Eat Real Food on a Budget

I hear people very often say they can’t afford to eat free range/organic/whole/real/natural foods.  Just insert any one of those terms in the sentence and it’s the same.  This really puzzles me for a few reasons.  First, I can’t really answer “yes you can” without know what affordable means to that person.  Second, I begin to think about the long term benefits that eating in such a way provides. Yes some things may cost more today, so you may save money by making other choices with the foods you eat but what happens in 10 or 15 years?  The medical costs could trump the additional dollars today ten-fold!  Ultimately what we eat is up to each person and I am no one to judge those choices.

But – there are a lot of people who want to eat real foods.  They want to make it work for their families, they just aren’t sure how. 

Recently my friend Ameera of Traditional Muslimah Homemaker posted a question on her Facebook wall asking readers if all organic eating is affordable and also can you make real meals on a real budget?  My answer to the first question is maybe and the second question is absolutely!  While I started to share my tips in the comment section it occurred to me this would be a great blog post.  Once I started writing that I realized it would be an entire series!

While this list could be much longer than 10 tips, I’ve decided to stick with this number.  Over the next 10 weeks I’ll be sharing a post focusing on one of the 10 ways we eat real food on a real budget.  So here’s the rundown for my family;

  • we eat primarily gluten-free for our main meals together.  My kids do eat gluten but that primarily means sandwich bread for school lunches and pasta (though this too is largely gluten free)
  • I purchase either free range, organic, halal, or if money is tight in a specific week vegetarian fed, antibiotic free meats.
  • We drink almond milk or organic milk from a local dairy
  • I buy free range and/or organic eggs
  • We eat out 2-3 times a month as a family.
  • I spend $100-125 a week on food.
  • We live in a medium size (under 100,000 people) city in the Midwest US.
  • I cook a lot – but you already knew that!

I think that all of these facts are important things to consider.  We do have a wide variety of locally grown produce available – in the spring and summer.  While we live in a smaller city, we have eaten this way when we lived in a major metro, Washington DC, and my grocery budget was about the same. What I’m trying to say is that anyone can do this, no matter where you live or what dietary restrictions you might have.

So what are my 10 ways to eat real food on a budget?

1. Set a Budget

2. Meal Plan

3. Cook and Bake

4. Eat from your Pantry

5. Use whole meat cuts and butcher yourself

6. Make Seasonal Choices

7. Buy in Bulk When it Makes Sense

8. Build Reserves

9. Freezer Cook

10. Repurpose leftovers

I hope you’ll join me as I go further into depth on each of these tips.  I’ll be sharing how I do it and giving you resources to use for your own family.  If you want to make sure you receive all of my posts make sure to subscribe on the right hand side!  Oh, and leave me a comment too – I’d love to know your specific “trouble spots” so that I can address them in the future!