Buying organics on a fixed income. And how to get back on track financially.

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How does a family go on a plant-based diet and make the commitment to all organic food while on a single income and perhaps food stamps?

If you love that junk food, snack food, fast food, and all the white stuff (sugar, flour) then it may be a struggle at first.  But if you like to cook and try out new recipes, if you can get really into making everything from scratch and you are a food visionary…you are going to have fun and do great.

We are almost completely plant-based (we have hens and eat our own eggs).  I have made the huge commitment to go all organic.  It has taken YEARS for me to make this commitment for reasons of budget and organic food prices along with the truth that many organic food sections in many stores look wilty and sad and don’t appeal to me.

Then I found Briar Patch Food Coop and the produce was fresh, succulent, brightly colored and looked amazing.  We then went vegan with the exception of our own eggs.  I already cook much of our food from scratch so this wasn’t a leap.  The problem now came from my love of sweets and snacks.  I also transitioned from real dairy and meat to alternative, and very processed, faux meat and dairy.

I found that the processed, alternative foods along with the “healthy” junk food was costing a pretty penny.

Then I, the Queen of thrift and frugal, the Queen of penny-pinching, had her accounts overdrawn and received a reprimand from the King.  Ah well.  Nothing new (the reprimand that is, the overdrawn account was irritating).  But I was also not losing any weight on this new lifestyle.  That wasn’t going to cut it with me.

I spent a weekend absorbed in YouTube vlogs on vegan life, budgeting at the stores, eating to lose weight successfully.  I took notes, ordered books from the library, and assessed our cupboards.

I also started vlogging on my own YouTube channel.  Why not?  I have lots of fun things to share.  Especially my weight loss experience and going all organic on a small single income, being vegan (I don’t eat the eggs), and getting my budget in order.

I had a small job recently being Grannies caregiver and there was that extra income that helped tremendously.  It is gone now and we must go back to budgeting with the single income.  I do make decent money on my royalties but I have that automatically put in a bank far away and untouchable.

I have to trick myself to save money and I use other little tricks to get on track.  One is to budget the grocery allotment to be the same a family of four would get on food stamps.  That would be $600 in California.  The other trick is to just not spend outside bills, grocery, and gas.  We all know the popular zero spending trick.

Ok, so I’m all organic, plant-based, on a food stamp amount budget.  Can we really enjoy this?

Yes!  However, if you want to eat well and have good meals and snacks you will have to make everything, absolutely everything from scratch.

I will attach both my vlogs on here of my first two shopping trips to the Briar Patch Coop.  I spent around $130 to $145 each week.  I only shop there and I do not make trips in between.  That is the other trick.  I buy as much as I can in bulk.  When I purchase in bulk at this store I get it at wholesale and an additional 10% off (because I’m a member).  It is a huge saving.  If you can join a Coop and buy in bulk you will be amazed.

We eat with the seasons and I only buy produce (fruit and veggie in season), brown rice, quinoa, lentils, legumes, potatoes, white and wheat flour (we have no gluten issues), oats, nuts, raisins, coffee, and plant-based milk and creamers.  Sometimes seasoning, salt, pepper, oil, molasses. Sometimes I buy something like avocados off season.  Only human you know.

Now, this is ALL I’m buying as of today.  I’m getting really hardcore.  I will not only make my own loaves of bread, tortillas, muffins, but also granola bars, veggie patties, lentil loaf, and so on.  Last time I bought a bag of 10 tortillas for something silly like $6.  I can make 50 tortillas for that much…more…100 tortillas!!  A box of granola bars is $5 something.  I can make a huge batch for that amount.

That food list sounds boring, I know, but you can make so many things from that bland list of foods.  Pizza, burritos, fries, ice cream, chili, burgers, lasagna (oh, yes, I did buy pasta but I’m about to start making my own as well).  All healthy of course.

Homemade food tastes a million times better than convenience foods or restaurant food.  It is so fresh, alive, and fills the kitchen with creative, bustling, happy cooking.  It fills the home with delicious smells and your family feels loved.  I have been so disappointed with food I buy out lately.  But when I make it myself I love every bite.

Enjoy the videos and stay tuned.  I’ll try and make a shopping video each Friday or once a week.  I will try other stores as well.  I will be posting dish and snack ideas and budgeting tips as well.  I love easy and fast recipes so I’ll be sharing any good ones.  Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

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19 comments

  1. I have people ask me how we eat well on a lower budget. I reply, “Because I buy ingredients.” I use Amy Dacyzyn’s pantry principal–I stock my pantry and freezers with meats, flours, veggies, spices, etc. I make meals from these. On occasion I will buy something specific for a special meal, but I even try to make sure those are stockpiled when I’m able. Our biggest splurges are the handmade tamales we buy from a lady who supplements her family’s income with this skill. For $30 we get 3 dozen tamales (1 dozen cheese and jalapeno, 2 dozen pork), more than enough for a family feast the first night (served with roasted diced potatoes and chili) and plenty for several lunches during the week. I wish we had a co-op near us, but we do have at least 3 farm stands within driving distance. There are several raw milk dairies and organic meat ranchers around us, plus several sources of fresh eggs. Yes, it’s expensive, but the taste is so superior to grocery store vittles. I make as many things as I can, such as sweetened condensed milk for baking, biscuit and pancake mixes, taco meat for Mexican and plain cooked pinto beans for Mexican dishes. Not everything we eat is organic, but it’s a darn sight better than what the majority of folks eat. Sounds like you are on the right track to achieve you food and financial goals.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Evelyn, I really think you need to start writing that book. Really, what are you waiting for? Start today, it’s that easy. Write a 50 page how to and then proofread and put up on Amazon. Won’t cost a thing.

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      • After the holidays I have plans to finish editing a friend’s children’s book, put together my second book of poems and essays and edit it, plus start lining up live shows of my poems and essays for 2018. SOMEWHERE in there I have plans to start the book you are nagging me to write! Can’t start today–I am cooking and baking for the church Christmas party tonight!

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  2. Have you tried making your own nut milks with a blender? If you can find almonds or other nuts on sale, it’s pretty easy to make your own. I have even made oat milk in a blender, and after it’s strained ans chilled it’s pretty good. There is also rice milk that can be made–it’s a bit more work, but probably works out cheaper than the nut milks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcJjPP-6vlg and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bksKqKXds8 on Our Raw Beauty Channel shows some really easy and simple ways to make oat and rice milks.

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  3. Oh heck, I’m supposed to be getting ready for a party, and now I’ve got my notebook out and making notes for a chapter on wild foods! BTW….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9gtq5dMTsg is a video on my friend Marqueta’s channel about wild foods. You should check her out for free foraged foods–you will be stunned at how much wild food is all around you, even in an urban area. Okay, I am stopping now–I gotta go load a hay trailer!

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  4. Thank you for your videos, Kate. These prices for organise fruit and vegetables are about the same as non organic in the mainstream Australia supermarkets, our organic is even more expensive!
    What flavours are in the cookies you love? I’m always on the lookout for good ideas to recreate at home.
    Are you interested in cutting down on plastic bags? When I buy avocadoes, loose carrots, capsicums/peppers I just put them loose into my shopping trolley. It is cheaper here to also buy some things pre packed in plastic bags so I do end up with a few but I try to bring as few as I can into the house. I really need to make some lightweight cloth bags to take shopping with me. Thanks again, I’m really enjoying your blog and now the videos too.

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    • Hi Amanda! Thank you for the ideas. I reuse all my plastic bags so they get many lifetimes with me.:) I do use my own shopping bags for the groceries though. That is a bummer that food and organics are so expensive in Australia…why is this? The vegan cookies seem to have nuts, cranberries, raisins, chocolate chips, oatmeal…
      I’m so glad you are enjoying my blog and vlog. We have a great community and keep each other inspired.

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      • Oh that’s great, I did think you’d be the kind of person who wouldn’t throw those bags away! Those cookies sound yummy. The reasons I believe our food is so expensive are high rents, high wages, high costs of fuel and transport (vast distances in Australia), price of insurances, and huge corporations wanting to make big profits for shareholders. Everything just seems to be very inflated here.
        Luckily we do have a few independent options where we get some great produce at better prices.
        Thanks again 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Baked Tofu Bacon. 400F

    1/4 cup ketchup
    1/4 cup soy sauce
    1 tsp liquid smoke
    Mix in a flat dish
    3 pounds extra firm tofu, sliced thin
    Marinate 3 hours or overnight. If you have a tight lid you can turn it over to get all the tofu. If not you can baste it with a spoon.
    Arrange on a baking sheet on parchment paper or silicone mat
    Bake 30 minutes, turn and bake another 30 minutes.
    This is good on a sandwich, on pizza or a, Buddha bowl.
    It freezes well.

    Love this blog!

    Like

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