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Wednesday, March 14, 2007So it's been about two months now since I started making a real effort to get us on a more healthy diet. I've written in the past about how happy I was to find quality, affordable organics at Meijer and at Giant Eagle. I also make a trek to Whole Foods every now and then to stalk up on some staples since their store brand is pretty cheap and they've got a wide variety of products that may not be organic, but at least have nothing artificial in them. (and NO transfats.)
I've succeeded in getting about half of our produce switched over to organic in the last two months and I've managed to do it without significantly increasing our grocery bill. How? Well, I still buy convention on the things that are drastically more expensive as organics. For instance, strawberries...they're INSANE to buy organic. (Though once May hits, I can buy them at my local farmers market for much more reasonable prices...also debating planting a strawberry patch here at the new house.) But carrots, celery, potatoes, lettuce, bananas, apples and oranges are all pretty reasonable. In fact, I've found that if I forgo convenience, I can buy a lot of organics.
For example, I buy a two pound bag of whole organic carrots (remember when you had to peel carrots?) instead of a two pound bag of peeled baby carrots. The organic carrots are actually less when I do this. (.99 cents a pound for the organics.) I buy full heads of organic lettuce (romaine, iceberg and bunches of unwashed spinach) instead of the washed and cut conventional. I end up with way more salad for less price and it stays good longer.
I'm not on organic meat yet and quite honestly, unless we find a good local source, I don't think it will happen. I just flat out cannot afford to buy organic meat from the grocery store. Whole Foods is the only place that has it anyway and I'd end up spending in meat what my entire weekly budget for ALL fresh foods is. (and that's with having cut back our meat consumption dramatically.) That said, Giant Eagle has a nice selection of "natural" meats. They aren't organic, but they are hormone free, antibiotic free, grain fed (no animal by products). The price on these is about halfway between conventional and organic, so I aim to buy them whenever possible.
Dairy...well, Greg and I have joined Elnora in drinking organic milk. This was a HUGE increase in cost for us since even store brand organic milk is $6 a gallon around here. We have cut down from two gallons to one gallon a week, but I can't see dropping any more than that. I now have milk only on my cereal and maybe one glass a week. (I used to drink a glass or more per day.) We're also on organic eggs now. Haven't switched cheese yet as the cost there would be HUGE. Same for butter. Organic yogurt's too expensive, but Dannon has a new "Natural" line that uses sugar instead of HFCS and has no artificial ingredients. Tastes darn good too. I even bought some kefir this week to try in my fruit smoothies. Not bad, but expensive.
Boxed and Canned goods...this is where it gets tough. Giant Eagle and Meijer both have pretty reasonable prices on their store brands of things like organic pasta, organic canned or frozen veggies, organic rice, organic flour, etc... When organic is too expensive, there are at least "natural" alternatives that help me cut out some HFCS, PHOs and artificial ingredients. That said, I've found that Whole Foods and Trader Joe's also has good prices on their house brands. I'm still building my strategy on this because Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are about 30 minutes away so I've got to make special treks to stock up. (For instance, I bought 4 boxes of Kashi GoLean Crunch and 6 boxes of Whole Kids Honey Nut Oats the last time I went there...but we'll go through that in a little more than a month.)
So, now that we're succeeding in our goals to eat more organics, I've decided to take the pledge at Mission Organic. (Hat tip to Jessie Hawkins over at Vintage Remedies.) Basically, you commit to making sure that 1 out of 10 items in your grocery cart or organic and/or that one out of ten meals will be organic.
Oh yeah...and that bread thing? I've tried the organic brands from three stores. They taste like cardboard. Thus, my choice so far seems to be accept HFCS bread or make my own. So, I'm trying to make it once or twice a week. I think I've had four slices of HFCS bread in the last 6 weeks.
Oh, and I've lost 8 or 9 pounds since I cut HFCS. ;)
Another benefit of shopping more naturally? I've bought some of the reusable grocery bags from Whole Foods and Giant Eagle (Love them! they hold so much and are easy to carry) and I stuff them in my diaper bag when I go grocery shopping. This past week I discovered that Meijer gives you a 50 cent store credit for every one of your own reusable bags that you bring. Since the bags only cost me $1 anyway, it obviously doesn't take long to start profiting. :)
How bout you? Any one else working on cutting things like HFCS or PHO's...or working to go toward organics or even just "natural" foods? What are your tips for saving money and eating organic affordably?
Labels: Healthy Eating