Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Guest Blogger: See Jane Save

As I visited with family last weekend, my aunt looked at my $16 worth of groceries - a big tub of organic lettuce, two cans of protein-packed lentil soup, one cucumber, a bag of carrots, and a big tub of amazing kalamata hummus - and asked me, "How do you afford this?" I turned to her and said, "Ask me how much I spend on health care. Zip."

Now I know that was smart-ass of me but it was also the truth. I knew, however, what she was getting at. She's got a family of five after all.

We all know that shopping organic and "healthy" is often perceived as more expensive and in some cases it is. If you were to compare my receipt at Whole Foods (dubbed by some as "Whole Paycheck") to someone shopping at an Acme, there'd likely be some difference. But then again, I'd argue comparing the ingredients and processing of the foods, their origin, and contribution or lack thereof to the consumer's health should also be tallied in the "costs." It's not all about buying exclusively organic. As Jane will tell you, there are ways to save and still be healthy.

In any case, I was curious what the food shopping receipts looked like for families. I definitely feel I invest a good amount of money in food, but it's a little different as a single gal when I don't have to put funds towards childcare expenses. Enter Jane - fellow health junkie, wife, grad student, blogger, and mother of two. I don't know how she does it all! But that's for another blog. Here's how Jane makes magic at the grocery store!

Whenever I go through the check out at the grocery store, there is always a comment.

“You are the healthiest person that comes to this store!”

“Who eats all of this, it certainly isn’t you!” (I wasn’t quite sure if that was a compliment or not)

“What is this? I have never seen this before in my life!”

“Dandelion greens????”

And just today, “Man, you eat a lot of coconuts!”

We are a family of four and my daughter Lilah and I have the appetites of 300 pound men. My husband and other daughter Molly are a bit more conservative with their food intake, but can still throw down with the best of us. We spend about $200 a week on groceries.

I don’t make apologies for feeding my family tons of fresh, organic produce, Lara bars, organic meats and eggs, and the occasional bag of pirate booty. Two hundred dollars a week is a sacrifice for us. We are by no means wealthy. My husband is a construction worker and in a band; I stay at home with the girls and am working on my doctorate. We do not have an exorbitant amount of excess income. Some weeks it is really tough, but healthy eating is something I believe in whole heartedly. I often sacrifice other things to make healthy eating work. I traded my designer wardrobe for designer bananas a LONG time ago.

Healthy eating has to be a top priority if you want to make it work. Sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed with the amount of money that we spend on food, but my family and our health is my hobby, my passion, and my love. I am willing to pay for it ;)

Here are some tips to save:

Buy in bulk
- I buy my protein powders and Lara bars in bulk and usually end up saving quite a bit of money compared to buying them one bag or one box of bars at a time. Here are some fantastic sites for discounts on health foods and supplements:


Keep It Clean
- If organic is the goal, but the budget is tight, focus on the “dirty dozen.” There are so many lists online of the best foods to buy organic. The general rule of thumb is that anything with a thin skin, like grapes, blueberries, and leafy greens, is best (re: safest) when bought organic. Bananas, avocados, etc…? Buy regular (conventional/non-organic). Even places like Produce Junction are a great locale to snag lots of fruits and veggies for super cheap!

I always recommend buying organic meat. I don’t eat meat or dairy anymore, but unfortunately the big guy (hubs) is resistant to giving it up. If you want cheap, you can buy chicken legs and thighs organic for usually 3-4 bucks a pack.

Join as CSA, a Co-Op, or both
- Find a CSA near you! You can't get much healthier than locally grown food. If the committment seems too much, divide the share between your household and a fellow healthy neighbor!

Do-It-Yourself -For those of us who go meat-free, I have always been a fan of making my own tomato sauce with a can of crushed tomatoes, fresh garlic, and spices. You can put it over the noodles of your choice (preferably for us, gluten-free). Hummus is another nutritious, filling meal. Cans of chickpeas are often on sale 10 for 10. Buy 10 cans and 1 jar of organic tahini and boom! Hummus. Two cans of black beans, 1 can of organic crushed tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, some salt- bam! Slice some fresh avocado on top and you have vegan chili.

There are so many great ways to eat healthy and organic on a budget! Get creative, look less at the receipt and more at the bottom line - your family’s health is priceless.

Jane Rosenzweig is a wife, stay-at-home mom, and is working on her doctorate in Clinical Psychology. She is passionate about health, balance, and living a full, happy life with a heavy dose of humor. Check out her blog at: http://optimalhealthmama.blogspot.com/


Anonymous said...

I love Jane's comment, "I traded my designer wardrobe for designer bananas a LONG time ago." I think the money aspect of whole-foods eating is definitely a popular question for anyone in the lifestyle.

This is a great post with a great response to that ever-popular question! Thanks for sharing.

Cursive L. said...

This is some great advice, thank you!