If you’re anything like us, you’ve felt the current rise in costs of food this year. It can be a tricky space to navigate, because perhaps you too want to spend less each month, while also not comprising the quality of the food you’re serving your families; I get it 100%. And ideally we would all have big beautiful perfectly growing gardens to sustain us right?! But unfortunately that isn’t always a possibility. So as my husband and I have been talking a lot lately about how to cut down on costs while still maintaining the quality of food we are consuming, I wanted to share with you what we’ve found accomplishes both!
Tip .01: eat seasonally and buy locally. These two things go hand in hand because when we are eating what is readily available in our area in that season, then we will find it at the most cost effective prices when we purchase it locally. Even if you live in the city, I bet if you drive just 30 mins outside of that city, you begin to see farm stores. We have one right up the road from our house and they constantly have fresh local produce at heavily discounted rates compared to what the grocery would charge for the same item. Farmer’s markets are a bit pricier because they are having to offset their costs of being there, however going straight to the farm, either via local farm stand or store, will undoubtedly offer you a better price than anything else.
(Local Harvest is a website dedicated to helping you find local farm stores and CSAs in your area)
Tip .02: buy your protein locally and in bulk. A 1/4 beef will last our family of 6 an entire year, and that’s using it typically 3-4 nights a week. We also harvest our own chickens, but you can also buy those locally and in bulk, and 50 chickens will last us a year…making about one a week, which we can get 2-3 meals out of. Yes it is a larger up front cost, and you will need to make sure you have the freezer space for it, but can you imagine not buying meat for an entire year?! The savings are definitely there, and the quality of pastured chicken and grass raised grass finished beef are unrivaled… not to mention if you can find a farm that honors them animal and the earth at a high regard, you will find not only the highest nutrient value in your meat, but also you’ll know it was humanely raised and the pasture it was on was cared for accordingly as well.
Tip .03: stretch your protein. When making chicken, I will cook a whole chicken in the crock pot on low for about 6 hours. I add a rough chopped onion, a handful of baby carrots, salt, pepper, and a few sprigs of herbs into the pot to cook down with the chicken. Then I pick all the meat off and store it in a glass container in the fridge for meals that week ( when padded with veggies, I can spread this into two meals – think enchiladas with beans and corn, and rice, or chicken noodle soup, or chicken pasta with veggies). Then I fill the crock pot back up with filtered water and all of the bones and things left over, and cook on low for 12 hours (usually overnight). In the morning you’ll have about 4 quarts of rich bone broth that can be used for a third meal to make soup! I usually use this to make vegetable soup or broccoli cheese soup. So that gives me 3 meals from one chicken! With beef, we pad with vegetables as well, and for our family of 6, I can get away with one pound of ground beef for sauces or tacos.
Tip .04 Bake your own bread and snacks. Honestly, besides being way healthier for you, baking your own bread will also save you a lot of money each month, especially if you are buying your flour in bulk from Azure. I typically bake two loaves of artisan sourdough (sharing recipe on instagram this week!) and three loaves of sourdough sandwich bread each week. We also make our own granola each week that the kids eat with milk or yogurt, and we typically bake a few batches of muffins or sweet breads for breakfasts and snacks.
Tip .05: get a monthly order from Azure Standard. We’ve been customers of azure for a few years now, and when I really focus on getting everything we need from them (except for what we are buying locally), I can see a big difference in costs. They are a direct from producer to consumer grocer essentially…so you meet the truck and it gets loaded directly off of there and into your hands; no middle man to mark things up. There are no membership costs or anything like that… you just go on their website and choose the drop closest to you. It happens once a month, and so i’ll order my pantry and freezer items from them.
I don’t buy all of these things every month, but these are all things I do always have on hand from azure:
Grass fed butter