For the last several weeks we have been breaking down how to Transition to Real Food in 8 Easy Steps. We have reached step 8, Cut out the Junk! Truthfully, this could be much higher on the list.
By cutting out the ‘junk’ currently included in your food purchases you can not only improve your health but also free up a portion of your budget to afford higher quality ingredients.
One of the main objections I hear when people talk about switching to a real/whole/traditional foods diet is the cost involved. While it is true that things like grass-fed beef, real milk and healthy traditional fats do cost more than their conventional counterparts, we found that we could slowly transition to these things without increasing our food budget. Yep, that’s correct. For the first 2 years of transitioning to real food our budget stayed exactly the same as it had been on our Standard American Diet.
We used a few different methods to be able to do this but one of the main things was cutting out the junk. We took a hard look at the things we were purchasing and what we could replace with higher quality ingredients.
In this series, we have already talked about one ‘junk’ item we eliminated– cereal. Even with coupons cereal is a pricey item that can easily be replaced with lower priced, higher quality ingredients.
Other things that were either eliminated or drastically reduced were potato chips, cookies, ice cream, bakery goods, etc. I’m not saying we never eat these things but they are not a very common item we purchase.
We also decided to eliminate one meal out per month. This was enough money to afford a CSA to a local grass-fed beef ranch.
Just these few changes allowed us to add in some higher quality items. While this did not get us completely to our real food goal (we needed to explore some black-belt saving ideas) it helped considerably.
We also discovered that by eliminating the junk and replacing it with higher quality items we were feeling better. Your results may vary but we found that a few ailments we had were alleviated just by these few changes. And I noticed my pants started to fit a little looser which was a super nice benefit! Woot-woot.
I encourage you to take a look at your current food buying habits. Think about what items you could buy less often. Could you dine out less? Could you make simple treats at home instead of buying them prepackaged? Little things really can add up.
If you’ve already looked at your food purchases and can find no place to cut out the junk, it may be time for some ‘black belt’ ideas. Like the winter we ate beans 3 or 4 times a week to stretch our grass-fed meat. Or how we help reduce our food waste using formulas instead of recipes and often enjoy a meal for ‘free’ each week. With a little creativity and desire you can transition to real food without blowing your budget or becoming too overwhelmed! I hope you’ll visit me at Real Food for Less Money. For the next several weeks I’m sharing our actual food budget, how and where we shop plus the amount of time we spend in the kitchen each day preparing our meals (and cleaning up!). I call this series Money v. Time, it has been quite eye-opening so far.
What are your favorite tips for stretching your food dollars?