Wednesday, June 30, 2010

When Healthy Eating and Budget Collide

My desire, as chief cook and bottle washer homemaker of our family, is to have our family eat as many raw and unrefined foods as I can reasonably fit into each meal. The catch in that sentence is "reasonably fit," because healthy eating can get very costly! Right now, my 6yo Nelson eats more than my husband at every meal. And, my 8yo Becca eats more than I do at every meal. So, I need to seriously consider the food budget!

We are currently making most meals from scratch. And, while this is cheaper than eating out, it would be cheaper yet if I would make a few changes.

Here is what I am considering:

Presently, I am using raw/pure honey in place of sugar in recipes. This stuff costs a fortune! I am ashamed to say what I spend per gallon. I have heard of an Amish man that sells a 5 gallon bucket for only  $75. That would be really cheap... for raw honey. BUT, for us that might still be too expensive. So, I am debating between buying the refined honey in bulk from Sam's Club, OR I will buy a 50 pound bag of evaporated cane juice from the Dutch Foods Store. I have not priced the honey at Sam's yet. But, I think that the bag of sugar is $21.99.

Next is succanat. I have never been able to get it in bulk, so I paid $2.50/pound. I use succanat to replace brown sugar in my recipes. But, I will just be completely honest... I already bought brown sugar. I cannot afford succanat. Brown sugar is cheaper.

We have never been able to afford to buy organic. But, we do grow our own pesticide-free/herbicide-free produce. We will not change anything in this category. 

I use real butter, in place of margarine. Yes, I know that some of you think that margarine is the healthier option, and I am crazy. But, I have read otherwise. And, I think that sticking with food the way God made it is always better! The problem - butter costs about 4 times the cost of margarine! I could either 1) make my own butter, 2) switch to margarine, or 3) change nothing. Since I like the taste and consistency of real butter, I will not be switching to margarine. And, since we are not buying raw milk and cream right now, I cannot start making it. But, just as soon as we can get back on raw milk, I plan to make my own. Better yet! I want my own milk cow! But, this is not a necessarily a cheaper option - because you have to feed the cow. But, it would certainly be the most healthy option!

Right now we are using not-at-all-lean meat, because we can afford it. And, I do not plan to switch to cheaper meat anytime soon. But, I could try to cook less chicken and more beef. And, I could try to cook more beans/lentils and less beef! I really do want to have more meat-free meals! And, our ultimate goal is to grow our own beef and chickens.

As for eggs, I was buying the "all natural" brown eggs at the store, when I could not buy them locally. Wal-Mart sells these eggs for $2.44/dozen. I like them, because the yolk is richer/darker and the shell is tougher. BUT, my new plan (already in motion) is that when I cannot buy farm fresh eggs I will buy the cheap ones at Wal-Mart. Right now, my FIL has chickens and is able to give us eggs for free - woo hoo! But, we cannot count on such generosity when we move away. So, again, our ultimate goal is to raise our own chickens. 

We eat brown rice several times a week. We like rice, it is a good filler! But, I am thinking about using white rice on occasion. Is that really so bad?

Even writing this, I feel a little bit guilty, because now you healthy eating gurus might think less of me. But, I need to save money! I am not trying to kill my family. I am not trying to cause cancer, obesity, or other physiological disorders. I am just trying to save money! You saw in another recent post that we have cut back on everything that I can think of (save the internet and my cell phone that will go as soon as the contract is completed. Paul has to have a cell phone for his driving with UPS).

But, as I said before, I am trying to be moderate! I do not want to obsess over healthy eating, because it is not the reason we live! We do not live for food! We live for God, to know Him and make Him known! And, if healthy eating consumes me more than the Gospel - I have a problem! 

Now, I ask for your practical help and opinions. How do you save money while eating healthy?


Dawn said...

Radical moderation, my friend. I like it. Eat as healthy as you can for what you can afford, and don't stess. That's what I do. The only things I absolutely won't eat are those neurotoxic sweeteners. I felt really guilty every time I bought bread or bought refined honey for a while... and then I got over it. I'm much more relaxed and I haven't seen any negative health impact on my family.

NYLass said...

Honestly - I have looked at this question many times over the last few years.
I have a dear friend who has MANY sensitivity issues who has tried to be helpful to me as I have been loosing my hair with suggestions of sensitivities and allergies to things - that I might have. While I gladly looked into changing my life (style is putting it too moderately) instead of dealing with the possible genetic cause; I have changed and tried (almost) everything - long story short - I haven't grown back any hair, which has to date continued to get thinner. The journey has been one toward health for our whole family, but at a GREAT financial cost. A cost we can no longer pay...
So... what now...?
What can I cut corners on and what is non-negotiable?
I've looked at the lists of fruits and veggies that MUST be organic and which ones don't need to be. I buy meat and veggies from Trader Joe's, cause - sadly - it's cheaper than local. Getting back to my friend, she would say cut everything else and she ALWAYS brought her families own food to potluck, when she lived out by us.


my conclusion is an odd one...
I was talking to one of my daughters about her transcript and making choices post highschool (which has caused her much grief and MANY tears) I told her that if God is sovereign (we believe He is) then we can pray 'Lord, please open the doors that you would have me go through, close those that you will and give me the grace to walk forward trusting you'.
I realized that this could apply to my situation. God has the life of my children, husband and myself in His hands - mine is to receive what He gives, accept what He takes away and continue to walk forward, trusting in Him. Will I loose my hair? I pray not... Could I be doing something different? I pray that if that is so, He will show me. Please understand, I am not one to sit back and "Let go and let God"; for those who are like this - I don't know how they would work this out... I have ALWAYS tried to do what I can with what I have. I think that sometimes I try so hard that I forget: God is sovereign. He knows about every hair (or lack there of) on my head - the Word says that He has numbered them. He also says that "...we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." Can I accept what is and trust Him in it? Honestly this makes me cry.
Lord, forgive my unbelief.
Sorry for my rambling - you just made me think...
God bless...

Bethany said...

Thanks for your comment. I don't know if I will ever be a "radical moderate," but it is a good goal to work towards! Thanks for commenting, it means a lot to me.

Bethany said...

Your comment made me laugh! I love what you said about changing your life, because "style" just doesn't convey the depth of the change. I hear you, friend!
Thank you for your thoughts on this issue! I know that you are a person who is very concerned about health. So, I know you can relate. Our challenges are still a little different, as I cannot even consider buying organic produce. But, we are in the same "boat." Trying to figure out what is non-negotiable.

As for your conclusion: Your idea that we need to see God as Sovereign and we need to pray about it is good advice. I honestly had not thought to pray for wisdom over my food issues. I will begin praying not only for our "daily bread," but what that daily bread should be composed of!


Tammy said...

Healthy eating doesn't have to be expensive! I loved your idea of incorporating more meatless meals into your family's diet both from a health and a budget perspective. I always thought this would be a real challenge to find meatless meals the whole family would like. I've developed and included some lentil recipes on my website that are really delicious - even the three year old likes them!

Eeaston said...

I think these changes sound just fine and I don't see how this will harm your family! All of your substitutions sound delicious!! Good luck. :)

Anonymous said...

I agree that substituting honey for sugar can cost a lot. Consider sorghum - if you can find it (Amish may sell it?). I use it in bread making and it's great - good healthy alternative.

We had a good lunch with brown rice, zucchini, onions, greens, herbs, and tempeh. Not very expensive

-Mrs. B

Bethany said...

Mrs. B,
I just bought sorghum for the first time last week! I tried it in oatmeal, and my FIL says it is great on pancakes and biscuits. I will be trying it in bread soon. I never would have expected molasses bread to taste good, but I love it - so maybe the sorghum will surprise me.

Can you tell me about the ratio from sugar to sorghum? Because it seems to me like a little of sorghum goes a Loooonnng way.


Anonymous said...

I've just substitued equally for sugar, but then in a lot of recipes I cut back the sugar anyhow. Time to experiment!

-Mrs. B