Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Waste Not Want Not... How Every Budget Can Afford Local, Organic Food

Buying quality ingredients, local, organic produce and dairy, pastured meats and all those great whole grains is not cheap. I understand why people struggle with the concept of making these changes, and making it work for their budgets. This is not right, its not the way it should be - getting your kid a happy meal should not be cheaper than feeding them fresh fruits and vegetables. But (for now) this is the world we live in. This is a subject you will likely see me blog more about in stick with it.

Anyway - in this reality (although I would suggest we can change it, and be part of a food revolution!) there are actually a lot of ways to justify the extra expense. No, I am not talking about tree-hugging, feel good - its better for the environment, the community, the animals (it is!!! and I blog about all of this all the time too!), I am talking about cold hard cash today.

I spend between $22 - $27 on a whole chicken almost every week. A conventional rotisserie chicken purchased from your average supermarket, which is already cooked, and super convient is only around $7-$9, yes, I know. But my whole chicken - uncooked, and frozen to be rock-hard is from a local farm, where the chickens roam around, eat their natural diet of bugs and grass, giving it a totally different nutrient spectrum --- did you know you can get Omega 3s from chicken, if they are not raised on corn?!. The other main difference...TASTE. My chicken tastes like what chicken should taste like. I swear to you that if you tried this chicken, your bland white meat, costco chicken breasts would never look the same.

Anyway - how can I justify $27 for my chicken? (purely looking at

- It feeds me (a pregnant and hungry woman, and my husband who is training for an Ironman and could probably make a living travelling the world entering eating contests) for 2 large dinners. So - price that out to $13.50 per meal now (getting more reasonable, right?)

- I use the bones and carcas to make my own chicken stock! Sounds old fashioned, or like a lot of hassle - but trust me, its one of the easiest things I do in my kitchen (some instructions). Before I started doing this, I would buy a carton of organic chicken stock for a whopping $6 almost weekly. Now my freezer is stocked (pardon the pun), and I get the equivalent of 4-5 of these cartons (a $24 savings!). Wondering what I do with the stock? Cook all grains in it...yum lots more flavour and amazing health -promoting minerals.

- I NEVER throw chicken away anymore. Before things would often expire in my fridge (talk about a waste of money!), but now, since I buy the chicken frozen, it gets thawed during the day and cooked that night. Savings here too!

Other ways I ensure that my good, hard earned money is not wasted when we buy expensive, local organic foods:
- If fruit is beginning to get soft, I chop it up and throw it in the freezer. This means I never waste food - and I have lots of great ingredients for smoothies on hand!

- I save vegetable stalks in the freezer too, and add these to the stock when I cook it up, for extra flavour and nutrients!

- We eat the WHOLE food. Buying beets? Did you know that the greens that grow on top are excellent in salads or stir fries?

- Sauce! Soft tomatoes make great sauce!

- Buy dried! Dried beans cost 1/4 of the price of canned beans!

So, get creative, think about the way people used to cook, and waste not, want not.


  1. Excellent points and so true! If you watch the flyers at whole foods and sign up online to their weekly newsletter, you can stock up on their organic meats when they go on sale. Just a tip!

  2. Hey Alicia, I have a question about your dried beans comment. I have have been a little put off doing this because of the pre-planning and preparation it takes to use them. Once you have soaked and re-hydrated beans, do you have to use them right away or can you store them/freeze them?