I ran across a *gem* of an article titled, “Lesson From New Home Noob Clothesline” (find it here). When reading it, I thought it might be silly guide to the whole encounter with your clothesline, but it was a well-written article that demonstrates sometimes it takes some thinking to do something right. I have been line-drying for the last three summers and absolutely love it … if for nothing else, I’m not running my dryer near as often when it’s 90 degrees outside! I took for granted that there were many things I had figured out along the way, and my words echo this blogger’s advice.
What on earth does this have to do with food? More than you would guess! It’s tied to one word.
The word is stewardship.
Merriam-Webster defines this as: “the activity or job of protecting and being responsible for something”. God has placed so much under our care – our spouses, our kids, our churches, the needy, the earth and all that lives within it. We can even break it down further – he has given us the task of being responsible with our resources and our bodies.
Our resources (a.k.a. money) is so heavily tied to our bodies. Where there is over-indulgence in one, there is often over-indulgence in another. Where there is a negative view on one, there is often a negative view on the other. God gave us these things – and we should rejoice that we have money to buy food! Much of the world gets by on much less. God gave us bodies that function (reasonably) well! Ask someone bed-ridden or tied to a wheelchair what they think on the ability to be physically able.
Moreover, there is a common misconception that eating healthy food is too expensive. I am here to tell you that is wrong.
We have often tried to stick to a budget, but not firmly holding ourselves accountable to it. It’s not that our lives are full of poor financial decisions, because thankfully, I am married to a man that just does not like to spend money. It came to a head this year, though, as we knew ahead of time several expenses, also knew what we wanted to save for, but knew we were absolutely committed to eating healthily. How does one balance this?
There’s that word again: stewardship.
So yes, I hang my clothes out. God gave us sunshine! It not only is free and reduces our energy costs, but it’s a natural bleaching agent for difficult stains. This is a part of being a good steward. Using what you already have available to you.
And… We set a budget for our food purchases. Which was kind of a scary thing. Pastured chicken (this is the *best* and *healthiest* chicken you can get. Period.) costs between $17-$20 for one whole chicken. To start purchasing raw milk, which is on our radar for this year, is in the ballpark of $5/gallon. We did some research, and our budget is below the national average costs for a household our size. And can I tell you, we are in month five of this … AND IT WORKS.
We have not only learned that we should practice good stewardship with our money, that we should be good stewards of our body, but to be good stewards of the food we are purchasing.
We have learned to STRETCH our dollar.
Which leads me to debunking the idea that healthy, wholesome, real (non-processed) food is too expensive! Here are some ideas on how we do it:
- Do not waste. I repeat, DO NOT WASTE. If it’s something you enjoy leftovers of, make the whole recipe or double it. If you’re not sure, make just enough for what you need to feed your family that time. Sometimes, this might mean halving (or quartering) a recipe the first time.
- We make homemade yogurt. You can use this method from The Prairie Homestead, except I just do mine for 8 hours in the dehydrator at 115*. It does the same thing. If you are regular yogurt eaters, this method SIGNIFICANTLY cuts costs.
- Make your own breakfast sausage, recipe from Prairie Homestead. I can find pastured pork for $8/lb. My grass-feed beef (bought in bulk) is somewhere in the ballpark $4/lb. So that is two pounds of breakfast sausage for $12 THAT IS GOOD FOR YOU. I challenge you to find a cheaper option that is this healthy!
- Buy the whole chicken. Way cheaper than to purchase by the cut. I take my chicken home, cut it up, and put each cut in its own baggie. There are somethings that a chicken breast is the only thing that will work in a recipe, and this will help you find what you really need and easy to thaw.
- What do with that leftover chicken carcass? STOCK. And the cool thing about this, is stock made like this is GOOD for you. Now that I make my own stock with this method from The Elliott Homestead it feels silly to even consider spending money on it.
- In that same vein, save uncooked beef bones for beef stock. Better yet, buy some from a farmer of grass-fed beef. It’s often very cheap. You can do the exact same process as the chicken broth detailed above. Remember, you can often use the bones twice!
- If you’re a gardener, and planning on eating your own produce, throw your scraps (and egg shells, and leaves, and lots more!) into a compost pile. BOOM! Homemade compost. You’ve turned your trash into something you’d ordinarily have to pay for from a home and garden store.
- Price it out. Watch what your costs are per pound/ounce/etc. I have done this with maple syrup and found it cheapest to buy it directly from the maker.
- Sometimes, it’s cheaper to buy in bulk. Often, it’s cheaper to buy from someone local. See previous point.
- Go to the farmer’s markets. Economic benefits for the farmer aside, you can often find produce cheaper here. You can also read this great post from the Nourished Kitchen on stretching your money at a farmer’s market.
- Look into a buying club. This is a system that takes out alot of the middlemen and more of the income goes directly to the farmer, but it also means the prices are often lower. In New York State, there is an awesome buying club called Wholeshare. You can learn more about it here. I L-O-V-E it. Feel free to contact me on how it works. I don’t mind walking you through it!
Don’t feel like you have to try all of this all at once to manage your food money better. We did this over time, and it can feel overwhelming if you try to do all of this in a week.
Bigger than that, I hope you feel encouraged. This is not an impossible journey! Taking care of your body is worthwhile, and respectful of the Maker who gave it to you!
You can listen to some great encouragement here – money, stewardship, your body, your eating habits – all of these may require some change. Some friction from the old into the new. But take heart! There is hope!
I participated in Simple Saturdays Blog Hop.