Tips + Tricks For Eating Organic (that won't cost the earth)
Even the most cautious of foodies can find that eating 100% organic can slip a little when on a budget. But never fear, there are more than a few things we can do to still maximise flavour, reduce toxic load, increase nutrient density and look after our health without burning a whole in the hip pocket.
1. Planning and preparation needs to have a place (but not all the time!)
As a nation, Australia is pretty good at throwing out food - that is actually throwing money in the bin. Working out your households weekly movements and planning accordingly in a great way to make sure you don’t end up with a glut in the fridge.
Sometimes being too prepared means more wasted food, a surprisingly cool day makes you crave soup rather than Vietnamese rice rolls. Or a late call from a friend means you are eating out, not getting to that food you have prepared.
…and this classic reason that a lot of people talk to me about…the one that you simply don’t feel like eating the food you have prepared in advance. It is as good an excuse as any - and one we need to listen to if we don't want to be throwing out our hard earned dollars!
I find that having freezer meals/staples like stock, stews and cooked grains on hand is invaluable – and my pantry is filled with home made spice mixes, dukkah and wakame gomasio. This means I can pull together something delicious + nutritious in a jiffy - even eggs and kale in pan gets a scattering of dukkah and dollop of beet relish.
Curry pastes, preserved lemons and pestos in the fridge are actually ways to reduce the planning and preparation whilst satisfying the human need for variety and things that are new (and that partner who doesn’t ‘do’ leftovers).
2. Reduce portions of meat and learn to use cheaper cuts of meat deliciously.
Squeezing more out of your food budget also means taking a look at how much meat you are eating. I used to eat animal protein a few times a day, now it would be a few times a week - and I never thought I would say that. Experimenting with how many meals I could make from one whole chicken, and trying cuts like lamb necks and ox tails helped me reduce how much I would spend on meat - and deciding to try a meat free day or two in your week can ease up the pressure on the budget.
Try using meat as an accent not as the only hero of the dinner - think pulled pork on top of a massive kale slaw and cinnamon roasted sweet potato. I also find if I use longer cooking times to intensify flavour – the meatiness in a recent batch of slow cooked lamb necks gave a meaty flavour to all the vege in there too... so I don't hold back on the tomatoes, zuchs and pumpkins!
3. Choose your grains/seeds wisely, embrace thee ugly ducklings.
Organic pepitas and quinoa are pricey! I opt for sunflower seeds and for buckwheat/brown rice – try some lentils when the budget is tight. @@A sunflower seed pesto or buckwheat chia bread will rock your world! Get savvy and get exploring! @@ Maybe you don’t need to make another cashew cheese cake, but a spelt loaf with chia eggs or a poached orange and almond cake will satisfy the sweet tooth without the expense.
4. Using the clean fifteen, growing your own and buying the rest!
When it comes to growing your own have a think about what you are going to use, the effort required and what your family actually eats. There is nothing more un-motivating than not using the food that you have grown….everyone immediately thinks of pulling some organic carrots right out of the ground, but in actual fact, organic juicing carrots are around $3 per kilo organic…that's a lot of carrots for $3...there is no way in my mind that I can justify the time and effort to grow my own organic carrots (kudos to you if you do grow them!).
But when it comes to growing of culinary herbs and I am more than willing to give it a go. Why?
The amount of packaging on store-bough herbs is woeful - and the cost isn't pretty either.
Take some mint, basil, parsley and coriander and we buy all 4….that is 4 rubber bands, 4 plastic sleeves, 4 tags, 1 plastic bag to take it home and a thermal receipt (and then you don’t use all of it anyway, store it incorrectly and have nothing to show for it - except maybe some decomposed herb juice in the bottom of the draw). How close to the mark am I?
Potting some seedlings is a great idea that adds greenery to your home - and cuts down wastage. When we buy herbs at $3 a bunch the cost per gram of the herbs we actually use is crazy expensive.
Find a farmers market/CSA, some great template recipes and buy in bulk! As you can see we are only scratching the surface of how you can change your food supply without burning a hole in your hip pocket.
I’d love for you to share you fave tips in the comments below! Ax