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Organics vs family budget


My husband and I recently adjusted our family budget and we are really sticking to it. I like our open conversations about our finances and how we work together as a team. I just don't like budgets (but who does?). Anyways, we went to Costco today. Our grocery budget is not as flexible as it was with our past family budgets so my husband was tallying our purchases as we added things to our cart.

I've written before about our family diet and how we are trying to eat healthier (read "The first step"). We have kicked out a lot of bad ingredients and brought down the ingredient count on each of the items we purchase. I really try to make as much home made foods as I can and narrow down our processed foods. However, I'm not one to spend all day in the kitchen, so we do have some processed foods in our house. (I'm hoping organic cereal with no artificial ingredients is better than GMO artificial cereal-- lol!)

So here we are at Costco, shopping the aisles. I am always so disappointed at how expensive it is to buy organic items, especially things that I really want to get organic, like dairy and meat. I do buy the organic ground beef because my family likes it so much better. Even my husband notices when I buy low quality beef. But the organic whole chickens were nowhere near price comparable. I bought two whole regular chickens for $8.65 combined (ranging from $8-$10). The 2-pack of organic whole chickens ranged in price from $27 to $30. The refrigerated chicken breasts were again the same price difference. I absolutely hate cheap chicken breasts, injected with fillers. They just taste weird. I just cannot afford to buy the much smaller, much more expensive packs of organic chicken breasts; one of those packs would last our family one dinner. I buy the frozen Coleman All-Natural chicken breasts. I hate that vague term, all-natural, especially since companies like Tyson claim "all-natural." It makes me feel better buying the frozen Coleman All-Natural chicken breasts than buying the yellow, salt-water injected packs of regular refrigerated chicken breasts, next to the organic chicken breasts. In North Carolina, when I lived near a Harris Teeter, I would watch the sales at Harris Teeter and buy the organic chicken breasts up every time they went on sale, stocking my freezer up.

The same thing works for other staples in our family diet. I cannot find room in our grocery budget to buy organic milk, even in bulk at Costco. Today we bought 2 gallons because we already had 2 gallons in our garage fridge. We use so much milk! And the 18-pack of organic eggs is almost $8. We buy a box of 7 and a half dozen eggs (90 eggs!) $9.99. A 2-pound bag of organic sugar is $10.99; the 2-pound bag of regular sugar is $3.99. Frown face.

I feel like I do the next best thing. I do our best to buy raw foods, cook home cooked meals from scratch. I make the best processed food choices that I can (thank you places like Costco and Trader Joe's for carrying a lot of organic options); I read all the ingredients lists, avoiding "fake" organic items (how is something "organic" if it only contains one organic ingredient and has artificial flavors? My favorite is the organic Costco tortilla chips-- organic corn and hydrogenated oils.).

My husband doesn't share all my thoughts on organic food. I think he believes I'm a hippie. Maybe I am. I don't think everything has to be labeled organic. Here is what I wish: that we didn't have artificial ingredients in the first place. What the heck is fractionated palm oil? Also, if you Google search, palm oil, the origin of a lot of palm oil is really sad... What is wrong with olive oil and canola oil? Why do we need to add all the food colorings? I'm sure there are answers out there. I am sure there is a reason that companies headed down the path they chose-- like why Betty Crocker cake mixes have all those artificial ingredients-- and I'm hoping that it isn't just because it was the cheapest way to go. And GMOs really do just feel wrong.

All this ranting about affording organic and real foods and tonight is Halloween. We have three Costco bags of candy waiting and our kids basically ate chocolate for lunch. Oh, the irony.

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