In the last post we discussed the differences in food quality, and explored the intricate way God designed our senses to be able to taste, smell, and see the difference. But, as amazing as all this is, we hit a reality check.
We can’t all grow our own garden vegetables, have our seafood overnighted, or raise a cow in the backyard. It can be a struggle to even afford purchasing these things.
And that’s okay. Most of us are in the same boat.
While I still encourage people to think differently about food budget—considering it instead as part of your health-care budget, I understand that at some point, cash-flow is a limiting factor. You can only do the best you can, prioritizing the things that seem important to your body and family, and go from there.
I want to share a few tips with you. Ones that can help you put more nutrient-dense food on the table. Today let’s talk about how to shop.
- Shop sales, coupon, or go to wholesale stores (like Costco), and buy in bulk when the food is a good price.
I actually specifically recommend Costco because of their conscientious sourcing, and their larger selection of organic items. This automatically leads to better quality food options. Buying in bulk, and on sale are also great ways to get things like coconut oil and sugar (to feed your SCOBY, of course), as well as non-grocery items like Epsom salt, soaps and shampoos.
- Find out when your favorite organic-carrying grocery store marks things down for quick-sale.
Stores go through their produce, dairy and meat products on a regular basis in order to catch and mark-down food that is about to expire. Usually this is scheduled, and if you know the time and day you can show up soon after (or during) this mark-down period and get incredible deals! You can also check to see if there is a local discount grocery store, that takes almost out-of-date items and sells them at a large discount.
Produce: The small health food stores that I shop at usually put the older assorted produce in $2 bags. Often times it comes out to roughly a 90% discount! You have to be creative with using it, and be willing to give away food you may not be able to eat (like maybe potatoes, for example), but I often walk out of these stores with $15-30 worth of organic produce that cost me $4-6.
Meat: Similarly, stores mark down meat when it is nearing it’s expiration date. Find out what days they go through the organic produce, and shop at that time. Again, I have found even better deals in smaller stores, where they have more to loose by throwing away food. And don’t be afraid to buy frozen meat! Very few nutrients are lost when the meat is frozen. If it comes down to buying fresh commercial meat, or frozen natural or organic meat, the latter will definitely give you more nutrition for your buck.
- Know when to spend your money: when quality really matters, or when it varies tremendously.
There are some foods that are more difficult to find on sale, and ones that I recommend paying more for. Many of these items can be purchased much “cheaper,” but the quality ranges from very poor to very good, and you get what you pay for. Dairy products in particular are very manipulated by manufacturers, and should be bought with that in consideration.
Dairy: If you can get raw milk, then do it! Otherwise, I do not recommend consuming pasteurized milk unless it has been cultured, like in yogurt or cheese. Aside from milk, most dairy products tend to keep longer, and may be more difficult to find on sale. Organic is important here, because commercial cows are given many antibiotics and hormones that will come through the milk and affect you. Don’t “buy cheap” in these areas, especially butter, as it may be a main source of cholesterol (fat) for you. Cream can be purchased at the store, and although it has been pasteurized (some more than others), it is more stable than milk, and is less affected by pasteurization. Cheese, yogurt and sour cream have all been cultured, and those active cultures are working hard to counteract the damaging effects of pasteurization.
Eggs: Deciding which eggs to buy will depend on your area. If you can’t purchase them from a local farm (real free-range are better than store-bought organic), then choose your egg based on the color of the yolk, and the taste. The yolk should be bright yellow or orange, meaning the chickens have been out in the sun and may even be able to eat bugs and fresh greens. Never buy eggs from vegetarian-fed hens. Believe me, hens are not vegetarians! Eggs are another large source of cholesterol, and it’s best to buy the best quality of eggs you can find (these are not always the most expensive).
- Look for bulk ordering companies or clubs.
You don’t have to join a CSA to get farm-fresh produce. There are companies like Azure Standard, Miller’s Organic Farm, and others that send you meat and produce from a farm (maybe in another state) and deliver it to you. This is a great way to buy things that are more difficult to get, like lard, nuts or dried fruit. This can also be a good way to get non-grocery items.
I hope these tips help you make more nutrient-dense food purchases. What other ways have you found to make nutrient-dense food affordable? Share your knowledge with the community in the comments below. Happy shopping!