Today you are in for a treat, we are proud to present this guest post by Lauren Lane from Le Fat Quack! So without further ado, Lauren, take it away!
I grew up in New Orleans where the question on everyone’s mind is “where should we eat next?” even if they are still eating. When I visit home with my husband, my dad plans our meal “itinerary” weeks in advance. We have gone so far as to make spreadsheets of restaurants and dishes. It comes as no surprise then that slowly, but steadily, I put on 15 pounds in my late teens following Hurricane Katrina and my parent’s divorce. With all the stressors in my life, I only lived to eat. It was not until my early 20s that I realized I needed to step away from the French bread, pick up some leafy greens, and eat to live. My lifestyle completely re-shaped my tastes, my physique, and my mental stability.
You are what you eat, so I eat organic and cut out pesticides whenever possible. I will not belabor the debate over organic food. Recent studies show they help fight cancer, eliminate the need for insulin, and increase longevity. While organic does not equate to pesticide free, it does mean fewer and more natural pesticides that, in general, are safer. But if I am being honest, as a recovering foodie, all that matters is the taste. Organic just tastes better.
Full disclosure: I do not always buy organic produce or pasture raised meat, but I do when I can. Sometimes it is not plausible (like that time I got a $2,000 mechanic bill). If you have a family, it may make more sense to buy larger quantities of regular produce to ensure your children actually eat their vegetables and get the nutrients they need. However, if you find you enjoy buying organic, but are turned off by the price, here are 5 tricks to eating those sustainable products at nearly half the cost!
- Research and Shop Around
Take a little time to surf the web and see what organic opportunities are in your area. There may be more than you thought. Farmer’s Markets in your community are an invaluable resource for hands on information or you can check out state organic associations.
Treat grocery shopping like any other big purchase. You would not visit just one car dealer when purchasing a vehicle. So why visit one grocery store for convenience when you are actually ingesting this stuff? If you do not shop around, chances are you will pay too much for your food and miss out on healthier options. I go to one butcher for my meat, the local Asian market for produce and fish, and Trader Joe’s for everything else.
According to the USDA, in 2012 the average household of 2 spent $598 per month. I live in a metropolitan area and it took awhile to get this down to a science, but my husband and I do not spend more than $400 a month on groceries. That is $100 per week and we eat like Kings.
Create a cool, dry space in your kitchen or basement and buy in bulk: nuts, beans, pickles, you name it. B-line to those bulk containers at your favorite store or keep an eye out for weekly deals. Just make sure to check the unit price, use your phone calculator, and do the math.
Same goes for meat. I know this sounds a little sketchy, but buying your meat online could be a life changer. If you cannot find a local butcher for pasture quality after all that research, look online in neighboring areas. If you buy half a cow or pig, for example, they will gladly ship it to you like any restaurant. Shop wisely. Omaha Steaks does not count.
- Stick to Seasonal
Fruits and vegetables in season are cheaper because it is easier to grow them! So load up on all your favorite organic produce at ridiculously low prices. If you buy from a local farmer or farmer’s market, you may even be able to bargain. I am all for supporting local establishments and some people might be turned off by this method but trust me, they upsell you!
- Deep Freeze
Now that you have haggled for those in-season vegetables or managed to buy an entire pig, freeze it. Maybe you cannot eat it all now, but you can pull it out on your way to work and come home ready to cook. It is economical and you can eat organic year around. Eat through your entire fridge before going out for groceries again. Waste not, want not.
Another option? Freeze your insanely delicious leftovers and have homemade “microwavable” meals for those nights where you just cannot cook. See my ham recipe below. It is perfect for freezing.
- Grow It
I am not saying invest in a full-blown garden (kudos if you can). Start small and buy some potted herbs like mint, rosemary, parsley, and basil. You will be amazed how much those small savings add up. Once you get that down, invest in a tomato plant or seeds for beets. They are easy to grow!
Everyday life gets in the way of eating grass-fed meat and organic vegetables all the time. If you want to live a healthy, happy life it is okay to take a break now and again. Nevertheless, sustainable foods leave you feeling satisfied and, if you follow my tips, on a sustainable budget.
Here is my favorite “bulk” recipe – Honey Baked Ham
- 7 pound pasture ham
- ½ cup local honey
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon of allspice
- ¼ cup Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons squeezed orange juice
- Optional: Vidalia onions
- Allow ham to reach room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Prep the ham by scoring a diamond pattern in the fat with a sharp knife, about ½ inch deep
- Stud the ham with cloves and place ham cut side down in a roasting pan
- Bake, loosely wrapped in foil, for about 2 hours
- While the ham is baking, mix the honey, cinnamon, allspice, mustard, and juice in a bowl.
- Remove the ham, brush the mixture over the entire ham, and bake for another 20-30 minutes, basting frequently (option: add Vidalia onions to the pan for side dish and greater flavor)
- Remove ham and let “set” for 15 minutes before cutting and serving