At the beginning of December, I began a 60 Day Grocery Makeover to find out if it’s possible to stay on a budget and eat whole, mostly organic foods. I used what was in my pantry and freezer, planned weekly menus and shopped sale items.
At first, I’d planned to go 60 days. I thought two months would be plenty of time to form some new habits. I also had quite a bit of travel coming up in late January, so I wanted to end the challenge before that started. 4 weeks into the challenge, I got the opportunity to go on a last-minute trip to California (my husband had a business trip). And then, my mother’s health made it necessary for me to go home for a week to care for her. After all this, my already planned trip to Europe is nearly here. So, I’ve decided to end the challenge early, at 30 days rather than 60.
No One Was Harmed In This Experiment
I’m actually quite pleased with how the challenge went, even though I ended it early. I proved to myself that through careful planning, it is possible to eat healthy, even organic foods that enhance my family’s health and support causes I value. We didn’t have to eat Ramen, spaghetti O’s, have bread and water or go without in any way.
At first, I’d planned to include Christmas eats in the challenge, but with extra guests and holiday invitations that required us to bring food, I dropped that idea. Instead, I used our separate holiday budget to cover all those extra festivities. Here is how everything added up.
I planned on spending $150 each week for a family of 5 (two adults and two teenage boys who only eat when they’re awake). I came in $13.54 under budget and not one family member starved – though my boys always swear there is no food in the house and starvation in eminent.
Do What You Can
I realize not everyone can afford spending $150 every week and that’s okay. I tried to buy mostly organic foods, using the dirty dozen list as a reference for which foods matter most. Even if you buy all conventional foods, if you’re feeding your family whole foods – vegetables, fruits, lean meats and whole grains, you are doing a fantastic job. We all have to begin where we are. Eating conventional veggies is so much better than not eating any at all.
There are other ways to supplement healthy foods into the diet without breaking the bank. Try planting a small garden, or a few pots on the deck if you don’t have a yard. Do you have a friend that gardens? I bet they have extra they’d love to share. Seriously, you wait for cucumbers all season and then the garden produces 5000 pounds. You would be doing them a favor I promise. My neighborhood has a community garden that is free for residents, so even though I live in a town-home, I’m able to have two vegetable plots.
So, wherever you are, don’t feel like you have to cook like a chef, shop only at Whole Foods or buy all organic. No matter your situation, with a little effort, you can improve your family’s diet. I’ll keep sharing money-saving ideas and healthy recipes for you as I go. What’s cookin’ in your kitchen lately?