I'm calling this post "Natural Eating" because I can't exactly call it organic per se, it's hybrid eating of sorts which I am happy to share with you. If you've been reading my blog for the past couple of years, you probably know our history with eating well on a budget. All of this I would consider good training, or building a good foundation, for where we are today. (See Create Cheap Meal Plan , 40 Dollar Week, How to Create a Meal Plan in Five Simple Steps)
Here is my little disclaimer before I get down to the nitty gritty. I do love organic eating, and I do think eating primarily naturally and organically is very healthy and nutritious. But I'd never want to say that I know what is the best way to live or eat. Every person is unique in their own situation, and although we all have room to grow and learn, I don't want to present an extreme case here. These are just my own thoughts, in light of knowing that my own thoughts will evolve too over the years to come.
We are making a conscious effort to maintain an appropriate food budget. Our goal for grocery shopping is $45-50 a week, and sometimes we make it in under that even. I've talked to a lot of people these last couple months to see how they shop cheaper and how they go about their grocery budget. I got a few really great recommendations. I've put these tips to the test by shopping around to see how my budget fairs. Since these experiments, I've come up with a few grocery stores and methods to getting the best deal. (A little note- although a few of my friends shop at Walmart, and it's cheaper than most other places, I can't bring myself to shop there. Of course if you don't have any qualms with the super store, you might want to consider it for your grocery experiment.)
Food budgeting is a very regional thing, so you will have to test this out for yourself at your local grocers. The main principals should at least still be beneficial. As of now, the places I shop are Fry's primarily, then a little bit at Costco, Trader Joe's, and the Honey Man (a local natural food store). What I list below are the best deals I have come up with for the Prescott, AZ area. I may find new and better deals, if so I will let you know.
*Update as of 8/17/13 New Frontiers has some great deals on whole chickens!
THE BREAK DOWN:
Once or twice a month (or less):
Costco- Organic Whole Chicken 2-pack about $25; Organic Butter 2-pack about $7.99; Tillamook Cheese $8.99
*New Frontiers- Whole Chickens $9.99 each!
Trader Joe's- Coconut Oil about $5.99, Olive Oil ($6.99)
The Honey Man- Organic/Natural Rice (about $1.79), Salt, Seasonings, Local Honey
Trader Joe's- Beer about $6-7 for a 6 pack
Fry's- some organic produce (leafy greens, potatoes, fruit, carrots), the rest of produce, bulk section, Mexican spices section, organic beef ($7.99) and if organic chicken is cheaper than Costco, organic milk ($3.99), free-range eggs ($2.99), kefir, plain yogurt, and Tom's toothpaste ($3.99)
I divide my grocery list down the center of the page. I list my produce on the top left, meat on the top right. Below the produce I write the natural/bulk section; and below the meat, the dairy, and etc.
I buy whole chickens a couple times a month. I use the meat for multiple meals and use the rest for making chicken broth. I am a big proponent of little waste when it comes to food.
We don't eat processed foods often. Occasionally, if I want dessert or bread, I bake it all from scratch. We also eat many vegetarian meals. We eat little wheat products (in meals, not counting the occasional dessert or bread I make). Certain items for me are more important to be organic than other things. A quick search on the internet should help you to find out what items can be more contaminated than others. For me what is the most important is organic meat and dairy products. Below that is produce, the main ones being fruit, potatoes, and leafy greens. Lastly, it's canned goods and grains.
Depending on my budget, my organic shopping lies in the top category and as my money diminishes I go down that list as needed. When I'm reaching the end of the weekly/monthly allotment everything else may not be organic except for the meat and milk. The reason that is the most important category for me is because of the very present hormones in non-organic meat and milk. Since switching, not to be too frank, PMS has greatly diminished, and I feel like my body processes these non-hormonized foods much better.
Thanks for reading, hopefully that may help some of you who have the same heart about food and health as us. Any comments or questions are always appreciated.
Happy budgeting and happy eating!