Overwhelmed with the Cost of Real Food

October 12, 2009 · 35 comments

expensive food

After reading Suzanne’s story, I’m hoping you’ll jump in and help this reader with more ideas for how to afford nutritious foods.  For many, ourselves included, it’s more difficult than ever with the current economical situation.

“I am overwhelmed.  I have given my kids (5 of them) only whole milk for several years now, and although my husband and I used to drink reduced fat milk, we eventually switched to whole milk only, more for the sake of convenience, though I am now happy we did.  I make chicken broth at least once a month, and have even made lamb stock once when we had a great deal on lamb.  I buy/cook four chickens at a time, removing breasts and quarters for grilling and using the rest for stock, and I also make broth from our Thanksgiving turkeys (mine and the big family gatherings).  I have made yogurt many times, and am making kefir right now.  I have a friend with wonderful free-range eggs who charges me $2 a dozen.  $2!  Another friend has let us grow organic produce on her land at no charge this summer.
I spend as little as possible on food, out of necessity.  I have been avoiding soy, HFCS, and all trans fats.  I loathe buying bread and make my own when I can.  I buy very little through a local co-op, but can hardly afford anything that way.  My latest splurge was a case of high quality ketchup, but my good coconut oil is running low.

I am overwhelmed, because of the meat and dairy.  We have the pleasure of living within driving distance to Organic Pastures, and the local CSA actually delivers it, but it is just not a possibility (either driving there or buying the stuff).

I am very thankful for what I’ve been able to do, but the whole thing with the meat and dairy just breaks my heart.  I already skimp on meat, usually spending $5 or less on meat to feed our larger-than-average family.  I almost wonder if it would be better to “go vegetarian” for a time to save for some real meat, but saving seems an impossibility when every penny is needed (I tried for the co-op and failed, and our only vehicle is dying)!

So, I am just frustrated and I guess needed to vent.  Yesterday I cut fat away from a pork roast and saved it, but is that even worth anything?  I was happy though the other day that I had saved fat from a chicken broth session, because I was able to use it in our gumbo.  But again with the meat and dairy…prices for quality protein seems astronomical to me, when I rarely pay over $1 per pound.

By the way, I read the article about eating well not costing an arm and a leg.  We very, very rarely eat out, and I never buy processed foods unless I find something decent at the discount grocery (I read ingredients very carefully and toss back 90% of what I look at).  Next up on my list of Things I Never Want to Buy Again are crackers.  My family just has to have their saltines in soup.  I don’t buy them, but we live with my in-laws, and they do, along with the nasty Oreos.  I want to make some crackers, in between the pickles and bread and homeschooling and various classes that we have. Our biggest regular splurge is take-n-bake pizza, which happens every other week or so.  We also rarely buy cereal.

My reply:

I can feel your frustration and understand it well (everything is so expensive for sure), but first, remember this:  you are doing SO GOOD with what you’ve got!!

Readers, we need you!

I’m hoping my readers can give you a lot of good suggestions, and also, have you seen these posts all about FRUGAL NOURISHING MEALS?  (Some are listed below, too.)

A couple thoughts that come to mind:

Have you tried checking around to a few different farms and asking if they ever have deals on their meat?  You can explain that you know grass-fed/pastured meats are so much better (and safer), but that you’re not always able to afford them.  They may have specials now and then that they’d be willing to let you know about.  The key is saving money any way you can on other foods, so you can afford buying better meat.  (I know, you’re doing that already, too, though.)

Weston Price & healthy cultures…

In Weston Price’s book (Nutrition & Physical Degeneration) I remember he wrote about healthy cultures that could only afford to eat meat every Sunday, but they’d eat broth when they could throughout the week.  So if you need to make more meatless meals to save money (we do that sometimes, too), just make them as nutrient dense as you can, which it sounds like you know plenty about already!

Most importantly…

Remember that all you can do is all you can do.  (A dumb phrase, but I say it to myself often no matter what it is that I’m feeling overwhelmed about at the time.)  Your story is a great example of someone who is really doing the best they can with what they’ve got.  All you are doing is more than most people know about let alone put into practice.  Take a deep breath and rest easy knowing that you are a great Mom who is doing a great job feeding your kids!

Readers, please comment with more frugal tips and ideas for saving money on Real Food, and thank you!

  • Eating Healthy Shouldn’t Cost You an Arm and a Leg
  • 12 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget
  • Real Food on a Budget – many great ideas from all of you in the Real Food Wednesday blog carnival
  • See this post about pesticides for a link to the “dirty dozen” – it will tell you which produce is important to buy organic, and which ones are fairly “clean” and you don’t need to pay the extra money.
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  • { 33 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Dawn October 12, 2009 at 1:55 am

    Just a few tips. Have you tried your local Weston A Price Foundation Chapter? They may have some food buying coops to help save money.

    http://www.AzureStandard.com has a ton of dry goods you can order and save a lot of money especially if you can get some friends to go in with you on the orders.

    Check ebay for coconut oil, I know of at least one company with significant deals if you bid and win on some that they are offering. Also if you can get together with others in your area then you can order the coconut oil in the larger containers and split it up when it arrives.

    Try to use some alternative meat sources for meals… we are trying various things here. Liver is usually cheaper at my local farmer because no one buys it so you can ask about that. Also organs like tongue are delcious and sometimes cheap because the farmers can’t sell.

    We are starting up our own mini farm here and I’d be more than happy to give people a share of some of our meat for help with fencing and labor, there may be farmers out there needing an extra hand who will pay in food.

    I now use a lot of organic coconut milk in cooking instead of milk or cream to save money. Depending on your milk prices this might be an opportunity to save also.

    And lastly we got a prime membership on Amazon.com and they have more and more WAPF friendly food stuffs available in bulk. You could see about getting some friends involved with it to split up the cases and save money.

    Reply

    2 KitchenKop October 12, 2009 at 2:04 am

    Dawn, wow, you are FULL of great ideas, thank you! :) Also, you may want to mention where you’re from – there might be someone willing to help you on the farm.
    Kelly

    Reply

    3 Dawn October 12, 2009 at 3:42 am

    Oh thanks, Kelly! We are in Central Texas just north of Austin. I have 2 acres we are trying to finish fencing so I can get the goats, sheep and chickens started. We also need help setting up chicken tractors! I would gladly pay in IOUs that could be traded in for eggs, meat or dairy products. Also we are building more vegetable gardens. I am disabled so my husband has to do most of the physical labor and we can use some help.

    I will be setting up a website for our farm and a blog but for now you can check out our cats and dogs at http://www.pendraig.com

    I’ve always had to shop on a serious budget so I learned some ways to save money and I am always looking for more. I should blog it! =)

    Oh and I have another tip! Our local Farmer’s market (Austin, TX) and some farmers are set up to take Food Stamps. So if you qualify you should find out if your local farmers or markets will take these.

    Reply

    4 Soli October 12, 2009 at 6:58 am

    To echo off Dawns last statement, a lot more farmer’s markets are taking food stamps/WIC/etc. I’m in Connecticut, and the CitySeed markets all take WIC.

    Reply

    5 Soli October 12, 2009 at 6:59 am

    Oh, and how can I forget? The farmer from whom I get my eggs at that market (the only one who does NOT give his chickens feed) also sells beef. He always has liver, heart, and tongue on hand, and that’s $1 per pound.

    Reply

    6 Catherine @ Healthy Fit Mom October 12, 2009 at 9:24 am

    I want to second what dawn says. Organ meats and chicken backs are cheap because no one wants them. Tongue is deliciously delicate and can be incorporated into salads and sandwiches. My kids ate it until they found out what it was. I was excited to eat it and actually told them and that was a mistake.

    Another thing Dawn can ask for is SECONDS. We have a local organic yogurt producer that will sell a case of yogurt for $10 and you get 6 large tubs. This is a savings of 50%. The only thing wrong with it is some dust speck. I know it is incredible that the food industry is so picky but dust will cause yogurt to be discarded.

    Organic farmers may have animals that might not fall under “organics” specifications. But the animal will be raised on the farm, same feed, same handling, but can’t qualify for some reason or another. They will cull the animal and eat it for themselves or share a side with friends etc. You can get seconds on any product-Just ask! You can get more than 50% off. It pays to know the farmer.

    Also I got a huge beef heart that is still in my freezer – for free. I would guess it is 5 pounds or so. It was going to be fed to the farm dogs. Beef heart is very tasty. It would be eaten already if it was chopped up in one pound packages but as it is, this thing is bigger than my head! When I feel up to it I will cook it.

    Our local health food stores also offers work for discounted product prices.

    Our CSA also takes on apprentices and I am sure that if someone was in need they would do a “work for food” program.

    Also our area has an active trading community and website that you can trade for services or products. We got our snow blower that way.

    Farmers are very accustomed to have people just drive up their lane ways and knock on doors. I used to be a city folk and felt uncomfortable doing this. But if they have a sign up saying “eggs for sale” or “apples for sale” that is a good indication that they sell stuff from their farm.

    Farmers usually have been in the area for decades or generations and know their neighbours very well. They will be able to point you in the right direction for what you need if only you ask.

    Reply

    7 Local Nourishment October 12, 2009 at 10:25 am

    I’ve checked the prices of grassfed meat at my farmer’s market and there is no way I could afford it. I now belong to a grassfed meat CSA that offers meat at about $4 a pound. That’s still painful compared to my old grocery store rule of “I only buy meat that’s less than $2 a pound,” but I stretch it much further. Now instead of buying two pounds of ground beef for a beef and macaroni skillet dish (I’m feeding five kids also, three of them teens,) I buy one pound and add more veggies to stretch it further. By serving three veggies and a starch at a meal where a roasted meat is featured, I find we get by with the amount of meat one would normally use to serve four people to serve our seven and usually then with leftovers. Instead of the “deck of cards” portion, I cut serving pieces of meat half that large. I figure it must be better to skimp a little on meat than do without entirely.

    Same with milk. I was paying $5 a gallon for organic milk at the store until I learned about A1 and A2 types of milk. I pay nearly $10 a gallon for A1 grassfed organic through my CSA. But it’s something I just won’t skimp on. And the CSA price is about two-thirds what the farmer charges at the farmer’s market, so I’m still getting a deal. Some things are non-negotiable with me and I’ve had to make sacrifices in other segments of our budget to afford them.

    The cost of coconut oil is so variable, especially once you add in the cost of shipping. But when you’re counting pennies, you have to count shipping too. And the price of fermented cod liver oil…don’t even get me started! Yikes!

    For coconut oil and cod liver oil, a member of our WAPF chapter started a buying club because the producer offers a (significant) discount for quantity purchases. We place orders every couple months and get these huge savings. Last time I was able to buy a full bottle of CLO “free” compared to what I would have paid on an individual order.

    One problem with buying in bulk and from CSAs is that it requires an investment at the outset. I’ve tried to arrange these purchases so there’s only one outlay per month rather than a bunch of them coming due at the same time and breaking the bank.

    It sounds like we are in similar places both with finances and diet. I’d love to brainstorm with you, I think we might both benefit!

    Reply

    8 Rebecca October 12, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Hello! We have 5 children and are homeschooling, too. We are sticklers about raw milk and ground beef. We have 9 hens that give us eggs ( we are in the city). My advice will be different, in that your first priority is homeschooling, and you can only do your best in feeding your family the WAP way. Don’t go vegetarian – but when you go to the grocery store, and a sirloin tip is on sale for $1.99 a pound, for Pete’s sake, buy it and DON”T worry about it for one minute. You are eating healthier than most folks, and if we homeschoolers take this to the extreme, we are becoming slaves to something else, which also isn’t healthy, if you think about it. Just do your best, don’t fret, feed your family and relax. God’s in charge!

    Reply

    9 Pogonia October 12, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    I can sure understand frustration with affording decent food! For me the options of a WAPF chapter in my area is out (there isn’t one) and Azure Standard isn’t here either. I am subscribing to these comments hoping there will be something I’ve missed that will help us out. You’re all so generous with your help. :)

    Reply

    10 JL October 12, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    I completely understand your concerns and frustrations over the cost of food especially meats. Vegetarian options are often less expensive and can offer similar amounts of protein. Check out http://www.meatlessmonday.com for vegetarian recipes that are not only healthy but budget friendly as well.

    Reply

    11 Amy Floyd October 12, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    My family (also with 5 kids) has been wanting to buy a 1/4 of beef for some time — grass-fed, organic. I finally found a farm and just asked around my friends and have enough interest to buy an entire steer (cheaper). Maybe you can find some friends interested in doing the same?

    Also, the rule in our household is one small glass of milk or orange juice per person per day. I only have 2 children who like to drink milk. Otherwise it is water. We buy 1 gallon of raw milk from a local dairy a week at $4 a gallon. I buy a 2 pound package of raw local butter for $10.

    I look at fruits and vegetables from a dollar per pound standpoint. Organic bananas at 89cents a pound are cheaper than local organic apples in season at $1.29 a pound. I buy more bananas than apples. I typically avoid most veggies and fruits from this cost basis alone.

    Buy beans dry and not canned. I am trying a new habit of soaking a pot of pinto beans each week. This gives us beans for dinner one night (with grated cheese) plus enough leftovers for the week or to make in burritos.

    With the cooler weather, focus on soups with your good home made meat broth. Serve with soaked grain rolls or cornbread with a nice dollop of butter. Chili with minimal meat can be enhanced with shredded cheese and yogurt or sour cream. Of course, good raw cheese costs more than the meat :-(

    I feel for you. Azure Standard doesn’t deliver anywhere close to me (South Carolina) either. I’ve looked into bulk buying, but so far haven’t found anything that makes the shipping worthwhile. We also have chickens for eggs, and that helps. I suggest that if you have space to get some chickens and a milk goat or even your own family cow (we are working toward that too).

    Amy

    Reply

    12 Suzanne October 12, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    You all are SO much help, I am very thankful, and excited! After I wrote that depressing comment, I really got to thinking, and things started happening. God is so incredibly good!

    First of all, I got to talking to the gal who sells me the eggs. She is in our homeschool group but I didn’t know her very well. We talked about butchering chickens, and, long story short, I am going to join her and her husband as they learn that process (this is a first for them, and I grew up doing this), and will get to take home as many as I want!

    AND, they have cows! She said they would be willing to work with us if we want a portion of meat, which is exciting, but that is not all. She said we could have the organs! Yay!

    And then on my own, I realized that I could ask my other friend, whom I’m sure will be happy to oblige, if I could buy the raw dairy through her CSA basket. I figure if I just buy a “little something” each week, it’s better than nothing, and a “little something” is not that much, I know I can squeeze it in. It’s much more attainable than doing the whole CSA thing.

    And today I was gleaning from my friend’s garden, I have tons of veggies to lactoferment.

    I repeat, God is so good!

    Reply

    13 Erika January 21, 2011 at 6:19 am

    Hi, Suzanne!

    I’m sorry, but I was actually encouraged to see your “depressing” post, because sometimes I feel like my family is in the same situation! We moved to Fresno from Southern CA (I grew up in Clovis), probably not too far from you, because of the cost of living/ husband’s job situation. We lived with my parents, too, for awhile when we first got here, and are homeschooling.

    I know that your post was over a year ago, but I was wondering if you have found any more tips or ideas for buying organic/raw, natural food here in the Fresno area. Also, do you know about any backyard chicken laws here in the city, or if they’re allowed? I think it would be great if I could find someone to go in together and buy a dairy cow or goat, too, if one of the parties involved had room to pasture it. We are in a little rental house where that is just not an option for us now- but sharing with someone else who had the room would be great! Thank you, and God bless! (By the way, I’m posting at 3AM because I’m pregnant and can’t sleep! :) )

    Reply

    14 Mommaofmany January 21, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Erika, I am south of you by 30-45 minutes and can share some of the things I have found. Email me at born again and proud at yahoo dot com and we can talk!

    Reply

    15 Judy October 12, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    The Nourishing Gourmet had a wonderful, very useful, post which was titled Nourishing Food For A Single Gal On A Budget. The post and comments are excellent and address the best ways to eat nutrient dense and spend as little as possible. Even thought the original question was from a single person, the comments are incredibly useful for larger families.

    http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2009/06/q-a-nourishing-food-for-a-single-gal-on-a-budget.html/comment-page-1#comments

    Reply

    16 KitchenKop October 12, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Everyone’s comments today…………THIS is why I love blogging. :)

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    17 CHEESESLAVE October 12, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Wow, Suzanne, that is so awesome! I can’t believe you’re going to get so much nutrient-dense for FREE!!!

    Some other ways we save money:

    1. Vegetarian meals *can* be nutrient-dense! Cook beans and rice in chicken broth instead of water. Refry beans in bacon fat or lard. Use tallow (usually cheap from farmers or butchers) to fry with. Chicken broth, beef broth, and fish broth are your best friend — you can make soups, sauces, and beans/rice dishes a lot more nutritious by using bone broth. Did you know you can even make fish broth out of old shrimp/crab/lobster shells? Freeze them and use them when you get enough.

    2. You can save a ton of money by keeping a cow or some goats. We don’t do this yet but if we needed to find money for groceries, this would be one of the first things I would do. It’s amazing how much you can save by milking a cow or some goats. If you don’t have land, see if someone you knows is willing to keep the cow at their place, and offer to pay to split the cost. Cows give more milk than you know what to do with — you can make your own butter, cheese, cream, yogurt, ice cream, etc. You could live on milk, cheese and butter. Remember the Swiss village Dr. Price studied — they lived on milk, cheese, butter & whole grain naturally fermented rye bread. They only ate meat about once a week. And since cows don’t eat anything except grass and hay, it would cost you almost nothing.

    3. Make your own cleaning products from Borax, baking soda, and vinegar which you can buy in bulk. I buy mine super cheap at Costco. Use cloth diapers and wipes, and use rags instead of paper towels.

    4. You live in CA? Our weather is amazing — you can grow so many things and do canning, freezing and dehydrating. You can also trade with neighbors. I trade tomatoes and herbs for lemons and oranges. I even had a neighbor give me lobster shells to use for stock. I try to grow things that are expensive to buy — like herbs and avocados. It’s also very easy to grow lettuce and other greens. I’m even growing potatoes.

    5. Consider starting a home-based business so you can write off your food. As a food blogger and cookbook author, I can write off 100% of our food expenses. Including all our groceries, kitchen appliances & tools, cookbooks, and restaurant meals. I’m always testing recipes so all our groceries are used for business. I can even write off any travel as research. I know, it can be overwhelming when you’re busy raising a family… but it doesn’t take a whole lot of blogging to do a food blog. Even once a week is valid. And you can take a loss for 3 years I think. I have a good accountant in San Francisco. Just email me.

    6. Unplug. We haven’t done this yet but plan to. You can save a lot of money by cutting down on electric and gas costs. You can buy these surge protector things that with one click will turn off all your appliances and TVs and computers that hog energy even when they are off.

    7. Make all your bread, crackers, and pasta from scratch. Buy whole grains in bulk and sprout & grind your own flour. You can save a ton doing this. I don’t make my own bread yet but I have made delicious sprouted crackers (I prefer them to any storebought crackers — recipe on my blog) and the sprouted flour/oat granola we make is cheap and nutritious (recipe on my blog). We buy huge quantities of oatmeal (Quaker – not organic) at Costco. We also eat lots of oatmeal or baked oatmeal.

    8. If you can’t afford grass-fed meat, buy grocery store beef. Even Sally Fallon says it’s OK to do this. Sure, grass-fed is best, but if you can’t afford it, eating more meat is better than eating vegetarian when it comes to nutrition. Same goes for storebought cream, cheese and butter. (Not milk though.) Sally also doesn’t recommend grocery store chicken or eggs.

    Reply

    18 CHEESESLAVE October 12, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    I forgot a couple things:

    Make your own vanilla extract. It’s so easy and it’s CHEAP. I buy organic vanilla beans online and use inexpensive rum (you can also use Bourbon or vodka). Recipe’s on my blog.

    Dry your clothes on a line if you can. Saves a bunch if you don’t use a dryer. It is cheaper to use a dishwasher than to wash dishes by hand, though.

    Reply

    19 Susan October 13, 2009 at 12:03 am

    I’m not near Azure standard either, so I order my stuff through – I found some local chapters near us.

    http://www.unfi.com

    hth!

    Reply

    20 Dawn October 13, 2009 at 12:53 am

    I see some fantastic ideas! And kudos to you for going to the farmers and talking to people. I find that we are so insulated these days, so afraid to talk to our neighbors and friends and I think it’s a terrible tragedy. Imagine how much we could help one another by working together. I’m so glad to see people doing this and I know I am guilty myself of being too shy and not networking with my community.

    I wanted to mention that azurestandard.com ships the non-refrigerated items. There are shipping charges but if you buy smart you can save a lot of money. They have the Fermented Cod Liver oil at fantastic prices (same as the bulk discount if you buy direct from the company), a variety of organic spices, herbs and teas, organic rices and all at bulk pricing. If you can get enough people in your community to buy at the same time you can get a freight shipping done and that’s so much cheaper per person. I have even heard if you can get a big order together with others they will ship the refrigerated items as well.

    I get my Grain & Salt Society salt from there and the price is so much cheaper even with shipping than buying it direct or at WF or other local stores.

    And Amazon.com is a great resource as well! i get free 2nd day shipping with the Prime account and it’s more than paid for itself. I can order many health foods through it, as well as books, appliances, pans, diapers, a steam mop etc.

    I would talk to the CSA farm and see if they are interested in telling their members about your group orders and start organizing these. There was a great article in the Weston A Price newsletter about starting up coops. I found here in Austin there isn’t much interest though at least one farmer was willing to do bulk pricing for us on their products.

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    21 Suzanne October 13, 2009 at 2:13 am

    Again with the help, you guys are fantastic to have around!

    I do co-op through UNFI, and buy wonderful, thick oats by the 25 lb. bag for very little per pound (which last a long time!) and other things like that for wholesale prices with no shipping. It is hard to scrimp for the bulk purchases. I haven’t gotten it to the point where we notice a change in our budget, and that makes it hard to take away from our budget.

    Here where I live we cannot have chickens (or other farm animals), otherwise I would, but eggs at $2 a dozen really make up for that. We do have an Asian market that I discovered just this week which has some variety to the produce and a great fish selection.

    I know there are areas where we can cut back. Our budget comes out to be around $60 per person per month.

    I LOVE the idea of fish broth with shells, but we never eat those (can’t afford!).

    My friend with the eggs said they have the local meat locker come out and butcher their cows and pigs (when they have them). They have never wanted the organs or lard/tallow. I wonder if I contacted the meat locker, if that would be a good way of acquiring some of those items?

    Cheeseslave, your home business idea is amazing. Overwhelming to me, but amazing.

    Reply

    22 Pogonia October 13, 2009 at 2:29 am

    I keep trying to get into Unifi but can’t. From what I can see, they are either in Ridgeway or Seattle, both of which is not feasible for us across the water from Seattle. Oh, well. I really love some of these suggestions. Thanks everyone! :)

    Reply

    23 Motherhen68 October 13, 2009 at 11:46 am

    I realized this week when I was cooking a pound of grass fed ground meat. There is none of that bubbling grey water stuff that I get when I cook Walmart ground meat. Then I realized the local meat processors do not add water to their meat when packaging it like Walmart must do. I used to drain off at least 2 cups of that grey, greasy, watery stuff when I’d cook 2.5lbs of ground meat from WM.

    So, if you pay 1.99/lb for Walmart meat or 2.23/lb for local, grass fed meat with no water added, it’s a much bigger savings that you’d think. Think of how much is being tossed w/the WM meat. You think 2.5lbs of WM meat is going to feed your family, you end up with only 1.50/lb or so of cooked meat.

    That might be something to think about. I am realizing that 2.23/lb for local ground meat is an amazing price, but even if it were closer to 3.00/lb it’d still be a better deal than WM’s watery meat.

    Oh, and people in my area must really love organ meats. I priced tongue this weekend and it was 10.00 for one tongue, uncleaned! I mean, the thing was huge, but that’s the price for a beef roast!

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    24 Jen October 13, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    I talked to the processor today about the cuts for our 1/4 grass fed beef we’ll be picking up Saturday. She asked if I wanted liver, heart and tongue… I hesitated, but said yes. Now I get to figure out what to do with it! I’m a little frightened. :)

    Suzanne, I’m so happy things are working out for you to get free or discounted nourishing meat and foods!!!

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    25 Jessie October 13, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Everyone has said great things – I just want to add one small one more. People have talked about cooking in broth & you can often buy big bags of bones & feet for very cheap. That way you can have a lot of broth – for some of the bean & other dishes – without buying a whole chicken each time. I’ve purchased enough bones to make quarts & quarts of stock for around $3.

    Reply

    26 niki October 16, 2009 at 12:58 am

    I think it is important to remember that combining incomplete proteins like whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds can create complete proteins (i.e. beans and rice, peanut butter and whole wheat bread, etc.) Also adding small amounts of animal proteins like meat, cheese, milk, etc. to any of the above mentioned items make a complete protein (i.e. yogurt with granola, oatmeal with milk, casseroles with whole grains and small portion of meat)

    :)

    Reply

    27 Kathryn October 25, 2009 at 10:39 am

    I just wanted to add about purchasing coconut oil that the cheapest place I have found for that is The Vitamin Shoppe online. Most brands are about half off the manufacturer’s price, which makes it even cheaper than buying it in bulk. I buy the organic Nutiva brand for $21 for 54oz – big jar that lasts a long time. You also get free shipping if you order over $100 (I join with friends to get this), but otherwise shipping is only $2.99.

    Reply

    28 KitchenKop October 25, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Hi Kathryn,
    If you buy it through my site it’s $20 for a 54 oz. Nutiva with free shipping no matter how much you buy! http://kellythekitchenkop.com/2008/06/organic-virgin-coconut-oil-deals-best.html
    Kelly

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    29 Mommaof6 November 19, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    I know this post is a little old but I thought maybe I could offer some good ideas. I am a farmer and we have a big family and lots of animals. The end of fall is the best time to try and buy meat from farmers especially if you live in areas that need to feed hay over winter. This year especially hay is high and many farmers are selling animals. First I would suggest looking for agriculture websites that list animals for sale. I know that our province has an ag page and kijiji (which is a free local classifieds) has a livestock section. If you can find a farmer who will deliver the animal to a butcher, it is so much cheaper than buying food from the store. It might cost a lot initially but you could get 1000 pounds of meat for less than a buck a pound. So if you have friends or other family members to go in with it will be even less. Of course you would need the freezer space or you could cook some of the meat and can it, jJust a thought. Up here they are selling cow/calf pairs for as cheap as $850 cdn. So even if you can

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    30 Laura January 11, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    I, too, have 5 children to feed on one income and, while we are not in the same position as you, we do try to be as frugal as possible.

    A few thoughts:
    * Maybe a local grass-fed meat farmer would be willing to sell you/give you bones that he normally cannot sell.

    *I belong to a co-op as you mentioned. I can’t always afford to buy 15# or more of something so I’ll put out the word that I would like an item, but not the large amount, and see if others would be willing to go in on it with me. In this way I can get more and better quality than at the stores for the same amount of $.

    *Is there anyone that you can split meat with to increase variety? (By that I mean another family that a roast could be divided with, both cost and product.)

    *Save the skins, tips and bases of your vegetables for stock (this one may be obvious).

    *Make more egg based meals (souffle, quiche, frittata, etc.).

    *Cook rice in bone broth.

    *Make more than one batch of broth out of one set of bones (nutrition reduces, but it is better than using water to cook pasta or rice).

    *How about a window sill/container garden in the house during the cooler months to increase variety in your diets with little cost.

    *Don’t forget to roast those squash seeds for a snack.

    *Bake potatoes, carrots, or squash while you roast meat.

    That’s all I have for now. Sorry if there are any repeats.

    Laura (Maine)

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    31 Mommaofmany February 2, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Suzanne must live not *too* far from me. I could drive to Organic Pastures, too. Depending on whether she’s north or south, she may want to check out Springville Ranch for meat. The prices are reasonable and it’s all grown locally. For our large family of ten, I stay away from the steaks. Burger, stew meat and shoulder roast/seven bone roast are $4.48/lb, eye roast is $5.48, bones for brothmaking are just $1.48/lb.

    I do not know if they ship, but they do sell at the farmers market in Visalia.
    Order at 559-539-2893 or info@springvilleranch.com

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    32 Becky@purposefulhomemaking January 6, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    I definitely can sympathize with your struggles! I try to cover some of this on my blog.
    A few things we did that helped a lot were: start a garden, buy at the local farmer’s market, shop the loss leaders http://www.purposefulhomemaking.com/2010/06/how-to-get-organic-without-breaking.html, make my own kefir and occasionally my own yogurt, etc.
    The way I look at it is it’s time or money. I don’t have the money so I spend the time looking for the best deals on all my groceries to make the money go further. Hope you can find some helpful tips on my blog!

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    33 CateK March 22, 2012 at 7:26 am

    It may not work all the time, but I’ve learned to ask local farmers where I buy muscle meat (roast, lamb, pork, ground beef, etc.) about the organ meats. By doing this I have not had to pay for liver, tongue, heart, kidneys or chicken feet for over a year. Their regular customers don’t eat them and now that they know I do, they save them for me and give them to me for free when I buy other meat. We recently went in with my sister’s family to purchase 1/2 hog and will buy a half steer in May. We got 1/2 lamb last fall and plan to get a whole one this fall. In the long run, this has saved us the most money. We garden extensively and I’ve given up all flour based products (bread, pasta, cakes, cookies and crackers). If craving starch of some sort, we eat either organic barley or rice which I buy in 25 pound bags delivered to the house via Amazon Prime. Coconut oil is purchased in bulk. Start with one large bulk purchase and then save from there for your next one. I actually had a yard sale to put together the money for my first 5 gallon bucket of coconut oil. Oh, and having chickens is a huge cost saver. They eat just about anything (bugs, grass, left overs and a little cracked corn), and give us back eggs, entertainment, and meat. We also accept any venison friends offer to us. When really financially strapped, I’ve been known to harvest fresh road kill and pick up a .22 to bag a few rabbits. You can also look for local farms that allow you to come in and harvest around the edges: wild blackberries, field greens, ramps, and other wild stuff. Just make sure you have permission to go on the property first. Over all, I agree that having your own milk producing animal is by far the most cost saving. When I had 3 teenaged boys at home, our total food bill was running close to $300 a week. I finally got it down to $20 per person per week by feeding them oatmeal for breakfast with eggs, broth based soup for lunch, and a dinner meal of meat and veggies with fruit only for snacks. We would eat homemade yogurt for dessert with a little maple syrup.

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