Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thinking Aloud - Feeding a Family Real Food without Breaking the Bank

a post by Jenni {aka Mom}
I’m think I’m “officially” a real-foodie now. I’ve made the transition from staples of Hamburger Helper, dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, canned condensed cream-of-whatever soup, and chemical-packed mixes to staples that are real, raw, farm-fresh, traditional, and just plain good. 

whole wheat strawberry shortcake with organic strawberries from our garden, freshly whipped raw cream, and a glass of fresh, raw milk
Before I made that transition, I had no desire to change anything. At all. I thought it would be too hard, too expensive, too time consuming, and just too much of a headache. I felt very strongly against making changes until my son’s poor health demanded that we make changes - which made me actually do the research - which made me do the math - which made me take the initiative - which has transformed our household into what some friends call “super-granola-crunchy”.

the first batch of butter I made
As much as the former me would have balked, I now grind my flour from whole grain right before I bake with it. I buy almost all my meat from a local farmer, who raises every animal organically and free-range. I buy my eggs there too, for now, and we just invested in hens so we can have our own eggs here at home. I own herd shares at a local Salatin-trained dairy, where the Jersey cows happily graze on a different open green pasture every day. I use that milk to make raw yogurt, kefir, and butter - and I’m beginning to explore making the easy soft cheeses. Our family grows a lot of our own fruits & veggies, and what we don’t grow we’re mostly able to get local and/or organic.

And, you know what? I love it! I love the food. I love the way I feel. I love knowing I’m caring for my family well. I love knowing how to really cook.

The big question I hear most regularly from ladies who’ve just realized we eat this way is ~

How can you afford to feed your family this way??! Doesn't that milk end up being like $7 a gallon??! Isn't that meat twice as expensive as the meat at the grocery store??! I can't do extreme couponing at health food stores or at a farm!

Honestly, if I were to try and buy all our groceries at Whole Foods or another "health food grocer", there would be no possible way we could afford to eat this way. No way at all. And a lot of what places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s offer isn’t even near the quality of what we’re eating, anyway. It’s better than Kroger, but depending on what item you’re taking about that isn’t saying much!

The truth is that with research and planning and learning to make things stretch you can feed your family real food on a budget, while filling their tummies and not eating beans & rice every day. (Though, admittedly, yes, we do eat beans a few times a month or so. And we like them.) The truth is, that in most places in America you have other options. The truth is, there are ways you can manage your family's eating habits to stretch the pricey ingredients and make your budget work.

In fact, I’ve been able to consistently feed our family of five (including two tween sons and one teenaged son!) hearty, filling, nutritious, real-food dinners for an average of $13 per dinnertime meal - and we usually have enough leftovers that at least two of us can finish it up for lunch the next day. Assuming we eat the whole thing at one sitting, that’s about $2.60 per meal per person. All real food, with very few exceptions (sometimes I fudge and get packaged corn tortillas - even though, I know, they’re bad - but oh! My! They’re good! Guilty pleasure…). Our breakfasts and lunches usually cost us about half of that.

So, thinking aloud here: I wondered if I should try and post a few of my dinnertime meal plans/recipes? Most of my “recipes” are kind of thrown together out of my head, but I am trying to get them down in print. My husband would especially like me to get a few particular ones down so that I can actually make the exact same dish again consistently :)

I’ve been working on getting last week’s Monday-Friday dinner plan all typed out already. Should I finish pulling it together to share here with you? Should I try and get more than one Monday-Friday plan together and online? What do you think?

Last week’s plan included:
- Creamy Chicken Quinoa with Cheese Sauce, Roasted Carrots
- Chicken Tacos Verde, Peruvian Garlic Rice
- Potato-Cheddar Soup
- Huevos Albañil (Bricklayer Eggs), Peruvian Garlic Rice
- Creamy Chicken Quinoa Spinach Casserole

Is this something any of you would be interested in? What ways do you feed your family well on a budget?

No comments:

Post a Comment