Healthy Family, Healthy Meals

Ever since my diagnosis of MS in January 2008, our family has been on a journey toward healthier living.  That journey got a jumpstart last week when I watched a movie called Food Inc.  I have since shown it to my hubby and the boys and they are on board with revamping the food we eat- I, at least, want to know where that food comes from!

We were already eating whole grains, had cut back drastically on sugar and cut back on red meat.  After watching that movie and doing some research of my own, we have decided to go organic and buy our meat and veggies from local farmers. 

We are concerned with how this will affect our food budget.  As most of my readers know I pride myself on feeding our family with a $350/month food budget.  That is accomplished by a lot of couponing, shopping sales and menu planning.  I will still be employing all three of those strategies but it is much more difficult to find coupons for organic items.

Here are some tips I have learned so far:

  • Stock up when organic meat and dairy are on sale. Organic milk has a longer shelf life than regular milk and milk can be frozen for up to three months.  I will be watching for sales and coupons and stocking up when milk is on sale.
  • One site recommended buying your veggies at a farmers market towards the end of the day.  Many farmers will decrease their prices to reduce the amount of inventory they have to take home with them.
  • A great site for information about buying safe food is
  • When you are buying beef look for the seal of the American Grassfed Association and for poultry look for the word “pastured”.

There is a list called the dirty dozen.  This is produce that contains the most pesticides and is the most harmful to the consumer.  Those are:

  1. peaches
  2. celery
  3. cherries
  4. grapes
  5. apples
  6. nectarines
  7. kale
  8. carrots
  9. green bell peppers
  10. strawberries
  11. lettuce
  12. peas

It is worth your money to buy those twelve items organic or from a farmer’s market.

There are some veggies/fruits that are okay to buy from the grocery store (this will be a way to save money).  They are:

  • onions
  • cabbage
  • pineapples
  • broccoli
  • avocadoes
  • eggplant
  • watermelon
  • asparagus
  • sweet potatoes
  • kiwis
  • papayas
  • mangoes
  • tomatoes

I am learning so much about how our food is produced, what is healthy and how the food industry can be very misleading to the average consumer. 

I would love for you to enlighten me about anything you know about going organic that I may not have learned yet,  especially about how you buy organic on a budget.  I will be sure to keep you posted about our journey as well.  You can read our menu plans on my organizing blog.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Do you live in or near a rural area where you can find fresh produce (from farmers you trust) at roadside stands? I’ve actually found I can get much better prices when I do it that way. Or u-pick.

    This year I plan on freezing a lot of in-season produce to last all year. Immediately freezing the really fresh stuff retains more of the nutrients and it’s a lot cheaper and better for you than buying “fresh” (imported from Chile) produce in the middle of winter when there’s nothing local.

    I’m also thinking we will buy a 4-H cow this year and split it with another family or two. It may not be certified organic but we can find out a lot about who raised it and how, and make a purchase we can feel good about.

    Also, just eating less meat and drinking less milk in general helps keep those costs down. Organic, free-range eggs are expensive compared to the regular kind, but as a healthy source of protein they are still pretty darn reasonable. And beans and rice are cheap no matter how you look at it.

    $350/month is a very good goal and I wish you luck! We spend a little more than twice that, but we have a family of 7, and that includes eating out and toiletries. In the summer, when we’re eating a lot more produce and getting it from farm stands, our costs go down.

  2. blueviolet says:

    Those are excellent tips! I had no idea that milk could be frozen! I am going to hit the farmer's stands at the end of the day like you said too. This is great!

  3. What we do is grow some of our own stuff. You might not be able to do tons, but for example, lettuce can easily be grown in a windowbox. Tomatoes, herbs, chives, onions, etc. and even strawberries can all be grown in containers in a very small space. We have about four tomato plants right now and they are going nuts . . . I have too many tomatoes!

    Another way to go for whole grains and such is to join a co-op or form one with friends so you can buy bulk, then split it between everyone. Things end up quite a bit cheaper this way.

    And finally, don't rule out barter. It really works, but most people are too nervous to use it. Offer your own products or skills in exchange for organic chickens and meat, or even at the farmer's market. My mom does this every year, she picks the apples on the golf course (organic since they couldn't care less) for free, as this is a nuisance to the golfers when the apples fall down. Then she uses a guy's apple press to make apple juice and he gets 10% of the juice in exchange for letting her use it. You can come up with tons of great barters.

  4. Linda Brant says:

    Hey Melissa,
    A question for you…
    If you plan to stay away from the non-organic 'dirty dozen', and plan to buy the organic version in-season locally, will you stop eating peaches, grapes, apples, etc. when they are out of season since they can't be purchased locally off-season?
    I am very interested in this. Thanks for the post.

    • that is my plan…unfortunately I don't know another way around it. I will
      freeze the fruit for out of season but that isn't the same as fresh fruit.
      I am really interested in this too as I think that food full of pesticides,
      antibiotics, etc can't be helping a chronically ill person, if not
      contributing to the problem…just my thought process at the moment.

  5. shawnabrown says:

    Recently I read two really good books. One is by Tosca Reno, the Eat Clean Diet. The other was a Metabolism book by Jillian Michaels. Both are highly focused on Eating Green. The information in those books inspired me to do more as well when it comes to eating green. After I started, I did feel so much better, and had more energy than I have had in years. We buy our beef in bulk from a person that we know. Not only is it less expensive, but the peace of mind in knowing where your food is coming from is worth the inconveinence of not going to a store whenever you want to just pick something up. There is a great magazine called Clean Eating, with great recipies and articles. I can bring you one Wednesday. The local health food store by the mall, has a few items in bulk that are organic, such as lentils, oats, bulgur, trail mix etc. The key for me, is to not get carried away…lol. While I've never been, there is a MOM in Frederick. (My Organic Market) It seems like a neat place with a large selection. Depending on if you're in the area etc, it may be worth a visit. The Stone Soup Bistro in S-town, is an organic restaraunt that I've been wanting to try. Chiptole is a chain who believes in Food with Integrity. If you have a minute, you should check out their website. Just wanted to share some of things that I have learned along the way. As it is defnitely a work in progress for me…I too appreciate any tidbits etc.

    • Thanks Shawna! I appreciate all the tips…interesting how we are on the
      same journey! I have been to the Stone Soup Bistro in Shepherdstown and it
      is good!! I look forward to the magazine! Thanks!

  6. bchrisc says:

    Very interesting! I'd consider splitting organic items with you, if buying in bulk is too much for your family. I read some of the book, “Natural Cures 'They' Don't Want You to Know About” by Kevin Trudeau. One change I've made in the last year or so is to limit using the microwave to minimum to none. I've read that the radiation breaks down the nutrients in the food. Until recently, I didn't know that our bodies have a Ph balance (apparently Dr. Morter's discovery of this won him a Nobel Prize) In essence, the more acidic, the more unhealthy organisms/diseases flourish in such an environment. Eating lots of green veggies and drinking lots of pure water daily helps the body become more alkaline among many other suggestions found in this book. I look forward to finding out more as you share along your journey!

  7. We've been trying to eat my healthy and organically as well. I think our health has definitely improved with not as much sickness. Praise God!


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