When you hear the words organic, gluten-free, GMO free, do you think dollar signs? Does buying those “specialty” foods put a bigger hole in your wallet? Why do you think that is so?
That mindset is not always accurate. Organic, gluten-free, GMO free foods aren’t always more expensive. It all depends on where and when you are buying them. It also depends on if you are looking for store and manufacture coupons! Healthier foods tend to come from smaller production lines or local factories where the food is being processed at low volumes. Low volume could mean higher cost due to higher “piece” cost of the product. It can also seem like it cost more because the quality of the starting product is better. Processed foods (the generic canned meats, soups, etc.) tend to be high volume production and always seem to be on sale at the store. Do you know what kind of meat or what grade meat went into that can of ham? No, you do not….
BUT, is it really more expensive to be healthy? That’s just a myth, that’s my personal opinion. Eating healthy means eating less meat, eating more bean based proteins, and buying more vegetable and fruits to fill up. Dry bags of beans are cheap and you can even try to buy it in bulk to save a few dollars. That’s much healthier than binge eating junk food you’ll end up eating more of. How many people have sat there and gone through a whole bag of chips in one sitting? I won’t deny it, I have. Doesn’t mean I’m proud of it.
With that said, how is eating healthier cheaper? Follow these few simple steps:
- Plant your own herb and fruit or veggie garden
- Shop at your local farmers markets
- Pick your own fruits and veggies at your local farms
- Summer is a great time to find your local strawberry farms! Sounds like a fun family activity too.
- Pickle, can, or freeze your fruits, herbs, and vegetables before they spoil
- Buy dry beans instead of canned goods (they keep longer and keep as prettier decoration in your kitchen in mason jars)
- Bake your own breads, biscuits, and desserts
- Nothing beats homemade warm buttermilk biscuits vs. the Pillsbury dough boy kind. Sorry dough boy!
- Make your own stocks and cooked chicken!
Have fun making your own healthy foods. Eating healthy helps having a happy, healthier you! It also could mean less doctor visits from high cholesterol or high blood pressure issues. If you have kids, it promotes healthier kids too.
Check out Bella’s Apron for some other homemade recipes! What other ideas do you have to help promote healthy eating without breaking the bank?
Stop wasting hours at the store and stock up your pantry! My family and I just took a trip and it was nice not having to run to the store and end up with a $300+ bill at the cash register.
How do you stop the last minute, EXPENSIVE shopping trips? How to avoid the expensive take out dinners because the pantry is empty? Build your pantry! Buy the staples to help whip up meals for your family and friends. Remember, some of these pantry items have a long shelf life so it’s ok to store it. Remember to rotate your items by checking expiration dates and restocking when they are on sale.
Going to the store and buying every ingredient on your recipe takes lots of time. Buy only the unique items off your recipe list and you’ll save yourself lots of time. Time is money…this will help you save lots of time!
With that said, what should be in your pantry? What types of cuisine do you like? Here’s a general list of staples I have in my pantry. Make sure to personalize it to your liking and what your family likes. Also keep in mind allergies and diets within your family. All these goods come in non-gmo friendly, gluten-free, vegan, fair trade, organic versions, etc.
To stock up your pantry effectively, break up the items into the following categories:
- Dry goods
- Sauces and Oils
- Herbs and Seasonings
- Fridge Goods
- Frozen Goods
- Canned Goods
Category (1) Dry Goods: Great to keep on hand since they have the longest shelf life. They don’t need to be refrigerated and they could be the base of many meals! These include:
- All-purpose flour
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Dry beans (black beans, red beans, lentils, garbanzo, split pea)
- Pasta (lasagna, elbow, penne…or whichever one you like)
- Rice (Jasmine, Wild Rice, Basmati)
- Rolled Oats (instant, old fashioned)
- Sugar (white, brown, powdered)
Fun Fact: buy pure cane sugar as the rest is made with sugar beets that are not good for you…stay tuned for another article on that topic)
- Corn Starch
Category (2) Sauces and Oils: You need these in almost all recipes and dressing / marinades!
- Oil (olive oil, coconut oil)
- Vinegar (red wine, rice, white, apple cider)
- Soy Sauce (try to buy low sodium versions) – store in fridge after opening!
- Worcestershire Sauce – store in fridge after opening!
- Sriracha or Chili Sauce – store in fridge after opening!
- Honey (local is best!!)
Category (3) Herbs and Seasoning: Every recipe’s flavor and zing. Liven up your meals with these herbs and seasons in your next dressings and sauces.
- Salt (sea salt)
- Black Peppers (whole with a grinder)
- Basil (dried)
- Oregano (dried)
- Thyme (dried)
- Cumin (ground)
- Crushed Red Pepper – optional if you like spicy foods
- Cayenne Pepper – optional if you like spicy foods
- Paprika (Hungarian Smoked)
- Curry Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Cocoa Powder
- Vanilla Extract
- Turmeric (…because it’s healthy for you)
- Bouillon Cubes (Chicken, Vegetable) – buy ones that don’t have MSG in it!
Category (4) Fridge Goods: Staples for cooking that you’ll need to monitor expiration dates on!
- Butter (unsalted, that way you can add the salt and control it!)
- Yogurt (plain or Greek)
- Cheese (try to buy a block instead of shredded, it’s cheaper and it last longer)
- Mustard (yellow, Dijon)
Category (5) Frozen Goods: Buying fresh vegetables is always better but for that quick stir fry or quick fancy breakfast, these frozen goods will help you with time.
- Spinach (chopped or whole leaves)
- Peas, Beans, Carrot Mix
- Potato (hash, diced)
- Fruits (strawberries, blueberries, peaches)
Category (6) Canned Goods: These are great for those quick bake sales, crockpot meals and last minute meals.
- Pumpkin Puree
- Beans (black beans, red beans, garbanzo, etc.)
- Tomato (paste, diced, sauce, sun dried)
- Stocks (chicken – low sodium, vegetable….in a box not a can)
Some key reminders about this list:
- This list is to get you a general idea of what items are good to keep on hand, but please don’t feel like you need to go out and purchase all of these items.
- Try to buy one or two items a week until your kitchen is well stocked with the foods you and your family like.
- Check out the bulk food area of the store to save but don’t go overboard! No one needs 30 lbs. of rice on hand at all times =)
- Ina Garten (celebrity chef on Food Network) says to buy high quality and expensive spices. This statement is true! They are often better quality than less expensive spices, but you can still make an amazing meal with discounted grocery store spices.
Now that I have you scouring your pantry, what will you go buy? What have I forgotten to list? Should I add? What ingredient can you not live without?
Food, Inc., Forks over Knives, What the Health, and GMO OMG… Have you been watching these documentaries about GMOs (genetically modified organisms)? Does it have you wondering? You are not the only one!
As a mom, I’m always worried about what I’m feeding my kiddo. Thinking about what I’m eating and not eating started when we first talked about getting pregnant. Take your prenatal pill, don’t eat certain fish, watch out for listeria, etc.
As a first time mom, I tried to cook as much of my daughter’s food as I could. I preferred that instead of buying processed foods. That took 2-3 hours each week! Mind you, I did cook most of the food because I enjoyed cooking it and some of the baby food tasted nasty! …yes, I did try all the foods my kid was eating. If I didn’t like it, why would she?
Now she’s almost 4 years old and all I hear about are the dangers of GMOs. GMOs causing cancer, GMOs causing heart issues, GMOs impacting out farmers, and so on. If GMOs are so bad, why would I want to give my daughter something I don’t know how it will impact her or my family? I am a true believer of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. GMOs don’t follow this basic principle.
According to published history, GMOs started back in 1994 (that we know of) and we do NOT know the full health impacts but I do know it’s NOT natural. Our crops are essentially becoming a pesticide and that’s what makes GMOs dangerous. Crops are killing weeds and insects that kill them.
To avoid finding out that the impact of GMOs on my family, I’m changing my entire blog to non-GMO friendly and more “vegan / vegetarian” recipes. No, I haven’t personally decided to go vegetarian or vegan but I am choosing to eliminate meats from our meal plans. I do commend you if you are vegan or vegetarian.
Either way, welcome to the newly updated Bella’s Apron blog. Support me while I buy and cook a more holistic / organic / non-GMO recipes, while I try to cut out the fast “mystery” processed foods, and support my local farmers markets. Give me some feedback! What are your thoughts on this topic? I’d love to hear back from you.