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How to cut the food bill by 80 percent?  RSS feed

 
Justin Jones
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Location: Lake Arrowhead, CA
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We spent a lot of money on food last month. And the month before that. And will have spent quite a bit this month too. We are restricting our diet to organic or better so that makes the bill a lot more intimidating. But we are also picking up lots of refined and value-added foods like salsa, granola, salad mixes, yogurt, etc. I think our greatest potential for savings will come from switching over to primarily bulk, dry foods, i.e. 50 lb sacks of rice, legumes, flour, to a simpler and more staples-oriented diet. This of course will require lots more time and effort into food preparation. Also we'll likely have to cut back quite a bit on our consumption of fruit, meat, eggs and dairy.

So I guess the two questions I'm wrestling with now are:
1. Where do we go to find large sacks of cheap organic bulk dry staples? And cheap organic fruit and veggies, for that matter?
2. By doing this, can we cut down our bill to a fifth of what it was, and still have a wholesome nutritious diet? And what would that diet look like?
 
Dave Burton
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Local Harvest lists farms nearby, and you might be able to figure something out with the farmers. If they have trouble selling their food, an offer slightly lower but not so low as to be offending could work out.

Falling Fruit is a map of fruity public foraging sites- like a neighbor's tree. People go online and announce that their tree is available or open for picking; just be sure to read the instructions posted online by the hosts. Forage City carries out a similar function to Falling Fruit, just not as well known. The organic status depends on who is caring for the plants; there is not a requirement to be organic on these.
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
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Location: Oregon
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Justin Jones wrote:We spent a lot of money on food last month. And the month before that. And will have spent quite a bit this month too. We are restricting our diet to organic or better so that makes the bill a lot more intimidating. But we are also picking up lots of refined and value-added foods like salsa, granola, salad mixes, yogurt, etc. I think our greatest potential for savings will come from switching over to primarily bulk, dry foods, i.e. 50 lb sacks of rice, legumes, flour, to a simpler and more staples-oriented diet. This of course will require lots more time and effort into food preparation. Also we'll likely have to cut back quite a bit on our consumption of fruit, meat, eggs and dairy.

So I guess the two questions I'm wrestling with now are:
1. Where do we go to find large sacks of cheap organic bulk dry staples? And cheap organic fruit and veggies, for that matter?
2. By doing this, can we cut down our bill to a fifth of what it was, and still have a wholesome nutritious diet? And what would that diet look like?


Wife and 6 kids here. Our dietary constraints are gluten free (mostly wife and kids, myself to an extent) and organic/non-gmo as much as possible. We cannot afford to do this 100%, we've tried, but we do aim for local/organic/non-gmo wherever possible. Generally our budget every two weeks is $325-$375 max. This includes breakfast every morning, lunch/snacks for all of us and dinner every night. Usually on weekends we eat a bit more since everyone is home for the most part and usually doing something outdoors, which builds hunger especially in the kids. My wife normally does the shopping because she's great at finding deals and has the patience to go to sometimes 4 stores in one day.

A few things we have done to save:
No juice. We consider raw milk, almond milk, iced tea and occasionally beer/hard cider luxuries. Sometimes we'll juice as well.
Eggs from chickens.. doesn't help when it's peak Summer and most are broody though (well maybe if you consider the chicks it does). Actually bought eggs for the first time in a while this week.
Raw milk from a dairy who does drop-offs in our area.
Raise our own pigs, sell some piglets, sell/barter pork.
Raise about 30 meat chickens every year, harvest before Winter. Sell chicken (last year we bought too many chicks, and sold about 15 with 1 month left to go as "finishers").
Localharvest.org - we're busy during picking season. We budget for this. This month we will pick and can, but will have about a years worth of stored goods.
Any time we can put a seed in the ground and grow our own it's a big help. We have a lot of beets and salad still. Corn is coming. The canning material has been a great investment.
Also we find places where the restaurants shop as well for bulk items like Jetro Cash and Carry and others- just look for restaurant wholesale, many times you don't even need to have a business and membership is low/no cost. We like a few things from Costco..
Some nights are bean/rice/veggie burrito nights or even limited meat nights, not every meal has to have meat and that's concept that took me a while to adjust to, call me spoiled.
Also the LDS cannery sells in bulk, I remember getting some good deals from them when wee lived in LA, however the one in Vegas required "membership" so we couldn't buy from it. They have a directory if you search for "LDS Cannery" there's bound to be one in the vicinity.

Before we started doing these things, we could spend $900 easy per month, especially with eating out, junk food, not looking for deals etc. Oh I forgot to mention when we cook dinner we always make sure there are left overs, which is lunch the next day. The savings every month has been worth the effort, it allows for more to go into savings account to prep for a greenhouse, so we can eventually grow even more of our own food. Will have to re-evaluate and start growing a lot of our own, as well as plant tree crops as the kids get bigger. But for now, everyone eats well with this program.
 
Dan Boone
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Your "organic or better" policy is not subject to question by third parties, but when it comes to organic fruit and produce, there's basically only two choices in this world: grow/forage it yourself, or be rich. As far as fresh stuff goes, I think you may find you have to decide which of "spend less on food" or "eat only organic" is a higher priority for you. (I assume that like most people here, you're already growing as much as you can in your current circumstances and scheming to improve those circumstances as best you can.)

In my own personal calculus, wrestling with the constraints peculiar to my circumstances, I've made the calculation that eating in-season on-sale trucked-in-from-Cali-and-Mexico big-ag produce is healthier for me than doing without entirely, which is my only other realistic option. But I'm also out there with my wheelbarrow every morning before the heat builds up hauling in more dirt for my raised beds and container garden.
 
John Polk
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Look at most Asian cuisines. Instead of half a pound of meat per person, that same half pound can serve 4-5 people in dishes like a stir-fry, sweet & sour, etc. A stir-fry is best made with the veggies that are fresh today (or on sale at the market), along with whatever leftover meats are on hand. Along with a pot of rice, it can make a cheap and satisfying meal. Oh, and the leftovers can be turned into a better Chinese Fried Rice than any restaurant offers. Makes a great side dish the next day.

Likewise, a pound of meat goes a long ways in spaghetti, or other pasta dishes. Every person does not need 10-16 ounces of meat at each sitting. And it makes 'steak night' stand out even better if you aren't eating large portions of meat each night.

A beef stew will also stretch (the cheaper cuts of) meat.

To really make meats more affordable, one needs to raise their own. Cut out all of the middlemen.
 
John Polk
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Oh, the left over stir fry will make a better Chinese Fried Rice than any restaurant offers. A great side dish for the next day.

Speaking of which, meals should be made in excess if the left overs can be incorporated into side dishes for future meals. That also saves time in prep work.

 
R Scott
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Nine kids, plus the occasional guest (potentially equally large family). Several food allergies.

I get bulk bags of staples from the Amish community down the road from me, or costco/SAMs, or the Asian market when in the city.

We raise our own meat for the most part. We dry or can every piece of fruit we can get in season. We milk our own cows and goats. We make bread from scratch. We grow lots of potatoes.

What works for us:

A really good rice cooker and automatic pressure cooker. I can get beans from dry to done in just over an hour.

Breakfast is oatmeal. Always. With a little salt and little raw sugar. But toast it in the pan first before adding water and it is a whole different food. My kids beg for it, it is so good.

Learn to make soup stock with leftovers.

Learn to use the expensive stuff as the garnish.

Only "junk" food in the house is popcorn. Fifty pound bag and a whirlybird popper and a 5 gallon bucket of coconut oil. But we often have a bowl sitting there for the afternoon snack. I think it costs about a nickel a batch. That would be about five bucks for chips, ten if you wanted organic.

But bulk staples are probably twice as much as they were a few years ago. Inflation.
 
Ann Torrence
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Who is "we?" How many are you cooking for? And where did the 80% number come from? Is it even close to the number people get for food stamps?

Azure Standard has as good prices as anywhere for organic bulk items if it's not at Costco. I was not as happy with the few fresh produce items I've tried from Azure. Their powdered milk should be just fine for making yogurt, way cheaper than Organic Valley milk if you can't find local. Costco has upped their organic offerings, things like canned tomatoes are cheaper by far from them, so you have to shop.

You have an upfront investment to make in storing said bulk items in containers to keep critters out. Don't even think about trying to store open sacks.
Jocelyn did a thread not long ago on the virtues of various containers, glass and what not.

Get a rice cooker. It's the best way I've found to cook beans. Might have to run the cycle twice, but they won't dry out and are hard to overcook that way. Fresh, not ancient, dried beans like the ones Azure sells cook way faster than grocery store beans.
Cutting the prepared crap might drop 20-40% of your food bill. Dropping 80% is likely going to require raising staples (potatoes?), meat and dairy.
Apples should be coming in soon in the Bitterroots. Get a couple boxes to store for winter. If you started a bed today and covered it with 6 mil plastic per Elliot Coleman's excellent instructions for low tunnels, you can probably raise enough greens to keep from getting scurvy until the new year.
 
John Elliott
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As I said on another thread, "There is an enormous amount of waste in the way food makes its way from field to the consumer's dining table; by tapping into that waste stream, you need never buy feed for your chickens again."

That also works for human feed as well. Case in point, stores will not sell any dairy item past the date on the container. Very often you see stuff that will be out of date tomorrow marked down 50%. If you go around back the following day, you'll see the marked down 50% stuff sitting in the dumpster. People don't want to buy stuff that is going to go bad tomorrow. But that's only because they don't know what to do with it. Here are some suggestions:

Milk (whole, 2%, 1%): open the container, pour out a quarter cup and replace it with a quarter cup of buttermilk. Shake it up good and leave it at room temperature overnight and the next day you will have a full container of cultured buttermilk. This will last for weeks in the fridge. When you get down to the last glass, time to get more milk and do the process all over again.

Buttermilk: As mentioned above, buttermilk really doesn't go bad, so "sell by" dates are really make-believe. You can believe that it should be thrown out on that day, but it's not true. It may take a while to get used to drinking buttermilk instead of regular milk, but if you put it on your cereal in the morning, that's a way to ease into it, it kind of tastes like yogurt. Speaking of which.....

Yogurt: Same as buttermilk, it really does not go bad for weeks after the "sell by" date. If you want to turn milk into yogurt, you need to cook it, bring the milk up to steaming (but not boiling) keep it there for 15 minutes, and then when it cools off, pitch it with some active yogurt culture. Then keep it in a warm place overnight. Yogurt making machines aim for 100-110F as optimal for the bacteria, but I have found that the top of the food dehydrator works just as well.
Oh, and all those different flavors of yogurt? Nothing but plain yogurt plus some fruit preserves.

Cream cheese: This is for when you find heavy or light cream deeply discounted on its "sell by" date. Add some buttermilk to the container, let it sit overnight, and the next day pour it into a colander that is lined with a cloth (good use for an old pillowcase). After a few hours, some watery whey will drain out and the stuff in the cloth will have the consistency of cream cheese.

Sour cream: Half-and-half or light cream, fermented overnight with some buttermilk, but not drained as you would for cream cheese.

Cottage cheese: There are many videos on YouTube about how to prepare cottage cheese from milk by heating it up and adding lemon juice or vinegar. This process can result in a lot of leftover whey. If you are really stingy, save up a few batches of whey and hit it with the acid again, that's how they make ricotta cheese (ricotta being Italian for "re-cooked"). Otherwise whey is good for compost teas or as fertilizer.

I can't remember the last time I paid full price for dairy goods. If you start making your own from stuff the stores are eager to get rid of, you may just cut your dairy bill by 80 percent.
 
John Polk
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Toast the oatmeal first? I've never heard of doing that, but I'd bet it might be an interesting improvement.
I always toast my rice if doing a sopa seca (Mexican rice), and it adds a whole new dimension to the flavor.

 
Judith Browning
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There is a lot of great advice posted in this thread already......my husband and I manage to eat almost completely organically on a pretty small income...it can be done and buying bulk grains and beans and cooking from scratch is key.
My other thoughts had to do with the hard physical work that I see being done at the Lab and I am remembering my teenage boys working all day and being bottomless pits at meal time.......and super hungry for protein....this continues into their thirties...they both still work outside all day. I guess I think that food is the last place I would skimp in the budget....especially proteins... meat, dairy and eggs and vegetarian or vegan options. I think I would even sacrifice some in the organic department to make it happen.
I agree that cutting out packaged and pre made stuff alone could lower costs quite a bit....
 
David Livingston
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1 Cultivate your local producers become a regular, buy direct ,buy often ask about dicount for bulk .
2 Eat seasonal
3 No processed food.
4 You or your partner get a job in the local organic shop ( well it works for us )

David
 
R Scott
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John Polk wrote:Toast the oatmeal first? I've never heard of doing that, but I'd bet it might be an interesting improvement.
I always toast my rice if doing a sopa seca (Mexican rice), and it adds a whole new dimension to the flavor.



Yup. Makes it awesome. Going heavy on the oil really helps it keep you full and going longer, too. Butter adds an intense nutty flavor, coconut oil makes it lighter but still delicious.

It is just another proof point that method and care add as much to the flavor as the quality of ingredients.

One other unlikely source for cheap eating was "farmers for forty centuries" which is a journal of Asian farming practices in the early 1900's. Available on kindle or PDF online. The PDF has the pictures and is worth the download. There was lots about the costs of food and how families fed themselves with little money. Just the list of prices at the market are astounding and then you realize it is 1910 dollars.
 
Mike Cantrell
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Wife and three kids, $400/month. We're not trying as hard as we used to either, because life's piling a lot on us lately.

As others mentioned, buying staples is important. Nobody else has mentioned this yet, so I'm going to share a secret. I was going to save it and write an ebook, try to make a buck, but doesn't look like I'll get around to it, so here it is:

The Mormons.

The LDS church has all their members store up a year of food. Since they require it (maybe it's just a strong suggestion, I don't know, I'm not a member), they also facilitate it. They set up Home Storage Centers in major cities, and they sell you storage food at cost. At cost. No markup; the labor is volunteers, and they're doing it because they believe in resiliency.

When we went a few years ago, wheat was $7/25 lbs, oatmeal was around $6/25 lbs. We also bought rice, black beans, powdered milk, and sugar. I don't remember the prices of those. They were all, as you can imagine, very affordable. $300 was all I could fit in a four-door car.


Now, it's up to the manager of the local center whether they want to serve non-members or not. Some of them feel that since it's an LDS service, they want to serve LDS members only. Others feel that since the point is resiliency, having prepared neighbors is almost as important as being prepared yourself.

FWIW, in Detroit they were happy to serve me; in Kansas City they politely declined. Obviously you want to call ahead, make it perfectly clear that your not a member (assuming you're not a member). If that's ok, then that's ok. If that's not ok, that's ok too.

http://providentliving.org/self-reliance/food-storage/home-storage-center-locations?lang=eng#Eastern US
 
Judith Browning
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Now, it's up to the manager of the local center whether they want to serve non-members or not. Some of them feel that since it's an LDS service, they want to serve LDS members only. Others feel that since the point is resiliency, having prepared neighbors is almost as important as being prepared yourself.


We buy most of our organic bulk dry things through the seventh day adventist church...it is vegetarian based and run by members of that church and they welcome everyone...I know that the number participating is what keeps the prices down, even for organic foods. Country Life Natural Foods (www.clnf.org)

I think a buying club through a church might really work well. if there isn't one around maybe someone could organize one just for The Lab (a buying club not a church)......we had 'People's Food' in the early seventies in Illinois....we managed runs in a UHaul to the farmers market in chicago right along with the wholesale buyers at three in the morning for produce and stuff ....we sorted the incoming orders in a house a bunch of us lived in until the orders got too big and the trucker friends got a semi and we needed huge spaces for sorting food.
if the size was limited I think it could work on a scale that would save a lot of money and not turn into too much extra work.

Our local sourdough bakery uses organic ingredients and sells really fresh flours on the side at a good price........maybe there is a bakery near you?
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
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Location: Oregon
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John Polk wrote:Look at most Asian cuisines. Instead of half a pound of meat per person, that same half pound can serve 4-5 people in dishes like a stir-fry, sweet & sour, etc.


Oh yea, broths are amazing. They satisfy, nourish and are filling with rice, veggies, little meat
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
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John Polk wrote:Oh, the left over stir fry will make a better Chinese Fried Rice than any restaurant offers. A great side dish for the next day.

Speaking of which, meals should be made in excess if the left overs can be incorporated into side dishes for future meals. That also saves time in prep work.



mm leftover stir fry, wrapped in egg rolls and fried in coconut oil :D
 
Judith Browning
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You've probably already checked this out but just for fun, I looked at the Montana Organic Association's directory of farmers HERE........a really impressive list of grain farmers plus all kinds of organic stuff grown in the state. In Arkansas, that's how we found our organic rice source.....through this states organic farmers list.........Lone Pine let us come buy a few fifty pound bags for the same price the semi loads were paying per pound. Surely one of those farms in Montana would sell you bulk stuff at a good price right from the mill?
 
Frieda Byler
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Toasting oatmeal? What a neat idea; I can't wait to try that!

An economical and super easy breakfast that our family enjoys is cooked wheat berries. [Although not gluten free] Mix three cups water for every cup of wheat grain. Add some salt, about as much as when cooking oatmeal. Cover tightly and cook overnight at a low temperature or in a crockpot. We usually use our cob oven, after we bake pizza, bread, etc. Serve with honey, maple syrup, butter, milk, cinnamon, coconut milk, whatever suits you. Chewy and delicious. Also good with berries or other fruit, in season.

Something else that we've been learning lately is growing fruits and berries from cuttings/starts. Most of the time, people are happy to share from their berry patch or grapevines, especially if we offer them homemade bread, jelly, yogurt or something like that, and often we get growing advice to go along with it that far surpasses any mail order nursery! People can be very sentimental about their fruit trees, berry patches/stands, rhubarb, asparagus that they've grown for years, etc., and are already familiar with their growth habits, preferences, and tendencies. I'll take starts from another enthusiastic grower any day rather than order online if I have a choice. Folks used to share plants like that years ago, and I'm always happy to share as well.
 
William Bronson
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Pretty broke here, but eating like kings.
For me fat is key. Most veg actually has plenty of protein even for doing hard physical labor. To make it satisfying,add fat. I believe I could happily eat fried onions+potatoes everyday, with gusto.
The other thing is variety. A plate with beans and rice is a chore to eat compared to one with beans, rice, coleslaw, glazed carrots, carmalized onions and corn pancakes.
If you do use meats, make them count. Boiled chicken tastes great on the grill and the resulting broth makes great dumplings.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I've knocked a good chunk off of the food bill since going mostly organic from my own gardens. I have a pretty full social calendar. Most nights, I'm invited somewhere for supper. I used to pick up the meat or other things from the grocery store. Now, all of my friends know that I'm the fruit and vegetable guy. I bring only what I've grown or wild harvested. I generally leave with a doggie bag containing more than enough to sustain me until the next invite. Twice last week, I had to go to an early and a late meal, in order to maximize my caloric intake and not turn down a good time.

Who would have thought that off color humor and endless pontificating would lead to my never having to want for food ?
 
Kate Muller
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We are in the process of switching to all organic or better foods. You will trade time for the money you will save. Cooking from scratch is worth it but you will need to devote a good deal of time to it. Buying in bulk, keeping a deep pantry, preserving food, cooking from scratch, eating seasonally and getting creative will help lower the food bill.

The trick is to stop eating based on a weekly trip to the store and buying in bulk when you find a good deal. You will also need to shift your eating based on what is on hand instead of picking a recipe and getting ingredients. Take an inventory of your families favorite meals and most common dishes. The ingredients of those meals is the starting point for building a pantry. Once you know what your family eats you can find the best prices on the ingredients you can't make at home. Try using any and all of the above suggestions on making more of the processed foods your family eats.

Find a food co-op that does bulk purchasing. I belong to one that uses Associated Buyers in NH. Once a month the co-op puts together an order to be picked up a week later.

Research local PYO farms. These vary in price and growing methods but you can find farms that use organic or better practices. Picking your own (PYO) takes time but you can save a lot of money. Many charge by the pound but one farm near me opens their fields to pick your own veggies at the end of the summer and they charge by the bushel. Some farm stands have seconds the may not be visually perfect but cost less. I love finding deals on apple seconds for canning and dehydrating. This is a great time of year to stock up on butternut squash, onions, and sweet potatoes. Store them in a cool dark part of the house and eat them for months.

I make dried fruit, pie filling, jams, sauces, salsas, dehydrated veggies, soups, stews, pickles, relishes, and chilies from home grown food, PYO farms, and sale purchased goods. It is a lot of up front work but they taste so much better and save me time in my busiest part of the year.

A freezer chest is a huge asset in storing food.

If your local supermarket carries organic grass fed beef find out what days they mark down meats close to the expiration date. If your schedule allows start shopping that day and look for marked down meat. I like to pick these deals up when I can. If they are in a foam tray with plastic wrap I will take them out of the package and re-wrap in plastic wrap and put them in a freezer bag. I mark the package with the date and what it is before I put it in the freezer. Repackaging the meat dramatically reduces freezer burn.

We buy half a cow and a whole pig every year or so to save on pasture raised meats. We order ahead form local farms and we love the quality. I also get chickens form a local farm. We pay between $4 and $8 per lb for local pasture raised meat. For the beef several friends will get together and buy a cow or two and we will split it up. If you do this be prepared to spend several hours sorting out all the cuts of meat. I also can a bunch of meat to get it out of the freezer. I make stock from the bones and soon I will learn how to render lard and tallow.

Butter freezes well. I stock up on butter made from pastured cows and freeze it. It tends to be the cheapest this time of year and I put the several packages in a gallon sized freezer bag before putting them in the freezer. I also freeze fruits and veggies to be used over the winter.

Gardening is awesome and I love doing it. A large garden can produce a huge amount of food. Container gardening can save you money even if you do not have a lot of room.
I used to do a lot of container gardening when I had a tiny yard. You can grow a couple of salads worth of greens in a window box. Plant them with lettuce, spinach, or other greens. Have several planters so you can plant seeds every couple of weeks and use cut and come again varieties. Plant the seeds thicker than you would in a garden row and eat the thinnings as the plants grow. They can stretch the growing season because they are easy to move in unfavorable weather or grown under lights indoors. Add some homegrown sprouts and you have a low cost salad most of the year. If you use fresh cooking herbs growing your own is the only way to go. Most will survive in a sunny window but they love being under lights in the winter.

Most supermarkets will have sales on organic stuff. It doesn't happen as often so you want to watch the sales and stock up when you see a good deal. Knowing your prices is important to this strategy. There are couponing forums like weusecoupons.com that will scan and post sales circulars for most chain supermarkets. It is an easy way to quickly look for potential sales. Sometimes they post the sales fliers in advance so you plan a week ahead.

We have a couple of local markets that get stuff form local farms. Much of it sells out the day it arrives if it is on sale but you can often order ahead and do a bunch of batch cooking to take advantage of that sale. Take advantage of free offers to cut it the way you want it. It will save you time. I buy pastured raised organic boneless chicken thighs from a local butcher this way for my pressure canning projects.

 
Stevie Sun
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Meal plan.
Meal plan to use what you have rather than because a recipe looks good.
Make broth. Make soup.
Eat lots of veggies and not so much fruit (veggies cost less).

I am lucky enough that I have not one but two butcher shops in my local town. One of the will give bones out for soup making for free. I can use the free bones to make broth which makes the meat i do buy go further plus add nutrients not available in the meat alone.

Keeping my cooking simple also saves me money. Herbs and spices can be cheap (especially if I grow the herbs or harvest the rosemary near the office) but add taste and nutrition. I buy little vinegar because it's not cheap to buy the stuff that doesnt have a scary ingredient list and i havent gotten round to learning how to my own.

Plan your meals to take advantage of what you have in store and what's on offer in your area. Dont go chasong round shops for bargains because it often leads to buying what you dont need. I dont know about other countries but here in the UK the main supermarkets tend to list their offers online, if not their full range. This means i can compare prices without stepping food into the store. Once youre in the store they will do everything they can to get you to buy stuff, even if you only popped in for a few items. Meal planning gets away from that. I know what i need and when there's little money in the kitty i stick to my shopping list. When there's more money or a very good offer on i will stock up. I try to buy enough luxury items on offer like coffee i dont ever have to buy at full price.

Anyway, I'll stop waffling now.
 
Su Ba
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My mother and grandmother did a grand job of feeding large families on very limited money. As kids, we never felt we were eating "poor people food". But looking back, the meals were economical. Just about everything was home cooked.....no convenience foods. Meals often include small amounts of numerous various things. The variety really enriched the meals. Cheap meals (gravy sandwiches, pancakes, fried rice) were alternated with fancier meals. Cheap ingredients went into some dishes, which by the way I still like today -- chicken necks in gravy, gizzards over rice, bean & corn stew, ripple soup, fried noodles. Soups and stews were common. Cheap tougher meats were processed in the pressure cooker.

Presentation improved many a meal .... pancakes would look like Mickey Mouse. Or mom would use a few raisins to make a face on the pancake, ya know-- eyes, nose and mouth. She often would dress up a plate with a flower (rose, violet, chive, etc) or a sprig off parsley, rosemary, or spruce. All these little tricks made cheap meals quite appealing to us kids.

No edible food was ever wasted. Veggie trimmings went into the broth pot..... Onion skins, pea pods, carrot greens, potato skins, etc. Leftovers were never thrown away. They got recycled into soups, stews, sautéed and stir-fries. All bones were boiled for broth.

Fruits were added to cereal to extend them. One apple could feed 4 kids that way. We were encouraged to pick wild berries and fruits, which would be eaten with cereal, baked into muffins, or made into syrup and jam. Only a kid could have so much fun picking huckleberries and blackberries. We also collected sour cherries, black walnuts, crabapples, and both pears and apples from abandoned trees.

As kids we never got to go food shopping. Shopping was done when we were occupied elsewhere, thus we couldn't beg for junk food nor would we see what we were missing out on. Thus we didn't have strong lusting for ice cream, potato chips, store bought cookies. Out of sight, out of mind.

There are a lot of good suggestions already made by others here.
 
John Master
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I'm still blown away at how some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet can be made so cheaply if you enjoy cooking your own food and aren't chained to the modern processed food mentality. For instance i just got 8 free red snapper carcasses (i have no idea how many they would have given me but i said 8 since i had no idea how big they were). Adding 2 onions and a carrot plus 4 hrs on the stove i got 4 quarts of some of the best fish stock i have ever had. rich in iodine and a source of thyroid hormone as well as fat soluble vitamins, delicious and next to free. Plus the snapper carcasses had so much meat left on them i made a sandwich and still had a bunch left over without spending all day cleaning fish stock.

Lentils are $2 per pound, organically grown and highly nutritious.

Roe was $5 per pound ( i live in wisconsin, if i lived near the ocean i could probably find this stuff way cheaper.) Roe is highly nutritious and i would have to say at 5 per pound right about there with mcdonalds food.

Learning how to prepare and enjoy liver and onions is a must, liver is the most nutritious cut of the cow, and the cheapest since so few are demanding it right now. I can feed a family of 4 biodynamic raised liver and onions and have leftovers with expensive bacon for about $10. Also figure what we save on healthcare by not eating take out, restaurant or fast food.

Beans are cheap nutritious and organic.

whole grain sourdough natural leaven breads are also the best and can be made cheaply, a grain mill is a good investment.
 
Dan Boone
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This seems like a great thread to mention a reinforcing lesson I just had about the price differential between processed and unprocessed foods.

I was shopping at my local discount grocery and noticed that two different items crossing the scanner had the same price: $1.99. First item was a 12-ounce box of industrial-ag shredded wheat biscuits (those little spoon-sized pillow-shaped breakfast cereal items). Sole ingredient: whole grain wheat. But heavily processed: "shredded" (whatever that means), moistened, extruded, shaped, baked or dried, bunged inside a sealed plastic bag inside a colorful cardboard box.

Second item was an eight pound plastic bag of industrial-ag Russet (my least favorite, but they're cheap!) potatoes.

Twelve ounces versus eight pounds. Processed versus unprocessed. Same price. Food for thought as well as eating.
 
David Livingston
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"whole grain sourdough natural leaven breads are also the best and can be made cheaply, a grain mill is a good investment."

I would agree with the first part of your statement but here in France the second part not so much as I can get organic flour ( Whats called here 80 grade thats brown flour ) at 1.40ish a kilo and grains for about the same price plus I dont have to buy a mill

David
 
r ranson
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Great thread!


David Livingston wrote:"whole grain sourdough natural leaven breads are also the best and can be made cheaply, a grain mill is a good investment."

I would agree with the first part of your statement but here in France the second part not so much as I can get organic flour ( Whats called here 80 grade thats brown flour ) at 1.40ish a kilo and grains for about the same price plus I dont have to buy a mill

David


This brings up a good point, how you shop depends a great deal on where you live. Here, flour of the unbleached, no-additive, enriched variety, costs $14 for 10 kilo (22 lbs) on sale, but usually sells for over $16.50 at regular price. About 5 years ago, the same size sold for $3.25 on sale, and $5.50 regular. Prices here are changing rapidly, but only in one direction - up. Bleached flour is about 20% less, and whole wheat about 40% more.

Yet, I can buy the same size bag of locally grown, organic wheat berries from a mid-sized farm down the road for $11. And this is in a part of the world that is not suppose to grow grain well at all. It's inspired me to transform as much of my 'lawn' as possible into small grain patches. I would rather spend my time tending food crops than my time tending lawn.


I read a study once that talked about prices in grocery stores in the US. The conclusion was that the more affluent the neighbourhood was the cheaper the food in the grocery store. So an area with a high income bracket could be selling food as much as 40% less than low income neighbourhoods. Or to put it the other way, the stores in low income neighbourhoods sell food for as much as 40% more than the rich people pay. Makes you think, or at least I hope it does.


For health reasons, I was forced into giving up all processed foods about 10 years ago. At first it was very expensive, but once I got the hang of it, it ended up being shockingly cheaper. On processed foods (keeping in mind this is prices 10 years ago), I used to keep the meal to $4 per plate or under, usually $2 per plate for a large meal. Now, (with current day prices, and you can see from my flour example, those prices have changed drastically - garlic alone is over 15 times more expensive now), I seldom make a dinner that is over $1 per plate. This pricing assumes that I was paying farmers market prices for the stuff I grow myself, so in actuality, it's usually a great deal less.

A slow cooker is an excellent tool for transforming less tender and imperfect ingredients into delicious foods. It also makes great stock. You stuff the cooker full of food in the morning, and in the evening a delicious dinner awaits.

I use my pressure cooker for stocks, dry beans, and for fast foods. Days when I cannot plan ahead, I will make a minestrone type soup with whatever's in the house vegetables. Takes about half an hour, but boy oh boy, is it delicious. Tastes like I took five days to make it. Costs about 75 cents a bowl when it includes meat, less if it's just veggies.


Some books that inspire me:

Small-Scale Grain Raising: An Organic Guide to Growing, Processing, and Using Nutritious Whole Grains for Home Gardeners and Local Farmers, by Logsdon & O'Brien

Homegrown Whole Grains: Grow, Harvest, and Cook Wheat, Barley, Oats, Rice, Corn and More by Sara Pitzer

Permaculture in Pots

Any book about Victory Gardens or transforming useless space (like lawn) into food production.

Resilient Gardener - not just about gardening, but also about lifestyle and diet options, and how to get the most health for your dollar/euro/yen/buck

Hip Pressure Cooking by someone I forgot who. Also, google 'hip pressure cooking' for her website
 
R Scott
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R Ranson wrote:
I read a study once that talked about prices in grocery stores in the US. The conclusion was that the more affluent the neighbourhood was the cheaper the food in the grocery store. So an area with a high income bracket could be selling food as much as 40% less than low income neighbourhoods. Or to put it the other way, the stores in low income neighbourhoods sell food for as much as 40% more than the rich people pay. Makes you think, or at least I hope it does.



There are a couple reasons for that. First, the loss to theft is higher. Second, insurance and other business overhead are higher because of 1. And third, the government's WIC program is based on quantities and not total cost so a store doesn't have to compete on price but only on location.
 
David Livingston
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I agree it depends where you shop I always try to go either direct or buy local . I am unsure if you can legally add stuff to flour here in France ( and the EU)

David
 
R Scott
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David Livingston wrote:I agree it depends where you shop I always try to go either direct or buy local . I am unsure if you can legally add stuff to flour here in France ( and the EU)

David


Well, that would be good and bad. I like how you get to know when they adulterate food, but some things like flour degrades very quickly from a nutrition standpoint-much quicker than the flavor.

Anyway, back to your regular programming...

I have shifted my view on the Cost vs. Nutrition vs. Convenience for food in recent years, even significant shifts since this thread started. I am confident we can thrive on a lot fewer calories than we eat, if we get the actual nutrition our bodies are searching for AND we have the right microbiology in our gut. The problem is that takes time to correct. You see this with the usual complaints from woofers and students when they get to someplace and are STARVING and constantly grumbling about the lack of food. Paul is the a hole and going broke just because their bodies are still too full of toxic gick make that shift in diet.
 
r ranson
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R Scott, that makes a lot of sense. I never really bothered to think about why. When I read about it, I did however start paying attention to the different grocery stores. Locally, there does seem to be a vast difference between shops, with the high end neighbourhoods having fresher food at a lower price. That is until about two years ago, now the high income neighbourhood shops are just as expensive if not more than the regular people grocery store. I think things will go back the way they were soon, as we have some big name shops moving into town like Quality Foods and Whole Foods. It will be interesting to see how the prices change.



My thoughts on how to eat healthy wholesome food for very little money


In my life, there seems to be a theme with people and their food. They want to eat healthy food, that is not environmentally damaging, and that has minimal expense (time or money). Or at least, that's the kind of people I hang out with. The the thing is, they don't see how one can achieve all three goals at the same time. Cheap food is damaging to the environment and/or health. Healthy food has high expense (mostly time), and eco-friendly food is far beyond most people's financial reach.

Quite simply, in my experience, these people are wrong. They have never had the opportunity to learn how to cook responsibly. It's not easy, especially when you have to unlearn a great deal of what our culture has taught us about food, but it can be done.

For example, my breakfast today cost me 75 cents in ingredients, plus 20 minutes cooking which is about a penny locally. Let's round up the total to say the pot of food cost 80 cents, 20 minutes cooking time and 5 minutes prep. I used the most expensive organic dried chickpeas I can find. Bacon, from locally raised organic pork. Garlic here is at skyrocketing high prices as it's out of season, salt, pepper, herbs, and whole grain, organic, imported, Italian pasta. 80 cents of ingredients will do me 6 meals, or 4 meals for a regular person. But because I hate leftovers and eating the same thing twice in a row, I will probably have two meals from the pot, and the rest as a side dish. That's 12 helpings for under a dollar, or an average of 6 cents per bowlful, for my personal style of eating. Or it would be if I had actually bought all the ingredients, but as it was, I grew the herbs and garlic. The bacon, I saved considerably on because I bought it by the side of pork, butchered it, cured and smoked it.

Is it healthy? Yep.

Is it good for the environment? Yep.

Is it affordable in both time and money? Oh Yes.

I'm not saying this to brag, I just want to show people that it can be done.

Actually, I was shocked to see how cheap it was when I weighed out the ingredients. I had expected the pot of soup to be closer to $3. I didn't think of that at the time, it's just what I wanted to eat for lunch while I'm away from the house later this week. I'll probably pair it with a salad or pickled cucumbers. Or perhaps both. The vegi are from my garden, so don't cost anything money wise, but if I were to buy these greens, it would bring the cost of my lunch up to about 50 to 75 cents, maybe as high as $1.50 if I go heavy on the cheese.


It took me a decade to learn this style of eating. Sourcing the ingredients was a big problem, but it seems to be a lot easier now as even big chain grocery stores have some top quality ingredients. I'm not willing to sacrifice quality or taste, not one little bit, so I usually buy a lot of expensive ingredients. However, I've learned to make the best use of them, and use the more pricy things as flavour enhancers rather than the main part of the dish.

get a library card

It's counterproductive to spend money learning how to save money. Libraries are fantastic resources, and surprisingly relevant to the 21st Century. Not only can we borrow books, cd's, dvd's, and other physical objects, but some libraries also lend seeds, allotment beds to grow your own food, provide free classes in cooking, economy, gardening, and other household skills. If your library doesn't do these things, it should. Maybe you could help them.

Now that you have a library card, borrow The Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe. Even if the closest you've been to a garden is the grass growing between the cracks in the sidewalk, this book can make a huge difference in how you eat and where you spend your money. More than half the book is about diet and how to customize your eating and shopping to your needs.

Another good starting book is An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler

Learn to store food

Wholesome, healthy foods have a considerably shorter shelf life than highly processed food like substances. It is for this reason that I almost never buy large quantities of any food. Besides, my food whims change with the season, so stocking up on perishable things that I eat now, may just go to waste later. Wasted food is wasted money.

Knowing how to use your fridge can make a big difference to your food bill. Different compartments of the fridge have different humidity and temperature. Different foods need different humidities and temperatures ... see where I'm getting? Match the food to the part of the fridge that suits it. If your carrots decicate on the top shelf, perhaps it's time to move them to the crisper.


Understand your dietary needs and desires

If you want or need to be vegan, be vegan. If you are allergic to certain foods, then don't eat them. Pretty simple, right?

Then there are other things to consider, like how eating fat triggers your body's feeling of satiation. Fat free foods make you feel hungry even after you've had sufficient calories. Simply adding a slice of cheese to a meal can reduce the urge to snack an hour later.

Different people need to eat differently. Deppe in the Resilient Gardener talks a lot about this, for an overview on how to identify your needs, I highly recommend her book.

Observe your habits

They say the first way to change your behaviour is to be aware of it. Observe yourself. What foods do you leave on your plate at the end of the meal? What foods from the back of the fridge get tossed? What expired foods live in the back of your cupboard? It's kind of pointless to spend money on things you don't eat. So, maybe it's time to buy less of it. Even if it is 'good for you', it's not good for you if you don't eat it.


Look to history and traditional diets.

Nourishing Traditions is a good starting place for this.

Many pre-industrial diets are health and if we focus on peasant food, extremely affordable.

Japanese bento cooking is one of my favourite for summer. Even if I'm not taking a lunch with me, I still like to cook vegetables in this way because it's fast and tasty. These are the most tasty leftovers ever! Just Bento has a few recipes to get you started.

Make your own

I like organic butter. Organic butter is expensive, it starts at $8 per pound locally. One ltr of milk = about one pound of butter and 1/3 a ltr of butter milk. One liter of organic milk costs $4 to $6. It takes very little equipment, and about half an hour to churn by hand. Back when I had TV, I use to make a lot of butter, as it took about the same time to make as it did to watch The Simpsons. Nowadays, I have less time, so I make less butter. how to make butter


Fermenting your own foods is another option. Fermentation increases storage life, changes taste, and can provide some very healthy probiotics. A jar of fermented pickles, with nothing more than salt and water, costs me $7 in the store, but I can make my own for under $1 even when the cucumbers aren't in season. High season for cucumbers, the same jar of pickles would only cost me 10 cents to make.

I can make 1 gallon of soy free, organic chickpea miso paste for the same price as it would cost me to buy one cup of commercially prepared stuff. It takes most of a day to make a batch, so I usually have a miso making party. Friends gather together, we make miso, we share the cost, we split the miso when it's finished.

wild fermentation is a good introduction to making your own fermented foods at home.

Grow something

Something you like to eat that is. It's no use growing something you hate or don't know how to cook.

Deppe's book above talks a lot about how find somewhere to grow your yummies when you don't have any land.

Also worth a look is Permaculture in pots.

Eating out

Eating out was awesome. I miss it. If I could, I would still eat out at least once a month. I miss the ritual of sitting down with family and friends, enjoying the atmosphere of a restaurant, wondering what sort of food I should order. I feel eating out is an important aspect of family bonding.

That said, there are times to eat out and times to bring your own foods.

Lunch, a healthy, complete, organic lunch runs about $6 to $12 here. That's most of an hours work. So every day I don't pack my own lunch from home, I would need to work an extra 45 minutes to pay for my lunch. I can make my own lunch at home, even if it's just a sandwich or leftovers, in a little over 10 minutes. 25 minutes if I make a fancy one. A homemade lunch usually costs me less than a dollar. Of course, this is all assuming we are eating healthy, eco-friendly foods.

Portion control

This has had a huge influence on my grocery bill. Whatever I'm eating, especially if I'm snacking, I dish out half of what I think I want to eat. Even if the food comes in a one portion size, I'll put half of it in a bowl, and leave the other half for later. If I'm still hungry after I've eaten the food, I'll make a cup of tea, and if I'm still hungry by the time the tea is ready, I'll eat the rest. But nine times out of ten, I'm not hungry anymore.

Unless you are diabetic, or have other health issues, feeling hungry isn't going to kill you. It may actually do some good. Don't be afraid of feeling hungry for an hour or two. Just think on all those people in the world who don't have anything to eat. Then again, we do have things to eat, so best to limit your hunger or else people may think you have an eating disorder.


Cutting one's grocery bill by 80% seems reasonable to me. One can do it and still eat healthy, eco-friendly foods. It just needs some practice and the willingness to try new things.

If you read this far, you may have noticed I don't say anything about meal planing or stocking up. I don't do either very well, so I don't feel comfortable suggesting others do it. I know it works for many people, but not for me. I like to have very open ended options for my meals, and if I plan to eat food x on tuesday, I bet you dollars to dimes, that's the last food I will want to eat that day. But come Tuesday, I have a choice of leftover soups in the fridge, maybe some veg that could be cooked or eaten raw in a salad, bacon - because everything goes well with bacon - and lots of ingredients in the pantry if I want to make something from scratch.

 
Nicole Alderman
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R Scott wrote:
I have shifted my view on the Cost vs. Nutrition vs. Convenience for food in recent years, even significant shifts since this thread started. I am confident we can thrive on a lot fewer calories than we eat, if we get the actual nutrition our bodies are searching for AND we have the right microbiology in our gut. The problem is that takes time to correct. You see this with the usual complaints from woofers and students when they get to someplace and are STARVING and constantly grumbling about the lack of food. Paul is the a hole and going broke just because their bodies are still too full of toxic gick make that shift in diet.


This is why we incorporate a lot of affordable, healthy fat calories, like kerrygold butter, organic coconut oil coconut milk, home-made tallow, and palm oil. Those add the calories they still need. They don't have too many nutrients, but like you said, you can get those by eating .a few nutrient-dense foods and pro/prebiotic foods.

what I like to do, speaking of cheap calories, is to make an excel spread sheet of calories per dollar to find out which foods have the most cost value (not always what you'd expect!). I use that, in combination with which foods are the most nutritionally dense (potatoes and sweet potatoes score very high!) to pick which food to eat.
 
Mike Feddersen
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I like how Dale has the permie forum threads he likes best at the bottom of his posts, it's a great idea. And like the guy that asked the right question everyone here has done great with their suggestions on trimming the food bill, well done!!!

 
r ranson
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I can't seem to edit my big long post up there, but I do want to point out, I made a mistake.

1 ltr of milk does not make a pound of butter. 1 ltr of cream does. The price I gave was for organic cream.
 
John Master
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Around here the amount of real grass fed raw cream needed to make butter is more expensive than organic grass fed commercial butter that is unfortunately not raw. I thought making my own butter would be a good idea but it was a waste of time and money at the current costs. If I had the cows of course the story would be different. If I needed the Wulzen anti stiffness factor to help combat arthritis or some other condition (something that is destroyed by heating), I wouldn't mind the hassle or the extra cost to make the best butter possible.

Raw milk cheddar on the other hand is terribly expensive to buy, one of the reasons is because by law (I just love food laws) raw milk cheddar needs to be kept 60 days and invariably turned every couple days as cheese does. This makes anyone selling raw cheeses have to store and maintain 60 days worth of cheese in order to sell what they need to in a day. So say you want to make and sell 100 lbs of cheese per day, you need to accommodate and maintain 3 tons of cheese in a warehouse somewhere until it is legally allowed to sell. Food nanny-statism for germophobes at its finest.

I set up a 10 gallon stock pot found on ebay for $70, a handful of cheese making tools and supplies and made a couple batches of raw grass fed organic cheddar for much less than the cost otherwise. Aged it 2 weeks in the fridge and shredded it/froze it for easy recipe use. Its a great rainy day project as it requires you to be near the kitchen often though.
 
John Master
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David Livingston wrote:"whole grain sourdough natural leaven breads are also the best and can be made cheaply, a grain mill is a good investment."

I would agree with the first part of your statement but here in France the second part not so much as I can get organic flour ( Whats called here 80 grade thats brown flour ) at 1.40ish a kilo and grains for about the same price plus I dont have to buy a mill

David
The reason to grind your own flour has to do with freshness and eliminating rancidity. Whole grains will store for years as seed but as soon as it is ground into flour it can go rancid at room temp rather quickly. You may not even be able to notice it in the flavor but it is an issue I try to avoid when making bread from scratch. If not ground and used fresh, whole grain flours should be frozen to prevent rancidity.
 
David Livingston
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I buy " brown "flour all the year round and have never found it to be " rancid " Its a dry product
I would buy it in 25kg bags but I dont want the storage hassle.
David
 
r ranson
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Flour, especially in North America, is one thing where the labeling is deliberately deceptive. I'll give you some examples of what it's like here in Canada. Labeling laws are different in the EU, but this should give you a general feel for how marketing has trained us to accept new methods of processing grains as if they were traditional.

For a good introduction, Michael Pollan talks about this at some length in one of his books - just can't remember which one right now.

White flour
Use to be - wheat grinded between two stones, then sifted, sifted, and sifted again until all the bran and germ are removed.
Now - the grain is separated into it's different parts, the bran which makes the flour brown and the germ which contains a high amount of oils, are both removed. Only the white part of the flour remains, which is then ground into flour before being combined with vitamins and other additives that the government deems necessary to ward off nutritional diseases.

A bag of unbleached, unenriched, no additive flour I found in my cupboard, has no less than 7 ingredients, only one of them from wheat. These are strange times, when even ingredients, must have ingredients lists.

Interesting thought for those with dietary sensitivities, for the longest while the doctors thought I was allergic/sensitive to wheat and gluten, it turned out it was the additives in the flour that caused major digestive distress.

Whole Wheat Flour
Use to be - take the wheat, grind it between two stones, then use it. This does not keep well, as the oils in the germ spoil quickly, and is best if used within a 2 or 3 weeks, may keep upto 3 months before the rancidity becomes noticeable, if stored correctly.
Now - The grain is first separated into it's different parts, bran, germ and endosperm using a roller mill. These parts are then processed separately. The germ is treated so that the oils won't spoil and go rancid. The parts are ground separately, then they are recombined but not in the same ratio as they were extracted. Whereas traditional whole wheat flour had a shelflife of weeks, this has a shelf life of about a year before it starts to be noticeably funky tasting.


The germ, being perhaps the most nutritional part of the grain, is the most problematic as it reduces shelf life. Some countries, like Canada do not require that all the germ be returned to the whole wheat flour. From wiki

... in Canada, "whole wheat flour" may have up to 5 percent of the kernel removed and is thus not necessarily whole grain. Thus, "whole wheat" flour commonly has 70% of the germ removed to prevent rancidity, and as such cannot be labeled "whole grain." Only "whole grain whole wheat flour" [in Canada] must contain the whole grain.


Whole Grain flour is still a fuzzy area. I haven't seen if it's a legal term yet, but I have seen suggestions that this can be from recombined roller mill flour, so long as the ratios of germ, bran and white flour are the same as in the wheat. I have also seen no mention as to how these individual parts have been processed prior to being recombined.


As with all food shopping, it's a matter of trust. Even when flour was the same price or cheaper than wheat corn (corn, as in the English word for kernels of grain, not referring to maize in this example) I still milled my own.


While I was looking for links for this post, I came across this article which is a question and answer with Michael Pollan. One question jumped out, and I thought you might find it interesting.

Our family is on a budget and can’t afford to eat all organic. Where should we direct our money to get the most benefit? Organic produce? Meats? Dairy?

This was the most popular question by far, and it’s a good one: some organic products offer the consumer more value than others, so if you’re on a budget, it’s important to buy organic strategically. Here are a few quick rules of thumb:

If you have young kids, it’s worth paying the organic premium on whatever they eat or drink the most of organically. So if they drink lots of apple juice — which they shouldn’t, by the way — or milk, then spring for it there.

On produce, some items, when grown conventionally, have more pesticide residue than others, so when buying these, it pays to buy organic. According to the Environmental Working Group, the “dirty dozen” most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables are: apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, imported nectarines, imported grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce and kale/collars. The “clean 15″ are onions, sweet corn, pineapples, avocado, asparagus, sweet peas, mangoes, eggplant, cantaloupe, kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit and mushrooms. So if you’ve only got a little money to devote to organic, buy the organic apples and skip the organic onions. But do keep in mind that it’s important to eat fruits and vegetables regardless of how they’re grown.

In meat, organic is very expensive, and doesn’t necessary ensure that the animals didn’t live on feedlot. I look for grass fed for beef instead, milk and butter, too.
 
Mat Ar
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Location: Texas USA
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In order for me to save money while keeping myself fed and healthy I had to re-think re-design and re-build my entire diet. Firstly I hit as many dietary requirement sites/workout sites and a few body building sites. my Over all goal was to lose a little weight, trim the cost on my wallet, lose my dependency on Walmart and other Huge food chains(boy, I just know I'm going to catch hell for being dependent on walmart). So after about 3 days of good solid research on dietary plans I came up with a pretty decent calculation the basics are "Input vs. Output"

Once I had a caloric count/ nutritional value set I tailored my diet and built up a set of recipes. After all this I was able to look up what I needed to buy in bulk and what needed to be bought fresh. anything and everything I could grow/raise/forage/hunt/catch/trap/ that required little to no care on my part I would see that it was done. once I worked enough homegrown veggies into the mix I had reduced my overall food bill from $200/month to $75/month. wishing and knowing that I could do more to cut down it further I tired to raise some fish(they all died) I learned from that horrible failure that aquaponics is not as easy as people make it seem(or I'm no where near as smart as I think I am LOL) In either case I started to post my food bill on facebook and a few close friends ask if I could barter some Pinto beans, mint tea, carrots, and Potatoes(I had very successfully grown a surplus of these that season) I worked out what I could spare and what I still needed. I sent the list to my friends and a few of them had some things on the list. one helped me setup a new aquaponics system that "works"(his word not mine) Eventually I was able to drop to 57.20/month(at the lowest but the average hovers at $60) while providing my kitchen with rice, beans, wine, bread, spices(OMG the spices) Cheese, veggies, beef, fish, mushrooms, cakes, pies, candies to name a few things.

Disclaimer: I am single and live alone so the cost is what I calculated for myself, you also need to take into account that I am a pretty picky eater. I personally do not like any condiments(ketchup, mayo, mustard) they all gross me out with the smell, taste, and look. I do not really like the more expensive food stuffs. I take free food when it is offered to me, some church groups have left overs after giving out food.(sometimes they are given things like a 5 gallon bucket of cinnamon, in these cases they usually just dump them. Thats when they offer it to me ) My Grandfather has a saying!(Behind charity lies gold in unending abundance) I now host a monthly "food exchange party" I think the title is self explanatory

Good luck with the bill reduction!
 
Won't you please? Please won't you be my neighbor? - Fred Rogers. Tiny ad:
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https://permies.com/t/72418/digital-market/digital-market/Day-Green-Smoothie-Challenge-eBook
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