Is it really too expensive to buy organic? : How I feed my family well on a budget.

I hear it all too often. The tired parents who don’t know where to start and have bought into the lie that organic produce is too expensive for them to even think about. “Oh, how do you have the money for that?”, ” We can’t feed our kids like you do, it’s too expensive!”, “Were on a budget and saving for a house so we have to buy cheap food”. Bullllllll Crap! Sorry guys. I’m just a huge believer in ‘if there is a will, there is a way’. Excuses come in many forms but few years back, my husband and I decided to put our new little family’s health first- so we quit it with the excuses regarding our health. The bottom line for us was, ‘what do we prioritise?’.

What did we prioritise? At the time, it wasn’t our health. But when our son was born, naturally we wanted the absolute best for him, so we went down a rabbit hole of research, became informed and took action. Don’t get me wrong, it took years of baby steps. This walk can be overwhelming, but take it step by step and don’t just abandon ship because it seems all too hard. Know that each step you take towards ditching the old way’s of eating and buying and adapting the new is one step toward better overall health for your family. Never think that one little step taken isn’t doing anything. It ALL matters. Go you, you’re killing it. Even reading this shows positive action in the right direction. I’m really proud of you over here!

I wont lie by saying that buying and eating organic foods is not expensive. It can be so much more, double sometimes even three times others grocery bills. I hear you saying, “yeah, that’s what I thought. I’m bailing on this”. But yo, were on a budget too. Were saving for a house as well. We have a family of four just like you might. For us, it has come down to implementing a few tips and tricks that has allowed us to nourish our bodies well and keep killing it toward those money goals. I hope they can do the same for you.

Tip + Trick 1:

Plan + Write a List:

Write down and list your weekly dinners, snacks breakfasts and PLAN PLAN PLAN ahead. Each Saturday, I will spend around 45- 60 minutes planning dinner, breakfast and snacks for the week. I make a little extra dinner each night and then store the leftover meal in the fridge for my husbands work lunch. Each Sunday we will shop the list (don’t stray), come home and prep some of the snacks. Having snacks made saves money on buying packaged ones, saves on plastic and provides go to food for you and the kids throughout the week. My husband also takes them for work. Having breakfast and dinners planned takes so much worry and last minute meal panic away, gives you more time to enjoy your day without fluster and keeps you in a smooth routine. Breakfasts are always simple like oats, yoghurt or toast. No need to overthink and get super fancy, just making sure you know what you’re reaching for in the morning takes stress away.

Tip + Trick 2:

Stop buying coffee and food out:

My husband works in Melbourne city and would look forward to his perfectly made coffee from his favourite barista at his favourite local cafe every day. Then wander over to his local restaurant across from his office and buy his chicken schnitzel burger and be happy, oh so joyous, skipping back into the office. He would continue along with his day being productive because, and only because, he had that amazing coffee and burger to feed his soul (and brain) that allowed him to continue on working. Yeah, No. That ain’t how it works. But that was how it sounded when I said, “hey babe, lets see how you go having coffee at work and taking lunch from home?”. We figured out, his average double shot latte was averaging $5.50. Times that by at least 2 a day ( I’m married to a caffeine addict), and then by 5 for each working day. That’s $55 on coffee! You can imagine how much lunch was. The money you save is allowing you to put away extra $$ and splurge on bigger weekly organic items IF needed.

Tip + Trick 3:

No more Takeaway:

This goes without saying after number 2 but Its easily justified, especially if you’re working so hard at implementing the budget and eating home made meals. You feel like you deserve a treat. Well you do! But Takeaway foods are full of inflammatory oils, MSG and chemically made flavour enhancers. So whilst saving money not buying takeaway, you’re also saving your overall health. If you already have a takeaway night where you get say Thai or Pizza, try your hand at homemade pizzas with the family, or simple Thai curries. They taste so much better made from home, and my kids actually look forward to “pizza party night”. The best part is knowing what is going into your food and into your body.

Tip + Trick 4:

Shop the specials.

Where we live, there is organic produce at most regular supermarkets now. Albeit a small section, it’s still a section. Often there is so many mark downs because not many people are buying organic near us, or the supply and demand is off, but that means I get so much at about 50% off, sometimes more. The organic produce has a shorter shelf life because they don’t have pesticides sprayed on them prolonging their life, so they are marked down quite quickly. But I have noticed that the marked down produce still holds up really well, for the whole week, until my next shop. (Yay organic!) For example; I find the organic sourdough bread we buy at our local market often has some at the bottom rack marked down to $4 from $9. We take that home and cut it and then freeze it, and that loaf will last us toast for the week (breakfast done, hello smashed avo).

Tip + Trick 5:

Shop around

I don’t just shop at one supermarket. We usually go to Woolworths, Aldi and our local organic marketplace. Not suggesting you need to be as extreme as us, but for where we live and what these places offer, this has been our best bet and works well for us. They’re also in close proximity to each other so isn’t too much effort. For example: Aldi offers 400g of cashews and almonds for $3.99 each. If I went to Woolworths, Im paying double for that. Same to be said about organic yoghurt and organic cheddar at Aldi. But then certain things like household items, nappies etc we will buy from the big chain supermarkets. One 500g tub of Aldi yoghurt is $3 and that would be eaten with fruit for either breakfast each day or snacks for my babes. The cashews could be used to make a cashew cream sauce for a vegan mac n cheese for a dinner or to use as a base in bliss balls for snacks. It’s all in planning ahead and making simple yet nourishing meals.

Tip + Trick 6:

Take advantage of rewards systems

I only started using Woolies rewards this year but just by scanning it each time you shop, you get points that turn into money. I’ve saved about $40 on mine by scanning each shop and that will be used for Christmas. (I’m guessing it’ll be spent on wine and flour to make all the gingerbread!) It doesn’t seem like much, but I’m surprised how much 6 months has equated to. Keep an eye on your emails too because sometimes they offer bonus points (aka $$) if you shop on specific dates.

Tip + Trick 7:

Know your produce: Dirty Dozen// Clean Fifteen

I have come to live by this list. Given it alters a tad each year depending on crops, but the dirty dozen and clean fifteen are the the list of fruit and vegetables that absorb and contain the most pesticide and chemical residue and those that don’t so much. The dirty dozen is the top 12 fruit and veg that you should really buy organic when possible. Strawberries and spinach are usually always top 2, with one sample of strawberry containing 22 different pesticides and chemicals from one sample! That’s a lot! The lists in more detail are linked here: https://www.greenmatters.com/p/dirty-dozen-clean-15. The clean fifteen list the top 15 vegetables and fruit that don’t absorb as much and have less used on the crops. Knowledge is key here. If you see a $5 organic avocado compared to a $2 one, you know you can get 2 regular ones for less than the price of 1 organic one. But with strawberries, we look for organic always, and would rather pay $6 for an organic container than a $2 box because we know it’s not worth it. Safe to say, we rarely get strawberries anymore. In cases like this, there are some great organic brands that stock frozen strawberries, so if you’re really craving a strawberry smoothie, theres ways around it. That takes me to my last tip and trick.

Tip + Trick 8:

Buy Seasonal And Local:

Seasonal are usually always cheaper and that usually means they’re local. If you’re finding watermelon in the middle of winter, you can bet its either greenhouse grown with chems or foreign, if you know that you harvest watermelon in summer. The prices are jacked up and the quality is poor. Also think about that fresh orange you spotted in the produce section Summer time. If you dont know what is seasonal, simply check on the label, sticker or tag to see where the food is from. If you’re in Australia and it says the orange is from Spain, you know that its been across the ocean and harvested weeks before it got to you. How did they keep so long? That’s why local and seasonal is the best bet health and monetarily.

Hope these tricks and tips we use will help you too,

Ames. Xx

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