So, you want to transition to eating a more nutrient dense diet but you’re experiencing a bit of a sticker shock when you start looking at sourcing naturally raised, organic, pastured meats, eggs and vegetables. It seems so much more expensive to buy better quality foods or to swap out your cookware for safer options. It’s easy to become discouraged when you’re first learning about a healthier lifestyle and you feel like you need to change SO MANY THINGS. I’ve been in your shoes and that’s the last thing I want anyone else to experience. I put together a few of my top tips on sourcing nutrient dense foods and kitchen tools without breaking the bank.
Here are my 6 Tips for a Quality Kitchen on a Budget
1. Buy Local! (and Seasonal!)
Visit Farmers Markets
During the summer you can often find farmers markets in local neighborhoods. Farmers usually come to farmers markets from all over the region to offer their bounty of the season. Farmers markets are usually on a designated day of the week (or two) on mains treet in various towns, or designated lots.
Join a CSA
CSA’s, or Community Supported Agriculture, just like the name implies, is where community members can support local farmers and growers by buying in at the beginning of the season. In turn you’ll get local produce, usually weekly on a designated day, throughout the season. This helps farmers cover their initial upfront expenses at the beginning of the season and gives patrons an opportunity to source the most fresh, in season, local food possible!
Seasonal vegetables and fruits allow us to get the nutrients we were designed to consume at specific parts of the year and optimal nutrition from the foods when they are in season and picked fresh.
This is your best opportunity to talk directly to the farmers and ask what methods they use in growing their produce. Often small farmers aren’t Certified Organic, but follow the organic practices, so speaking to them directly gives you the chance to understand exactly what you’re getting. If you’re looking to source local produce or find local eggs, dairy or meat, check www.localharvest.org!
2. Buy in Bulk!
This often goes hand in hand with buying seasonally. At the peak of produce season you can find produce in bulk for a substantial discount when farmers and growers are trying to disperse their produce as quickly as possible.
Considering purchasing a whole or half cow or pig from a local farmer.
Many farmers sell smaller portions or individual cuts but if not, try to find a few friends or family members willing to go in on a whole beef or pork with you.
While this may take some planning, or you may not have the space to store ½ cow in your freezer, it’s a great option for those who have the means to do so. You get a variety of cuts you normally wouldn’t think of purchasing so it’s fun to get creative in the kitchen. You can also get the majority of it ground, depending on your source.
*Make sure your beef is grass fed AND grass finished for optimal protein profile and nutrients.
Pork should be pasture raised and preferably heritage breed.
3. Learn preservation methods like Canning and Fermenting
When food is in season and can be purchased in abundance for a great price, consider canning your own produce to use throughout the year.
Fermenting is super easy and the benefits of eating fermented foods include digestive wellbeing and enhanced immune function. Why not make your own Sauerkraut for pennies compared what it costs from the store?!
Canning your own veggies and fruits is of huge benefit. You get to choose everything from exactly what vegetables you like, how much salt/sugar you use, and can even use old family recipes that are often forgotten. Avoiding food from aluminum cans is an added bonus.
4. Check For Grocery Store Deals & Coupons
Most grocery stores have weekly mailers that go out in the paper with that week’s sales and deals. Nowadays those are posted to the store’s website and apps! The grocery store I go to allows you to clip coupons on the app and it loads them right to your loyalty card!
Try downloading your go-to store’s app and keeping an eye out for your favorite healthy items on the weekly “Deals” flyer. You might not always find a great buy, but you may occasionally be able to stock up on pantry items and/or food that can be frozen or preserved as mentioned above.
5. Subscription Boxes
Subscription Boxes and mail order produce and meats are becoming increasingly more popular, especially for people who don’t live in an area where local produce is accessible.
Time is another factor. There is something to be said for the advantage of your meat or produce being delivered directly to your door, especially on a scheduled basis.
For produce I’ve heard great things about Imperfect Produce and Misfits Market.
For well raised Meat and wild caught Seafood, I LOVE ButcherBox.
You can use this affiliate link for a discount on your first box!
6. Embrace healthy pulses (legumes)
If the saying “beans and rice” means anything to you, then you know how much of a resource they can be when cash is tighter. This might be a no-brainer, but having legumes in your diet not only of benefit to the wallet, they can be a true superfood when sourced and prepared properly.
Pulses give our bodies protein, fiber, zinc, magnesium and that’s just naming a few benefits. They do however, contain what some refer to as “anti-nutrients” like phytates and lectins which inhibit proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Choose a variety of beans and lentils, organic when possible to avoid harmful pesticides and herbicides. There is a different nutrient profile for every food out there, so having a variety of different pulses is important for a well rounded diet. Buying dried pulses is much more affordable than canned. Be sure to soak your dry beans overnight if possible before boiling or pressure cooking for optimal digestibility.
(BONUS!) Sourcing non-toxic Cookware
Cast Iron or Ceramic Coated pots and pans are best (non-toxic) choices for cook wear.
While new pans are always nice, you can often find quality used cast iron pans at estate and garage sales! A good cast iron pan, if properly taken care of, can last for multiple generations. If you ever happen to see one definitely grab it!
The holidays are coming up (or keep in mind for your next birthday!), this is a great opportunity to request a new set of glass storage containers or that ceramic skillet you’ve had your eye on!
I hope this has shown you there are ways to plan ahead and connect with your community which in turn gets you the best bang for your buck.
Remember, this is a process. You can gradually transition your pantry staples over as you use them. Always look at replacing your most frequently used items first. High quality fats like ghee, tallow, coconut oil and olive oil (don’t re-buy refined vegetable oils), and your most frequently used pan or skillet are good places to start.
NutritionalTherapyAssociation.(2018). Culinary Wellness 1 Student Guide [CW1 – Student Guide – NTPO].
LocalHarvest (2020) Retrieved from https://www.localharvest.org/csa/
Sauerkraut Image: by edwina_mc. (2020) Retrieved from Pixabay.com.
ButcherBox Image: Retrieved from butcherbox.com/members
Citymarket Weekly Deals Ad, City Market (November 2020). Retrieved from CityMarket Moblie App.
Cast IronPan Image: by Paul Heubusch. (2020) Retrieved from Pixabay.com