Guest Post by Nell of Whole Parenting Family
We are all trying to save money and feed our families as best we can on a budget. But when you reach for that packaged, boxed dinner that promises to taste great in less than five minutes, or you find yourself routinely getting drive-through because you know your kids will eat it, it saves on the daily dinner time fighting, and it’s cheap, are you actually saving time and money? In a strictly literal sense, yes. But in the long run, those genres of food cost more not only financially, but take a toll on your health and your children’s health as well.
Here are a few tips for shopping and eating more naturally and healthfully:
1) Make a menu for the week.
Making your own food from scratch is attainable, and less expensive than boxed foods or eating out. But it takes a little more preparation. A weekly menu will ensure you have the correct ingredients in your pantry and not rush to the store last minute (during which that time you will probably buy impulse items that you don’t need for your week’s food!).
Need ideas? This site has weekly menu plans, as do many others. Take those five minutes and look for ideas, jot them down or type them up. You’ll waste less food if you have an idea of what you’re cooking during the week. You can also be more creative with leftovers (the bane of everyone’s existence).
2) Look for a community supported agriculture (CSA) group, or nearby orchards/farms to purchase from.
God provides beautiful food right from your neighbor’s earth! Take advantage of supporting local people and having access to delicious food, all in one felled swoop. It is more cost expedient than buying conventional fruits and produce from the store, if you make the most of the produce your CSA sends you, i.e., freeze it, can it, pickle it.
Even if these numbers don’t add up for your particular costs, the difference in the food you’re nourishing yourself and your family with will save you in medical bills and other headaches. Children’s behavior is highly linked to their nutrition. Garbage in, bad-attitude-out?
3) Invest in a chest freezer, if you have space.
Freeze fresh berries in the summertime, freeze soups and pesto, freeze baby food, freeze a half-a-cow (and save incredibly per pound when you buy this quantity from a local farmer). We save, on average, $1.00 per pound or more on our beef because we buy a half-a-cow at a time. The beef is delicious, from a local beef farmer, and the cows were grassfed and free range, in the real meaning of the term. A chest freezer will encourage you to buy in bulk when it’s cheap, and make it easier to cook now and eat later.
4) Plant a few things from seed, even on your windowsill.
Lettuce, herbs, and even a little tomato plant here or there can easily grow in a pot on your windowsill. The lettuce will multiply quickly, and the herbs be readily available to season your new dishes. It’s an inexpensive way to eat more healthfully. If you have any space in your yard, try your hand at gardening. It’s easier than you think. You nourish the ground, and it nourishes you back!
5) Trust that if you seek to eat in a more healthy manner, God will provide.
It sounds like an expensive and daunting task; making more meals from scratch, buying from local farmers and avoiding those cheap and easy options at the drive-through. But if you trust that by making a healthier choice for your family, God will provide the grace to cook those meals, and the money to buy the ingredients, He will come through for you! If we only had the faith of a mustard seed, and let Him in by asking for the help, He’s there!
Michele’s note: And sometimes, that grace comes in the form of helping us to let go of our “planned meals,” gracing us with flexibility on a crazy day, and reminding us that He is our daily bread. Keep a few simple, but nourishing, staples on hand for those days (such as free-range eggs, or smoothies from those frozen berries). Don’t try to plan involved gourmet meals or new recipes, if you’re in a season of life that won’t allow such kitchen endeavors! Sometimes just a few nourishing substitutes in an old favorite, basic recipe is all you need.
Nell Alt is a mother of two, attorney, crafter, and blogger. She can be found musing about parenthood, gardening, food, and classical music over at Whole Parenting Family or sewing and knitting at Whole Parenting Goods on Etsy.