Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Organic on the cheap

I've been thinking a lot about eating healthier lately and especially for my babies. They drink organic milk and I buy mostly organic fruits and vegetables for them, but I still have been trying to "healthify" our meals. I think I had a major "light bulb moment" when I watched the Oprah show a few weeks ago that featured the overweight teens. Dr. Oz was talking about some of the foods to avoid (like white foods: sugar, flour, rice) and really reading labels.

Also, a few months ago, Dr. Oz was on again and asked the audience to select three foods to eliminate from their diet and three foods to add to their diet. After watching that episode, Husband and I read a few of the labels in our pantry and realized we needed to do better. Our three items to eliminate were: soda (which we really don't drink all that much anyway), bread that doesn't meet the "healthy" criteria, and cereal that doesn't meet the "healthy criteria". Our three items to add to our diet were: walnuts (good source of Omega-3), more fish (thus the once a week fish item on our dinner menu), and more vegetables (thus the subscription to the CSA).

As I started to buy more of these healthy items, I realized that I could get processed food really cheap (sometimes free!) but healthier items were going to be more expensive and my grocery budget was going to have to shift to make that adjustment.

One way that I integrate more organic and healthy-for-you foods is by shopping at Trader Joe's. I'm a big fan and the more I shop there, the more I love it. Their produce is often less expensive than the grocery chains or even Whole Foods. They carry both conventional and organic varieties, which allows you to realize that organic is not always that much more expensive.

Signing up for the CSA isn't necessarily cheaper. However, it "forces" me to add more fruits and vegetables to my family's diet, which is something I might not be motivated to do on my own. Also, I know the produce is picked in the last day or so and has not traveled from Chile or Mexico or even Texas to get to my table. The nutrients I need are still in the food! I'm willing to pay a little extra for these benefits.

Now I've heard that Costco is starting to jump on the organic bandwagon, but it has been ages since I've been there. I'm hoping to take a trip there soon to do some research (and maybe get a few free samples!), so I'll let you know what I find.

For those of you who already get great organic stuff on the cheap, how do you do it?

***I'm picking up our first CSA order today, so I'll give you a report later in the week!

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