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Families practicing: Alternative & Natural Health; Attachment and Mindful Parent

I am wondering how everyone saves money on organic food? Money is tight for us at the moment. We are trying to pay off credit cards and become debt free so we are really piching pennies until we can get ths done. My problem is trying to save the most I can on food. I can do this on conventional, but of coarse I don't want to compromise. I shop the farmers markets, and I don't buy any pre-packaged food I make everything from scratch. I try to clip coupons. Does anyone have tips as to what they do to make it easier?


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Mostly, I focus on organic fats and meats. And choose local conventional for the vitamin and mineral benefit of eating food ripened on the vine. We use that vegetable wash, Veggie Wash. http://www.veggie-wash.com/ Also, we use those "green bags" for storing produce. That increases the duration they are fresh by weeks and weeks! So, buying on sale, or stocking up at the farmer's market is possible. http://www.reusablebags.com/store/evertfresh-green-bags-pack-medium...

Organic produce is apparently fungicided and irradiated even nowadays. And picked when unripe.

Heavy metals and pesticides are stored in the fats of animals. So, healthy fats are my priority. Also, check the "Pesticides in Produce". There are a few that I try to never buy conventional, due to the high pesticide loads.

We try to always buy organic meats and fat products because pesticides accumulate in fats, and as you go up the food chain.

..Produce with Highest Levels of Pesticide Residue.....

Bell Peppers
Cherries (US)
Cantaloupe (Mexico)
Green Beans
Grapes (Chile)
Winter Squash (US)
Potatoes (US)

Substitutions (approx. nutritional equivalent)

Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwi, orange, cantaloupe

Green peas, broccoli, romaine lettuce
Carrots, broccoli, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, asparagrus, romaine lettuce
Broccoli, brussels sprouts, asparagrus, romaine lettuce
Grapefruit, blueberries, raspberries, cantaloupe, oranges
Nectarines, canned peaches, cantaloupe (US), tangerine, grapefruit, watermelon
Watermelon, cantaloupe (US)

Carrots, broccoli, radishes, romaine lettuce

Oranges, nectarines, bananas, kiwis, watermelon, tangerines, mangoes
Nectarines, cantaloupe (US), watermelon, tangerines, grapefruit
Green peas, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, asparagrus
Grapes (US), in season

Carrots, romaine lettuce, broccoli, radishes

Canned pears, canned peaches, oranges, nectarines
Winter squash (Honduras, Mexico), sweet potatoes (US)
Sweet potatoes (US), carrots, winter squash (Honduras, Mexico)

... .....Produce with Lowest Levels of Pesticide Residue.....

Avocados - vitamins A, C, folic acid
Sweet Corn (frozen)- carotenoids, folic acid
Onions - trace vitamins, carotenoids
Cabbage - vitamin C, potassium
Cauliflower - vitamin C, potassium
Brussels Sprouts - folic acid, vitamins A, C
Eggplant - vitamins A, C, folic acid
Mangoes- beta carotene, vitamin C
Grapes (US, Mexico) - vitamin C
Bananas - potassium, vitamin C
Plums - vitamin C
Asparagrus - folic acid, vitamins A, C
Watermelon - potassium, vitamins A, C
Broccoli - potassium, vitamins A, C
Pineapple - vitamin C, potassium, bromelain
Sweet Peas (frozen) - beta carotene, niacin

I'm just going to list all our sources for food. Hope its helpful and not too boring.

For us, having a chest freezer is key to saving on organic foods.

We buy organic beef from a homeschool mom whose sister raises cattle in Kentucky. We usually get 1/8 cow for $175 and it lasts us over 6 months for a family of 6 (including one infant not eating). We get pork from Grateful Growers at the Matthews Farmer's market. It's not cheap, but we don't eat pork often so it's a nice treat to have when we do. I still have not figured out a reasonably priced organic chicken source so we just buy frozen no hormone or antibiotic breasts at Trader Joe's or Costco. I do splurge on a good organic whole chicken if they go on sale at Harris Teeter. That lasts 2-3 meals since I will make a soup from it too. I get nitrate-free, hormone & antibiotic free turkey bologna and hot dogs at Trader Joe's, but my kids don't eat a lot of processed meat in general.

This year we are freezing a lot of the great organic produce we get at the farmers markets. I have a huge bag of frozen sliced peppers that we can use on homemade pizzas, fajitas or in sauces and soups. I also bought a bunch of blemished tomatoes at the market for $1/lb and used them to make tomato sauce that I froze and also just blanched and peeled them to freeze whole. If you freeze the items separately on a baking sheet first you can then put them all in a container or bag together and they won't stick to each other. I bought 2 pecks of peaches last month too and froze them sliced, whole and in homemade syrup (honey and organic sugar) for pies or dessert toppings. I even made peach freezer jam and muscadine jelly for the first time and now we won't have to buy jam or jelly for a few months. Muscadines are plentiful right now and are pretty easy to make jelly out of, you don't even need pectin. Tastes just like store-bought grape jelly. If you do the freezer type you don't even have to learn how to can! We also get produce delivery from Absolute Organics which fills in our selection. I get frozen organic berries from either Trader Joe's or Costco. I happen to have a toddler that lives for frozen blueberries and since those are a high pesticide risk I have to get organic. I also keep bags of frozen corn and peas (non-organic, since low risk) in my freezer, they are great to add to one-pot dishes.

We shop at Trader Joes for organic pantry items and also for no-hormone or antibiotic cheese. Trader Joe's even takes coupons so if you like some of the national brand stuff they carry (Kashi, etc.) you can get a really good deal on it. We buy flour by the 50 lb bag (get 10% off) at Home Economist and make most of our own baked goods. Often they don't have a full bag so I get whatever they have maybe 20 or 30 lbs and they still give the 10% discount. I buy "backup" bread at Big Lots believe it or not. They have a bakery thrift rack that usually has Nature's Own organic loaves for $1.50 or so. I freeze those too. I've also found Muir Glen organic ketchup, organic canned tomatoes, Annies' Bunny cereals and Santa Cruz organic applesauce at Big Lots. I check in there about once a month to see if there are any organic surprises.

I do keep my eye on the Harris Teeter flyer and get the specials in my email each week. If an organic product I like goes on sale there, I'll stock up. We get our organic milk at HT too since they sell pasteurized (not ultra) and their rating for milk is better than Trader Joe's. I wish we could do raw, but SC is too much of a hike for us.

Cara mentioned buying the organic milk at the HT-- we were doing that (actually at Walmart since their prices were a bit lower for milk), but just switched to the soy milk. It is about $1 less and doesn't have any hormones added to it...
We too have been on an insanely tight budget. But I am determined to put good things in my family. I have learned to use coupons to my advantage. They don't work for a lot of things for us b/c most of them are for convenience food. However, you can get great deals on toilet paper, paper towels, and storage containers (which are some of the higher items). Also, I have replaced pretty much every house hold cleaner I have with vinegar and baking soda. Just doing those things frees up a good bit in your grocery budget so you can buy some of the higher things. We were using Absolute Organics but have recently cancelled. I buy organic or natural meats (Mondays is when HT marks things down to clear out) on sales. And HT is pretty good about running some sort of wild caught fish/shellfish.

We get eggs from a local farm and I try to stock up on staple things like beans, flour, grains, when they are on sale.
Also, check at "Nourishing The Carolinas". http://www.nourishingthecarolinas.com/community/

They have a very busy food co-op. I think they order every few weeks. Most of the mamas are located down toward Rock Hill, I believe. But, they order a lot of frozen organic fruits and vegetables, in bulk.

Apparently, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are more "ripe" than "fresh" produce which must be transported and have a 'shelf life'. They are even engineering foods to have longer shelf life!! But, shelf life is less of an issue when canning immediately, and overripe produce can be used.

However, I've also read that frozen produce is irradiated too. And for longer with higher radiation!

So, I figure, the local farmer isn't irradiating his produce and you get more nutrients in vine ripened foods...

Also, check out "Slow Food Charlotte". They have a comprehensive list of local farmers and produce, meats, dairy, etc. http://slowfoodcharlotte.org/

I tryed yet again to get meat from the woman who posts it, but I can't seem to get her to respond. Ieven e-mailed her my phone # and no responce. I get AO delivered every other week but we eat SOOO much produce it doesn't last long. I have a great artical in a magazine that has the organic/non-organic list and it explains the reasons why. I didn't realize that a lot of the veges don't respond to pesticides so they don't use them. Well I should see if I can find it on line and post it. I've cut back on my paper towel use, haven't bought any in months. I make a lot of my cleaners also. I love to hear peoples tips on savings so keep them coming. O-ya I shop mostly at HT and I like the tip about the meats. Thanks Meredeth. I have found that Walmart has the best prices on certain brands like organic cereal and baking stuff.

Thanks everyone!
I can not believe she didn't reply to you. Again! That is amazing!

Several of my friends are using cloth napkins, instead of paper.

Also, Costco has a lot of organic brands and incredible savings. Have you been to Trader Joe's when you come down this way? Many of their products are 1/3 the price of EarthFare. And we are using whole grains for batter and baking. That is much cheaper and more nutritious. But, I need to buy a grain mill, now...

I'm interested in the produce list. Thanks, if you find it.

Home Economist has reasonable prices on nuts and dried fruit for cereal. There is one on South Blvd and one on Independence. Anna has a recipe for making granola. I'll ask her about posting it.

I had the same problem with the beef lady the first time I tried to order from her. Her email is weird (maybe a spam filter?) and she doesn't usually get my emails. I called her and she had no idea I had been emailing her. She is very nice so I don't think she is trying to ignore us. :) I think emailing her through Explore and Discover works, but then you have to email the whole group and it's a personal email.

We also have switched to cloth napkins and dishtowels and only have paper towels for emergency use. That has been a great way to cut costs and waste. We use Bronner's soap (usually peppermint) diluted in foam dispensers for both dishes and hands. It goes a long way if you dilute it 1 part to 5 or 6 parts water. I found a cheaper brand of castille soap, Dr. Woods, at Home Economist and it worked the same way.

I make my own baby wipes out of old receiving blankets (we had a ton). I just cut them into little squares. I use an old pop-up wipe container. I add a few drops of lavender essential oil and a dash of the foam soap and fill it halfway with water. The wipes soak up the water and stay moist (moister than regular wipes) if I keep the lid closed. I even put them in tri-folded with each wipe overlapping the next so they pop-up through the top. My husband loves these wipes better than disposables, it's like using a lavender-smelling washcloth every time. They just get tossed in the wash with the cloth diapers.

I use the Nature Babycare wipes and disposable diapers when we are out of the house, for surprise changes. You can get them at Target. They are chlorine-free, in eco-friendly packaging and technically biodegradable although I doubt it when in a garbage bag. We mainly use cloth diapers and wipes so it takes me months to go through one package of each of these.

Oh, a great place to get coupons is Ebay. You can get sets of 15 or 20 of one coupon. Great if a coupon comes out for a product you use all the time. You do have to bid on the set, but usually they go for approx. $1-2 plus 75 cents-$1 postage. I don't get the paper, so this is a great way for me to get coupons. I use internet printable coupons too.

We tried soymilk but my kids won't drink it. They love almond milk, sweetened or chocolate flavored, of course. But it is really high in sugar. So we have a compromise. They drink a glass that is half chocolate almond milk and half organic cow milk.

Jennifer, with the three boys, has a connection for purchasing the specific coupons for things you use. I think it is only pennies per coupon, or something unbelievably cheap. I'll ask her to post about it.

Also, there is that Frugal Charlotte yahoogroup. They probably have info in their files about savings around town. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/charlottefrugals/

>>>Anna has a recipe for making granola.

Below is a granola bar recipe that we love. We also have a granola cereal. If you need that let me know.

Here's where I get my napkins: http://www.thecleanteam.com/catalog_f.cfm
Type "cleaning cloths" into the search and they will come up. They are awesome!!!

Granola Bars
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2005
Show: Good Eats

Episode: Power Trip

8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, approximately 2 cups
1 1/2 ounces raw sunflower seeds, approximately 1/2 cup
3 ounces sliced almonds, approximately 1 cup
1 1/2 ounces wheat germ, approximately 1/2 cup
6 ounces honey, approximately 1/2 cup
1 3/4 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup packed
1-ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit, any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries

Butter a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.

Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

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