It is hard to know what effects GMO foods have on us. There is no real long term studies. That said, there are enough studies to know that GMO foods and highly sprayed foods are probably not good for us! Eating on a budget and trying to be as healthy as possible eating little to no GM foods is tough since the price tag can be REALLY high! For ex. I usually buy apples, green granny smiths. A month ago, my bag of organic (so not GM) was $4.98 regular price at big box store (at little local market, same size bag, organic, but grown closer to home was $5.99). Last weekend…my apples…big box price $6.98 and local market, $9.99! Now, I know they are out of season…but seriously! wow!
Since we are under a tight budget at the moment…finally trying to pay off some debt and save for an actual vacation, I put together a list of what I am doing in order to cut costs overall, and specifically for buying produce.
As for the produce…here is my plan.
- Non-organic: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, avocado, garlic, plantains, bananas **WASH all very well in vinegar and water solution**
- Organic: carrots, sweet potato, kale, spinach, lettuce, leeks, zuc, summer squash, peppers, strawberries, any berry actually, apples, cucumbers **WASH these too…vinegar/water solution**
- Frozen: peas, broccoli, cauliflower, berries are usually cheaper frozen,
- What veggies I don’t use up for a meal, if I have no need for it, I will chop it up, bag and label it, freeze it for later use in soups.
- What friuts I do not use up before their time…I either chop and freeze for smoothies OR make applesauce with other friuts and freeze them. We do not keep much fruit in the house other than green apples, usually one type of berry and banana. (I consider plantains more a veg!)
So, the last few months I have noticed my grocery bill almost double! This is crazy because I literally buy almost the same things each week. I have been cutting corners and trying to find every little way to shop on a budget. Yikes…hard to do. I have come up with a list for you to help try and keep costs of buying healthy food down.
- PLAN YOUR MEALS…like for a month at a time…then
- Order grassfed meats locally and only buy what you need.
- Find a local source for your eggs. You may not save money because you will probably have a bit of a drive to get them, but they will be better quality.
- Talk to your local health food store about ordering things you always keep on hand in bulk. They may be able to help you out.
- Costco is good for some things…but watch out because it is tempting to over spend. Good things there…Mary’s best crackers, coconut flour, unsweetened coconut, wheat free oats, coconut oil, avocado oil and baking soda. I would love to see our Costco bring in BPA free cans of coconut milk…yeah, in my dreams!
- Grocery shop on a Thursday…I have NO CLUE why, but every time I shop on a Thursday, everything is in stock AND my bill is cheaper.
- Know what to buy organic and what you can pass on.
- Buy local is sometimes cheaper, sometimes not. Factor in the drive and your time! Remember too, just because it is at your local farmers market DOES NOT mean it is locally produced. At my farmers market they import the same organic peppers from mexico as superstore BUT charge double the price at the farmers market.
- Buying frozen isn’t always bad…if its on sale, organic AND frozen…do it! And stock up. Frozen is great for adding to soups.
- Make more soups. They are filling, esp with good fats from the ground beef or lamb, AND you can throw in as many veg as you want. They seem to last and last so it stretches your budget and can be frozen for later.
- Grow your own food. I am the worst gardener, ask my hubby! But I can grow kale, tomatoes, carrots, basil and mint all in pots in my yard. I make my own tomato sauce with the tomatoes and basil that I can and freeze for use during the year.
Everyone around here loves these carrots. They look not the most appealing but they taste amazing. As soon as I get some nice little carrots I will post a picture!
- 1/4 – 1/2 lb of small, organic carrots
- 1 T oil (good olive, avocado or mct)
- 1 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/2 – 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- few chili flakes or good cayenne powder (varies depending of tolerance of spice lvl)
- pink salt
Preheat oven to 400. Throw the carrots on a pan with parchment and drizzle oil over carrots and coat well. Mix the spices together then sprinkle over carrots. Put them in the oven and turn heat down to 350. Roast until tender but crisp. 15-20 minutes.
Today I took my recipe for my souffle, tweaked it and turned it into pancakes. It turned out great and everyone ate them…and not a spec of flour in them. Horray! They are a great way to get protein into your kids when all they want is a pancake.
- 2-3 bananas (today mine were on the green side as I just bought them, oh well…less sugar)
- 4 pastured eggs, separated
- 2 Tbsp butter (or coconut oil) **I would melt them to rm temp if not using a high powered blender like blendtec
- pinch of vanilla bean powder (or a splash of vanilla)
- dash or two of cinnamon
- pinch of pink salt
In a large bowl, beat egg whites stiff. In processor, throw everything else in and pulse until smooth. Fold yolk mixture into the whites quite well. Fry up on a pan at medium heat. These take a bit longer than traditional pancakes. When you flip them, squish them a bit to even them out as they are very fluffy. Top with butter, maple syrup, berries, drizzle of raw honey or the best…coconut cream whip! YUM.
So…for my meatball recipe. I tend to make this one in HUGE batches and freeze it because it makes amazing lunches.
I’ll get right to it.
Meatballs with homemade tomato sauce
1 lb regular grass fed ground beef
1/3 cup finely cut leek(white only)
1 pastured egg white
1 clove grated garlic
1/4 tsp hymilayan salt
Tomato sauce** (depending on how saucy you like things…but you need enough to simmer the meatballs in. Between 2-4 cups, I use 4)
Let meat sit on the counter until it comes to room temp.
While this happens, cut up your leek and saute in fry pan with a tbsp of water until just soft. Let cool completely.
When meat is at room temp. put it in a large bowl with leek, egg white, garlic and salt. Mix with your hands until combined.
I place out wax paper on the counter for placing my meatballs on.
Put the tomato sauce in the fry pan and let warm on just below med (3-4).
Roll meatballs into small balls about heaping tbsp worth. You don’t want them too big because they will take too long to cook through.
Once all are rolled, fill the pan with meatballs. It is really important to make sure none touch and do not over crowd the pan. It usually takes me two rounds.
Continue to simmer and turn to cook completely. Once the first batch is done, remove them with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Put your next batch in.
Once all done, you can divvy up the meatballs into containers and add the sauce back.
**If you do not have enough sauce, you can add a can of crushed canned organic tomatoes to the homemade sauce, but I try to stay away from anything canned**
So this summer I had an abundance of little yellow tomatoes from the garden. We returned from two weeks of camping and yikes…they were over grown. I think that I managed to get 12 cups in two weeks from 4 plants! We could not possibly eat that many so I needed a quick and easy way to deal with them (and the overgrown basil plants I had). I decided to make a super easy tomato sauce for the occasional time I make meatballs. I like to simmer my raw meatballs in the sauce on really low so that all the good fat from the meat goes into the sauce. YUM! I will write that one out next!
Anyways. So, back to the sauce. Super easy and healthy (as long as you can eat nightshades and grow your own)
Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce
4 cups tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
sprinkle organic onion powder
basil to taste (I did about 1/2 cup)
Turn on oven to 325.
Throw tomatoes and garlic on a parchment lined cookie sheet or two. Make sure they have a tiny bit of breathing room.
Drizzle garlic and tomatoes with oil. and sprinkle with only a bit of onion powder.
Throw in oven until all wrinkly.
Pull out pans. Let cool for about 5 minutes then throw the basil and tomatoes and garlic into a food processor or good blender. Make sure to use the parchment to transfer the tomatoes and garlic so you dump all the juicy goodness and oil along with the tomatoes.
Blend until smooth.
I throw this into mason jars and let cool. Then I threw it in the freezer for later.
On a side note, I don’t add salt until I am ready to use it and then make sure to use Himalayan pink salt to get all the good minerals your body needs.