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Angie Needels / Director

angie@mamakai.org / 510-325-4785

 

 


Berkeley, CA

510-325-4785

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Blog

Nourishment and Support for Growing Families

Traditional Food on a Budget

Angie Needels

 

It can seem expensive initially when making the change to eating healthy, pure foods. However, there really are ways it can be done more economically and I'm happy to share a few things that have worked well for me and my family.

Consider eating whole foods as an investment in your health. By eating well and supporting your health, you'll have less out-of-pocket expenses on doctor's visits, missed days at work and expensive medications or supplements.

  1. Remember that you will be saving money on processed stuff you won’t be buying anymore! This is huge when you think about how much sugary boxed cereals cost, how quickly you can go through money on eating out/fast food and how expensive other packaged foods are.
  2. Meal planning. Try to sit down once a week and get a general plan for what you’ll be making for meals, then make a grocery list. If you have a thorough list, it really does cut down on the impulse buys and your time.
  3. Make foods at home. Homemade items like breads, crackers, creme fraiche/sour cream, yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut, salad dressings, condiments, soups, casseroles and snacks can be much cheaper made at home.
  4. Keep your kitchen well stocked and organized. Have extra staples on hand, so you don't have to do last minute trips to the store or pay high prices at the 'corner store'. You can keep a 'cabinet and/or freezer inventory list' on your fridge telling you what you have on hand. It may cost more in the beginning to do this; however, it will save you considerably over time.
  5. Shop at the farmer's markets. Decreasing the distance from the food source to your table, is not only more beneficial for our bodies and for our environment, it is easier on the budget by cutting out the middle man and the cost of fuel. Also, you can give yourself a budget to stick within much easier when shopping at the farmer's market. Simply allot an amount of cash you can spend and when your pocket is empty, pack up and go home. If you want even further discounts on produce, shop toward the end of the day at the farmer's market and many farmers will reduce their prices so they don't have to take their goods back to the farm. *** NOTE *** If you use food stamps or EBT for buying your foods, many farmers markets will accept those as payment now. In Berkeley they also have an amazing program called Market Match where you'll get extra free dollars to spend on produce if you use your EBT there.
  6. Buy in bulk and/or join a local co-op, buying club or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). When you buy yourself or split orders with friends, you can take advantage of deeper savings in buying in bulk and larger quantities. This can include butchered pasture raised meats, fats and oils, dried pantry goods and spices, fresh produce for drying, canning or freezing, supplements and so much more. Check out: Azure Standard and even CostCo is carrying organic products. We'll be adding a Sourcing Page to MamaKai's Wellness Resource Library in the near future, so please check back soon to find loads of great places to buy high quality ingredients.
  7. Plant a garden. Gardening is very affordable when done from starter plants and even more so when starting from seeds. Even those of you with limited space can have container gardens or fresh herb planters and subsidize your overall food costs. Take pleasure in watching your food grow right before your eyes and pick/eat it when its perfectly ripe for maximum nutrition.
  8. Buy whole foods when on sale, discounted or with coupons. Plan your meals around what whole foods are on sale. Certain stores have specific days/times when things might be on sale, ask your preferred grocers and they'll let you know their schedule. There are plenty of recipe apps, magazines and websites that you can search to find new recipes to make with the ingredients that you find on sale. Crop Mobster is a listserve which alerts you when farmer's have an abundance of produce that they need to sell quickly at discounted prices.
  9. Buy the inexpensive cuts. When buying meats, buy and use more of the cheaper cuts like ground, stew meat, shoulder cuts, roasts, shanks, organs, bone-in and sausages. Because these generally have more fats, cartilage, bones and marrow and take longer to cook they are actually going to be healthier. They'll have a wider make-up of nutrients and those nutrients will be more accessible through slow cooking techniques. Not to mention they'll be much more flavorful and comforting to eat. 
  10. Buy whole pieces of meat. A whole chicken or duck is much cheaper by the pound than the sum of it's parts. You can roast it whole to serve for a couple meals or take off the bone and add to soup or make a chicken salad. You can save all bones, skin and cartilage for making nutrient-dense broths.  
  11. Buy in Season. Out of season produce is more expensive because it is being shipped from other places. If there are things you might like to have on hand throughout the whole year, buy them in bulk when they are in season and either dry, freeze or can them for later use. Farmers have special pricing for full flats or if you buy a pound/s of a particular item.
  12. Make your own bone broths and include them in your cooking. Bone broths are very economical to make. Save bones, skin and cartilage from meat or ask for knuckle, neck, or shank/marrow bones from your butcher. Instead of buying broths that are laden with MSG and other substances to make it taste like broth, Nourishing broths are deeply healing and will make every dish (soup, stew, sauce, gravy or cooked grain) taste rich and comforting.
  13. Make meals in large batches and freeze leftovers. You can make a double batch of any dish you make. So if you're roasting a whole chicken for dinner, roast two instead. Eat one for dinner and save the other for another night. Or you can pick a day a month to make several dishes in large quantity. Package meals in single serving containers for lunches or quick dinners. Simply label the dish name, date, freeze it and thaw it later to balance with side dishes. 
  14. Eat out less. You can buy several meals at home for the price of one at a restaurant. When you make meals at home, you also know all of the ingredients that are used, that they are safe and healing for you and your family's health. Pay less and get so much more!  
  15. Pack your bag with snacks. Take a few minutes before you leave the house to pack a drink and a few nutrient-dense snacks to take wherever you go. This will help you avoid buying fast food or snacks from vending machines that not only add up in costs but are detrimental to your health.
  16. Pack or plan food for trips. By car, take a cooler and have lunch on a picnic table or in a park. By plane, bring non liquid foods like canned fish, beef jerky, cheese, cured meat, dried fruit, sprouted nuts/seeds, homemade crackers. Also save money by staying in a place with a kitchen & shop at local markets, AirBnB makes it easy to do this all over the world. Check out Local Harvest and the Eat Well Guide for more food resources at your destination spot.
  17. Eat a few balanced 'vegetarian' meals a week. Use plant or dairy 'proteins' and healthy fats by incorporating cheeses, yogurt, soaked/sprouted gluten-free grains, bone broth, lard, tallow, coconut oil and nuts/seeds in your meals. You can have very nutrient-dense options for considerably less. Our ancestors didn't eat meat everyday, so maybe we shouldn't either.
  18. Do the best you can and don't stress about it. Make the best food choices with the resources you have. If you can’t afford all organic or pastured meats all the time, make it a goal to add more in when your budget allows.

From the old ways,
Primal Mama

primalmama@mamakai.org