Sometimes, our busy lives make it difficult to reflect on our food and lifestyle choices. Most of us have loads of responsibilities both at work and at home–how can we possibly make every choice as healthy as possible? Frankly, we can’t. We can only do what is in the realm of our abilities and within the context of our crazy lives.
As my family has recently moved, we have been swamped with packing, cleaning, unpacking, organizing, and attempting to maintain our everyday schedules. It has been a trying experience, especially while striving to maintain a constructive mindset in the midst of our unsettled chaos.
But, the days go on no matter how stressed-out or happy we may be. So, are there any quick tips on eating well during stressful times? YES! Though many of us are already health-minded, I thought I’d share some tidbits on how to eat well during busy and possibly financially-challenging situations.
1.Buy non-organic fruits and vegetables on the “Clean Fifteen” list. Separately, purchase organic foods on the “Dirty Dozen” list in order to avoid pesticide and herbicide-sprayed produce. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to eat only organic foods, so, choose wisely. It’s not necessary to eat absolutely everything organically if some types of produce absorb minimal amounts of chemicals; hence, food on the “Clean Fifteen” list is safer to eat non-organically. This can be a great money-saving tip if you bring the “Clean Fifteen” and “Dirty Dozen” lists (found here) with you while shopping! (Special note: though tea can’t be found on either list, it is known to absorb concentrated amounts of the chemicals it is exposed to. Therefore, purchase and drink only organic tea in order to avoid side effects and build-up of nasty herbicides, pesticides, and even fertilizers.)
2.Buy and cook (or preserve by canning, freezing, or fermenting) in BULK. My family has invested in half a cow, which adds up to cheaper prices for healthy/safe cuts of meat. It has been a delicious and smart investment for us! Also, paying attention to which foods are in-season can land you cheaper prices, as well as buying food that is on sale, has a coupon, or can be price-matched. Additionally, buying grains and DRIED beans in bulk has its benefits. This way, you’re able to prepare the grains and beans correctly through soaking, sprouting, or fermenting them, along with getting a better price per amount.
3.If you have room, grow your own food. Elaborating on this one isn’t really necessary. There are ways to grow herbs, fruits, and vegetables on small plots of land, on your porch, or even inside your house, depending on how much space you have. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
4.Make freezer meals. They can be thrown in a crock pot, on the stove, or in the oven for an easy, already-made meal! My absolute favorite is soup (especially my turmeric tomato cabbage soup!). Another easy way is to put leftovers straight in the freezer for a future snack or meal. A family friend of ours makes once-a-month freezer meals: for one weekend every month, she and her husband spend time making many freezer meals that can be eaten throughout that month.
5.Buy INGREDIENTS, not finished products. Though this might seem like a way NOT to save time, it actually can. This way, your food is cheaper (bulk ingredients!) and more versatile (can be used in many different meals!). In the long run, it’ll save you many last-minute trips to the store and lots of money. An good example of this is buying a whole chicken and stretch that meal for days: make roast chicken, use the remaining fats, skin, bones, and whatever else to make chicken soup, and when you’re left with only bones, make some tasty chicken bone broth for the freezer. One ingredient made into many meals. It’s also easy to make big batches of basic ingredients for the week and use that ingredient multiple times (example: make a big batch of beans and turn it into burritos, tacos, chili, soup, and hummus!). There is so much flexibility in purchasing ingredients rather than processed, dead-end meals!
6.Visit the farmer’s market and grocery store clearance sections. Seriously, check out those areas and you’ll likely find some treasures to put in the freezer or munch on right away!
Though I’m just learning how to be more economical, I always try to save us as much as we can. After all, who doesn’t want to find a good deal on food they need? Happy shopping and happy late Mother’s Day to all you hard-working mamas! 🙂
Diane Stanislowski is a wife, mother, and researcher with the goal of restoring the practice of traditional holistic approaches to wellness and sharing evidence-based information with the public.
She lives in Grand Forks North Dakota with her husband and daughter Jane, and receives raw milk and pastured meats from Bartlett Farms.