Going Green Mama shares life from the other side of the tracks...
There's a price you can pay for eating sustainably, organic and local. Erin shared her family's choices to emphasize quality over cost in a recent post.
But what if you'd don't have that luxury of a flexible budget?
In the more than two years since my husband lost his job and our income was halved, we've had to make choices and compromises, some that I wish we didn't have to make. Sure, I'd love to invest in organic milk, particularly since we have a few great dairies in the area. Sure, I'd love to eat locally grown chickens, but I have to justify the cost, and it becomes a splurge rather than a right.
So choices are made. But I can still sleep at night.
How do we do it? Here are some ways we don't sacrifice quality and safety on a tight food budget.
We eat locally. And I mean locally. Our garden is already producing, and we're getting many of our side dishes from a few feet away. And you can't get much closer than that. Other than the initial investment last year of putting the beds in, the cost is relatively minimal compared to what we're getting. (Consider $3 a quart for peas at the farmers market, compared to $2 for a package of heirloom pea seeds, and we've already gotten at least that!)
We make friends. While we do like to visit other farmers markets in the area, we have one that we're partial to, and we've gone to it since we first moved here and it was just a few stands. As a result, the vendors know me and my kids. And often, they'll cut us a break. On the few days my daughter is "buying" they'll accept whatever coins she's had on hand. And just Saturday, one vendor not only held back garlic scape that I'd missed the week before, but also handed them over at no charge, only on the promise that I'd report back whether the different varieties of garlic produced a different taste in scape.
We watch deals. One of our local groceries routinely clearances organic products that aren't near exprired, and we're able to get great deals. Like organic whipping cream - which in a few minutes' effort becomes organic butter - for 75 cents a pint. We can often find organic cheese and yogurts on sale as well, making it pennies in difference in cost from the other varieties.
We splurge. Sometimes, you've just got to relax, and you can make compromises at times to buy that locally grown chicken. Sure, it may mean a few extra dinner salads or pasta dishes during the week, but it's well worth the occasional trade.
So what do you do to stay on budget while supporting your food values?