20 Ways to Build a Whole Food Kitchen on a Half Price Budget

garden veggies

Making a trip to the grocery store these days is like running a gauntlet.  From one side you are assaulted by food-like substances in brightly labeled packages, some even touting exaggerated health benefits from the toxins within.  From the other side, you are gouged and poked by cleverly marketed “natural” foods that are 4 times the price of conventional foods.  When you change directions to avoid one onslaught, you are immediately attacked by the other.

We’re at war and the grocery store is the battlefield.

That war has been declared on us by multiple enemies with unlimited budgets, such as Monsanto, Big Pharma, Big Agri and Big Food.  What’s even worse is that they are aided and abetted by their allies at the FDA and the US Congress, administrations peopled by those who are actually supposed to be the gatekeepers that protect us from this.

What’s a frugal whole food shopper to do?

Lots of people write to me and say, “I’d love to eat the way you do, but I can barely afford regular groceries. There’s no way I could afford all that healthy stuff.”

Good food might be expensive, but as the saying goes, have you checked out the price of illness lately?

If you don’t believe you can afford to eat healthfully, consider the high price of being sick and lethargic.  Calculate the cost of days missed from work for illness. Add up the price of having no energy to play with your kids or to do things that would help you to save money.  Think about the exorbitant prices of medical care.  Many of these things are completely avoidable – all you have to do is feed your body real food and you will be astounded at the resultant glowing health.  How much money have you spent over the last year fighting ill health that could have been avoided through good nutrition?

GMOs have been proven to cause cancer, ghastly tumors, organ failure, and death.  Many of the additives included in the products proudly displayed on grocery store shelves have been banned in other countries because of the health consequences they wreak.  Top this with a produce section absolutely drenched in pesticides that have been proven to result in cancer, hormone disruptions, and learning problems in children.

To quote the Terminator, “Come with me if you want to live.”

We all know the reasons that we should switch to whole foods, but with the ever-increasing checkout counter inflation, how can we make it happen? Here are a few realistic tips that do not include relocating to 30 acres of prime springfed organic  farmland blocked off on 3 sides by mountain ranges. Realistically, you may not be able to make every one of these things happen, but for each positive change you make, you are taking steps towards better health and you are revolting against the toxic food cartel.

  1. Buy local. Ideally, you never need to set foot in a grocery store.  Change your shopping habits and buy from local farmers, either directly from their farm or from a farmer’s market.  You will get your produce at the optimum time, right after it was picked. As well, you can directly ask the farmer about his practices.  Sometimes farmers grow organically and they just haven’t gone through the expensive and highly regulated certification programs that exist to increase the monopoly of factory farms. (Find a local farm HERE.)
  2. Join a food co-op or CSA. This is win-win, because it helps out the farmers and it helps out your family.With both of these options, you can register ahead of time (in some cases you pre-pay for the season) and then receive a box brimming with abundance from your own area.  You will get to try lots of new things (this is how we tried one of our family favorites, rutabaga, for the first time) and you will get to do this at a fraction of the price.
  3. Buy produce that is in-season. Purchasing food that is in-season is not just cheaper, it is nutritionally beneficial too.  Buying strawberries in January and asparagus in October requires that the produce be picked before it is fully ripe, and the produce begins to decompose and lose nutrients the second it is separated from the plant.  Avoid the high cost of transporting your “fresh” Christmas berries and melons and stick to the items that nature is currently providing in your area.
  4. Grow as much as you can in the space you have.  Plant a sunny windowsill with salad veggies and herbs, grow a container garden on a balcony, or turn your yard into a mini-farm.  Every bite of food you grow yourself is a revolutionary act.
  5. Plan your menu AFTER shopping, not before. This allows you to stay on budget because you aren’t shopping for special ingredients to make pre-planned meals. You can take advantage of the best deals and plan your meals around those.  This can also help by keeping those unplanned budget purchases from going to waste in your crisper drawer while you carry on with your planned menu.
  6. Drink water. We generally stick to drinking water. Not fluoridated tap water – we purchase 5 gallon jugs or fill them in a spring when that option is available.  Water is cheaper and healthier.  Beverages that you make yourself like coffee and tea are far less expensive than the soda pop and energy drinks that fill most modern refrigerators, not to mention, relatively free of the toxic chemicals that overflow in the store-bought drinks.
  7.  Buy staples in bulk. Organic grains like brown rice, wheat berries, cornmeal, barley and oatmeal can be purchased in bulk quantities.  This reduces the price to lower than or equivalent to the smaller conventional packages that are offered in your local grocery store.
  8. Buy some meats frozen instead of fresh.  Some butcher shops freeze meat that isn’t sold immediately and sell if for a lower price.  Look for deals on frozen chicken breasts, frozen fish, and frozen turkey breast. Fish is nearly ALWAYS cheaper frozen. Just read your ingredients carefully and make sure you are just getting fish, and that the fish is from a safe source (not the radiation-laden Pacific Ocean, for example, or a tilapia farm where they feed fish their own recycled feces).
  9. Buy meat in bulk.  Look into buying beef in quantity.  Check out the prices at local farms for a quarter of a cow.  You will pay slightly more for the lesser cuts but much less for the better quality cuts.  It balances out to a much lower price for meat farmed in the healthiest way possible.
  10. Add some lower priced protein options.  While lots of us would love to have grass-fed beef and free range chicken breasts twice a day, the cost is prohibitive.  Add value-priced wholesome protein with beans, farm fresh eggs, homemade yogurt and cheese, nuts, and milk.
  11. Stop eating out. Just one McCrud meal for a family of 4 is between $20-30.  Delivered pizza is about $25 plus a tip. The $45-55 that you would spend for this “convenience” could buy a lot of whole foods.
  12. Get into the habit of bringing a cooler with you.  If you are going to be out running errands for the day, load up a cooler with healthy snacks, water, and even a picnic lunch.  This is the perfect answer to the lament from the back seat, “I’m huuuunnnngryyyy.”
  13. Don’t buy anything with an ingredients list greater than 5 items. The more items on the ingredients list, the more likely you are to be consuming someone’s chemistry project.  Even things that sound relatively innocuous, like “natural flavorings” can be, at best, unappetizing, and at worst, harmful.
  14. Cook from scratch. Cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be as time-consuming as you might expect.  I don’t spend hours each day slaving in the kitchen. Spend a weekend afternoon prepping your food for the week ahead and you can have weekday dinners on the table in less than half an hour.  Consider the price differences in homemade goods:  homemade tortillas (pennies for a package that would be $3 at the store), pizza dough, peanut butter oatmeal cookies, trail mix,  and granola bars. This stuff is literally pennies on the dollar in comparison to the same goods store-bought.
  15. Some conventionally grown foods are okay. Learn about the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen.  Some foods have a fairly low pesticide load, even when conventionally grown.  Use these foods to help offset the higher prices of items that are soaked in poison, like strawberries.
  16. You will actually eat LESS when you feed your body.  Part of the reason that the obesity problem is epidemic in North America is because people are desperately seeking nutrients from depleted food-like substances.  Their bodies are crying out, “I’m hungry!” even though they have consumed thousands of calories, because their nutritional requirements are not being met. What’s more, many chemicals are added because they are engineered in a way that makes you want to eat more and more (like MSG, for example).  They don’t stimulate the satiety centers in the brain that tell your body that it’s full.
  17. Brown bag your lunches.  When I worked outside the home, most of my coworkers ate out every single day.  They often invited me along, saying that a certain restaurant offered “healthy” food.  The thing is, the price of that presumably healthy food was 4-6 times higher than the healthy food that I had brought from home.  My daughter takes a healthy lunch from home to school every day, as opposed to eating the offerings there.  Depending on the school, this may or may not be cheaper, but it’s guaranteed to be more nutritious.
  18. Preserve food.  Whether you grow it yourself, rescue it from the “last day of sale” rack at the grocery store, or buy it by the bushel from a farmer, learning to preserve your own food allows you to buy in bulk and squirrel some of that delicious food away for the winter ahead.  Canning, dehydrating, and freezing are all methods to help extend the summer harvest for use later in the year.
  19. Eat leftovers.  The act of eating leftovers is almost unheard of, it seems.  But if you put aside small amounts of leftovers in a freezer container, you can make “soup” for a meal that is basically free because it came from items that would have otherwise been discarded.  Use larger amounts of leftovers for lunch boxes or  a “buffet-style” meal for the family.
  20. “Shop” from nature.  You might be surprised to learn how many edible plants are growing wild in your own neighborhood.  Even city dwellers can often find things to forage.  When we lived in the city, we used to pick up fallen walnuts from a tree in a local park.  For those not ethically opposed to it, hunting or fishing can abundantly supply your protein needs, and you don’t have to worry about whether or not you are consuming antibiotics and hormones with game.

If you’re ready to make a change to a whole foods lifestyle, don’t let your budget hold you back!  Take a long hard look at what you are spending on take-out coffees and lattes, fast food, delivered pizza, microwave meals, and frozen dinners that you shove into the oven. Look at the beverage budget you spend at the grocery store every week, and keep track of how many soda pops you buy from the vending machine at work. You might be pleasantly surprised when your budget goes down, instead of up!

About the author:

Please feel free to share any information from this site in part or in full, giving credit to the author and including a link to this website and the following bio.

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

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29 Comments  to  20 Ways to Build a Whole Food Kitchen on a Half Price Budget

  1. Joe says:

    Look into aquaponics. Its easy to do and inexpensive.

  2. Stealth Spaniel says:

    Whenever I think of healthy food, I picture my grandmother, my mother, and several aunts in my grandmother’s huge kitchen canning like mad. Someone was cutting up clean vegetables, someone else was scalding jars, another was attentive at the stove. I knew that eventually, the rows and rows of gorgeous colored food would appear in my grandmother’s pantry. The pantry was the size of a bedroom, and was run with military precision. Labeled with product, and date canned, they were lined up like soldiers in formation. There were always several boxes on that long kitchen table; to take to elderly neighbors or friends, to someone who lost a job, or just a person who needed a lift. I was 6 when my grandmother died and we moved away. I told my mother that I knew we were poor now, because we could only afford to go to a grocery store! My father came home to find my mother, me, and our cocker spaniel at the time, digging up the back lawn for a vegetable garden. Look I said. We aren’t gonna be poor anymore!
    It really is all perspective.

  3. GoneWithTheWind says:

    What a crock. GMO’s haven’t been proved to cause a single medical/health problem. You have some serious issues. Lookout! There is a GMO carrot behind that tree…

    • Daisy Luther says:

      GWTW –

      Independent research has proven numerous times that GMOs cause myriad health problems, up to and including death. However research done by Monsanto’s scientists tells a different tale – and if you’d prefer to accept that biased research as definitive, by all means, feel free.

      Please, enjoy your yummy GMOs and please, by all means, add some delicious chemical additives too. I wonder vaguely why you would opt to read articles on a website called “The Organic Prepper” if you are so adamantly pro-GMO, but hopefully some of the information provided here is helpful to you.

      Best wishes ~

      ~ Daisy

      • GoneWithTheWind says:

        Pure poppycock. There is zero evidence that GMO has caused any health problem. And please don’t cite Dr Weston Price or Infowars as evidence of anything. There are individuals and groups that exist for the single purpose of creating misinformation and propaganada about GMO. These groups have distorted and mischaracterized data. Believe them if that is your way of processing information but just understand you are being duped. Yes, I know, “Monsanto bad, whole foods good”. I get it you live in your own make believe world and you like it there. I prefer the truth and let the chips fall where they may. Someday GMO may well cause problems. Like any science we need to control it and use it carefully. But simply smearing it with lies is counterproductive in that it makes you look like a kook.

    • detroitjoe says:

      If what you say is true, why are GMO products banned throughout most of civilized Europe?

      • graduate student with BS in botany (aka the study of plants) says:

        Because they don’t re-seed like non-hybrid species (heirloom as you may know them). This means the country buying the crop from the producer has to buy it every year. Non-seeding crops do however prevent spread into the wild population, so good & bad.

        DO YOUR RESEARCH on EVERYTHING. I dare you people (everyone, pro & con) to read peer-reviewed 3rd party research papers.

        This site quotes a French study as determining GMO causes tumors. There is ZERO mention in that paper of tumors. Check your own citations.

        Here’s an interesting quote you guys ignored:
        “Clearly, the statistically significant effects observed here for all three GM maize varieties investigated are signs of toxicity rather than proofs of toxicity”

        No mater what, if there isn’t another green revolution (like the discovery of pesticides and artificial fertilizers), the increasing population on this planet will starve. You need some form of modification to crop species, and probably to start eating insects for protein. Then we’ll discover that vegetarians taste better. ;) This is analogous those groups declaring vaccines cause illness in children.

        “Males [rats] are clearly more sensitive than female animals to show physiological disturbances when fed NK 603 [GMO corn]. This is not observed for all three GM maize varieties. Moreover, most effects appear to be dose-dependent since 83% of male effects emerge ONLY at the 33% feeding level (15/18), the highest GM maize concentration in the diet.” — If you don’t make 33% of your diet a GMO crop with pesticide tolerance, then you could be fine.

        It’s always good to know what you put in your body, but base any extreme life decisions on facts, not hearsay. Remember, with very few exceptions, a RAT is not the same as a HUMAN. Take a science class. You’ll see a whole new world. And it’s fascinating!

    • Kristin West says:

      Even if that were true, at one point, it also hadn’t been proven that smoking caused any medical or health problems. Absence of proof does not cause proof of absence! Personally, I don’t need proof to know that I don’t want myself or my son eating something manufactured in a laboratory.

    • look over there says:

      Quit Trolling GWTW

  4. ItIsWhatItIs says:

    GWTW

    I’ve got to agree with Daisy…..you can stick your head in the sand all you want but there is plenty of research out there that doesn’ t come from Sally Fallon or Alex Jones that has shown GMO’s to be very dangerous.

    Pull your head out and get an education, then we can have a real debate about the issues instead of having to listen to you whine about smearing and propaganda. If you can’t do that maybe you should go whine somewhere else….just sayin’

  5. ItIsWhatItIs says:

    Thank you Daisy for all of this wonderful info….so glad to have stumbled across your site!

  6. CitznKate says:

    These are all good ideas. Learning to cook from scratch is probably the single most important skill I can think of, when it comes to having better control of one’s budget and one’s diet. Some of the best help I received in learning to cook from scratch came from the example provided by my grandmother, and some help came from books. Helpful books are available to train in how to buy, handle, cook, store, and preserve food. I have learned a lot from my 1984 hardbound copy of The Joy of Cooking, and my thrift-shop hardbound copy of the Culinary Arts Institute’s Encyclopedic Cookbook.

  7. KaytieRed says:

    Hi!
    Thank you for all of your great ideas! I struggle to find new recipes to keep us interested in each meal, but wouldn’t stop making most dishes from scratch for anything! We live in a place the doesn’t have a lot of organic options, but I still try my best to cook with the cleanest of ingredients available. Great site!!

  8. HyProGlo says:

    Gone With The Wind is a Douche Canoe…
    Chemicals in 85% of the food are dangerous
    I know it they know it and you know it.
    Americans need to go back to basics and back to school.
    Having gardens not lawns and decks.
    Break your chains and eat whole foods!
    Your suppose to win at life so take it and live it!

  9. sylvie says:

    Here is the deal. I can guarantee that ANYONE going to an organic supermarket and purchasing a chicken or some beef, then bringing it home and cooking it will absolutely be shocked at the difference in taste! You can actually taste them and the taste, well, it makes you feel pretty dang rich! Its sick really how much trash we are now eating instead of real food. Same things goes for tomatoes, bananas, oranges, carrots, green beans, etc… go out and spend a little more at an organic marketplace and it will not only blow your mind but probably irk ya real bad after realizing what you (and your family) have been eating the last few years. Take it from someone who knows what real food tastes like! I canned back in the 60s and 70s, kept up a rather large garden with other relatives on a nice large swath of land. My father-in-law had cattle, and ya, life was good. Life is what you make it these days. If you really plan on living healthy, you cannot afford the mainstream supermarkets anymore.

  10. KG says:

    Many people are blinded by the myth that Whole Foods are More Expensive. I believe that if we look at the bigger picture we will find that not only can we Do with Less, but we can Do it For Less. I myself have shifted from a lifestyle of mindless eating to a lifestyle of reading the ingredients before it goes into the shopping cart. The Grocery store is guaranteed to shrink in size when we start caring about the food we eat. We are becoming a New Generation of shoppers who care about what we eat and where it comes from. We don’t want dependence on someone else saying that its Safe. The Lies do not work anymore. We can be free we just need to eat organic bananas :)

  11. Wtf says:

    “Good food might be expensive, but as the saying goes, have you checked out the price of illness lately?”

    This is so depressing. HOW can the USA CHARGE YOU for being ill? No sense at all. :(

  12. SingleCollegeStudentOnHerOwn says:

    In regards to some of the previous comments posted on here, I would like to say the following:
    Insects, rats, humans… On a cellular level we are the same and we work the same. Anyone who went to high school will have learned this and even my sister (who is in fifth grade, by the way) has learned about this. So if the food we humans can eat the produce that was sprayed with a pesticide, we will eventually die as well. Pesticides work in the manner that when the pest or insect ingests the produce laden with it, they die. We are eating the same produce that not only killed those insects, but also have their remains on them.. Think on that!

    I live in Ohio, so there are a lot of foods that cannot be grown organically here. However, I have come up with a solution. Please keep in mind that I live in a one-bedroom apartment with a balcony and we are not allowed to grow anything on said balconies. I have started improving my fruit intake. I will soon have indoor plants… But instead of ferns and whatnot, I plan to have small fruit bushes and fruit trees… And there are many benefits to this. I get cleaner air since plants naturally filter toxins from the air and produce oxygen through photosynthesis. I get free food! Lol when the fruits are ripe, I can harvest them and either eat them, cook them, or preserve them..

    Also, since I do not get a whole lot of natural light in my apartment, can anyone give me some tips on setting up a container garden using artificial light? Like the certain kind of light I should use, etc… Thank you!

  13. Wisconsin Mom of 3 says:

    It’s hard to have a wonderful garden in Wisconsin. Our summer season 3 months long and if we get warm weather it just rains. Any tips on keeping a garden going in a short season?

  14. csheveily says:

    My husband and I are both on disability. He has seizures and I lost my arm to cancer. We have three children and it is very hard to buy higher priced foods. I would love to have a garden but not an option right now. We live in Indiana so we only have 4 months for growing one. You talk about cutting out going out to eat or coffees, we don’t do that and still are just scrapping barely by. I don’t understand why organic foods cost so much more than others? People who are really on a limited budget amount can’t afford a lot of it so why can’t our government do something about the cost of everything to make our people more healthy.

    • Damion says:

      The question isn’t why does organic cost so much more, it’s why does GMO cost so much less…simply put it is supply and demand. Organic means unaltered but also means minimally protected. So the GMO-, Pesticide-, and hormone- free farms next to the non – free farms are suffering from the varied pestilences that plague farms and crops destroy the 90% of this years crops while the non-free farms and crops still flourish. So When farmer free goes to market he needs to sell his 10% harvest to cover next seasons 100% planting, while farmer GMO gets to sell his 150% to cover next years 100% planting…

      I am all for eating as healthy as possible, but there are way too many people on here that are excessively extreme on their reactions… Anyone who has come out saying the sources cited are cited incorrectly or misrepresented are ignored and anyone claiming its a crock is met with hostility. Use common sense people, I saw one person claiming that 85% of our food is full of toxic chemicals, since they are using made up statistics I will correct them, 100% of our food, organic or otherwise, is full of toxic chemicals… it just so happens that in their existing structures the toxic chemicals happen to not be toxic.

      GMO is risky, because we don’t really know what we are doing with Genetics even though we think we do… However we need to figure it out, Unfortunately liberals are afraid that conservatives are going to use GM to make super soldiers to take over the world, just like conservatives are of the liberals as well since they even thought of the idea, and the conservatives are afraid the liberals are going to use GM to take away nature’s authority in individuality…Neither may be the case but both stand in the way of truly understanding what we are doing to ourselves, and threaten to take away the only option we have for feeding ourselves…

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