything new…I did my best to offer some suggestions based on my limited knowledge and based on my experiences.

    Please know that I’m not being critical of anyone. I get hundreds of emails from people wanting to know how they can eat better – I can’t meet everyone in their exact situation and answer perfectly for everyone. I try, but everyone is different. Everyone needs to do what they feel God calling them to do, which is exactly what you are doing. GO FOR IT!! Sounds like you’re doing great!

    [Reply]

    Leanne Reply:

    Laura,
    I wasn’t meaning to sound like I was personally attacking you and for that I am sorry! I was just saying like the post I read from you earlier no grocery budget comparing, it made me upset for you too think that we were very low income just because that is the budget we allow for food spending. we are doing the get out of debt thing, so 3-500 a month on on groceries is like our house payment and not do able at all. I want my family to consume all organics and raw milk and for me it was so dishearting to read NT and then know that I couldn’t change everything about our situation and well healthy eating and making sure I do everything just right so that we don’t consume anything we should became an idol, i researched and researched asked and asked everyone I could on this subject and I kept getting the same answers..you need more morey in your grocery budget. Well it was VERY dedepressing, to think we maybe weren’t going to be as healthy as say your family because we just couldn’t afford it. That when we started really praying asking the Lord to help us in this, and no we didn’t have lots of door open for opportunity but we did get peace, that even though we can’t consume all organics and free range we are still ok, I’m not compromising my kids health, I working with what I have. I am sorry if you felt like I was being mean I wasn’t really trying too, I just want you to know that it can be sooooo disheartening and depressing to want to consume raw milk, free range and not be able to, and it can make a mom really feel like she isn’t doing her job like she isn’t doing her best. Then to look at other food budgets and know that we will never be able to spend that much on food until we are debt free, it really makes you compare yourself and then see a failure in the mirror.
    So again I am sorry, and you do a great job with your blog, just know there are readers out here that LONG to eat that way, but can’t. Thats why I asked what you would let go of, meaning free range organic or raw milk? Comparing budgets can be hard, so when I posted the question and then you posted it, it was disheartening to see everyone think we were so very poor, when in our area we are truly middle class. Again sorry
    Leanne

    Laura Reply:

    Thank you so much for responding again and for explaining your situation further. I may have answered the question differently had I known more about WHY you were keeping your grocery budget so low. When I answered your question, I was sort of mixing in several other people’s questions at the same time who are earning VERY low income…that’s probably why I phrased the question the way I did. I’m sorry if I misrepresented you and your income situation.

    One thing I have to be very careful of when I write posts is that while I have some readers in your situation…I have others on the other end who feel like the fact that I spend $500/month on groceries is amazing and they feel BAD that they can’t keep their bill that LOW. I try to meet people in the place where they are without stepping on toes…that’s hard to do!

    That’s why I just tell how I do things and hope it encourages or inspires someone.

    I can see how reading NT and other people’s ways of doing things can be discouraging. As long as you feel like you’re doing what God is calling you to do, I really do feel like you’re doing great! It sounds like you’re feeding your family well! I really feel like even if you can’t buy raw milk or free range products, as long as you aren’t feeding your family a bunch of processed foods and junk…you really are doing a good job of feeding your family a healthy diet!!

    Laura Reply:

    Ooh, and one more thing!! :) Reading NT is great for learning information about what’s healthy and what isn’t…but I have also found it discouraging as it has made me feel like if I don’t feed my family PERFECTLY, I am poisoning them!! I have learned now just to take the information shared in that book and try to apply it to my situation, doing the best I can with what I have. I can only pull that book out to reference it every so often…otherwise I am completely overwhelmed and discouraged too!! (And for the record, I don’t think I will/can ever eat raw meat as suggested in that book!!!) :)

    Brianah Reply:

    Leanne,

    I just wanted to say that I understand where you are coming from! What you wrote has been exactly what I have been going through for a few months (and I haven’t even read NT yet..lol). It is so disheartening to KNOW that there are healthier options out there and then not be able to translate that or make it fit with your personal situation. I struggle with this almost daily! We live on one income with $200/month for food to feed me, my husband, our 1 1/2 year old, and 3 month old (who I’m bfing so I eat all the time). My son also has gluten sensitivity issues.

    Almost daily I think that ignorance really would be bliss. It has taken a lot of prayer for me to get through this feeling like I’m not doing as well as I should. I finally confessed all of these feelings to my husband and we have both prayed continually over this issue. We have felt led to focus our money on a few key issues for us. One is eating grassfed beef (only b/c we have a great source for it where we get it inexpensively). Another is to eat bread without HFCS. We also feel that eating regular veggies and fruit is better than nothing. We eat regular store-bought eggs and chicken (though we try to stay away from Tyson).

    God has revealed many other things to me. For one, we are so blessed! We are doing something (living on one income) that many people in this country don’t feel they can. We have SO MUCH MORE than so many people around the world!

    The other thing he has revealed to me is that his will is for each of us to follow HIS guidance. It’s great to eat all organic, whole foods IF that is God’s will for us. For my family, to do that, would mean taking away from other areas of our finances that we feel God wants us to continue (like putting my husband through seminary, giving to our church, and continuing our ministry). It’s not God’s will for us right now. As He reveals new things that we are to sacrifice on then we will follow that. But He is blessing us for being thankful and rejoicing in what He is blessing and providing us with. I hope I’m wording this well…it’s hard for me to really put into a few sentences. I will be praying for you and your family and that you continue to have peace in your decisions knowing that you are following God’s lead! I have to pray that for myself ALL THE TIME! :)

    Laura,

    Your site has been wonderfully helpful to me and, obviously, so many others! I pray you continue to find God’s blessing in what you write and how you provide for your family! I have so much trouble trying to verbalize my feelings about whole foods to other and it is so nice to read some of your posts and think…”that’s what I was trying to say!” Keep up the good work!

    Bri

    Karen Reply:

    I have looked over several of the posts here, and I wish I could plant some kind of garden. However, I live in a aprtment complex and that is not allowed. I have thought of growing herbs in containers, but sso far it has just been a thought. I live on a very limited income (less than 15,000). But, I find creating a menu for the month helps in purchasing more wholesome foods. Beans, rice, fresh fruits in season, fish and chicken. I am not a coupon clipper but I do pay attention to sales. I also try to shop in grocery stores such as Winco as opposed to a Von’s, Albertson’s or other places where foods, even staples,run at a much higher cost. I am glad I happened onto this site, as I am doing some research on eating healthy on a limited income for a newsletter that I do. Almost all of whom read my newsletter are financially strapped, so I am asking if I have permission to share your information with those less fortunate. Of course I will site my source.
    Sincerly, Karen

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, please do share about my site in your newsletter!

    Jessica Reply:

    Leanne,

    I am so happy that you have found peace in on this issue through God.

    I am sorry that the information that has been provided to you isn’t as helpful as you would like. HOWEVER, I would like you to know it has helped me personally a lot in my quest to figure out what I want my “whole” or “real” diet to look like. If it helps at all, please know that this information has helped me a lot. I think you for asking your original question. If you hadn’t the discussions below might not have taken place. I wouldn’t have known to look for a CSA in my area. I wouldn’t have learned so many ways to stretch meat out. If nothing else, please see that God worked through you to help touch not only my life but others as well.

    Laura,

    Thank you so much for all that you post. It has been truly life changing. From the recipes to this series. I am a single graduate student. I pay cash for grad school and work an internship type job in my field. I bring home about $1500 a month. That must cover all household expenses and my grad school tuition. I realize that you and I are at different stages in our life so it doesn’t make sense for our grocery budgets to be the same. I’m sure that goes for other reader also. You have made it clear that what works for you might not work for us. However by starting the conversation you have allowed others give tips and talk about what they do. I have found a lot of tips that will help me. Again, I thank you for that!

    Bottom line ladies- After reading the other comments I think it is safe to say- this series has helped a lot of people.

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Leanne Reply:

    You are so right Jessica it has helped alot, and I am so relieved to know that others feel VERY overwhelmed by NT, I thought I was the only one who felt like they were “poisioning” their kids and compromising our health by not following it to the letter!! I am so glad it has helped others it has helped me now just to know that you Laura feel the same as me on NT, its so hard to understand and not go…”OH MY GOODNESS we are all going to die and soon”LOL my husband thought I was crazy when I read it through, he was very patient with me though because I was so paranoid about everything!! I felt like we couldn’t eat anything and that I was having to watch everything. Thanks so much for the encouragement Laura, and again so sorry for sounding hateful or hurtful, that was wrong of me and I am sorry! This is such a personal issue for everyone and it is so hard not to compare ourselves to each other. I have a hard time with that! Also, since I wrote that question we have paid off somethings and increased our monthly grocery budget a little, and I am praying and really trying hard to find a raw milk source. I found one last year it was a little high but we paid it, and the Lord provided our youngest daughter was able to come off all her meds while on it, her reflux and asthma meds, then our supplier lost their cow in birth. So we have now been off raw milk for a while and back on meds, its so disheartening but I know the Lord knows our hearts and he knows right where we are!
    For the record..Laura..I am NOT going to be eating raw meat anytime soon either!!!
    Leanne

    Faith Price Reply:

    Although eating free-range and grass-fed does cost more there are great health benefits that outweigh the extra cost. I did want to respond as a producer of those type of foods. Since we have chosen not to participate in government subsidies it is near impossible for us to make any money on our farm let alone try to make a living from the farm. America is use to cheap subsidized food that people are unaware of what it really cost to produce the food. When customers mention the higher cost of our food I want to remind them if they would like to make .35 cents an hour for working at a job. Most people wouldn’t nor do they but many farmers work off the farm jobs so that they can continue to provide healthy foods for others just because it is the right thing to do. One option for those wanting clean meats would be to barter time with a local farmer. Look for them on eatwild.com or localharvest.com.

    [Reply]

  50. Angela Klenke says

    I agree that eating healthy can be expensive. Over the last year I have been switching to healthier foods. I make almost everything from whole ingredients. One thing that has helped me is bountiful baskets. It is a co-op here in the southwest. I can spend $15 a week for a basketful of fruits and veggies (or $25 for organic). This is nice because it gives us lots of fruits and veggies for the week. The only thing is you do not know what you get til you pick it up. I do not mind, it has gotten us to try a lot of things we do not normally buy.

    [Reply]

  51. says

    Oh man, that’s a tough one! I don’t have a fully formed list, but I would suggest that *something* make the cut that you consider somewhat a treat (a non-necessity, anyway) that you can always have. Like… peanut butter. Or cheap coffee (decaf would be better). It’s good for the psyche, and can help keep you from spending money you don’t have on more expensive, less good-for-you stuff because you’re getting tired of never having anything fun.

    [Reply]

    Kaylen Reply:

    Yes I agree – you should always have something that you buy
    just because you love it. I have lived on a $50/week food budget before, and I still always made room for coffee (just the cheap store brand stuff in a can). It made me feel good to have it in the morning, and kept me going. I was a single mom at the time, working full time to support myslef, my son and my boyfriend, and it made it so much easier to get through the days. When I met my husband that all changed since he is a great provider financially, but this reminded me of those days. You always need something that makes you smile.

    [Reply]

    Sarah Reply:

    I get some kind of treat for my dh and I each week (usually a Mexican Coke that we split), and keep a well-stocked spice cupboard to keep our food-on-a-tiny-budget interesting and bearable as well. Also, lots of baking. It’s amazing how many different combinations of flour, butter, eggs, milk and sugar there are.

    [Reply]

  52. Kandace says

    My husband is also a hunter yet I am new to cooking wild game and grass fed meat. Do you have some tried and true recipes for venison and other wild game you would be willing to share?
    Thank you so much. I appreciate all you do :)
    Kandace

    [Reply]

    Sharon Roach Reply:

    Grow your own garlic and use it when cooking wild game and venison. I slice the garlic in thin slivers and punch small holes in the meat and put the garlic in the meat. Viniger in small amounts deluited in water is a good way to tenderize the meat before cooking it. Cooking wine is more expensive but tenderizes the meat also. You can usually find recipe books on wild game and vension at gun and sporting shops and at gun shows.

    [Reply]

    Kaylen Reply:

    If you can get your hands on some cheap red wine, cook it with the meat. It takes away some of the game flavor.

    My dad is a hunter and likes to sear the meat and then use it in stews, anything that is tomato-based with a lot of vegetables.

    [Reply]

    weddingdance Reply:

    I can suggest cooking game in cast iron. I just used butter and season salt, but it was the cast iron pan that made it taste like store-bought steak. (Really, really good store-bought steak. :-))

    [Reply]

  53. says

    I completely agree with you that real food is worth the money. You will see the difference in your body and your health. Also, you might find that you actually SAVE money because you are so much healthier! I think the best way to cut back on the cost of whole, organic foods is to grow them yourself. I know this isn’t an option for everyone. If you don’t have any land, try to see if there are any community gardens where you can rent a plot. It’s usually only about 25-50 a year.

    [Reply]

  54. says

    In the winter alfalfa sprouts (and others) can be an inexpensive way to add greens to your diet. In the summer, dandelion greens, and other wild greens are FREE, all you have to find is a yard or field that isn’t treated with chemical fertilizers or herbicides.

    [Reply]

  55. Kate says

    One of my go to ways to strech the budget is to eat less meat. I “sneak” in veggies with the meat to make it go farther. One of my favorite ways to do this is in burgers… put mushrooms & a glove of garlic in the food processor… chop really well then add 1/2 to 1/3 the ground beef. They become wonderful garlic burgers with a lot less meat!! No one can ever tell that there is mushrooms in place of ground beef..it’s always my little secret : )

    [Reply]

  56. Sarah says

    Thank you so much for this post! We are currently in a’$29,000 sounds like a fortune’ season, and we try very hard to eat nutritious, whole foods! I too used to be an avid coupon clipper, but realized the food I could get almost free with coupons was just not good for us! I’ve found that by being careful and watching for good sales, we can eat well on an averaged out budget of $150 per month for a family of four and I rarely ever use coupons anymore – we buy in bulk, eat lots of beans, rice, and oatmeal, make everything from scratch, garden, can, and have never been happier or healthier! It can be hard on such a limited budget, but it is doable!!!

    [Reply]

  57. Christina Vickers says

    As I read your post and started thinking about how much I spend on the mixture of pre-packaged and fresh foods I now buy at the store, the wheels started turning. It seems to me that if I start gardening a few things (starting out small, because that is smart for me); join the local organic co-op; begin searching out local farms for meat, milk and fruits; and cut down on pre-packaged foods, that I wouldn’t necessarily be spending any more per month on groceries than I do now! I’m looking into all of this. I’d be willing to share my spending comparison when I’m through. That may be helpful to some who are considering switching to whole, healthy foods.

    [Reply]

    Christina Vickers Reply:

    Oops! I think I meant to post this to the “Our Real Food Grocery Budget” post, but I stand by it either way! :)

    [Reply]

  58. says

    Play the drug store game. I get so many items for free each month that it really frees up my money to spend in other areas – like real food groceries. I also end up getting food for very cheap or free from CVS many weeks. Recently I have gotten tuna, cheerios, coffee (hubby is NOT giving that up!), tea bags, etc for next to nothing at CVS. That means I don’t have to purchase those things at the grocery store.

    [Reply]

    Lorrie Reply:

    Are you just talking about their weekly specials? How do you get free foods from CVS?

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    CVS (and walgreens and rite aid) do deals on food too. Many times it is cheaper than the grocery store. By combining the deals with coupons and ECBs I can get free food at the drugstore.

    [Reply]

    Rebecca Laird Reply:

    Lorrie ~
    Check out Coupons, Deals and More – a blog that tells you how
    to do what these girls are talking about. It is like a part-time job,
    though, to keep up with ~ so I just do this when several items are running
    out at home – like paper towels, vitamins, etc. About once
    every six weeks. I don’t get tons for free, but I do feel very happy
    getting about 3x the items for the price!

    Hope this helps!

  59. says

    I am a single mom with 2 teenagers and haven’t worked a “real” job for a year and a half. Since then I have done mostly cleaning and odd jobs, so I don’t really have a monthly budget, since income varies. I pay the bills first (electric, rent, and house phone) and then buy food. I bake all my own bread and barter that with friends for organic, grass fed beef and free range chicken (it’s cheaper to buy baking supplies than meat, and I use a sourdough starter). I have also recently started selling baked goods. I am blessed with friends who have fruit and berries and allow me to pick all I want to can, and another friend who keeps bees and gives me honey in exchange for cleaning. I have a garden in the summer and can and freeze as much as I can. I even have friends that buy fruit and veggies in bulk at the Farmer’s Market and let me have half if I will can it for them! I am truly blessed! Strangly enough, I think we eat healthier now then we did when I worked 60 hours a week and had a grocery budget. God is good!

    [Reply]

    Lisa Reply:

    WOW! That’s amazing-you are an inspiration!

    [Reply]

    sharon Reply:

    you are an inspiration!!! I was a single mom of two boys before i found my husband, and working 40+ hours a week and trying to make ends meet and spend time with the kids and cook healthy is enough to drive u crazy. Now that i am married, I feel an even stronger urge to be at home more with my children and husband. I am going to look into working from home, and other ways to make money without clocking in :)

    [Reply]

  60. andrea says

    We were at this point a few years ago. It is VERY difficult to make ends meet on this kind of budget, but you do the best you can. I would basically try to incorporate more beans/chicken in the diet rather than meat, and if you buy cereal/etc. do it only with sale/coupon. I would still only buy brown rice instead of white. Make all the changes you can. It’s hard with food costs supposed to be rising. I would watch for the sales on chicken/etc/ and stock up when low so you don’t have to pay higher price.

    [Reply]

  61. barbara says

    good topic! i am on disability and do not get foodstamps so i cant even spend $50 per week. i do good if i can spend $50-$75 in a month

    [Reply]

  62. Stephanie says

    We spend very little money on food, the only meat we buy at the store is chicken because my husband is a huge deer hunter and he does not hunt for the big buck but he hunts for our family. He shots enough for our family of 6 to eat for the entire year. We also put up our deer ourselves and do not take it anywhere to be processed so that saves a lot of money. We use our ground deer for everything from meatloaf, hamburgers,spagetti,chili,soups,etc. anything that needs hamburger we use deer. One thing we do is we always let the meat bleed out. If you do this it will take out the wild game taste of the deer. We use our steak type deer for chicken fried steak, beef tips over mashed potatoes, beef stroganoff over noodles, swiss steak over rice, beef stew, beef and barley stew,fried rice with a little chopped leftover deer steak, deer steak fajitas. Again I really think that if you let the deer bleed out for a little longer and also tenderize it with a little hammer. It will really help with the strong taste. I hope this helps.

    [Reply]

    Janee' Reply:

    Agreeing with Stephanie. We do the same thing. Letting it sit in an ice
    chest covered with ice with the drain pulled and tilted up (or drill holes
    in the bottom of an old ice chest) to drain. Just keep putting ice on it as it
    melts and rinses the blood out of the meat. We have been processing our
    own meat now for a few years and it is GREAT!

    [Reply]

    Kaylen Reply:

    You ladies that process your own deer meat, could you give me more info about letting it bleed out? I’ve never heard of doing that before but I can see how it would help with the gamey taste. Is that how professional shops do it? I notice when the meat is professionally processed, it tastes a lot better.

    [Reply]

    Janee' Reply:

    Honestly I am not sure how the processors do it. I *think* they hang the carcass in the big freezer room letting the blood bleed out for a wee before they process. I just out abot 4 inches of ice into the bottom of an ice chest. Make sure the plug is open and the ice
    chest is tilted towards the plug so it will drain well. We quarter up the meat so it will fit. Then keep covered with ice for a week or 2- adding more ice daily-
    or when needed. Then, take it out and process it. We use a vacuum sealer.

    Kelsye Reply:

    Professional shops hang the body in a large cooler where it bleeds out and ages. Both make the meat more tender and taste wonderful. My husband just puts the deer in a ice chest with lots if ice replenishing and draining as needed for a few days. For beef they hang the cow in a large refer trailer that stays around 35* for a few days. Since most people don’t have access to a large walk in cooler or refer trailer we recommend waiting till winter time for northern people or getting it done with someone who has the equipment for us southerners. It really makes a difference on the taste and texture of the meat.

  63. Lori A says

    A few more things:

    CSA farms often need help, in exchange for a couple hours a week, you get a free or greatly reduced share.

    There are other food co-op’s other than Azure that deliver to different parts of the country, try googling Country Life Natural Foods out of MI, United Foods (UNIF). I’m sure there are more.

    [Reply]

    Leigh Reply:

    Quail Cove Farms is in the Mid-Atlantic (MD&VA) & they offer many of the same things!

    [Reply]

  64. vicki says

    I would suggest that not *everything* you eat has to be “certified organic”. There is a list at The Daily Green of the top 12 foods you ought to buy organic if at all possible: http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/eat-safe/Dirty-Dozen-Foods

    They also provide a list of foods that it isn’t necessary to buy organic, if you are on a tighter budget– http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/eat-safe/Save-on-Sustainable-Gallery-44032808?src=syn&mag=tdg&dom=tdg&link=rel

    You can also try growing your own vegetables. My parents grew and canned tomatoes and green beans when I was a kid, because they were on a tight budget and had 4 kids to feed. The result is we all grew up healthy and strong, having eaten almost entirely fresh produce out of our own garden year round (and in the summers off from school, it was pretty much *all* we ever ate! That’s a healthy diet for you!). We had a grape vine in the backyard too, that died, and some cherry trees. When I was a kid, my mother made her own grape jellies and preserves. My parents still grow lots of tomatoes, green beans, yellow squash and zucchini every year. I think Mom cans the green beans and tomatoes, and makes canned tomato juice. She also makes lots of squash casseroles and freezes them. She makes a lot of zucchini bread too.

    A simple dish to make in the summer is just slice up some tomatoes, zucchini, onions and yellow squash, put them in a casserole dish and cover them with thick slices of Velveeta cheese. Bake until the cheese is all melted and the casserole is sort of soupy and hot. Serve with slices of French bread. Great way to get more veggies in your diet (and use up all that zucchini)and it’s pretty healthy too, unless you’re scared of Velveeta cheese…

    [Reply]

    Crystal Reply:

    Scared of Velveeta here! But put several slices of some raw cheddar and that sounds just about like Heaven to me! :) Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

    Melanie Reply:

    I think that eating fresh, unprocessed and locally grown food is way more important for my health than eating organic. Organic food has become a huge business and can be more about making money than giving people quality food. I used to buy organic food at the grocery store when it was on sale, but now I prefer to get my produce (and meat when I have enough spare cash) at the farmers market. I am becoming excited about grass fed beef right now. Especially for people on a budget the important thing is to be cooking those fresh foods, not weather they are organic or not. Organic food is way more expensive, less efficient to produce, and if the entire world converted to organic farming methods even more people would starve than already are. Look up the facts. That said I don’t like the state of the food industry and how much energy it wastes shipping food all around. Local is the way to go and I like how many grocery stores in my area are carrying locally grown produce and say where the food is coming from so I can choose the tomatoes that are from California, rather than Mexico for instance. Farmers markets are even better if you can spare the expense and they do tend to have lots of organic options for people who are into that. I also love to garden and grew up with tomatoes, string beans and fruit trees in the yard. I have heirloom tomatoes and bell peppers growing in a planter box on my patio right now and I can’t wait to buy a house so I can have a proper vegetable garden again, but every little bit helps. The carrots you can buy in the store have nothing on home grown baby carrots.

    [Reply]

  65. sharon says

    There is a wonderful site, angel food ministries, where ANYONE on ANY budget can get food at a serious discount. :)

    [Reply]

  66. says

    I am not sure if anyone has recommended this or not but, a few nights ago my husband and I watched the documentary “Food, Inc.” on Netflix. When I finished, there was no doubt in my mind about making the transition to REAL FOOD. Watching this also has ceased my desire for fast food (McDonald’s, Sonic, Burger King, etc.). The next time I entered my local grocery store I made a beeline for the organic section in the produce area, which is very small, and brought home salad greens and cherry tomatoes. I have 5 kids and a husband to feed. Our budget is 800 a month. I made declarations to him that I will no longer buy cold cereal, sodas or treats with the grocery budget. Surprisingly, our Walmart had a pretty good variety of organic, gluten-free, and atleast hormone and antibiotic free food. Next month I plan to hit a local farm and begin buying raw milk for cheese, butter, yogurt and kefir. They also sell pastured chickens for 3.75 a pound and grass fed beef. May I suggest that anyone who wants to learn about whole foods go to gnowfglins.com and sign up for a membership (10.00 a month recurring) and Wardeh will teach you all the ins and outs of real food preparation. We had beans and rice for dinner last night. It was the first time in a long time I did not wake up hungry! This is a very inexpensive and fulfilling meal! Walmart had organic brown rice(3.14 for 2#) and I like the Casserole brand of pinto beans(1.32 for 1#). So for about 4 bucks this fed our whole family.

    [Reply]

  67. says

    With regards to the comments above and the heart-ache and false guilt – – I can certainly relate. My husband and I, in fact, were just talking about this again this morning.

    If I might add just a little nugget: The enemy LOVES to use anything and everything he can to accuse us and lie to us. Even GREAT material can be a spring-board for him to start pressuring, condemning, and alienating us. This is his job – that is why he is called “the Father of Lies!”

    Because of this – we have to realize that both ends – either feeling inadequate as a mom OR feeling prideful about our wonderful natural eating – is a lie and gets the focus on ourselves. I have been on both ends of the spectrum at different seasons of my life, and really God is not pleased with either.

    I was just sharing this verse with my son the other day, “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles the man, but what comes out of the mouth that defiles him.” Truly our bodies are a temple, and whatever we can do to provide for our temple is important, but God is clearly, always more interested in our hearts.

    If eating from scratch, eating organic, or fermenting, etc. adds stress to your home, you will not be made well by that stress! We are made well by a heart of thanksgiving and peace with God, and living in His grace. His heart will never accuse us, condemn us, or ask us to do something we cannot reasonably do. Those are the works of “the other guy!”

    I believe Laura is sharing out of her joyful heart, what God has led them to do. It truly makes her joyful to provide for her family the way she does! What makes YOUR heart joyful? What are YOUR gifts? When we seek after HIS will for our lives, and find peace and satisfaction in Him, we can joyfully hear about others doing things differently, and still rejoice with them. No competition required.

    I am His daughter. Just as in my love for my own children, I would never want them all to be the same, so my perfect, heavenly Father would never call me to be exactly as any other lady or mom!

    I invite all of you to be on this kind of healthy journey with me:) ~ rejoicing at the healthy choices I can make ~ and blessing and giving thanks for the less nutritious things that help my budget or my time. God, sanctify it all! Thanks for it all! I only live to please YOU!

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    Katherine Reply:

    Wow thank you so much for this gentle, yet to the point, reminder! When you said “is a lie and gets the focus on ourselves” this convicted me. This is exactly what happens to me. I get fearful about eating wrong, instead of keeping my eyes on Jesus.
    Thanks again, and God Bless You.

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  68. says

    What kind of garden can be started in October-November in Kentucky? Any ideas? I did just get my first basil plants in August or September, and we love them! :D

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    Laura Reply:

    Oh boy, since I’m from Nebraska I really have no idea! Maybe some Kentucky readers will chime in if they see this!

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  69. Kay says

    In the town I live there is a small grocery store that just sells organic foods and vitamin supplements. If the produce gets even the tiniest bruise they will put it in an abused and bruised basket and reduce it to 50 cents a pound. They used to charge 25 cents a pound but went up. I get all my apples this way. I inspect the fruit and will not purchase if overly bruised but slight bruises or blemishes I can just cut out. Doesn’t really matter if the fruit is perfect if you are using it soon or going to perserve it like dehydrating, freezing or canning just as long as you cut out the bad spots. I like to juice the apples for my smoothies. Beats paying $2.83 which is what their Fuji apples are.

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  70. Sandy Cloud says

    Please don’t forget to purchase your spices/herbs in bulk!! Fred Meyer (Oregon) has a wonderful bulk selection, and you can purchase as much – or little – as you need for pennies on the dollar. Took my young teen buddy shopping one morning and we bought Christmas spices from the bulk section, then took him to the spice isle to see how much it would have cost there. It was a little over $25 difference for 4 spices. He took the info to his “Life Prep” class to share! :o)

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  71. Megan says

    When it comes down to it, we just need to eat as healthy as we can afford to. We don’t all have the same resources, certainly. Single girls like me don’t also don’t have the need or space for bulk shopping. Making something from scratch may not always be organic, but it’s much healthier (and often cheaper) than a box. I need to do more from-scratch cooking…no better time than the present! :)

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  72. says

    We’re at an income of around $24K a year, for 5 people (3 kids). While not everything in our house is “whole” foods, I do make a $200 a month food budget stretch.

    How? Cooking from scratch. Lots of rice, beans, soups, make meat a flavor instead of the main course, vegetables in season, gardening and preserving the harvests, grow our own herbs, you name it. Our items aren’t organic–especially our garden where we use Sevin to keep bugs at bay so we actually have a harvest to bring in, nor can we afford 4X the cost for one item because of an “organic” label. I bake breads, biscuits, cakes, cookies, you name it, from scratch and use lots of sourdough in the blends, make most of my own desserts for the family, and so on. Sodas are kept to a minimum, as a treat, we seldom buy candy and snack cakes and things. God has provided for our needs as they arise, sometimes I’ve had to work on a budget of less than $200 a month for food when another bill rises up and eats up the budget or an emergency arises.

    You’ll find that using closest to the root/original and cooking at home with your own ingredients makes a huge difference in budgeting, and also you get the satisfaction of knowing what’s in your meals, where most of it came from, and so on.

    This year my herb garden has been bountiful, so I’ve preserved gallon bags of dried mint (4 different kinds), oregano, basil, chives, parsley,and have thyme, rosemary, and lemon balm to bring in for a 5th harvest of the year soon. We live in town, so space in our yard is rather limited, but we have been able to put out tomatoes, 2 kinds of peppers, okra, eggplant, sunflowers (for our own roasted seed), and lots of herbs, and in spring lettuce and spinach. It takes more work, but the rewards are worth it.

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  73. Hezzielee says

    Hubby and I once had the conversation that we weren’t buying food…we were buying NUTRITION!! It has since made spending the extra money a priority in our eyes.

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  74. Rachel says

    I would like to add that prayer and generosity are also important when feeding a family with a very limited income. I know that the Lord extended our food. When my husband was laid-off, we had less than half the salary from before (eventually only 1/4-1/3 of the income), I was scared, but prayed and trusted God. Ps. 37 was a big help. We ate better and more healthily during that time. I HATE to shop, so I tend to miss the good deals, but during that season, God continually dropped great deals in my lap. Our in-laws gave us a freezer and I was able to buy fresh produce on sale and was able to can/freeze it. We also had guests over to eat with us weekly. (We finally had time!) God was amazing in how He provided.

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  75. Missie says

    I would like to encourage all of you out there with younger children…My son is 17 now, and for most of that time, I was not feeding him what would qualify as a “real food” diet. We had plenty of fresh game, good veggies, and fruit, but we still had our cereal, store bought bread, and fruit snacks. And guess what? He’s fine. He’s brilliant. He’s exactly where he is supposed to be in every area. He did not die, become mentally unstable, or begin to rob 7-11s because he did not have raw milk on his homemade granola every day.

    I am saying this not to make fun of anyone, and not to diminish what we are all trying to do as moms. We want to feed our kids well. We want the healthiest and the best food for them. However…this can be an area where the enemy of our souls comes in to condemn. Don’t let that be the case, dear ones. You are doing the best you can right now with what you have.

    Can’t afford raw milk or don’t live in an area where it’s available? That’s okay. There’s grace for that. Buy organic milk if the budget allows. If not? Then our God is big enough to bless generic milk from Wal-Mart. Make a few small changes WHEN YOU CAN. Don’t feel guilty that you can’t become Miss Organic Made from Scratch instantly. It takes time. It takes money. It takes alot of work. Do what you can when you can, and God will make up the rest.

    For our family (and this is just.us.), I buy only organic milk. That’s one area I can afford. I try to buy organic yogurt, but when I can’t, I get Tillamook brand. I no longer buy fruit snacks. I try to buy mostly organic fruits and veggies, but that’s not always in the budget. I am trying to make more things from scratch, but working outside the home 40+ hours a week makes it hard. I do small steps, when I can. And that’s it. That’s all I can do at this stage of our family’s life and budget.

    You are doing a great job, mommas. You love your kiddos, you are there for them, and you are FEEDING them, spiritually and physically. Yes, we can all improve. Every single one of us. But don’t beat yourself up. They will turn out fine. I promise. :)

    And, Laura, thanks for all you do in spreading the word about healthy eating. I appreciate your recipes, ideas, and sense of humor.

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    Sarah B. Reply:

    Missie, your post has made me tear up because it blesses me! I really enjoy this blog and many others that have great ideas and recipes. We feel so blessed to have a larger budget for food than a few months ago, but it’s still a challenge to stretch it for all the things I’d like to do for my family. I don’t buy organic except on occasion when it’s cheaper than regular (organic pink lady apples for 99 cents/lb!). I buy generic milk from Walmart. I buy eggs from HEB when my dear friend doesn’t have enough free range to share. I plan to have a garden next year in our small backyard – so excited about it!
    I still occasionally buy snack crackers for my small children. I tried making them from scratch but it”s expensive, and especially when my picky son won’t eat them. :( I’ve started making almost all our bread from scratch, but I still use some unbleached white four to mix in with the fresh ground white whole wheat from a friend with a grain mill.
    I’ve switched from margarine to butter – one of our “small” changes. I have discovered I have a soy allergy which makes cooking from scratch a necessity! My family has benefited from that!
    I have an auto-immune thyroid disease and so my health isn’t great. There are lots of sites/doctors telling me changes I need to make, supplements I need to take, tests I need done, etc. I got so bogged down with guilt that I couldn’t afford to get better and feed my family as I should. I forgot about the Lord.
    He has provided faithfully our every need. He will continue to do that! Just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should be. Especially when the resources aren’t there for me. God has recently freed me from the bondage of thinking I had to do all these things. I will continue to do what I can within our resources and know He will bless the food I lovingly place before my family. He will help me in my need for strength every day to keep up with my children.
    Thanks again for the reminder and for blessing me today!

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  76. maknyak tigaroda says

    I need all the help I can get on feeding my family nutritiously as possible for very little money. I’m planning on gardening, but so far haven’t been lucky enough to find a hunter who would be willing to share venison

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