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 future...so 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.