Having tackled the real food ambition for a couple of weeks, I have happy, happy news:
We’re actually spending LESS than before we started this process. More fruits and veggies, far less packaged foods, and nothing processed – and our food expenses have gone down! I already threw some tips out there on how we’ve been doing it, and as the week went on, I kept thinking of more ways to cut out the junk, and pad your wallet while doing it:
- Make it yourself. Yes, this is more time-consuming. But for about 30 minutes total of prep and cooking time, I made whole-wheat “pop tarts” with organic raspberry filling. Ingredients: whole wheat flour, butter, salt, organic raspberry preserves. The end. The girls devoured them. And I spent less for a batch that gave our family two breakfasts than I would on one batch of store-bought, chemical-laden packaged toaster pastries. I know not everyone has an extra 30 min to prep breakfast the night before. Truthfully, even as an at home mom, I usually don’t stop the cooking/cleaning/prepping until 9 or 10 at night, because I usually squeeze my work-outs in before night-time prep. For me, it’s worth it to add a little extra time, and save a whole lot of money.
- Kiss deli meats good-bye. Deli meat is loaded with junk: nitrates, nitrites, MSG, and the list goes on. And in these parts you’ll spend about $7.00 per pound for that stuff, $9.00-$12 per pound for the less processed brands. Or you can do this: buy a whole chicken, rinse and pat dry, season with a little salt and pepper, and roast it. Tada! You have meat for sandwiches, soups, salads, wraps, etc, and I picked one up on sale at a local no-name food store for $0.80 per lb. Granted, we can’t always do organic chicken yet, but it’s still a vast improvement over the processed deli stuff.
- We have saved a LOT of money since making Saturday night, crock pot night. Sundays were our biggest pitfall for eating on the go because by the time we’re done with church, the kids are starving and exhausted, and nobody wants to wait for me to cook, myself included. On Saturday night, I throw something in the crock pot – chicken, enchiladas, chili – and Sunday morning I have lunch already made. No eating out, no processed foods, and a lot less money.
To reiterate: we aren’t full-on organic. And I wouldn’t be the Mediocre Mom if I didn’t do this with a little compromise. Example: we were invited out to dinner at a local chain restaurant, and we went. Punkin and I checked out the chain’s menu and nutrition info online, and picked the healthiest option ahead of time off the kid’s menu – a grilled chicken sandwich with orange segments on the side. I opted for fajitas, and skipped two of the three flour tortillas that came with the meal, opting to stack my plate with grilled chicken and veggies, pico de gallo, guacamole, and shredded lettuce and cheese. Which is still a bangin’ meal, if you ask me. And while I’m planning on doing my best at home to keep us eating real food, it’s still okay in my book to treat yourself now and again. So no, I’m not buying deli meats, but there’s no chance I’m turning down an offer to eat out with friends or family on occasion!
And my other happy update: I have a few friends who are already making changes to the way they eat, and the way they feed their families! Yay for eating real food on real budgets!
Also, Goo helped me make whole wheat pizza the other night. She’s pretty much the best sous chef ever. I may even get her to eat spinach one day.