Are you feeling the crunch? Here's our best tips for eating pasture-raised food on a budget.
Are you feeling the crunch yet? With rising diesel and gas prices, summer camps, swim lessons, and travel plans converging over the next few months, our budget is feeling pretty tight right now. Are you feeling the same way?
It's taken us several years to figure out the right budget that works for us. That's because it's taken us some time to learn what our priorities are, and articulate them to one another. For us, high-quality, nutrient-dense, local, real food is a priority for us. It's the number one reason that we farm. It's what keeps us going during the dog days of summer.
But having - and setting- that priority doesn't change our budget, or our income, or the inflation that we're currently facing. And given that our skill sets are in farming (Joe) and teaching (me) - two fields that are not known for providing lots of money - we've had to get creative over the years.
I imagine many of you are feeling the same way right now. So how do you prioritize getting quality food without breaking the bank? I've learned that it comes down to buying - and planning - smarter.
How can you do this? Here are a few ways.
1. Buy in bulk with multi-packs.
Primarily concerned with shaving as many $$ as you can? Rather than buying a single package of ground sausage every time you order, for example, why not place an order for a 3-pack that will last you for awhile?
Buying multi-packs, as opposed to a single pack, gives you an automatic discount (you can see the savings per pound when you order!). But it also saves you on the "hidden" costs you probably don't consider - sales tax, delivery fees, etc. Over time, this can add up to a considerable amount.
In other words, if you're looking to save some money, placing a larger order, less frequently, may be a better idea than placing a smaller order every other week.
2. Prioritize ground meat.
Ground meat is one of the most budget-friendly meats that you can buy. At our house, I can stretch one pound of sausage over three breakfasts for our family of six. But it's also versatile and easy to customize. I often cook some of my favorite vegetarian meals - and add a little bit of ground meat for extra nutrition.
3. Plan around larger cuts of meat.
Don't know how to roast a whole chicken? It's simple - and if you're on a budget, a whole chicken is your best friend. You can stretch out a large whole chicken across multiple meals (up to 5, for some people!).
I usually roast the chicken, cut up half to serve, and then shred or dice the remaining half. That way, I know that I have leftovers, and it makes cooking the next night easy, since it's already prepped.
4. Prioritize dairy, eggs, and organ meats.
I feel like I've talked about this a lot in recent weeks. But that's because these products are so good for you - and they're at a relatively smaller price point than any of the muscle meat cuts.
From a nutritional standpoint, these products are hard to beat. Not only are all of them excellent sources of major vitamins and minerals, but they're also high-quality forms of protein. If you're only adding a little bit of animal products into your diet, these three are the place to start.
5. Pick up on the farm.
This one takes a bit of re-scheduling and organization. But why not pick up on the farm every once in a while? Because there are no delivery costs or gas prices associated with this, you'll find the cheapest options for on-farm pick-up.
How can you make this work for you? I'd recommend making a larger order that will last you a few months, and make the drive out to the farm seem like it's worth the time. It's a beautiful drive - and you'll get to see the place where your food comes from.
What did I miss? What other tips or tricks do you have for eating high-quality food on a budget? What questions do you have? I'd love to hear from you.