Saturday, January 16, 2010

Healthy Eating on a Budget

I am often asked the following question...or more frequently told..."eating healthy is expense" the person then goes on to explain why they cannot eat healthy or asks me how we can afford to eat so healthy.

To be honest with you, I am really grateful that when I had my health scare a couple of years ago that I was able to completely take out all food from my kitchen that I considered "part of my problem" and replace it with all the wonderful seeds, grains, sweeteners, milks, cheeses, fruits, veggies etc. that I wanted to - without worry about cost. 

However, when my husband merged his company with his former business and the focus was on building the business we had to pay ourselves the bare minimu to get by.  We had two homes, we drove big expensive gas guzzeling cars and yet suddenly we found ourselves unable to even afford the gas to get me to workout with my dance friends in Orem 3 times a week.  I didn't rehearse with my friends for nearly an entire year and I was able to see - no experience - first hand how you CAN eat whole foods on a budget. 

Here are some things I learned...

Look for ways to get FREE products.  Examples...

Wanted: Raspberry Leaves

I posted an add on the classifieds asking if anyone had organic raspberry bushes that I could come get the leaves from.  This was to make raspberry tea which is a great "female herb" because it excretes mucus from the female organs and helps to tone those organs for pregnancy.  You will find the herb in the formulas for the last 5-6 weeks of pregnancy.  Anyway, in the stores it costs about $25 a bag.  I went with my daughter and we had a really fun time picking the leaves and came away with about $125 worth of of herbs.

Wanted: Fresh Fruit

It is amazing to me how many people have fruit trees in their yards who simply need someone to help pick the apples, the peaches, the cherries, etc.  If you keep your eyes open to opportunity I feel you will be lead to people who will give you fruit in exchange for helping them pick it.

Wanted: Food going to Waste

I went to a farmers market (during our so-called family depression) and looked around at everything.  There was a box of green, yellow and red peppers that were on the verge of going bad.  I asked the guy if he could give me a good deal on the ones that were about to go to waste and he gave them to me for practically free and threw in a box of chilli peppers that were also about to go to waste.  I can't remember where I bought the onions from - it may have been at that same stand, but with the onions and peppers I went home and sliced them in a stir-fry cut and bagged them according to meal size.  That mad a ton of fajita mixes.  We had tortillas all through the winter - probably once a week with all that I had made.  I still use the chilli peppers that I dried and then ground - which filled a quart jar.

Herbs

Grow your own herbs...grow your own salad greens...they grow quickly and replenish themselves quickly...plus they are hard to kill.

Seeds, Nuts and Grains

Because of my health scare years before our financial famine...I had a freezer full of all kinds of seeds, nuts and grains.  I drawed from information from Raw Food Cooks and was amazed at the milks I could make from the seeds, I could make a yummy whipping cream tasting concoction using walnuts, water, using the blender and agave...I made tahini with the sunflower seeds, and a REALLY Yummy meat loaf dish out of mostly nuts and dried tomatoes from a recipe out of Juliano's "The Un-Cook Book". 

Sprouting

One of the recipes, or I should say, couple of recipes I love out of "Nurishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon is her recipe for Kimchi and Gingered Carrots.  Kimchi in the store is REALLY  Expensive.  I'm talking $20 for a quart jar of it, and the recipe calls for Napa Cabbage, Carrots, Onions, Sea Salt, Ginger, Garlic and Red Peppers...which after I make 4 quarts of it I probably end up spending $8 for the ingredients which makes $80 worth of Kimchi plus the yummy Gingered Carrots with use just the shredded carrots, shredded ginger and sea salt.  (In Hawaii they eat their eggs with Kimchi - I use the gingerd carrots in salads, on sandwiches, in rice...I LOVE the taste of it and don't need salad dressing when I use it in my salads).

I do keep sprouts on hand at all times.  I am nearly finished with my 3 lb container of Alfa Plus seed mix.  I had to laugh when we went to Disney World and I saw my son putting his sprouts over the chips he was eating.  He looked up at me and said "what" in his deep little boy voice as sprouts stuck out all around his little mouth. 

Another side note about Disney World.  It was my turn to wait with the three younger kids while my husband took our oldest son on a ride. (This was after the financial famine) While we were waiting my kids were wanting something to snack on and so I pulled out my sea weed sheets.  I can't remember what else they were muching on...probably nuts and graps or something, but there was a japanese couple who walked by us...their heads turned back to us in awe as they watched my kids snacking on their sea weed sheets I'd cut into little chip like squares.  They then looked up to me with a big smile on each of their faces and they each gave me a very proud nod of respect.  My heart about burst.  In one nod and smile I felt their praise...and I felt glad that my kids were eating so healthy.

Meat

Now about buying organic - pasture feed meat.  I don't consider meat healthy if it is free of growth hormones.  I want to know that the animal was cage free and fed on a diet as God intended.  I like to know that the cow meat we buy were from cows that were pasture fed.  I've attended many classes and read in several books about how the diet of the animals effects the alkaline or acidic state of the animal and in return our food.  You may not have catched it, but watch Food Inc. and in it they comment about how the workers (using gloves) lose their finger nails...due to the acidity of the meat.  Yuck....

Anyway, try searching out farmers who will sell you a "quarter cow" around fall time.  Then you have your meat for your family during the winter at a great price per pound.  I neighboor of mine just told me the other day she was buying a calf from her cousin for around $500 and then paying for it to be pastured.  Now when that calf grows up it is going to provide a LOT of meat.  My neighboor could probably go in with others and reduce her cost to practically nothing.  A quarter cow is a lot of meat and it feeds our family of 6.  She could really split the cost with 3 other families putting her cost at around $150 for a quarter of a cow - where I paid almost $500 for my quarter of a cow.  This friend is a really SMART shopper.

If you are able to...raise chickens.  Eat the eggs, eat the chickens.  I guarantee that when a person eats meat that they've raised there is a new found respect and reverence for the food they are eating.  Please make sure to feed the animals and care for them in a way that would give you in return the health investment you are seeking.

Buying in Bulk

You may need to buy organic veggies and fruit in bulk...perhaps frozen...and even meat...to save money over time.  You can package smaller portions, date the freezer bag contents, and that way you also eat smaller portions at each meal.  When I had to ration the food we ate it was nice to pull one freezer bag of a family size veggie portion as opposed to opening over and over again the bulk bag.

I KNOW that you can eat healthy on a budget.  I friend of mine - who I was on a dance company with, would grow a garden because her husband was a sales man and their income fluctuated a lot.  She was amazing with her ability to cook with what she had.  You can buy grains like Amaranth, Quinoa, Gluten Free Oatmeal, buckwheat, flax seed, chia seed, corn (to grind) and rice and make wonderful recipes from them.

I'm starting to fade a little and so I'll end here.

Please know that if you "seek" you shall "find".  It was amazing how when I really "needed" food it would come out of surprising places. People would drop off squash to us, tomatoes from their gardens without knowing how tight things were for us.  We dropped all the unneccessary activities, my husband downgraded my car...and we continued to eat healthy and I learned so much from the process.

If you have the room in your yard please have a garden put in....plant fruit trees, maybe a walnut tree, some berry bushes and if you have the room why not have chickens of your own...perhaps a goat.

It is really FUN to eat healthy, and I LOVE seeing how healthy and strong my children are mentally and physically.

Love,

Steffanie

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