Ann Marie Michaels of VillageGreenNetwork.com visited us on Tuesday, July 29, to talk about Real Food on a Budget. Her advice was so good that we fought off sleep to keep the poor lady there quite late.
A major lesson learned is that watching your budget is not just about cash. For one thing, time is money. Do you know your hourly rate? Start applying that to the work you do to nourish your family, too, and you’ll see that spending a lot of time to save a few dollars doesn’t make financial sense. Plus, if you’re always short on time, you’re much more likely to burn out on real food. Conserving your mental energy is what will keep you happy, healthy, and on track.
Make Your Time Count.
Whenever you have time to cook, make big batches. Store the food in a chest freezer. (But split it up batches so you won’t have to eat the same thing for days!)
Don’t spend your time at the store: Grow your own food!
- Grow a vegetable garden. Rip out your lawn — your city might even pay you to do it! Looking for a place to start? Herbs are very low maintenance. Visit Urban Homestead for great advice. They manage to bring forth 6,000 pounds of produce annually on less than a quarter acre of land in Pasadena! One really useful resource they provide is something called an olla. It’s a clay plot that you bury underground and fill with water. The water slowly permeates into the soil. You end up watering your garden (and not overwatering it!) without losing any to evaporation. And as we’re currently in our worst drought to date, that’s a huge deal.
- See if you can join the backyard chickens movement!
- Learn to preserve the bounty of your garden so that nothing goes to waste.
Don’t spend your time at the store: Make your groceries come to you.
- These days, real food (along with just about anything else!) will come to you. Amazon.com offers three services: One is Amazon Prime, which among other benefits, offers free 2-day shipping without minumum orders. Subscribe and save allows you to save up to 15% on many grocery items, as long as you subscribe to have that item delivered at regular intervals. The intervals are as long as every six months, and you can change or cancel deliveries at any time, without losing your initial discount. Finally, Amazon Fresh is a same-day or overnight fresh grocery delivery service. We live in one of only three locations where it’s available. You can even get pastured eggs delivered to your door! You do have to become an Amazon Prime member in order to use Amazon Fresh, but you can try it out with a 30-day free trial to see if it’s right for you.
- Azure Standard is another option for shopping online, but you pick up the food at a local drop point. They specialize in natural, organic, earth-friendly foods and products and offer many bulk options.
- If you’re looking for raw milk deliveries, your only option is an Abundant Harvest CSA. But you can also buy milk in bulk (for instance, at the Organic Pastures Hub Store in Glendale or at Sprouts) and freeze it … more on that below!
Buy in bulk.
- There’s a lot you can buy in bulk. Rice and beans have always been an economical choice. Wilderness Family Naturals sells big buckets of expeller pressed coconut oil (which is great for cooking with high heat and doesn’t taste like coconut). But bulk is also for meat. You can buy whole animals (cows, hogs, etc.). (Remember that chest freezer?) If that’s too much for you, see if other members want to go in on it with you. (Some local options are Primal Pastures and Rainbow Ranch Farms, among others.)
- Dairy is a great option for bulk, too. You can freeze raw milk (the consistency changes a little) and butter. (Kerrygold from Trader Joe’s is an economical grass-fed option. Spring Hill butter, sold only in the Spring –high in Vitamin K2 — is sold by the block.) You can also freeze grated mozzarella or cheddar.
Save Your Mental Energy.
- Make meal plans (many are available online) or a come up with a rotation of recipes that you and your family like (a la Taco Tuesdays).
- Depend on leftovers (like when you roast a chicken).
- Hire help — a college kid can help you out around the house for $10 – 15 an hour.
- Keep it simple! The priority is to get high quality fat in your diet. Don’t try to be perfect. It’s not about being perfect or even being good. It’s about doing better.
- Find brands and restaurants you can trust, for the times when you want someone else to do it for you. Plan Check in west LA prepares their fries in beef tallow. For grass-fed dairy products, try Strauss Ice Cream and Kerrygold butter.
Now that you know how to conserve your resources, what will you do with all your extra time and energy? How about starting a food-, farming-, or healing-themed side business? The tax deductions are great!
Ann Marie also shared with us some of her favorite brands for supplements and nourishing food.
- Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil by Rosita Real Foods
- To Your Health Sprouted Flour
- Pure Indian Ghee
- Threelac, Gut Pro, and Bio Kult probiotics
- Iodoral and Lugol’s iodine supplements
- Designs for Health magnesium
- Bentonite clay to counteract fluoride in water. (Flouride blocks magnesium and iodine absorption.)
- Great resource: LiveTo110.com
Which one of Ann Marie’s suggestions will you try first?