How to Eat Well and Save Money
We know it costs a lot to buy naturally raised meats, and let’s be real. Most folks would agree that the benefits are great, but sometimes the cash just isn’t there. The truth is that it costs WAY more to farm the Shady Grove Ranch way than to rely on subsidized feeds, artificial growth stimulants, and inhumane, unnatural confined conditions. But we think it the long run that it’s worth the higher cost to avoid the resistant bacteria, toxic waste, and nutrient-lacking foods that are produced by the System-at-Large.
Still, it has to fit into your budget. So how can you save money while eating the best-quality food available? Here are a few ways we have thought of to save while still supplying your family with high-nutrient, great-tasting, naturally raised foods. Even if you don’t buy from Shady Grove Ranch, we hope these suggestions will help you to make better food choices and still save money!
The most important tip: Just because you can’t do it all doesn’t mean you can’t do a little! Start implementing changes slowly, and enjoy them. Don’t stress if your diet isn’t perfect! Neither is planet Earth!
How To Save Money On Farm Goods
Buy in bulk. This can mean buying a particular cut in large quantity, or purchasing by-the-animal. You can save anywhere from a few percent up to nearly 20%. When you’re buying at least 50 pounds (which will save you trips to the farm too!) at a time or more, that means saving anywhere from a minimum of $27, or as much as $675 when you buy a whole animal! Of course, this takes planning and freezer space, but it only takes a few people to claim 100 pounds of meat. Ask relatives, church friends, or co-workers if they’re interested in getting a good deal on incredible food.
Buy cheap cuts. Branch out and try new things from time to time. Organ meats are easy to prepare, particularly nutrient-dense, and cheaper than most other cuts.
Use everything you buy. Bones and fat should not be considered waste when you’re buying pasture-raised meats. Ancient people groups never threw any part of the animals they ate away—they made clothes from the fur; specialty dishes or materials from the digestive organs; nutrient-dense meals from the other organs; sauces, soaps, and candles from the fat; and regular ol’ meals from the brains and muscles. Don’t be afraid to experiment with what you don’t have to throw away!
Use fat trimmings to make cooking fat for oiling pans, sautéing, and as a base for sauces and gravies. You can also mix it into grains or potatoes to make them go farther. Not only does pasture-raised animal fat contain many essential nutrients not found elsewhere, but it satiates a hungry tummy faster than low-fat dishes. It also helps to control blood sugar spikes and is used to replace the trillions of cells in your body. There is lots of evidence showing that fat DOESN’T make you fat, and cholesterol DOESN’T cause heart disease.
Use bones for making broth. Homemade broth is full of minerals and protein and can be used in place of water in any recipe. It can be used to make gravy or as a soup base. You can even use it when making bread! Serving a small bowl of seasoned broth at each meal will help your body digest proteins more efficiently, and will satiate you sooner. It will also deliver healing nutrients such as calcium and collagen that are difficult to get elsewhere.
Never skin a chicken! Roasting is the tastiest way to enjoy the skin from a pasture-raised bird. We prefer to baste our birds in their own drippings or with butter or coconut oil. This makes the skin crisp, tasty, and a lovely brown color. We typically consume the leg quarters roasted and then turn the breast meat and various other “picked” meats into soups, tacos, casseroles, etc. When properly utilized, one chicken can feed 3-4 people twice!
Eat eggs. While at the time of writing, this is a touchy spot because we have such a long waiting list for eggs, we anticipate eventually being able to meet all the demand for real pastured eggs! Even though ours are significantly more expensive than store-bought, the value of our eggs is still very high. For example, even if a person needs 3 eggs to feel full, that still has only cost $1.75 if you’ve paid $7/dozen. That beats any breakfast sandwich at a fast food place, despite the fact that breakfast is considered one of the cheaper meals to eat out. Plus, eggs are one of nature’s most perfect foods in terms of protein quality, nutrient content, and taste! If that still seems expensive, consider making a quiche for a meal. It only takes about 3-4 eggs, and one 9”quiche will easily feed 4 hungry people at any meal!
Eat what truly satisfies. We have had many customers tell us that eating our meats actually allows them to eat less because they feel more full sooner. We might be biased, but there have been occasions where we’d attend a friend’s barbecue and find ourselves starving after eating POUNDS of conventional chicken. That would never happen at home! Somehow good food satisfies faster than the fake stuff. Maybe it’s all the nutrients. Maybe it’s the flavor. Try it and let us know if you experience the same thing.
Raise some chickens and a garden. There is nothing more rewarding than growing your own food. Chickens and vegetables are very easy to keep, even in a small space. Luckily, they also require little capital to start, so even if you’re no good at gardening or you manage to kill off all your chicks, you have only gained in experience and lost little money. Try raising a few hens for eggs and a raised bed for some home-grown tomatoes and squash. If you have extras, you can even sell them to make back what you spent. A little time invested = free food!
How To Save Money at the Grocery Store
Avoid prepared/processed foods. The cheapest way to eat is to use your own elbow grease and skills. Paying for lots of labor and packaging adds up fast. Not to mention the long-term costs of eating nutrient-free food.
Stop buying cereal. Cereal is actually a very expensive way to eat, not only in cash, but also in health. Try purchasing whole grains for hot cereals in bulk (oatmeal is great and takes very little time to prepare). Cereal (even the whole grain kind) is highly processed and contains artificial nutrients and additives. How does $3/lb for sugar, chemicals, and artificially nutrients literally sprayed on at the end of processing sound?
Make your own granola. You can cut back on the sugar and save lots of cash by buying all the ingredients and making a big batch yourself. It freezes very well and makes a nice quick snack.
Make your own yogurt. You don’t need a special gadget for this, in spite of what you may read. Jerica heats milk on the stove, adds the starter, then puts the whole pot into a cooler or the oven overnight to keep it warm.
Nix the store-bought drinks. Even ones that are good for you. They are usually oversweetened and overpriced, often delivering more sugar per serving than soda! Make Kombucha as your soda and sports drink. Make homemade tea instead of purchasing juices. Juice is just fruit-flavored sugar water. It has none of the fiber in fruit and has often been so processed that it retains very few of the original vitamins found in fresh fruit. They add Vitamin C back in after they pasteurize juice… Just take a Vit C pill if you feel you’re not getting enough and save yourself the insulin rush.
Join a buying club to get dry goods for less. You’ll have to buy more at once, but it can save you lots!
Try homemade soaps and detergents. When you buy liquid soap, you are paying for a lot of water. Homemade detergent can be as easy as grating some bar soap, adding a little water, and shaking it up! It avoids a lot of chemicals, too, and can be a fun project to do every few months with your kids.
How To Save Money Everyday
Eat real food instead of taking supplements and going to the doctor! It may take a while, but if you give your body what it needs to heal itself, you may find yourself having fewer sick days!
Don’t throw away leftovers! One of our favorite uses for the little bits of things left after dinner is soup. Jerica makes “Hodge-Podge” Soup or Casserole at least twice a month. It’s one of her favorite meals to prepare for 3 reasons: 1. It’s fast—just thaw some homemade broth, toss in various chopped veggies and meats from the previous week, and season to taste. 2. It uses all the “un-useables”. 3. It’s always different (she doesn’t like cooking the same stuff over and over). Another idea is to puree leftover liver and mix it into biscuits to make a stuffing. Chop leftover hamburgers and use them in Shepherd’s pie. Use leftover chicken to make chicken salad, or leftover boiled eggs for egg salad. If you have too much of a roast for a meal, reserve some before you cook it and pound it into chicken fried steak.
Use veggie scraps in broth. Stock up on all those carrot tops, potato peelings , tough onion layers, and celery leaves. There’s nothing wrong with them—we’ve just been conditioned to cut them off and throw them away. Keep a container in the freezer for such scraps, and stock up on them each time you cook. When you have a big enough batch, make broth with them!
Cut back on sweets. Sugar drives insulin which makes you feel hungrier. Cut back on dessert to once a week. That will make it special and save you lots of dough during the week.
Pack a lunch. Vending machines and fast food restaurants are budget-killers, even if you get the “cheap” option. When you’re putting dinner away the night before, go ahead and divvy some of the goodies into individual servings for lunch the next day. You don’t waste any extra time sorting through the fridge when you’re in a hurry next morning.
Serve casseroles. At our house, when just-plain-meat is served in the form of steak or slices of roast, etc, it tends not to go as far. Making creative dishes like casseroles, meat pies, soups, and soufflés can make meat go much farther. Even if you are trying to avoid grains, you can use summer squashes, tomatoes, potatoes, eggs, cheese, etc, to stretch a little meat. Don’t forget the fat!
Remember your long-term goal. There is an economic principle that seems to be true in most life situations, and that is TANSTAAFL: There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Saving a few bucks by buying cheap, processed food now may cost you (as it did Matt and Jerica) in the end. Your body was created to eat to get the tools it needs to grow and heal, not just to fill your belly. Maybe we’re crazy, but being sick less, hurting less, and recovering from or preventing chronic illness is worth the higher cost of eating the real deal.
Share your tips on how to save money while eating pasture-raised foods below!