If you haven’t yet heard, Wednesdays are our Guest Blogger Series day! It’s a day where Matt and I get a bit of a mid-week break while getting to share with you some of our favorite online bloggers. And for their hard work, they get the benefit of your readership – we encourage you to please show all of them your support by visiting their blog and social media links at the end of this post!
This week, we have Sunny from And Love It Too! on a topic that has been on the mind of many of our readers recently, planning and affordability of a real food diet. If you have any of your own suggestions, please comment with them for the benefit of the many people for struggle with this topic. You may remember Sunny from our guest post on Healthy Lunchboxes last year. She also was the key step in getting our Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies to work. Go check out her super fun gluten-free, dairy-free recipe blog!
“With everything you have going on, with all of your food allergies and restrictions, how on earth do you feed your family?”
I get asked this question every week. Seriously. People who have known me for weeks, months, years even, look at me with bewilderment when I talk about the things my family can and cannot eat.
Frankly, I’m not special by any means; but when you look at the reality of two parents who work out of the home with five children who are involved in boy scouts, cheer-leading, church activities, robotics and more; feeding my family real food, whole foods might seem out of reach to many.
Yet we do, we eat real food.
And we do it with limited time and money.
Given that you are hanging out with the Paleo Parents and visiting their fabulous site, I suspect that you feed your family the same kinds of foods that we eat, or at least you are trying to.
As a mother, but especially as a teacher, every day there is evidence as to how nutrition impacts our children. The power of food has helped my family heal and I have no doubt it can do the same for you. I am so glad you are here and hope to be able to help you as others have helped me.
When it comes to eating whole foods, changing your habits and getting away from the Standard American Diet, I know it’s not easy, I know it is a little intimidating and I know it can seem out of reach for many.
So how do we do it?
First, we determined our best resources.
I love to garden, but unfortunately we don’t have a yard big enough to grow all of the food my family needs, but we do have space for a few planter boxes and have been able to put this area to work. While we did purchase a majority of the lumber needed to make our raised beds, some of it was given to us from scraps at my husband’s place of business. For just over $50, we were able to make more than 200 cubic feet of fertile gardening area.
The pallets, which are being used for climbing vegetables such as cucumbers, watermelon, tomatoes, squash, etc, not only ensure the best use of space through a vertical garden, but I was also able to obtain these from a local paint store for free! How? I asked.
More often than not, pallets such as these end up going to the dumpster. When you see empty pallets hanging outside a local establishment, it never hurts to make a call. Perfect for your garden and all of those other projects you have pinned, you’ll be amazed what you can find when you just ask.
To make up for the amount of food that we need but can’t grow in our little garden, I turned to LocalHarvest.org which helped me determine that while we do not have a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) available to us, we do have a farmer’s market.
Frankly, I have no idea what I would do without our farmer’s market.
If there is nothing else you hear today, I pray you hear this: go to your farmer’s market. Go regularly, get to know your vendors and support them with all you can!
Supporting your farmer’s market isn’t just good for you, it’s good for your local economy, it’s good for your family…but there are so many other reasons to love them!
I purchase 98% of our meat from our grass-fed beef vendor. In addition to his wild-caught boar meat, his grass-fed beef is lean and premium. 10lbs of ground beef costs me $35. That’s $3.50 a pound for 95/5 grass fed beef!
I challenge you to find a better deal.
What we don’t purchase here, I purchase online through vendors like US Wellness Meats.
Because I am a regular at the farmer’s market, many of the vendors know that I am a recipe developer and many have begun to turn to me to see what I might be interested in having. My squash lady told me that she is keeping hubbard squash in her garden just to make certain I have what I need. She brings me specialty herbs and makes me a great deal every time I am there because she knows I’ll be back and I’ll sing her praises to you and everyone around me. She’s not the only one, but she does to it most often. It’s good karma to share the joy, do this and you will be rewarded greatly. Trust me.
More recently, I have become involved in an organization called Bountiful Baskets. With locations nationwide, Bountiful Baskets is a food co-op that can help keep your budget low.
Not everything available through Bountiful Baskets is guaranteed organic, but most of what they offer is and they do have 100% organic baskets available for an extra fee.
While the produce varies week to week, I have always been satisfied and surprised with what we have received. An average week costs our large family $60 and includes more than one basket, one of their specialty vegetable baskets and one of their specialty fruit baskets for the week.
Here is what $60 can get you:
To keep my children focused on healthy snacking, we have a fruit counter in our dining area that is always packed with easy-to-grab fruits and vegetables my kids know they can have without question.
Much better than chips and cookies, huh?
When I share my recipes, you’ll often hear me talk about ‘planned overs’ as, even with my large family, I always make more than what we need. Planned overs are great for next-day lunches and leftover nights. Leftover nights are your guard against the fast-food world. Knowing that you have meals on hand are an easy way to keep from rushing through the closest drive through when you are too tired or there simply is not enough time in your day.
Finally, to ensure we get the most of everything we buy, we preserve what will not be eaten right away.
I can, I dehydrate and I freeze quite often. To do this, very little specialty equipment is required although we did purchase a pressure canner which is especially handy for all of the bone broth that we make, and a dehydrator which is far more affordable than using an oven to make things like my perfectly sweet fruit roll-ups and kale chips.
Beyond knowing exactly what is in our food at all times, preserving your own food is affordable and fun.
Besides, how else could you ensure kitchen conversations such as this?
Stacy and Matt, thank you for letting me share! xoxo
Proud wife, mother of five, educator and food blogger; Sunny is the founder of And Love it, Too! You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and BeBetsy.com. With the firm belief that allergies and food sensitivities shouldn’t keep you from enjoying life, Sunny believes that we shouldn’t just be able to have our cake and eat it, we should have our cake And Love it, Too!