I fully realize the ‘system’ is wrong and unfair. Yes, it can seem more expensive to eat organic whole food & buy more produce…but seem is the key word. If you add the cost of cheap food + doctors visits + prescription drugs + time lost from work & family + decreased quality of life, you are absolutely winning if you wake up every day feeling great with radiant skin to boot.
If you tell me any of these things below, I honestly don’t want to hear it because as my sister-in-law tells me, we ALL find time and money for what is important to us. Let’s be honest. It’s true.
- “I’m a single mom”
- “I’m a student”
- “But I’m living on a fixed income”
- “But we’re paying for college”
I could go on and on about choices. New phones. Ipads & Tablets. Vacations & Travel. New cars. Used car upgrades. Happy hour. Coffee shop drinks. Handbags & Shoes. Apps. Books. CD’s and Movies. Stereo’s. Clothes. Makeup. Skiing & Snowboarding. Boats. Campers. Hunting Gear. Guitars. Guns. Cable. Eating out. Gym memberships. Sports for the kids.
If you were out of work, would you make the same decisions you are today? Probably not. Not that we want to live without a smart phone or cable TV, but we COULD if it was important right? Reassess that list above – what is on that list that is actually an optional cost?
So what it really comes down to is is your health important enough that you’d make a life style change and spend more money on high quality food? If you had cancer, would you find a way to take care of your health? If yes, then why wait until the axe falls?
So, let’s get started. And I have to state the obvious. Eating organic is a choice. Doing what I do for a living, I fully understand that there are now 88,000 chemicals registered and that another 1,500 to 2,000 are introduced each year. I understand that it is up to the manufacturer to determine safety. Remember when we were told cigarettes were safe? Margarine? Vioxx?
NONE WERE SAFE.
“They” don’t always tell us the truth. I’m going to eat plain old food. The fact that we now have to call plain old food “organic” is beyond me. Why don’t we call conventional food “pesticides added” food??? It isn’t about being a yuppie or holier-than-thou. But when we know better, we can do better.
Just like I choose to tithe each month even when I could find a way to spend that money, it comes before optional items. I’ve made a decision about eating the highest quality food I can personally afford, and I choose to eat organic and it comes before other non-essential items in life.
- RARELY eat out. You can do math so you know that a meal for two can easily run $25 for Sunday brunch. If we’re talking dinner and a drink, substantially more. That $25 to $100 (PER MEAL) goes a LONG way toward buying wild blueberries, organic apples, celery, strawberries, and potatoes. Besides that, if I eat in a restaurant here in my local area, I am not getting organic produce! So eating at home is cheaper AND healthier!
- RARELY drink out. And I’m not just talking alcohol! I don’t have to tell you what a coffee shop drink costs right? Even a simple cup of tea is $1.75 or $2.00! (And now it seems like almost all of the teas have “natural flavors” which is a “no” on my list.) How about that glass of wine with dinner for $7 or more a glass? What about your kombucha??? You don’t think of it as extravagant because it’s just a few dollars here and there, but opt out for one month and put the money in a jar. How much did you save?
- Garden. It’s October as I write this we still have beets & onions in the garden. It isn’t that we’re master gardeners because we have a lot to learn. But this year, I challenged myself to not buy any produce once our garden started producing and it was a whopping success! I figure we saved $500 each month in August & September on our normal produce bill and probably half of that in July and October as partial gardening months. Our basement pantry must have 100# of winter squash that will last us months. Gardening saved us about $1500 this year.
- Buy what makes sense at Costco. Costco has plenty of organic staples that can save you money: brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, chia seeds, hemp seeds, nuts, organic fresh fruit, organic frozen fruit, organic carrots, organic greens, organic melons. Of course the supplies change but use it to your advantage! Stock up on things you can freeze. I have found that buying the smaller apples marketed to kids saves me about .60 cents to $1/lb!
- Eat seasonally. Eat all the strawberries and asparagus you can in the spring and summer. Likewise, eat winter squash and potatoes in the winter.
- Shop Sales! If broccoli is on sale for $1.79/lb and cauliflower is $3.29/lb, get the broccoli this week! And cabbage is SUPER healthy for you and almost always pretty cheap and has a long fridge-life. I recently saved about $28 to $30 by using a coupon at vitacost and stocking up on oat milk for Johny and toothpaste. Both were on sale, and I used the coupon they offered. I dont buy toothpaste, laundry soap, dish soap, parchment paper and other goods like that unless they are on sale (and then I buy enough to sustain us until another sale which is fairly often).
- Eat semi-simply. I’m personally not one to buy a lot of fancy ingredients. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated and involve a personal chef each day. We tend to eat similar things day to day, week to week which keeps us from having specialty items going bad (thai curry paste, horseradish sauce…).
- Travel with your own food. You can do this if you are on a little weekend get away. Of course it’s harder if you’re gone longer than a few days or if you’re flying, but we recently went out of town and I’m happy to report that we took and ate our own food since we were traveling in a car. We also went away for the 4th of July last year, and again, we packed a cooler and mostly ate our own food. You can figure you save $100/day if you can travel with your own food. Even if you eat breakfast and lunch from a cooler and eat dinner in a restaurant, you’ll save $$. If you fly, consider staying in an Air B&B or VRBO so you have a kitchen to cook in.
- Incorporate some super cheap meals. Beans and rice go a long way, and so do potatoes. Banana’s used to be cheap and you can shop around. Although prices at Costco and Natural Grocers have gone up at the time of this writing, I can still buy them for .59 cents a pound at our local IgA. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are cheap and versatile if you get creative or do a little Instagramming. I bet I’ve seen 15 different ways to eat potatoes – from making a pizza crust to doing PoTaco bowls!
- Make your own salad dressing A small bottle of quality dressing is $3 to $5 a bottle if you don’t want canola or safflower/sunflower oils. I can top make a batch of dressing that will last all week for about $1. We eat this vegan DIY Caesar dressing a lot!
- Grow your own sprouts! They are $3.50 to $5 for a little box of sprouts. You can buy seeds and make your own for pennies a batch. Sprouts add vital live nutrients to your nutritional intake. I sprout Broccoli seeds, or just plain alfalfa seeds, frequently. I add the mature sprouts to my smoothies, salads, and wraps.
- Make and freeze. Big batches of soup’s, plant based chili, etc for those nights that you just can’t put a meal together!
- IF you or your family is eating meat, buy it in bulk. Look around for a local who raises beef. The price per pound drops significantly if you have a freezer and can cowboy up the money to stock your freezer! Sometimes people hunt for sport, but don’t want the meat. Ask around and maybe you can land some wild game. Be sure to process it – or have it processed – without added fat!!!!!
- Bonus: What I Don’t Do. I *rarely* and I mean rarely buy a gluten free or grain free product. Meaning I’m not buying expensive gluten free cookies, bread, waffles, etc. A pack of gluten free pizza crusts lasts me about a year. I make my own cookies. I also don’t buy bottled water. We have a Berkey and we’ll take our own water to town with us.
I think you see a theme here.
Buy whole, organic food.
Prepare it yourself.
And do some dishes.
Pay the farmer or pay the doctor
Ready for some other big tips?
These are other lifestyle things we do here at the Konoske house which just add to the list above.
- We both drive older cars. They aren’t junkers by any means but my 2007 Toyota Camry is a great car with leather seats, a sunroof, and CD player. And, it’s 100% payment free. Insurance and plates are cheap. I’m happy to drive it. Johny’s work truck is 2001 with 350,000 miles on it!
- We shop at thrift stores when it makes sense. Since Johny is a builder and we ranch, Johny can go through clothes fast. We’d be crazy to buy $15 or $25 shirts just so he can get paint all over them. While we’re there, we often find other deals.
- I also just don’t happen to enjoy spending a lot of money on shoes, makeup, purses, or clothes. I”m happy in flip flops and own a few nice pairs of shoes. I’ve arranged my life so I work at home and expensive dress clothes are also a thing of the past. This saves me hundreds or thousands of dollars that can be put to good use! I get that I’m the atypical one here as most ladies enjoy shopping. I just don’t. But I love love love hoarding good quality food.
- Spending a fortune on Christmas is a thing of the past. Thank God! What some folks spend on Christmas would more than pay for organic food for the whole year!
- We don’t travel that much. I travel for conferences, and we see family. But traveling is expensive. We all get a certain amount of money to work with each month and have to decide what to do with it. We choose to enjoy our home, our beautiful yard and garden, and even if I wanted to travel more, it’s easier to be grateful for what you have right?
- We stay healthy. We eat well. Johny is physically active at work and I make a conscious effort to work out, sweat and detoxify. We get enough sleep. We use natural cleaning products. Therefore we don’t spend ANY money on doctor visits, co-pays, prescription costs. And we don’t waste time and fuel driving to those appointments either.
- I’ve also been known to invest in kitchen appliances as I *do* think of them as investments, and they do make eating at home easier. I am fully aware that a meal in a restaurant pales in comparison to what I can make at home. I won’t be getting organic produce. I will be getting junk oils. It becomes a pretty easy choice. Even when we’re tired or busy from the day, we can always throw together some rice, gluten free pasta, fresh greens, and a simple sauce.
My goal in all of this isn’t to make us all fit in the same box. I get that we all have different circumstances and seasons of life. Perhaps you’re a soccer mom and driving all over the state. Can you pack a cooler with your own filtered water (from your tap in a stainless steel or glass bottle) and some snacks?
If you’re a starving student, can you find $10 extra a month to eat more produce? Can you spend less on alcohol? Can you walk to school or take the bus? When there’s a will, there’s a way and I just hope to plant a few seeds.
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