Meal Planning Monday ~ Back to Nature

This week’s post is by Christine Luken.

On my journey to be as healthy as possible, I keep coming back to one thing – and that is getting back to nature!  When I go to the grocery store, I am spending a LOT more time in the All Natural/ Organic section.  It’s a bit of a challenge to eat this way and still stay within our grocery budget.  There aren’t as many sales and coupons for organic food, but there are some if you know where to find them!  In fact, I just printed coupons for Silk, Kashi, Cascadian Farms, and Food Should Taste Good on Coupons.com So this week’s post is all about how to save money while eating as close to nature as possible.

 

  • Grow some of your own fruits & veggies!  It’s actually not too late to plant some for a fall harvest.  Salad greens, herbs, summer squash, beans, peas, and more all have short growing seasons.
  • Patronize your local farmers.  Shop at your local farmers market, roadside fruit stand, orchard, or farm.  The food is likely to be tastier and cheaper because it doesn’t have to be transported across the country to the grocery store.  The bonus is that you’re supporting your local economy rather than the corporate food giants.  Also check to see if there is a food co-op close to you.  They can be a great source of organic and natural foods at affordable prices.
  • Buy in bulk when you can.  I called my local poultry farm and inquired about discounts for buying chicken and turkey in bulk.  I was able to get ground turkey for $2.00 per pound and bone-in chicken thighs for $2.25 per pound, buying 10 pounds of each.  I brought it all home and froze it in meal size portions.  Based on our consumption, I’ll stop by the farm and buy the same amount every three or four months.  It’s nice to know that the chicken and turkey is hormone-free AND I’m supporting a local family-owned business.
  • Buy the store brand organic food.  I regularly buy Kroger’s Simple Truth natural peanut butter, gluten-free multigrain crackers, among other things.  I’ve also bought Meijer’s organic line of beans, salsa, etc.
  • Make it yourself!  Yes, this does take a little time, but it is SO worth it!  You’ll save a ton on packaged foods like cookies, granola bars, ice cream, condiments, bread, etc. This past week, I’ve made zucchini bread, salad dressing, ice cream, and BBQ sauce.  I love knowing exactly what’s in my delicious food – no unpronounceable ingredients!  If you’re not doing any of this right now, start slow and work your way up.  Here’s two easy ones to try!

 

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Homemade BBQ sauce may seem ambitious, but it’s just a matter of tossing everything in a sauce pan and simmering it for an hour.  Most commercial BBQ sauces contain high fructose corn syrup, something we should all avoid!

  • 24 oz. bottle of organic ketchup
  • 24 oz. of water
  • 1/3 cup of Sweet Leaf’s Sugar Leaf (cane sugar & stevia blend) or 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ all-natural apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup of chili powder
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. onion powder

Put all ingredients in a large sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or until desired thickness.  Once cooled, I recycled the washed ketchup bottle and filled it with the BBQ sauce and put in the refrigerator.  Any leftover BBQ sauce can be frozen.

 

Best Homemade Vinaigrette

This easy dressing can be made by the bottle or just for one salad!  It also makes for a great grilled chicken marinade.  You mix up the flavor by using red wine or balsamic vinegar and using different all-natural spice blends.  The possibilities are endless!

  • 1 part olive oil
  • 2 parts apple cider vinegar
  • Seasoning blend to taste

Do you have any tips to share on how to save money while eating organic/ all-natural?  If so, I’d love for you to share them here!