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How I Feed My Family of 4 an Organic, Gluten-Free Diet for $125 Per Week

organic diet

Guest post from Anne of Anne’s Healthy Kitchen

A couple of years ago I wished my family could eat an organic diet, but I thought it would be too expensive.

Even so, I started to make changes one step at a time and I managed to replace rather costly (some of them not very healthy) food items with organic, gluten-free options, all for $125 per week.

Here is what I did… and how you can do it, too!

Breakfast

For me, breakfast foods must be “morning-rush approved” and take about 10 minutes or less to prepare.

I used to make quesadillas with wheat tortillas and cheese every single morning because it was convenient, but it wasn’t really healthy. Instead, I looked for healthier, gluten-free alternatives that the family would enjoy eating.

This is what we eat for breakfasts (we usually eat each recipe for 2 breakfasts each week:

  • oatmeal with cheese
  • brown rice with mushrooms and eggs
  • buckwheat pancakes with cheese and eggs
  • scrambled eggs with brown rice and spinach

Here is my breakfast shopping list for a week (all organic except spinach):

Oats — $0.50
Two dozen eggs — $8
Brown rice — $0.50
Spinach — $2
Cheese — $7
Mushrooms — $2.50
Buckwheat flour — $0.50

Total: $21 per week

If you’re used to eating bread with your eggs, try rice instead. Organic eggs are more expensive, but they’re also more nutritious and they often taste a lot better, too.

Lunch & dinner

We eat lots of vegetables; not all veggies and fruit are organic because it’s just not available where I live, but I buy produce as “clean” as possible.

Instead of bread and pasta, we eat rice, legumes, and rice noodles. These are great organic options and they are actually much cheaper than bread and pasta. I buy wild-caught fish and seafood as well as meat and dairy products from grass-fed animals.

Typically, I will cook the following meals:

  • legumes (with some seafood or meat) twice a week
  • chicken once a week
  • meat stews or roasts on weekends
  • fish with vegetables and/or rice three times a week
  • soup twice a week

Here is my lunch and dinner shopping list for a week:

Vegetables and fruit: $40
Fish and seafood: $30
Meat and poultry: $15
Legumes and rice: $4
Milk, butter, and cream: $10
Olive oil, vinegar, spices, coconut milk, seeds and nuts: $5

Total: $104 per week

For about $100 per week, we have improved our meals a lot. We also don’t need to go for seconds anymore, which means we don’t spend more than before. Our food is more nutritious, healthier, and definitely tastier.

I highly encourage you to go ahead and start making the changes you’d love to make to your diet. I’ll also be happy to help in the comments below if you have any question.

Anne Ricci is a multilingual mom of 2 boys and a nutritionist and weight loss coach living in Spain. Her mission with AnnesHealthyKitchen.com is to help women make healthy food choices and feel great in their body. Eat real food, get cooking confidence, and create a body you love with Anne’s 5-Step Healthy Weight Loss Checklist.

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90 Comments

  • Jamie says:

    While I am not without hope at this possibility, I see that Anne lives in Spain, where some things like organic, sustainable fish is available for less than it is here, in the US. I get salmon from Aldi, and pick up some sardines from anywhere.

    I happen to live in an area of the USA where organics are available, but are very expensive. I do not have access to a COSCO. So, I am trying my best to do what I can with what we have available.

    I used to live in Germany, near The Netherlands. Delicious cheese, organic eggs, milk, and produce were readily available and substantially lower in price than what it is here, in the USA.

    • Anne says:

      Hi Jamie, sustainable fish is definitely cheap here, but when I look at prices in the U.S. for organic grains and produce, it’s definitely cheaper there. I think it really depends on where you live.
      This article is meant to relate my own experience but also to encourage people to make changes to their diet if they want to eat more natural foods without necessarily spending more; this is something that was not really possible for me 7 years ago but that has become a reality thanks to the worlds changing plus lots of hustle from my part. I hope this inspires other people.
      I lived in Austria and went back to Germany last summer and you’re sooo right, they have amazing sustainable, natural, organic everything there! And cheaper than everywhere else.

    • Sara says:

      Ok can you please tell us where you live and where you shop. Eggs where I am are 4$ a dozen for non organic. Organic is about 6$ a dozen. Brown rice for .50c seriously..MI need to shop where you are. I read about going to a distributor for your milk directly not possible where I live non organic milk is 4.50$ a gallon can’t imagine organic costs

  • Kelly C. says:

    Thanks for sharing this Anne. Jealous we couldn’t come close to organic milk, butter and cream for $10 per week or gluten-free oats at that price! I’ve heard European countries have gluten-free options at better prices. Have you found that’s true?

    • Anne says:

      Hi Kelly C.,
      oh I could write an essay to answer your question 🙂
      First, I came here 7+ years ago and the word organic was for the dictionary only. Things started to change slowly. There is growing pressure from consumers who are “sick of getting sick”. Yet so many people don’t get it, which breaks my heart whenever I see people who have food born diseases. I talked to my doctor about my dietician training and she said studying nutrition must be so great because MDs have no nutrition knowledge.
      So things are changing here and if I could write this post today it’s because things have improved a lot. You have to hustle to find cheap natural products, and most of the food is still processed (it’s not the level it reaches in the U.S. though). Prices of organic food have improved a lot, too.
      German consumers are putting a lot of pressure on Spanish produce growers for them to stop using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. And it works.
      About gluten-free, I don’t buy foods labeled gluten-free, as you can see, but we eat lots of rice, rice noodles, vegetables, fruit, eggs, fish, some meat, oats (oats are not gluten-free but the gluten content is very low) and so we don’t really need to buy any processed gluten-free foods. Now, prices will really depend on the country. The best I’ve seen is Germany so far.

    • kim lynn says:

      I found this article to be encouraging but very unrealistic applied to current USA economy. I pay $7.oo for 1 gallon of organic milk! I have a family of 6 and it is near impossible in my area to go total organic. Grass fed beef is over $10.00 a pound! In theory it would be nice but in reality it is just not possible.

      • Shanna says:

        Sometimes if you go right to the farmer (instead of the healthfood store) they give you milk for cheaper. Mine even offered a delivery service shortly after I had my twins and was making 72 oz of formula a day. Using about 4 gallons a week.
        Also, it is an initial hunk of ching, but if you buy grass-fed in bulk (I’m talking 1/4 – 1/2 a cow) you can usually get it for very cheap. We did that last year and ended up paying @ $3.50/lb for a 1/4 of a cow. That one takes some saving up for, but it is sooo worth it.
        Some farmers offer ‘subscriptions’ to their eggs. If you commit to say, 6 dozen a month, they sell them cheaper.
        It takes some searching, but I hope that these ideas are an encouragement to you and that you are able to put some into practice for your family. 🙂

        • Jacqualine says:

          We are in WNY and we took the plunge several years ago and purchased a 1/4 cow. Even with the rising prices we are paying $3.50/lb which includes our ground beef AND all the steaks and roasts. We are waiting on our next 1/4 to be processed and had to purchase g. beef at the store and it was 3.68/pound for much lower quality. Most grocery store meat isn’t older than 18months. At about a year they start giving them substance to bulk them up so they can butcher them quicker. Cows should be closer to 3 years before being sent in.. When you buy from a farmer/local processor and get a higher quality meat for the same or lower price than the grocery store it’s better for everyone. I learned all this from our local processor who works for a large grocery chain so he knows both sides of the fence.

  • Danielle says:

    Cool article! Amazing that you are eating so well on so little, especially while living in another country! I am also an ex-pat. We try to eat pretty healthy, and I feel like we do pretty well during the day. Lots of legumes, whole grains, and fruit. My problem is the midnight snack. I am trying to eat less meat, nuts, cheese/dairy because it is so expensive where I live (of course I do eat these things in moderation). But I always end up going to my old fall back for the midnight snack: cheese toast. By that part in the day I’ve already had plenty of beans, fruit, and eggs, so I don’t feel like I need to eat any more of those. So I end up eating not so good for me cheese toast.

    • Anne says:

      Hi Danielle, oh I didn’t put my own night snack, which is dark chocolate (75%) but it’s only about $2 a week for hubbie and I, so it doesn’t really change the bill 🙂 We actually eat fish which is quite inexpensive here, and wild caught. Finding organic meat has been more of a challenge but very rewarding. If you have cheese cravings that may be your body craves a bit more fat, or maybe you can try having more food for dinner. Sometimes it’s just a craving for a “taste of home”, too!

    • Wendy says:

      I think Anne is right that you may be craving (needing) more fats. Maybe whip up some coconut milk ice cream to have on hand? Or apple slices with almond butter. Have a snack ready for the attack

  • Tiff says:

    Good read, I hope it inspires more to eat organically! It can be done 🙂 I would add though that I do feed my family organic spinach, the regular stuff is so riddled with pesticides its disgusting to think about :/ Thanks for the post!! If people only realized that organic can be a few more dollars at the register, it will ultimately lower your risks of so many health issues down the road!

    • Anne says:

      Hi Tiff, thanks! Totally true. I was raised in France on organic food and then I spent many years without eating potatoes and lettuce just because they were full of pesticides. Europe is making progress on all this, and we are gradually switching to biological pesticides, which makes a huge difference. When we moved here in Spain 7+ years ago, there were hardly any organic produce or eggs or meat or even grains. Now you can find almost everything and prices are better every year. Things are changing for the better!

      • Tiff says:

        It is exciting, I wish things were going moreso that route here in the states here consumer knowledge really is everything. Yes I am so excited because 3 years ago I never even saw organic potatoes at the stores but now I see those next to the organic sweet potatoes at the local store now I can 🙂 😀 Thanks for the response!

  • sona says:

    Breakfast is my favorite meal! I have great difficulty digesting eggs, so they are mostly off my list because of stomach distress. I love pancakes, waffles and french toast!! However, I generally eat oatmeal or quinoa with almond milk but get bored to tears. I need a couple other substantial meals that “feels” like my beloved pancakes etc. sans buckwheat 🙂 Any help out there? thank you ahead of time.

    p.s. My MD told me just this week that oatmeal also has gluten unless stated specifically “no gluten” with the exception of steel cut (I think that was the one).

    • Anne says:

      Hi Sona, oatmeal has a very low quantity of gluten compared to wheat, and many great health benefits such as slowing down glycemic response (blood sugar), provided it’s not instant oatmeal.
      When organic eggs were not available on the market I also had a hard time digesting them, especially the white. Try to buy organic eggs and eat only the yolk (that’s where all the nutrition is anyway) and see if your stomach can handle it.
      Any meal with veggies, some bacon (I’m not a fan but many people love it) or maybe a bit of turkey breast in addition to your pancakes and oatmeal should be quite filling. Hope this helps.

  • Jennifer says:

    Thank you for posting this. I have been told switching to a gluten-free diet would help with health issues but I was not sure what those meals would look like. You have laid it out very nicely. While I am in the process of changing it i have found it hard to find something everyone will eat. I have 4 children, my oldest is 9 years old and the youngest is 3 so fish is a hard food to introduce to them. Do you have any recommendations as to what fish children are more likely to eat?

    • Ann says:

      My kids will eat the milder kinds of fish like haddock or tilapia. I dip the fish in milk, then roll in breadcrumbs mixed with grated parmesan cheese. Drizzle with a little melted butter or olive oil and bake. When it’s done, it will be a little crispy on the outside, almost like a fish stick. That may be a good first step. Good luck!

    • Anne says:

      Hi Jennifer, thanks and I’m so glad you liked the article. Most people make gluten-free way too complicated but it’s not their fault, it’s the food industry that’s trying to sell their expensive (and often not very healthy) stuff.
      So I live in the country of fish (the largest fishing port in the world is Vigo in Spain) and I can help. My kids love everything but here is what works best: first, it has to be without bones so they feel safe. They love salmon and white fish fillets best, with some seasoning: a dash of olive oil on top, some parsley, some lemon juice. If the fish is new I need to do some “marketing” especially for the lil’ one: “Kids I’ve cooked delicious fish, it’s xyz and it’s soooo amazing, and it makes you stronger (I have boys) and you’ll run faster, and i’m gonna add something great on top, and you will love it. Dad loves it, too. …”
      Otherwise what works really well are fish balls: you put whatever fish in the food processor together with some seasoning, and you process it until smooth. then you add an egg white or some breadcrumbs, as you like, and you form balls with your hands, and you fry the balls in a pan with a bit of olive oil. They usually love this.
      Hope this helps.

  • Jessica says:

    Does anyone in your family have Celiac Disease?

    • Anne says:

      Hi Jessica, I do have gluten sensitivity, as I discovered a few years ago. You can read my comment to Kay below for more details. As this is partly genetic, I’m very careful with my kids.

  • Kay says:

    I wonder at “gluten-free.” There is some discussion by doctors about how healthy it is and about how few people really need this restriction. I think we need to be really careful not to promote this as good for the general population. That said, you are noble to spend so much time working for the health of your family.

    • Susan says:

      I’ve wondered about that too and did some research a while back. There are some individuals with a true physical intolerance for gluten, just like there are individuals with serious allergies to certain foods. But for most people, gluten is perfectly safe and healthy, with no need to avoid it. “Gluten-free” is most definately a “fad diet.”

      • Emily says:

        Oh man, I hate seeing the gluten-free/fad diet connection. I have celiac disease and while I agree that way more people avoid gluten than really need to, for people like me, our lives depend on it. Not just “avoiding it” but having no cross-contamination in our food whatsoever. I appreciate the availability of so many gluten free items, especially when we’re dining out. It’s everywhere now. And I hope it continues, because whether I like it or not, I will have to eat this way the rest of my life. Even when everyone else decides they don’t want to anymore.

    • Anne says:

      Hi Kay, thanks for your kind words. I have gluten sensitivity, as I discovered a few years ago, so that’s the reason why.
      What I see very often is that many people who have diseases or even simple digestive issues have an unhealthy gut; when we cut out gluten from their diet their symptoms disappear and their gut can heal.
      But you’re right, the general population doesn’t need to avoid gluten if they have a healthy digestive system.

    • KB says:

      I believe it’s worthwhile reading what Dr Perlmutter and Dr Tom O’Bryan have to say on the subject of gluten. It would seem from the latest research that gluten isn’t good for anybody, so I avoid it. Just not as strictly as I should!

  • Ann says:

    How do you handle snacks? I have two tweenagers who are always hungry (and we don’t do junk food; healthy mix of proteins, carbs and fats in all meals)

    • Anne says:

      Hi Ann, great question. Boy are they always hungry, that’s true! My 8-year old eats more than I do and he is always hungry for snacks. For the morning snack, we have a school policy so he gets one banana or one apple every day, and homemade cake on Fridays when they are allowed.
      For the afternoon snack, I give them a choice of fruit, cheese, sardines, avocado, raw honey with yogurt. When he is very hungry he eats 3 sardines with a piece of bread, then a piece of fruit. The little one loves half an avocado with some yogurt / mustard dressing. On week-ends they get homemade cakes or cookies and fruit.

  • sara says:

    Two questions.
    First are your oats gluten free? We do have celiac in our family and I have never seen gluten free oats that would be so low in price.
    Second, is there a reason you do not buy organic spinach? It is one thing we do buy organic since it is so high in pesticides.
    This is a very helpful article, and I need to rethink breakfast! I have never considered rice for breakfast before. Thanks!

    • Anne says:

      Hi Sara, thanks! Rice is delicious. Even before I discovered I had gluten sensitivity, we ate lots of rice (maybe because I spent some time in China). For breakfast, brown rice is really good.
      My oats are normal, so they are still suitable for me but not for a celiac person, great point.
      The reason I do not buy organic spinach is there aren’t any here yet (plus Madrid is in a semi-desertic area and greens are a luxury so I have to buy frozen). That said, I buy good quality ones. In Europe there are 50 shades of pesticide / chemical residues… not always easy but as I was raised on organic food, I can tell the difference. However I know that in the US spinach is on the Dirty Dozen list, so you’re right to pay attention.

  • Susan says:

    Why non-organic spinach? Just wondering. I don’t buy all organic vegetables, but spinach is one that I do.

    We eat scrambled eggs for breakfast almost every day. Cheap, easy, delicious. I usually add a mix of potatoes or rice, onion, bell peppers (any color/variety). I saute a big amount of the vegetables and just scoop some in with the eggs. Same with rice — I cook up a big pot and keep it in the freezer. It’s so fast and easy to just scoop some in with eggs or other dishes. Eggs are great with spinach and mushrooms too, but I like them fresh so I don’t pre-cook those veggies.

  • lynn m. says:

    I do rice, quinoa, or other grains into an oatmeal like dish. I add whatever in season organic fruit we have around, milk, and a bit of honey. I’m g free for gluten sensitivity and for 3 of us our groceries are 75-100 a week depending on my dinner menus. We also do lunch at home most days. Organic is so much better for you, the environment, and the workers in the fields

    • Anne says:

      Lynn you’re awesome! Rice quinoa and grains is super healthy because you get different amino-acids and vitamins. I had to take quinoa off my list because the price is sky high now in Europe ($8 per pound).
      I agree about the workers in the field. In Spain there are huge agricultural areas that were using toxic pesticides but are now adopting biological pesticides as well as fertilizers thanks to pressure from consumers. The world is changing!

  • Amber F says:

    OK. I have $200 each month for groceries and toiletries. I buy mostly ingredients, in bulk and cook from scratch. I am currently focusing on working in more fruits and veggies. But I want to move slowly towards a cleaner pantry list. Where would you start? Oh, and my budget is firm. We are hoping in another 6 months or so to up it slightly. Thanks!

    • Anne says:

      Hi Amber, I have been in your shoes in my life so here is what I would do: look at the foods that are nutrient-dense: they will give your body more nutrition, so you’ll ultimately eat less in quantity and you can then pay a little more for quality without changing your budget. This is actually what I did and I may write an article about it later on.
      I give you an example: flour based foods (pasta, cookies, bread, corn tortillas, etc.) do not give that much nutrition – what they give is energy. If you can replace them with legumes and vegetables, that’s good.
      You can make your own cream cheese, you own yogurt, and your own soft cheese if you can find quality milk from a farm. That’s what I did, and it costs me very little and those are very nutritious (plus it doesn’t take that much time).
      Eggs: organic eggs from a farm are way better than the industrial stuff. Look around for best prices; it took me time to find the one place that has the best price for those but I’ve never looked back.
      Fruit and veggies: I never buy the expensive organic ones, I just buy the organic ones that have the best prices and I cook with those. In the U.S., biggest offenders are potatoes (especially russet burbanks, don’t buy those), onions, spinach, strawberries, google Dirty Dozen or look here in the comments someone posted them. You want to replace them first. I spent years avoiding lettuce and potatoes in Europe for this reason.
      I would start there. Hope this helps.

      • Susan says:

        Anne, I live in the biggest potato producing area of the U.S. and grew up on a potato farm. Please don’t make a blanket statement to “avoid burbank russets” because they are not all created equal.

        • Anne says:

          Hi Susan, sorry about that. I grew up planting potatoes every year, too. Research and studies have shown over and over that these russets are loaded with pesticides because they absorb them very easily. Most people don’t know that and it’s good to inform them. Now I agree with you, not all russets are created equal, but we could say the same about most produce. That’s why I recommend to watch what we buy and be careful.

      • Amber F says:

        This is very helpful! I appreciate it!

  • cwaltz says:

    It’s nice that she’s eating organic. However, it says she is living in Spain. That’s quite different than living in the states. Europe has been way more cautious about genetically modified food.

    • Anne says:

      Hi cwaltz, I have lived and traveled in 40+ countries and I know and love the U.S., too! I love it when I see all the farmers’ markets in the U.S., and organic food is really more accessible most of the time.
      You’re right about Europe being a lot more cautious about GMOs. However, pesticides and chemical fertilizers are used a lot here, too.
      It’s only been changing significantly over the last decade as people are sick of being sick and they start to understand the value of organic food.

  • Kalie says:

    I love that you show eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. People seem to they can’t afford healthy eating, not realizing that many healthy options are more filling, nutritious and go further than super processed items.

  • Kim says:

    Nut butter on the pancakes would be a more heart healthy choice (instead of the cheese & eggs). American Heart Association recommends eating no more than three eggs per week. Both eggs & cheese are high cholesterol. Adding flax seed to the diet may help decrease bad cholesterol, adding both fiber & healthy omega 3’s to the diet. A high fiber diet helps decrease the risk of heart disease & colon cancer. Also, flax seeds are gluten free. It’s also a good idea to get your cholesterol checked once a year.

  • Jessica says:

    My family goes through 7 gallons of milk in a week. If I bought organic at $6-7 per gallon, that would be 1/3 of my grocery budget. It’s great if it’s affordable in your area, but it’s not in Ohio unless you have your own farm. When organic items are close in price, I’ll get them, but otherwise, I can’t afford it. I have Hashimoto’s disease and some of us with this condition also benefit from gluten-free. But we also need to avoid soy and a few other items.

    • Anne says:

      Hi Jessica, we hardly drink any milk, so I get what you say. You’re doing it right, I do the same, if I can find affordable organic produce I buy it, otherwise I don’t. The reality is that 7 years ago I couldn’t, but now things have changed and my diet is 90% organic.

    • amy says:

      I know this idea may not work for your family, but I grew up very rarely having milk in our house. I’ve carried this idea into my own family of 6. We have milk for my husband’s morning coffee and the approximately once a week bowl of cereal for the kids. I also make our own yoghurt. This allows us to use 2-3 gallons per week. We don’t drink milk just to have a glass of milk or get our daily supply of calcium. We do eat lots of greens that contain high amounts of calcium that are also easier for our bodies to absorb. We also use some nut milks for cooking/baking which tend to be higher in calcium and lower in calories. Organic milk may be more attainable if a perspective like this is practical for your family. I must admit though that even with this approach I personally don’t buy organic milk. I just wanted to offer another thought in case it was helpful.

  • Jennifer says:

    Thank you for sharing! It is always interesting to see how others try to eat healthfully and frugally. Gluten free oats can be found in the US easily. I don’t know about other sources. Even Italy, the home of delicious pasta, I found to be very aware of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. I appreciated one comment raising caution about the gluten free trend. I agree it is a trend for many people and is not always synonymous with good health just because someone doesn’t eat gluten. Celiac disease is a serious illness. However, elimination testing showed that for me gluten is an issue. I do believe a small but significant minority may have a gluten sensitivity. As someone with a chronic health issue, I didn’t want to give up bread, etc. but feel much better when I do.

    Eating whole foods is almost always more healthy than eating processed food. I try to make lean protein, fruits and vegetables (organic where possible), whole grains without gluten and healthy fats the core of what we eat. This list is a great example of how to do that on a budget. For those on the paleo route, good for you. Whole grains are something I find to be essential to my good health though. It is important for people to find their own best blend of frugal and health.

    For those who miss pancakes, I make a gf oat banana pancake mixed in the blender. It doesn’t rise as high as a wheat pancake but it is yummy with a little maple syrup! Some recipes use eggs, other use almond milk. Just google it and you can make substitutions based on what you have and can eat. I really appreciate this kind of post!

    • Anne says:

      Hi Jennifer, I love your comment. So thoughtful and so realistic.
      And it’s interesting, because I have discovered my gluten sensitivity a few years ago (I had early signs of rheumatoid arthritis) thanks to my studies and to my mom who told me there is an arthritis background in the family. And guess what? It’s an Italian family. And it’s true that the home of pasta is having a lot of issues with gluten; it’s been exploding over the last decades. In my research I have discovered that the countries who traditionally eat the most wheat have the most issues with gluten by now. While I’m not celiac, and I do eat some bread and some homemade pasta once in a while (very little), I’ll be very careful for the rest of my life.
      What I have also found out when studying traditional medicine (that’s on my own, not a part of my dietician studies), is that gluten assimilation has a lot to do with our liver and particularly our bile ducts. I won’t go into details here but I cleaned my liver to make an experiment and oh my God now I have a lot less issues with gluten. I’ll still be gluten free, but it’s very interesting. If you want some advice, feel free to contact me through my website, I’ll be glad to help you out.

    • Anne says:

      Hi Jennifer, I love your comment. So thoughtful and so realistic.
      And it’s interesting, because I have discovered my gluten sensitivity a few years ago (I had early signs of rheumatoid arthritis) thanks to my studies and to my mom who told me there is an arthritis background in the family. And guess what? It’s an Italian family. And it’s true that the home of pasta is having a lot of issues with gluten, it’s been exploding over the last decades. In my research I have discovered that the countries who traditionally eat the most wheat have the most issues with gluten by now. While I’m not celiac, and I do eat some bread and some homemade pasta once in a while (very little), I’ll be very careful for the rest of my life.
      What I have also found out when studying traditional medicine (that’s on my own, not a part of my dietician studies), is that gluten assimilation has a lot to do with our liver and particularly our bile ducts. I won’t go into details here but I cleaned my live to make an experiment and oh my God now I have a lot less issues with gluten. I’ll still be gluten free, but it’s very interesting. If you want some advice, feel free to contact me through my website, I’ll be glad to help you out.

  • Christine says:

    Great article. However, the pricing is not comparable. We’d love to go organic but it is just not even close. We are even in an area where things are readily available but a tiny organic chicken is $15 at the grocery store, farms are even more. Raw milk or organic (grass-fed) is $5-7 per gallon (we go through about 3 gallons with 6 people). We can’t even touch grass-fed cheese or butter. Coconut milk also would not be available for $5/week in the same category with the other. BUT I do love all the food suggestions and it did get me thinking about other possibilities.

  • Emily says:

    Meat AND poultry for $15/week? I don’t think so. Even stew meat is never below $3.50/lb here. Roasts are always more. There is no way.

    • I hear you Emily!

      One thing that I do with our family of our is stock up on whatever meat _is_ on sale that week: With your beef at $3.50/l example that week I would buy $15 worth (or whatever my budget is) – or approximately 4lbs – and portion it out for at least 4 meals (I’d usually do 5 from this with two portions being 1/2lb that I would use for soup) before freezing. After a few weeks you have a freezer full of good meat that you can eat before it goes on sale again 3-6 months later. Chicken and pork tend to be less expensive than beef. We can often get whole chickens for less than $2/lb and we buy and roast those. Some of it will depend on what is local to your area (seafood here costs an arm and leg).

      Just do the best you can!
      Lea

    • Anne says:

      Hi Emily, I know it sounds like a low expense and here is what we do:
      we eat meat / poultry 4 times a week. Rest of meals are either vegetarian or with fish and seafood. So we have about 1lb for 4 people * 4 times a week = 4 lb per week. I pay about $9 per kilo so that’s $4 per lb. So 4 lb are about $16.

    • Andrea says:

      Organic chicken legs are $1.99 per pound at Trader Joe’s. We eat a lot of those! Other than that, most of the “clean” meat I can get is $8 per pound or more.

  • Therese says:

    I have a salicylate sensitivity and a gluten sensitivity, dairy and sugar sensitivities. I don’t particularly care for legumes. This is a great difficulty for me trying to figure out what to eat. I’m so overwhelmed and health care professionals are not knowledgeable.

    • Anne says:

      Hi Therese, when I lived in China people did not eat any sugar, any dairy, any legumes (very low intake of soy), and very low wheat where I lived and they were doing great, food was amazing. I’m not saying you have to eat like the Chinese, but I just want to tell you to relax, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed, it is possible to eat delicious food in spite of having your sensitivities.
      Look: rice, vegetables, fruit, nuts, eggs, meat, fish, seeds, plus I also have gluten sensitivity and still eat some oats (twice a week) and still bake some foods once in a while. Plus all these foods are super healthy and delicious. Hope this helps.

      • Therese says:

        Hi Anne,

        Yes, this helps. Thank you very much! 🙂

        Therese

        • Andrea says:

          I’m sorry to hear that! What you described sounds like you could eat many of the “paleo” recipes I’ve seen, as they are gluten free, dairy free and legume free. I hope you are able to figure out some options soon!

    • Andrea says:

      Have you researched the paleo diet for recipe ideas?

      • Therese says:

        Hi Andrea,

        Unfortunately for me, the Paleo diet is what enhanced my salicylate and other sensitivities. I used to love brown rice and now I cannot even eat it. I believe the Paleo diet negatively impacted my health. Don’t get me wrong, I know people who have done very well eating Paleo and improved their health. For me it was all wrong.

        Therese

  • You can also follow “dirty dozen and clean 15” list to reduce the cost. Here is the checklist:

    Dirty dozen:
    celery
    peaches
    strawberries
    apples
    domestic blueberries
    nectarines
    sweet bell peppers
    spinach, kale and collard greens
    cherries
    potatoes
    imported grapes
    lettuce

    Clean 15:
    onions
    avocados
    sweet corn
    pineapples
    mango
    sweet peas
    asparagus
    kiwi fruit
    cabbage
    eggplant
    cantaloupe
    watermelon
    grapefruit
    sweet potatoes
    sweet onions

    • Maria says:

      This is what I follow. I try to always buy organic if it’s a dirty dozen item. In fact, I’m planting strawberries, so I can afford to eat lots of them this spring/summer given how toxic they tend to be…and how expensive organic ones are.

      Also, I’m currently doing the Engine 2, 28-day challenge via Whole Foods. Basically, it’s going vegan which saves a lot of money (of course food prices in the US are still more expensive than Spain*). I didn’t think I could do it, but so far, so good – and the food is (surprise!) really good.

      FYI, http://engine2diet.com/28-day-challenge-2015/

      *My nephew just moved back from Spain and mentioned how cheap you could eat there.

  • Mickey says:

    I loved reading all these posts. I have Two teenaged boys who are never full and three other growing children. I make all my meals with the purposeful intention of supporting a healthy gut. So much of our immune system is linked to our gut, around 70%! I encourage every mom who is striving for the better health of their family’s to consider the importance our ancestors placed on soaked whole grains and daily ingesting of fermented foods and beverages. Read Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, and Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagal. Both these authors follow the research done by Dr Weston A. Price, a dentist who studied the reasons behind the lack of dental caries in various indigenous tribes around the world. They all had some specific dietary details on common.
    I enjoy learning how other moms make it all work. Thanks for sharing!

    • Anne says:

      Hi Mickey! You’re soooooo right! Love your comment. My boys are both under 9 but I bet they’ll never be full within a few years… the big one is already eating more than I do and I already find my pans are getting smaller 🙂
      I am a big big promoter of gut health and the whole family drinks homemade fermented ginger ale and beet kvass (recipes from Sally Fallon’s book) every single day and this keeps the doc away like nothing else (sorry, apples). Plus I make real yogurt and eat cheese made with raw milk. Good bacteria are our friends. When I consult with friends with illnesses and gut issues I always prescribe ginger ale and this stuff does miracles for people it’s amazing (along with cutting out gluten of course).

  • Melissa says:

    I love seeing the price others pay for food. I live in the NJ/NY metro area and our food prices are outrageous. I buy organic or locally harvested. I feel buying a tomato /piece of chicken that was produced in my area is better for me and our environment than something with an organic label grown thousands of miles away. Hope I am right 🙂
    I generally spend $225 each week ( that is with Aldi now being in my area where I can buy grains etc cheap organic) on groceries for family of three plus eating out. ( We have every cuisine you can think of two block away) Word of caution for anyone thinking of moving to this area. LoL I do love my neighborhood wish it was as affordable as other parts of the world, but it comes with the view.

    For those who don’t have cheap options to cleaner food I would recommend taking a look at food co-ops in your area. Another thing would be to buy only seasonal fruits and veggies. They will have much more nutrients and will be easier on the budget. A great list is: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/what-fruits-and-vegetables-are-in-season

    Still working on organic meat ( organic chicken is 8.99 a pound by me— I know crazy!) so when I figure out a great answer I will let you know lol.

    • Anne says:

      Hi Melissa, oh yes, I remember when I was in NY a tomato or an apple were kind of a luxury. $225 a week is great though for NY. Keep it up!

  • Ruth says:

    For those commenters who wondered about cheaper GF oats, I buy my certified gluten free oats through my health food store in bulk. They come in 25 lb bags and the price works out to $1.63 per pound.

  • Gina says:

    I buy gluten-free oats and organic brown rice via Amazon, using FREE gift certificates I earn through Swagbucks. Crystal shares all the time about ways to earn more Swagbucks. It really helps supplement our food budget.

  • christi says:

    See now this is more fessible. I like this post a lot. What is nice is that there is the option to cut this down even farther, if you don’t do organic or if you grow your own. Great job on this one.

  • I think if most people, regardless of if they are able to purchase organic or not, could reduce their spending just by eating as simply as the author does. My guess is she does not leave much to go to waste!

  • wysteria hart says:

    I enjoyed your article about feeding your family of 4 on the cheap, but one thing caught my eye and that is how much rice is in your diet. Not sure about your part of the world, but here (Texas), there are growing concerns about the amount of inorganic arsenic found naturally in rice and rice products. Might be worth investigating if your giving your little ones that much rice. My food scientist mother (good ‘ol mom) has advised our family to limit the kids intake to no more than twice a week, wash the rice by rinsing really well before cooking, and to prepare rice with a triple amount of water-cooking until tender-then pouring off the excess water. Good luck!

    • Anne says:

      Hi Wysteria, thanks for your comment, you’re spot on. I live in Europe, as you can see, and we buy organic rice from here and also from Asia; we don’t have this issue with the soils. The arsenic concern is definitely a big one in the U.S. (Texas being affected, as you say), except for basmati rice grown in California (according to the studies). So, you’re definitely right to be cautious.

  • Melanie says:

    Pancakes and oatmeal with cheese added? I have never heard of this – don’t think I’ll try that one!

  • Melanie says:

    Thank you for this article! This is inspiring and so encouraging for those of us who desire to eat as healthy as possible while being as frugal as possible. Yay! It can be done! For those of us who are struggling in this area, I think it is important to make small manageable changes and let them add up to bigger changes. Believe me, it can happen. I really appreciate the fact that this is not preachy one-size fits all article but rather something that can give us some extra guidance as it applies to our individual situations. I have gotten some new ideas to incorporate not only from Anne but also from some of the readers. Otra vez, muchisimas gracias! Dios te bendiga!

  • Courtney says:

    I wish it was as simple as this article makes it seem. I was just diagnosed with Celiac disease and we are going gluten free as a family as a result. It is going to cost us more than we currently spend and I don’t know how we’re going to afford it. Just because food is healthy or what you should eat doesn’t make it taste good either. I had just gotten to a place where I was making homemade meals we would all eat and now I have to start over.

    • Jennifer says:

      When I had to become gluten free about 6 years ago that’s how I thought of it too. But there are so many options out there. It will just take time, trial, and error to get it figured out. trader Joes® has a ton of very affordable gluten free options. I recommend buying a flour mix like Pamelas Baking mix® that is ready otherwise you will waste a ton of money buying 20 different flours and then trying to figure out what to do with them all. Rice, potatoes and all your veggies are gluten free. You can find gluten free oats in many places also, cheapest at Trader Joes® I have found. Don’t give up or become discouraged. There is hope, it can happen, and you will get there.

  • Jen says:

    Stateside mom of 4 here, feeding a family of 6.
    I love the breakfast ideas. It never occurred to me to try oatmeal with cheese or brown rice and eggs. I’ve seen so many uses for cold rice, it would really be a good idea to just steam it in quantity and dispense it out to fill out meals. You can even make rice pudding cheaply if you have a special need to satisfy some sweet teeth.

    Here are some tips I have to throw in;
    -Meat; If you can manage to connect with someone who raises meat rabbits and will prepare and sell them to you frozen, it’s very inexpensive organic meat that is also very lean and healthy. When trying it for the first time I recommend subbing the rabbit into one of your family’s favorite chicken stews. (Rabbit and dumplings were a huge hit around here.)
    -Eggs; We use eggs as a major protein heavy lifter in our home’s food. Two eggs, one slice of bacon and coffee is a typical breakfast for adults, with oatmeal for the children. Quiche, souffle’, frittatas, omelettes and scrambled egg burritos are very popular for dinner as well as breakfast in my budget (a slice of cold quiche makes an excellent breakfast item on the go.) The best source I have found for eggs is to find a friend who keeps chickens, or you can easily find farm fresh eggs from chickens with names via craigslist farm and garden section.

    -Snack foods;
    -We buy the largest jars of pickles we can find. We eat the pickles up, then we hard boil a dozen eggs, peel, and drop them into the pickle brine and close up the jar to let the pickles steep in the brine for about 48 hours. Pickled eggs are a very convenient snack. (Discard the brine after you’ve eaten up that dozen eggs, wash the jar and lid, save it for storage for things like dry rice and pasta.)
    -A food dehydrator from goodwill goes really far. I’ll dehydrate any fresh veggies that are close to going bad. My husband loves dried cherry tomatoes, my kids love raisins made from grapes that were on the edge of freshness. There are recipes online to make your own fruit leather (rollups) that are simple. I will make jerky out of ANY meat I find for cheap, and have made delicious dried meat snacks out of tilapia fillets, boneless skinless chicken thighs, and beef skirt steak. Fish jerky! who’d have thought?

  • Annie says:

    Glad to see that people are taking note of the dirty dozen in the comments here – why not put a footnote on the article so people are given the warning to pay attention to that as there are a LOT of US readers here.

    The list is put out by Environmental Working Group and they do excellent work. here is their link for the dirty dozen:
    http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php

  • Carla says:

    Unfortuately, in the SF bay area, this budget wouldn’t even be close to realistic. I am feeding a family of four, 2 boys, 19 and 11, plus a man who works 6 days a week, 11 hours a day to be able to feed those two boys with voracious apetites. 15 bucks is enough for one night just for meat, 20 bucks if organic! I caution you on the amount of rice you are consuming, you are exposing your family to a lot of arsenic, you are well over the recommended 2 servings per week for one person. Brown rice has especially high amounts of arsenic. Also, for Celiacs, the amount of gluten in regular oats is well over the amount needed to cause villi damage, so if you have Celiac Disease or NCGS, you really should not be eating regular oats. I’ve been cooking gluten free for almost 14 years now for my Celiac family, the best way to eat gluten free that I have found is to focus on fresh veggies and natural meat. We try to limit our GF baked goods, and we do not eat rice flour products or steamed rice. We substitute quinoa and buckwheat instead. Hope this helps!

  • Missy says:

    I would love to see an example of your weekly or monthly meal plan, as in what you would eat each day.
    Thank you, Missy

  • Rachel says:

    Do you have recipes and grocery lists? I would love to see if I could feed my family what y’all eat for a week and how much it will cost us! We live in north Georgia and have a Costco nearby! I currently spend atleast $300/week on groceries! We try to eat organic as much as possible!

  • christie says:

    While this article is nice, I just don’t see it being realistic. I buy my cream direct from the farmer and its $5 a quart, there’s half the budget for milk,butter,cream. Buy my butter in 2lb roll from co-op $11.50, and low temp pasteurized milk for $12 a week. The butter will last perhaps beyond a month but the milk only a week and half and same with cream. thats just one part of this article. We live in midwest us. Also my boys are teens and have big appetites….

  • Carla says:

    We are military and currently live in Okinawa, Japan. We are on our way to Oklahoma and stayed there for a little bit to see how our budget would change when we moved.

    This budget is completely doable in both of these locales. The biggest way to save money is to decrease animal products in the diet. I am not saying to go vegan or vegetarian, but the average American consumes double the amount of animal protein than necessary on a daily basis. Using this thought process, we sat down to see how much animal protein we needed to eat and built a diet around that. We eat meat really only 1x per day and fruits and veggies the rest of the day. Some days are more and some are none at all.

    We visit local farmer’s markets when we can, chain stores often have large specials that can be great for produce. When eating fruit, we try to combine it with a protein source like cheese or nut butters (peanut, almond, etc) for a more filling snack. We do still eat bread, but use it sparingly (1-2 servings per week) as it makes us hungrier faster, and it is higher calorically. I also make all our breads, most pastas, etc from scratch which cuts cost SUBSTANTIALLY! You can make a great loaf of bread for less than 50cents instead of spending 2-4.00 at the store.

    In the spring and summer months we grow some veggies in pots on our patio (you can use seeds from your current produce) and visit farms in the fall to pick apples and such.

    It does take a little work and effort on your part, but it can be done. Yes, I work. Yes, my kids are in sports/school/other stuff. Yes, my husband works full time x 20. We are busy people have been able to fit all these things into our routine.

  • Meg says:

    I opened this article immediately…thinking how can I do this, we only have one more it can’t be much more than the 125. Just yesterday I spent 228.00 and have nothing in my house. There were organic snacks for snack time at school for my three children, 6 organic chicken breast, two packages organic mushrooms, two bunches of organic spinach, 8 sticks of organic butter at 10.29 each, a loaf of organic white bread, fresh organic peppers, slices snack packs of organic apples, 2 packages of frozen Annie’s bagel bites, 2 packages of Annie’s pizza rolls, apple gate organic chicken fingers and two packages of whole wheat organic vans waffles!!!!! 125 is absolutely impossible here…wish I was you 😉

  • Roberta says:

    This is a great list, I’m sharing it on Pinterest.

  • Tara says:

    This is good information to use as reference. I expect that the prices will vary from location to location but it’s good to see what type of meals you are feeding your family. Many people don’t a have a perspective on the costs of organic living. I would encourage people to price out similar meals in their area for comparison. Thanks for sharing!

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