Today I received this comment on my post about Sam's Autism Improvement on Video:
I have just seen this link posted on a Facebook page. I'm really curious about how this works.
My son is 6 and he has Aspergers. I have tried homeopathy but it didn't work.
He has a good diet but due to his condition I am unable to work, and we live on just my partners wage, therefore don't have money to buy organic etc foods...
I'd love some advice on how to get started xx
I figured I would just put my answer in its own blog post since it's likely to get a little lengthy!
First of all, like yours, our family is a one-income family. So, I hope that our family's experience will be useful to you.
I know this is obvious, but I'm going to point it out anyway. The first thing our family did to free up funds for increased food costs was to look at other areas of our budget. We had to figure out what areas could be decreased so that our grocery budget could increase. For instance, we do not pay for any TV service whatsoever. Doing without a cable/satellite bill and other things like trash service have freed up money that can now go towards good quality foods. So, first of all I'd look to find other areas of your budget that can be reassigned.
After analyzing and making changes to the budget, we had to go through and define our priorities. While I would love to eat only all organic fruits and vegetables and only pastured meat and only grass-fed dairy and only local raw honey and..you get the idea. Realistically I purchase my fruits and vegetables SOME organic and SOME conventional. For our meat I purchase SOME pastured and SOME conventional. I have to make some concessions because we just can't afford to do everything perfect. So, I would suggest that your family decide what is your highest priority and make decisions accordingly.
Here's were I currently acquire our foods:
I purchase chicken in bulk once a year from a farm that raises pastured poultry. I buy one year's worth all at once because there's a huge cost savings by buying in bulk.
I purchase conventionally-raised local pork from a local butcher. I buy 1/2 a pig at a time, again for the cost savings. (Would love to have pastured pork, but it's very hard to find and also very expensive. Priorities..)
I purchase hormone/antibiotic free beef that is grass/hay fed (no grain) from a friend. I purchase 1/2 a cow at a time, again for the cost savings.
We raise our own rabbits and butcher them ourselves for meat.
My husband will be deer hunting this year and will (Lord willing) get one or two deer.
Whenever we purchase our beef and pork, I always ask to be given the fat from the animal. Then I render the fat myself in order to get a lot of good lard and tallow. The processors that I use don't charge any extra for providing the fat.
I purchase my pure olive oil and extra virgin olive oil from Sam's Club. It's not organic, but it's what we can afford. (Obviously, this is lower on my list of priorities.)
I bought my coconut oil in bulk from Nutiva. I think I purchased something like 10 or 12 gallons last time in order to get the best discounts and free shipping.
Finally, whenever I cook any meats, I always save the fats. We make burger patties and I save the fat to add to mashed cauliflower. We cook bacon and I save the fat to season green beans. We bake a pork loin roast and I save the fat to scramble eggs in the next morning. I roast a chicken and I save the fat to add into soups. Nothing gets wasted.
Fruits and Vegetables
Oh, there's so many sources for these foods. Of course we grow some of our own in our garden and orchard. However, we don't yet come anywhere near providing all of our own fruits and vegetables. I still purchase a lot.
I purchase non-organic avocados ($0.69 each), lemons ($0.25 each), and cauliflower ($1.99 each) from Aldi. They have great, low prices on their conventionally grown produce.
I purchase organic carrots from Kroger. I can get 5 pounds for $4.99 usually, but this week they were on sale for $3.99! I haven't found anyone else that beats their prices on organic carrots.
I purchase non-organic brussel sprouts ($4.97 for 2 pounds) and mushrooms ($3.98 for 24 ounces) from Sam's Club. I also get organic baby carrots ($3.98 for 3 pounds) and organic spinach ($3.97 for 1 pound) from Sam's Club.
Each month I place an order with Azure Standard. Having them deliver locally has been a huge blessing for our family. Every month I purchase all of my organic frozen green beans, broccoli, and peas in bulk. I also get organic onions and organic miniature pickling cucumbers for all the fermented pickles we consume. This next month they have a great deal on butternut squash. It's not perfect quality so it's sold at a discounted rate. I don't care if my squash looks pretty or not, so I'm stocking up by buying 40 pounds. Keeping an eye out on those good deals and stocking up then really does save our family quite a bit of money.
I also utilize our local Farmer's Market. This summer I was able to purchase a lot of organic green peppers. It's so difficult to find organic green peppers in stores, so I snatched up whatever I could find at the Farmer's Market. Then I dehydrated the green peppers. I now have enough organic green peppers to last our family until next year's growing season.
I know there are other foods that I haven't listed, but you get the idea. Basically, I make a point to keep track of food prices so I can recognize a good deal. Whenever I run across a good deal, I stock up. Yes, it costs more one time, but then you don't have to buy any more for quite a while. Also, our family has found that buying good quality food motivates us to learn to provide it for ourselves. I see how much money I spend each month on produce and it spurs me on to produce a larger, more successful garden.
It also takes time to research and find new sources for good quality foods. You may have to settle for conventionally-raised beef until you can find a source for good quality beef. Networking with other like-minded families can be beneficial. I've come across many resources this way that I wouldn't have discovered myself. It's great when friends contact me to let me know that they've found a good sale. Oftentimes, a group of friends can make a bulk purchase together in order to receive a discount and then divide everything up amongst themselves.
Ultimately, I think the best thing is just to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Small, continuous improvements will eventually get you somewhere. At least you're moving in the right direction.
Anyway...Anonymous, I hope that helps get you started. If I can help in any way, please don't hesitate to contact me.
(This post is proud to be part of Real Food Wednesday.)