Saturday, August 13, 2011

Life on a Budget II

In my last post I wrote about how I manage to feed my husband and myself for $30 or less per week. "Great," you may think. "I can do that too, if I want to live on cheap TV dinners, right?" Wrong! In this second installment of Life on a Budget, I'll tell you about what we actually eat.

You've probably heard it said many times before that when you're trying to eat healthily you should shop the outside aisles of the store. This is a good general rule of thumb you could follow as most grocery stores include fresh produce, dairy, and meat on those outside aisles. The center aisles are where you usually find things like Hamburger Helper, crackers, potato chips, cereal, bread, and all the other highly processed foods that do not offer health benefits and in fact are almost always detrimental to your health.

There are certain foods that we always avoid which eliminates a huge portion of our options, the biggest being grains. Neither David nor I have celiac disease, nor are we "gluten intolerant" according to average standards. In fact, I can eat a bunch of crackers or a bowl of cereal and feel nothing (except happy)! But there are many silent problems with grains, which you've probably already read a little bit about elsewhere on the internet. The gist is that gluten is only one of many problems with grains so it's best avoided entirely (if you'd like to read a little more about the problems with wheat check out Dr. William Davis's article "Name That Food"). That means no cereal, crackers, cookies, pasta, bread, donuts... nothing. Gluten-free replacements for these foods are made with ingredients like soy flour, potato starch, and rice flour, which all have their own problems as well, including spiking insulin higher and faster than regular wheat based products (which itself is worse than table sugar). This may be why you so often see someone decide to go "gluten free" and then blow up like a balloon. The replacement foods are often just as problematic as the foods you're trying to replace, so again, it is better for your health and your checkbook to just eliminate those foods entirely and learn to eat a more natural, whole foods diet, which is what we were designed by God to thrive on.

"So what do you eat?" You may be asking impatiently by now (sorry I get so wordy sometimes!). The truth is I feel like we have so many options I barely know where to start! You might think that eliminating the largest food group from the average American diet would mean there's nothing left, but that is so far from the truth. We eat 2-3 meals per day and each meal is different (usually) and thoroughly enjoyed. We eat:

Meat: Chicken, pork, beef, seafood, turkey, buffalo, venison. You name it, we'll eat it! We tend to eat beef and seafood the least often because it is always more expensive (though it happens to be my two favorite sources of protein!). We mostly eat chicken, turkey, and venison. The venison my husband and father have hunted in Texas and is fantastic. We're nearly out now though, and I really hope we can stock up again this November! Also in November when we go home to visit my family for the holidays, their local grocery store sells whole turkeys for $0.25 per pound. We stock up and get as many turkeys as we have space for, as one turkey will last us around a week and a half, depending on how we use it. We also try to eat beef liver now and then as it is super packed with nutrients -- a little goes a long way!

Vegetables: I won't bore you with a list of every single vegetable we eat because we pretty much eat any of them, if the price is right! Regulars are things like frozen green beans, frozen "California blend" (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots), carrots, potatoes, frozen stir-fry blends (sugar snap peas, carrots, peppers, onion, broccoli, etc), squash, and zucchini. Most of those frozen veggies can be got for just over $1 per pound, especially if you're careful to shop sales. Occasionally I get "lucky" and find them for even less than that though. Remember, frozen vegetables are picked ripe, which means more nutrient-bang for your buck, too!

Fruits: We don't eat much fruit. It's expensive. I try to pick out one type of fruit per week, or if there are good sales, I'll choose two or even three and in the summer we eat more fruit than during the rest of the year. More often than not though, you may find just a couple peaches in my fridge, or a bag of frozen blueberries from Sam's club ($9.78 for 64oz). Apples used to be my "go-to" fruit because they could usually be got inexpensively, but they made the very top of the "dirty dozen" list this year, so I've chosen to avoid them for the most part, unless I find organic apples on sale at a price I can afford (I realize my inconsistency here though; I avoid apples, but not several other items on the dirty dozen list).

We also allow ourselves dairy, but only keep a little cheese on hand (in the freezer to be sure it won't mold!) and fresh raw milk for making kefir with. Eggs are a staple that I'm (almost) never without! We can easily go through 2 dozen in one week if we eat breakfast each morning that week.

In our constant efforts to maintain our budget and still eat healthily in a world where food prices are skyrocketing, we've also recently been looking into traditional methods of preparation for foods like brown rice and beans. Brown rice has some similar problems to the cereal grains, but if you soak and ferment it first, those problems are eliminated. Metabolically, David and I are both able to handle rice (that is the higher carbohydrate content), so we've begun to incorporate a little rice into our diets, as well as traditionally prepared beans, and peeled potatoes (the anti-nutrients in potatoes are in the skins). We soak, grind, and ferment the rice and beans and have been baking them into little "pancakes" that work well to replace things like tortillas and flatbread.

The only items I buy organic for now are carrots ($1 per pound at Walmart or $1.56 or so for 1 pound of baby carrots), potatoes ($0.96 per pound at Walmart) and onions ($2.99 for 3lbs at Price Chopper).

Partially because we don't buy all organic foods, and also because we know that food isn't the only source of toxins, we try to always maintain at least a mild detoxification protocol, whether that means taking chlorella 3 times per day, or using the infrared sauna several times per week.


  1. It's good that the anti-nutrients are in the skins of much for our moms telling us the skin is where all the vitamins are! haha

  2. Yeah, that's definitely not true for potatoes! It makes me sad when I think of how yummy baked potato skins are, but oh well. The rest of the potato is pretty stinkin' yummy, too. ;)