Food is such an important part of my life as a mom. Someone is always hungry when you have 5 kids. Some days I feel like I never have enough food made to keep the kids full.
Which is why it’s important to me to feed my kids the best food our budget can buy. Because we have a limited food budget for 7 people, I have to compromise in areas. I also have to compromise to some extent because my husband doesn’t always agree with the choices I want to make. For example, I’d like to do more meatless nights, however, my husband loves his meat. Our compromise is my making more stews and soups to stretch the meat farther.
Our Food Shopping Priorities
Reading Your Grocery Budget Toolbox this summer helped me narrow down my priorities for our food budget and to feel comfortable with doing my best with what I have. I start my weekly food shopping at the produce stand which ensures I buy lots of fruits and veggies, not processed food at the grocery store.
1. Buy grassfed meat, pastured-raised pork, cage-free chickens.
I admit to struggling with this 1st priority. Because I can’t just walk into a grocery store and buy enough grassfed meat with the variety my family is used to, I’ve been looking for other sources. Another part of the issue is time. There is a coop right around the corner from me which could do bulk orders. I’ve wanted to go since August, but haven’t had the time. Finally, this week, I can go.
My back up plan for meat has been Whole Foods, however, they are 30 minutes from my home, and not in a direction I generally go. I’ve also been able to pick up some of the meat I need at Costco during our monthly trips.
2. Buy and grow lots of fruits and vegetables.
Over the years, we’ve built up a great vegetable garden in our yard, plus added fruiting vines, trees, and shrubs to the collection. Up until this year, we’ve harvested a lot of homegrown fruits and veggies which has helped stretch our food budget while giving the family organic food.
When I’m not growing fruits and veggies, I’m buying it from the local produce stand. We’ve tried Giant (good produce), Produce Junction (okay) and Trader Joe’s (also good), however, the best bet for our budget is a local produce stand called Gentile’s Farm Market. They don’t offer organic, though their produce is always good quality.
While at Gentile’s, I can pick up hormone-free milk and locally raised cage-free eggs. They also offer local raw milk cheeses at a good price.
3. Buy and use healthy fats.
I have orders set up on Amazon for flavored and unflavored coconut oil. I will be adding coconut oil spray to the list. Whenever we cook nitrate-free bacon, we save the greases in a jar in the fridge.
However, I’m still buying conventional butter and cheese. The price of Kerrygold butter at Trader Joe’s isn’t too bad; I just don’t shop there very often. We go through a lot of cheese. Yes, I’d love to buy raw milk cheese. I can’t pay $10/lb. and afford other items in my budget.
4. Make as much as I can from scratch using the best ingredients I can afford.
This summer, my kids and I spent time making gluten-free and Paleo recipes as part of our Family Cooking Project. Gluten-free baking can be expensive and require some unusual ingredients. Thanks to the help of a friend who was also baking gluten-free, we stuck to recipes focusing on almond flour or coconut flour. Not necessarily the cheapest flours to use, these flours are easy to obtain on Amazon.
When it comes to GMOs, I buy organic wheat flour as often as I can. Including coconut flour and almond flour in my baking reduces my use of wheat flour. I do the same with oats. To avoid HFCS, I buy the Hunt’s Natural Ketchup, not organic ketchup. We buy Kirkland brand maple syrup, though if we run out, Log Cabin has a no HFCS syrup. I’m hoping to get the kids into homemade fruit syrups like strawberry.
5. Buy organic when I can afford it, and don’t sweat it if I can’t.
When I shop at Giant, I pick up organic apples, organic carrots, organic potatoes, and organic celery, all from the Dirty Dozen list. If I can’t pick them up, I buy what I need conventionally at Gentile’s. Because we grow some of our own food and we eat a whole foods diet, I don’t sweat the organic produce as much as the meat.
What are your priorities when it comes to GMOs and organic food?
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