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8 Tips for Feeding Your Family Whole Foods on a Budget

I’m over at Heavenly Homemakers today sharing a post on 8 Tips for Feeding Your Family Whole Foods on a Budget. Here’s a snippet:

Many people have this misguided idea that it is impossible to feed your family a whole foods on a budget. If you live in Alaska or some remote part of the country, this may be the case, but in most areas, you can feed your family natural, unprocessed foods without spending hundreds of dollars each week to do so.

Sure, you might spend a little bit more than someone who is eating a diet composed mostly of processed foods, but it really doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg as some people will make you think–especially if you’re willing to get creative and think outside the box.

Now, let me be upfront and tell you that our weekly meal plans probably wouldn’t win us the Healthiest Family of the Year award. We eat some processed foods (though we do make the majority of our food from scratch), we like sweets and we certainly do not eat 100% organic.

Read the full post and leave a comment to be entered to win a free copy of my book!

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40 Comments

  • Lauren C says:

    What a great post! Thanks for sharing!

  • Paige L says:

    Thanks for posting this! I will go read it right now! This came at a perfect time because this is something I have been trying to figure out for our family.

  • BrandyB says:

    Thanks for the great info. I over the past year I have slowing been clearing out most of the processed foods in our pantry on a quest to get my children eating more healthy. But with a tight budget is a constant struggle.

  • Stefanie says:

    I definitely agree with the garden idea. Even a small garden, with a plant or two of a few vegetables will provide enough to greatly supplement your produce. This is our first year in our new house and this summer I will definitely be planting a garden! Plus…things from a garden just taste so much fresher and more flavorful.

  • Renee Wilson says:

    Thanks for your great tips! I find that cooking simply really helps with the budget. If you want to cook a complicated meal, do it once a week rather than every night…but who has the time for that? 🙂 I also joined a CSA where they deliver produce to my doorstep (local & organic). It is a little more than I would spend at the grocery, but for me that was the point. I wasn’t spending enough on produce to feed my family fresh fruits and veggies. With the CSA, I am forced (in a good way) to spend more money on health foods.

  • Wendy says:

    Our garden really saves us during the year. It’s not that big, but it doesn’t take much to get enough to freeze. I’ve frozen corn, peas, butter beans, squash and strawberries. I can other items like green beans, pears, tomatoes, beets, jelly & pickles. It’s so nice to pull from the freezer and know exactly where your veggies came from and what didn’t get sprayed on them.

  • phaedra says:

    Can’t wait to read it. For the most part I have gotten away from most processed foods…outside of the occasional box of mac n cheese. I had started buying organic fruit,and vegetables, free range meats, organic eggs, milk, cheese, Greek yogurt, sprouted bread, different grains, and tried to ditch wheat. It was too much for our budget. Too me it seems like most coupons are for processed, high fructose corn syrup, or high sugar foods. We gave up cereal and most premade beverages as well. I did have to back off most organic foods for cost, but still stay away from most processed. The challenge is keeping our meals fun, healthy and maybe break away from so many meals with pasta…need more veggies in our meals too.

  • Nancy DeVries says:

    We are part of a CSA and have a garden. When the CSA has vegies we won’t eat we barter with others during our pick up time and have traded eggplants for zucchini. What we can’t eat in a week we can freeze or can. Canning seems like a lot of work to do when doing it but being able to open a jar of yummy peaches when its 10 degrees and snowing is priceless.

  • beth b says:

    I really like the idea of meat as a condiment. Two or three times a month we have a meal where meat is front and center – roast chicken or beef, meatloaf or salmon patties – but most of the time meat is part of a larger dish. Good way to stretch it.

    We recently started eating beef and pork and it’s amazing to me how little one needs to flavor a dish. Only a quarter pound of ground beef or a cup leftover roast makes soups so rich and flavorful. I haven’t had the guts to do Bacon yet but I’ve been tempted by several recipes that use a piece or two as the base. Yum.

  • Nicole Z. says:

    Last week we had some family members staying with us who eat very few fruits and veggies. I bought a lot of “their” foods for them…chips, cookies, processed everything. I spent $133. After they left, I went back to shopping just for my family and we eat a great deal of fruits and veggies. I only spent $83, compared to the $133 from the week before. Chips are about $4 a bag! Holy smokes! I do love a handful of Doritos every couple of months, but c’mon. 😉

    • Chips are outrageous, aren’t they? I don’t buy them.

      My mom came to visit during my first year of marriage. She was hungry for a snack between meals, and she said that she went looking, but she couldn’t find anything to eat that didn’t have to be cooked. I said that there were apples! She didn’t want those; she wanted chips or crackers!

  • Kim says:

    This is a great post! Thanks for sharing this as its been one of my hurdles to overcome in 2012!

  • Melissa says:

    Thanks for the tips. I wish we had a CSA closer than 2 hours away!

  • Courtney says:

    I haven’t read the article yet, so this may be mentioned there, but I have noticed that we feel a lot fuller on whole foods (or at least less-processed foods) than we do on junk. Having the kids eat string cheese or a piece of fruit for a snack tides them over much better than a bag of chips. Plus the healthier snacks are cheaper!

  • Marie says:

    I definitely agree that a garden helps! Also if you have local farmer’s markets. The tip for the farmer’s market is to go near the end of the day when they are willing to make better deals because they don’t want to haul it all back home! Second, go in with a friend. Split the produce and the cost. I really think there is a big myth about eating healthy costs more. I’ve been couponing for awhile and while I think it used to be more true there weren’t coupons for natural or organic that is just NOT the case anymore. This website along with others certainly helps to find the more natural and organic foods and lower costs.

    • Andrea says:

      Another way to control costs at farmers market is to walk around first and quickly scan prices and plan out which booths you will buy from. I also only take a specific amount of cash in my pocket, so I can’t be tempted by expensive berries.

  • Heather says:

    Learn to cook from scratch.

    I really feel like it’s cheaper to eat healthier anyway.

    While certain items like whole wheat bread may be more $ than white, or 100% OJ more $ than punch, overall, processed stuff is pricey. A box of white rice mix loaded with sodium and junk may go on sale for a dollar, but how many ounces of rice are really in the box? Less than 1 lb. But you can buy 1 lb of brown rice for less than 1 dollar. Double the rice for less money. Now if it’s different if you used coupons to get for the mix, but I don’t think it’s worth it for your health! Or compare the weight of a bag of chips versus a bag of potatoes. Those chips are really very expensive.

    And once you get your taste buds back, real food tastes better! I find that I save plenty by buying flour, rice, legumes, milk, wheat, plain meat, etc. that there is still room in the budget to buy real OJ, plenty of produce, and spices to put on all that plain, whole food.

    • Rachel says:

      We have a rice cooker that could cook brown rice, but I am never sure of what to add to help flavor the rice (one reason I like the boxed kind).

      Anyone know of a website that could help me learn how to self flavor in the rice cooker? I tried just putting things in on my own and failed, so I need a site to help walk me through it.

      • Rachel,

        Try cooking the rice in low sodium chicken broth. Then when it is done add a pinch of salt, a little butter, and parmesan and/or romano cheese. It is simple and delicious. Not to mention it will blow away anything in a box. Sometimes I will even add some mozzerella cheese. You can really play with the flavors. Also, rice freezes beautifully. So I make the largest amount of brown rice and freeze it in 2 cup portions. Then when I warm it up I that is when I add all the flavor goodies 🙂 Hope that helps.

  • Brittany says:

    My favorite was the “use meat as a condiment” suggestion. Not sure my husband would appreciate this, since he’s a big meat eater. But I have been making half recipes, so we have less leftovers to go to waste.

  • Marie says:

    For those that love chips I recently discovered a new thing. Pampered chef has a microwavable chip maker. You can use potatoes, sweet potatoes, apples, and jacama. Slice them, season them how you want and within minutes you have awesome tasting chips. I tried sweet potatoes and my kids 41/2 yr. olds when crazy for them!!! I’ve also done them at shows and people love it. there’s no fat, no oils no preservatives etc.

  • Shannon says:

    You have some great tips here. I actually plant a garden every year and am amazed at the amount of money it has saved my family.
    Thanks for the chance to win a copy of your book!

  • Allison says:

    Tip #8 is my favorite and it’s exactly what I’m telling my friends who are interested in learning coupons all the time! If you’re saving money on household items, you can afford other things you normally wouldn’t be able to. It’s a great reason to clip those coupons 🙂

  • Bethany says:

    Alaskans have the motherload of salmon. Just sayin’!

  • Stephanie says:

    I think it’s a myth that eating healthier is more expensive. Whole food fill you up so you don’t need as much to get full and stay that way.
    We’re a family of 7 on a very tight budget. I have 3 teens. My crew can pack away the food! But I still manage to stay almost 100% away from processed foods, and we’re about 50% organic. My grocery budget is between $5-600/month.

    I still buy pizza rolls and Oreos, and the occasional bag of Doritos because my kids always have friends over, and I can’t afford to feed the neighborhood all my “good” stuff..LOL

    • My husband says that when he was in high school he would have his friends over (they were all football players, so they ate a ton!) after school. He would bake 10 pounds of potatoes, and that would be their snack, along with butter and salt.

      His mom bought potatoes in 100 pound bags to get them even cheaper, so it was a really inexpensive snack, and it filled them up, too!

  • diane says:

    Great ideas….need to print this out 🙂

  • Becky says:

    Great post! We just bought a house in the country (with 100% cash, so excited no mortgage!) and will have plenty of room for a garden! I was also looking into joining a CSA there as well.

  • Great minds think alike! My blog post this morning was on ways to save and still coupon for families that eat the whole foods lifestyle. I will check out your article! Thanks! http://www.faithfulwomanhood.com/2012/01/31-ways-real-foodies-can-save-coupon.html

  • Julie says:

    Thanks for the info, this is something I strive to do weekly! I am always trying to get back to basics and find easy doable ways to feed my family whole foods. Thanks for the post and the info~Julie

  • Jenny says:

    I love any post that helps with meal planning around a healthy menu. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sarah B says:

    I am always on the hunt for ways to serve my family of 5 healthy meals at a great price! Thanks for sharing!

  • I am very glad I saw this article on Facebook: I have been really thinking about the whole/real foods vs. processed foods issue since the beginning of the new year, but have been holding back because of finances. I see great stories being shared on my friends blogs and other blogs I read about taking a “cleanse” challenge and/or “real foods” challenge, and I have been feeling compelled to address this in my family. We don’t eat poorly by any means, however when I started coupon shopping last year, I did start compromising on allowing certain foods in our family because they were purchased so inexpensively or even for free! I think part of the result has been some weight gain on my part, and I’ve also noticed some digestion issues, which I’ve never had before! After reading this article and the helpful links included, I feel prepared with a plan as to how I can clean up our pantry and our diet without spending hundreds more on food (which is what I imagined would happen if I followed any of these plans). I know it will take planning and organization, but I know it’s time to make it happen. THANK YOU Crystal!

  • Heidi says:

    Keep the great posts coming. They inspire me to continue to save and be frugal!

  • Jennifer L says:

    We’re only a family of 2 + 1 on the way, but we really live on a budget. Thanks for the tips and recipes I’ve found on this site! I have a few slated for freezer meals to stock up before our daughter makes her arrival.

  • Monica says:

    Thanks for posting. I think this describes a lot of us Mom’s trying to work and take care of our families the best we can. I know I am always striving to do the whole foods route and occassionally make it happen.

  • Lori S says:

    Ladies…I’m into the couponing for 8 months now and am really proud of the amount of money I’ve saved the household. Next up? Garden definitely and week by week replacing the processed with the whole sounds right to me. Thanks for the encouragement.

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