Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy

You, Yes You Can Afford Wholesome and Organic Food

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's All About Organics page and our Health Issues page.

In our society, we're all so afraid to talk about money. Money seems like a dirty word in "civilized" society. My grandfather often accused me of needing to go to charm school, so in drawing on my crass roots, let me put it all out there. My grocery budget for my family of three is $350 a month (less in the summer when my garden is producing). That buys me local meat, milk, eggs (if my new chickens ever start laying, I won't have to buy them anymore!), produce, and some grains. The rest of our dietary needs are met by items from my garden, a standard grocery store, warehouse store or bulk purchasing club.

Walking through a traditional grocery store, it is simple to see how people can easily drop a large amount of money on groceries.  There are so many items to choose from, and advertisers work hard to fight for your hard-earned dollars.  My approach to cooking and food shopping confuses the heck out of food processors, but it serves the needs and stomachs of my family. So how do we do it? Read on to find out!  Before we get too deep in the "art" of food shopping, please understand I am not telling you how to eat.  The food my family enjoys may look very different from your family's, but ideas can be applied to any situation. Buy Ingredients, Not Food

Huh? Aren't ingredients also food? Well, yes and no. By purchasing components of a meal instead of a meal in a box, I'm spreading out my dollars amongst many food groups. Parts of a recipe can be used in multiple dishes, thereby maximizing my food dollars. Let me give you an example: I can buy a complete chicken meal at a fast food restaurant for about $25.  That meal will feed my family for one dinner, and possibly lunch the next day. It will save me time by allowing me to pick up dinner through my car window.

On the flip side, I can wait patiently for my favorite local grocery store to have their twice annual organic free-range whole chicken buy one get one sale and fill my freezer to bursting. Digging some potatoes from my summer garden, I can make homemade "jo jo" fries to roast in the oven while I'm roasting the chicken. Veggies could be picked from the garden, or a simple and delicious salad could be made out of the spinach I purchased at the grocery store.     
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