How to balance healthy food and cheap food - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 09-10-2005, 09:15 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm sure this has been discussed here at some point, but if so I want to bring it up again.

I go through periods where I get just REALLY fed up with trying to buy at food thrift stores because so much of the food is not healthy or fresh. But then I look at our grocery bill from going to regular (for lack of a better word) grocery stores, and try again to do most of my shopping at Sav-a-lot or Aldi's. Aldi's I actually enjoy going to because it's a german grocery chain and I often find items that I used to buy when we lived in Germany (we're not military, it was a research sabbatical, so no commisary).

How do you balance it? What foods do you buy thrift and what foods do you go to regular stores to buy.? Me - I try to get fruits, frozen veggies, and lunch box food for dd at regular stores/Trader Joes/Wild Oats. I usually get staples, dairy, the rare bit of junk food, any canned goods and coffee at thrift. Veggies - we belong to a CSA co-op. Then after a while I want to buy more fresh of everything and stop going to thrift. Argh, it's so frustrating. I read in another thread something like for every $1000 in debt you are, you're 1lb. overweight. Well, yeah... it's expensive to eat healthy!
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#2 of 9 Old 09-11-2005, 07:22 PM
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I do pretty much the same thing as you except I get the dairy at TJ's also. I've tried to cut back on the convenience foods too... I tend to get those at Trader Joe's too now and just buy less, because I'm trying to avoid GMO corn etc. Also we bought 1/4 a grassfed cow and a small chest freezer last year and that has saved a lot of $$ if you eat meat. Our friend's husband got a job on the east coast and we bought it from her at a discount, so it was a great deal!

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#3 of 9 Old 09-12-2005, 08:16 AM
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There's no doubt, buying fresh healthy stuff can be expensive! I save a lot by shopping more at our local farmers' market than at the grocery store, and shopping seasonally. This is of course tough in the dead of winter but it still helps. I use my freezer. Right now we have these absolutely gargantual cauliflours at the market for 3 for a buck- I'm gonna get freezing
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#4 of 9 Old 09-12-2005, 12:54 PM
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Trader Joe's is my answer. Way cheaper organic stuff. I hate their produce, though, and we tend to purchase produce at the farmer's market instead (in season). Trying to garden and can more (I have this completely impossible goal of trying to grow all my family's veggies. And, I am such a beginner.:LOL). Trying to eat in season.

Because I live in a city that is fairly crunchy, a lot of the mainstream grocery stores have 'natural' food sections, and I find some great deals there sometimes.
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#5 of 9 Old 09-13-2005, 05:40 PM
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Check with your community resource center. We are a one income family of 5. Dh makes good money, but we struggle every month. Food is the biggest thing. I easily spent $1000/month on food and household items. I cook from scratch and we eat very healthy food. No dinners from a box in our house. I recently went to our resource center to check it out. One program they had was their "good food box". I was very impressed. Once a month you can order a hamper full of fresh fruits and vegetables. 40lbs of produce for $20. We happened to be there when it was pick up day and the box was full of apples, cabbage, lettuce, oranges, banana's, tomatos, corn on the cob, grapes, potatoes, carrots and so on. Not organic, but I usually can't buy organic produce. It's a matter of buying organic or buying enough to feed my family. I will buy organic when it's a good price. I buy organic meat and dairy unconditionally, but the produce is a tough one. Anyway. It was a good box of food. I am going to place an order at the end of this month for the beginning of next. I will order a 40lb and a 30lb box. That would cost me $35. The 40lb comes with a 10lb bag of potatoes which usually last us a month or longer because we don't usually eat potatoes. I figure I could make soups with the "soup" vegetables like cabbage, carrots and celery and stock the freezer for the month. We go through so much produce.
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#6 of 9 Old 09-13-2005, 07:47 PM
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We trade off by buying expensive organic meat and eating less of it then buying veg and fruit at the local market whilst trying not to think about the miles it has travelled. We grow some veg at home in a tiny border and I'm looking into a patch at the church to grow more. I'm informally trading tomatoes and pouch slings for potatoes and pumpkins this week so I'm on the look out for a good pumpklin soup recipe!

We also shop at Lidl (like Aldi) which is a 25 min drive but the food is much less messed about with than what we find at the same price in regular supermarkets. I would rather drive that far to buy ice cream made with recognisable ingredients and purer juices and jams. We always cook from scratch and bake our own rolls with flour from a local mill so it all evens out.

Prioritise what you can and scrimp where you can that is all you can do really.
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#7 of 9 Old 09-13-2005, 11:29 PM
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Gardening really does help. We planted $10 worth of tomato plants (14 of them!) and we have a humongous bounty at the moment (that we will sauce, freeze, can, dry...). All summer we have eaten out of our garden. Not completely, but it really cuts our produce spending. The stuff we grow from seed ends up being ridiculously cheap, and we fertilize mostly with our compost and free composted manure from a local equestrian center.

I want to build a coop and get chickens (for eggs and manure) but my partner is afraid of the avian flu.
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#8 of 9 Old 09-18-2005, 11:07 AM
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we also spend an obscene amount of money at Whole Foods and our local natural foods store. In a way, sometimes i think that we are fools for it because we seem to be perpetually stuck in this little apartment, can seem to pay off our student loans/other debts, can't take a vacation, etc. On the other hand because we eat so well (all organic, grains, veg., beans, etc. no meat, dairy or sugar) and use natural products all five of us are super healthy, happy and peaceful. I suppose I'd rather give my oney to the natural food stores than to the doctors and hospitals... T

he garden idea is a really good one and farmers markets. Out where we live (Pa.) all of the farmers markets are run by the Amish/Mennonites and all of their produce is organic (not certified, though). We've also started making our own sauerkraut (it's so easy and much cheaper than the organic jars at the health food store) and pickles(again, easy). I have this romantic idea of going to a local orchard and making all the apple sauce and jam that we eat in a year.. but that has yet to happen.
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#9 of 9 Old 09-18-2005, 11:35 AM
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Never forget...Your health is your wealth. I sometimes feel guilty about shopping at Wholefoods and I still really need to figure out how to pare down the food budget. But whenever I think of balancing our long term financial goals with our present quality of life, I realize that the quality of our food now is a very important investment in our future.

For me meat and dairy are the biggies. I think I'd rather give them up altogether than buy non-organic dairy (maybe not butter but especially milk, cheese, and yogurt). I try to use a lot cheap, healthy staples like beans and rice in our weekly menu. Gardens and chickens will probably be a part of my future but it just seems like too much of a hassle now while I'm raising babies.
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