From an anonymous commenter:

I have changed the way my family eats over the past 8 months or so. I’ve been purchasing free range meats and eggs. I also purchase organic produce. I used to follow a $50 budget. Now it’s nearly double. Can you share any cookbooks you currently use? Any other advice you can share?

Our family has been sticking with a $50-a-week-grocery budget for close to four years now.  

As our eating habits have become progressively more healthy, and as our family has grown in size, I sometimes find our 50-dollar threshold a challenge to stick with!   

Thankfully I enjoy a good challenge. 🙂

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to delve into some of the ways our family eats nutritious, whole food meals without over-spending at the super market (it’s not always easy, but it’s possible!). 

Before I jump into this subject head-first, let me clarify a few things: 

I’ve been blogging long enough to know that a major pit-fall in blogosphere is comparing yourself with others and trying to mimic what someone else does in order to be healthy, frugal, Biblical, or whatever. 

That being said, let me define two concepts: frugaland healthy.

Frugalityis simply living within (or even below) your own means.  It isn’t about comparing your budget with someone else’s. 

This may sound scandalizing, but the point really isn’t the amount you are spending or not spending.  It’s about what you can afford.  Some can afford more, some less.  Frugality is living within your means.   

I read a lot of healthy-living, frugal-spending blogs, and every mama has a different dollar amount that she feels is “frugal” to suite her family’s needs. 

Some of the “budgets” I read about would leave our family of five living on oatmeal and beans… by the middle of the month!  Other “budgets” seem excessive compared to what we can afford. 

If you can’t feed your family on fifty dollars a week, don’t worry about it.  

Budget what your family can afford, be it thirty dollars a week or one hundred and thirty dollars a week– then make it work

Healthy living is a journey of educating yourself and, to the best of your ability, incorporating that new-found knowledge into your daily life. 

Everyone of us in on a different “leg” of that journey.  Some are just starting out.  Some have been at it a while and can offer a little help along the way.  Others are “veterans” and have much to offer by way of advice, help, and experience. 

When I was first learning about healthy eating and whole foods, I felt very overwhelmed by all the information out there.  I read about women who were baking their own bread, churning their own butter, growing and canning their own vegetables, soaking their grains, sprouting their beans, milking their own cows and goats, processing their own cheese and cream cheese and sour cream and kefir and yogurt and…

After a while, I ended up with a headache and a guilt complex. 

I can’t do all that.  It’s too much! 

Compared to a lot of mamas out there, I’m still not doing “all that”.  But I am learning all I can and making small changes here and there. 

Over the last few years, those small steps have taken me on quite a journey.  I still have a long way to go, and you probably do too.  We all do.  And we’re here to help each other. 

If you read something on my blog that seems amateur, just smile and realize you’re further along in the journey than I am.

On the other hand, if you read something that seems so hard and complicated, realizeI got here one small step at a time.

So, in a nutshell: 

It really isn’t the end of the world if your kids eat $4-a-box-store-bought-cereal and your hubby loves $3-a-bag-potato-chips and $5-a-package-hot-dogs (on white hot dog buns). 

While living and eating as healthy and frugally as possible is a worth-while pursuit, it doesn’t define who we are as a wives, mothers, women, or mortals.  Okay?   

Okay. 

And here are a few things our family does to stick with our budget without offending mama’s health conscience.  :0)

  • Be strategic about grocery shopping.  (Don’t shop on impulse!) 
  • Limit grocery shopping to once-a-week. (No daily mad-dashes to the super market!)
  • Use coupons and shop sales regularly.  
  • Cook from scratch.
  • Make your own soups, sauces, mixes, and just about anything else you can think of!  I’m constantly trying to add more to my “foods I make myself” list so I can spend less on prepared foods. 
  • Avoid convenience foods.  They cost more and are less nutritious.
  • Make a habit of comparing prices at various super markets until you find one (or two, or three) that offer the best prices and sales.
  • Educate yourself on whole foods and learn to incorporate them into your cooking and baking.
  • Find a source for healthy meat and milk products. 
  • If possible, raise some of your own vegetables or meat products, or participate in a coop.
  • Shop locally for fresh produce (see if your area has a farmer’s market!).

I’ll be blogging about each of these “tips” (and any others I can think of!) in the weeks ahead. 

Please feel free to email me, or leave a comment, and share your ideas, questions, or any other input! 

Before I wrap up this post: I don’t have a particular cook book that I glean recipes from, although I do have quite a collection of recipe magazines that I enjoy referring to.  (My grandma gives me all her “old” recipe magazines– I love it!) 

I use a lot of recipes from family and friends, as well.   

I’ve collected many of my healthy and frugal favorites into ebook form— you can check those out in our Cottage Kitchen.  

You can also check out the recipes I’ve posted here over the years– I try to stick with ones that are simple, healthy, and inexpensive to prepare.  

I look forward to sharing more about this topic of eating healthy on a budget– and hearing your ideas and input, as well!  

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