We are absolutely thrilled today to introduce you to Trisha of the beautiful blog, Eat Your Beets! Trisha’s blog is incredibly informative on a range of subjects that many mom’s are searching for today. Trisha not only blogs delicious and simple gluten-free/paleo/GAPS friendly recipes, but she also writes about fashion tips for busy moms, easy-going fitness, and parenting advice, all with absolutely beautiful photography. In fact, it was her beautiful photography that drew us to Trisha on Instagram.
You may not know this, but Stacy’s favorite food photography is well constructed, partially-eaten, overhead table shots. In fact, Real Life Paleo is inspired by this style – including the just updated cover! It was this love of photography that drew Stacy into following Trisha on Instagram, where she has a true gift for taking artfully arranged aerial shots of her family’s Real Food mealtimes, and we highly suggest you follow her!
Today Trisha combines her beautiful photography with her ability to answer to complicated question in simple ways. How can you manage to feed a large family real food and still pay all the other bills? Find out in today’s guest post! And if you’re looking for more ideas, we’ve flagged all our affordable recipes and other ideas to save money in our Planning & Affordability tag on the site, including this popular one from 2011!
How do we feed a large family with Real Food?
If you’ve ever seen my kids take down a whole rotisserie chicken there’s one thing that cannot be denied. My kids can eat.
My kids can tear through an evening dinner like a bunch of ravenous raccoons, leaving nothing more than a pile of crumbs in their wake, so you can imagine I get asked quite often – just how do we make this work?
How do we manage to feed a family of 6 (4 kiddos under 9) real food & how much does it cost?
I’m not going to break down our average grocery bill but I will say that our monthly food expense is our second largest payment, after our mortgage. I’m sure my husband is shaking his head somewhere right now but with food being so important to our family, we’ve both agreed to make food a big priority so I’m going to share some tips on how we make it work.
1. Buy in Bulk
I’m a big fan of Costco. BIG FAN. We are really fortunate to have a great Costco with lots of organic options so I hit that store once a week. In my experience, I can spend about the same as what I’d spend in a grocery store but I get more food per dollar. I load up on fruits & veggies there, especially organic frozen veg. If we’re having a long week I know I’ll always have a monster bag or two of frozen beans, broccoli, etc. We’ve also just started buying our meat from a local farm. I can tell you this was one thing we were planning to do for years but it just took some time to make it happen. When we moved to our local area I started researching farms & finally found one I loved. We made arrangements to buy 1/4 of a grass fed cow & 1/2 a pig & then invested in a chest freezer. I would say that buying our meat in bulk was one of the single smartest things we did in saving money (& time). Our price per pound was set so it didn’t fluctuate as store prices can do, but more importantly we weren’t running out to the store every few days to get more meat for dinner. You know you can never leave a grocery store with just that pound of beef & bacon you needed. Buying in bulk saved us from random grocery store visits providing less opportunities to pick up other things we ‘needed’.
2. Grow Your Food
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked in the fridge only to realize we have eaten almost everything. That’s when I run outside & pick our dinner. By growing our own veggies we’ve been able to save money on produce, especially when it comes to easy growers like zucchini, lettuce, kale, beets, green beans & herbs. This year I actually grew 3 cabbages that easily fed us 4-5 meals each! I think it’s totally worth taking some time & money to set up some raised bed gardens in your backyard & experiment with what you can easily grow. As you begin to collect your harvest & you find you have more than you can eat (it happens!) you can then venture out & start swapping backyard veggies with your neighbors. Our neighborhood does a veggie swap in the summers & my backdoor neighbor & I live close enough we like to share out of each other’s garden boxes as well. Your kiddos will get a kick out of helping grow your food & be more likely to try new veggies they may not have liked before. I have a kiddo who won’t touch a sugar snap pea – unless it’s picked off our vine in the backyard!
3. Shop Local
We are really fortunate to live in an area where we have access to lots of local producers. Every week we pick up raw milk & we have access to amazing farmer’s markets in the summers. Shopping local not only gives money back to the hardworking farmers in the area but it gets you in touch with where your food is coming from & who’s producing it. You’re also stretching your dollar by purchasing fresh produce that won’t go bad as quickly. Buying locally & in season allows you to find great deals on produce & eggs & several markets also allow assistance programs like SNAP. By purchasing from local farms my kiddos are introduced to the concept of allocation. If we drink all our raw milk, then there’s no more milk till the following week. I hear them all the time telling each other to save some milk for a sibling because that’s all that’s left! They’ve also learned the importance of knowing where our food is coming from & supporting local businesses.
4. Use it Up
We work really hard at using up all the food we buy & nothing bugs me more than having something go bad. Buying local produce helps extend the life of our veggies but sometimes we have to get creative. Instead of using a recipe, some nights I’ll just chop up all the veg that’s about to go bad & we’ll eat a big stir fry or I’ll make 2-3 veggie sides. If a recipe calls for one veg, try substituting something else you have on hand. Lots of herbs can be interchanged easily for a similar flavor or creating an all new twist on an old dish. Keeping your produce washed & ready also lends itself to be eaten more readily, especially when it comes to kids who are looking for a quick & easy snack. Consider keeping a snack drawer in your fridge where the kiddos have access to fresh fruit & veggies so when they come begging for a snack they’ll know where to go. Learning how to can or freeze your produce can help stretch your dollars as well!
5. Make Your Own Snacks + Kitchen Staples
You know what’s expensive? Packaged snacks. I try & stay away from them as much as possible. A bag of trail mix or jerky won’t last more than an afternoon in my house so I prefer to make as much of the snacks as possible. A dehydrator is great for drying fruits, nuts, jerky, fruit leather, etc. I make all our own bone broth as well which helps me get every penny out of each chicken we buy. Instead of throwing away scraps or trimmings of carrots, celery, fennel & onions. I store them in the freezer to help boost the flavor of our broth.Start experimenting with making your own stocks, kefir, sauerkraut & more so you’ll be able to benefit from these foods without breaking the bank. Then move over to condiments! The more you can make at home, the less you’ll spend at the store!