The Myth of the Elite Organic Shopper
Buying quality food is not as expensive as you think!
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Supermarkets in every city today are saturated with aisles upon aisles of easy food. Microwaveables, cereals, packaged sauces, all manner of snacks, and pre-cooked everythings make it really difficult to rationalize the price we'd have to pay for the real stuff. The slow stuff. Real foods like fresh veggies and fruits, pasture raised (and finished) meats not only take longer to prepare, but they're more expensive! So is dealing with the hassle and cost of choosing a local chicken over cold cuts really worth it?
Is the extra cost of organic food worth it?
I feel it's my calling in life to convince you that yes! It is so worth it! Not only is real, whole food more nutrient dense, it just takes one in season strawberry or tomato to realize the incredible difference in taste. And despite common misconceptions, real organic food is not just rich people food. I know, because I'm certainly not rich. As for me and my household, we decided (I decided, then convinced my amazing husband!) that food is a priority. For that choice, we do forego some extraneous purchases like random new clothes, a new car, and meals out every night. In other words, we make a conscious decision to put the cost of the highest quality ingredients over leisure spending. But that doesn't mean we spend all or even most of our income on groceries!
How we afford the good stuff
- Look at all areas of the budget
I think the most important thing we do when budgeting for our groceries is practicing minimalism and mindfulness about our other expenses. Do we really need to eat out on Friday nights? Can we repair a pair of pants or shop consignment stores instead of buying new? It's a lot easier to "splurge" on the best at the market when we've cut back in other areas.
- Treat meat like a side
It's easy to get caught up in the idea that meat is the star of the meal. How are we thinking about our dinner? If we go to the market with a meal in mind like steak with two sides, we're going to wind up eating a whole lot more meat than we need. Instead, we do things like cooking veggies in bacon or eating a few vegetarian meals per week!
- Stretch ingredients
This one is so easy if we're really careful about not being wasteful. When we get a local whole chicken from our friends at the market, I use all the parts. Thighs in one meal, breasts shredded for salads/sandwiches, bones all saved for the broth that becomes our lunch soups.
- Don't stress too much!
Relax! We *try* to follow the 80/20 rule. This means that we adhere to our organic/local/pastured standards 80% of the time, leaving 20% wiggle room for some (as healthy as possible!) convenience foods, like Amy's soups or Mary's Gone Crackers...crackers. No more room in the budget for all organic produce? Just try to pay attention to the Dirty Dozen list and choose organic only for those products that are most pesticide-laden.
Basically, buying real food is hard. So hard that only Tesla owners with a goose hunting lodge can do it? Certainly not, but the major players in the food industry are trying their hardest through false advertising and fun, innovative uses for government subsidized wheat and corn, to convince us that the cheapest and best option for feeding our families is to buy their *achem* junk. Say no! Budget wisely, set priorities, and make the decision that nourishing ourselves and our loved ones is worth sacrificing the bracelet or new hairdo. And seriously, a whole cow with half a potato does not a balanced or cheap meal make.
Another easy way I've been able to save my family money on wholesome groceries is by taking advantage of Thrive Market, an online grocery store that stocks some of the best organic and Non-GMO products available at 25-50% off retail price. I save an average of $40 per order, for staples from shampoo to sardines to gluten-free crackers! If you sign up for their membership from now through November, you can get a free bottle of Organic Tea Tree Essential Oil, plus a 30-day trial. I really recommend you try them out!