Nourishing Food on a Budget and Feeding the Hungry

Before I started food blogging, I was completely unaware of the multitude of blogs devoted to food and cooking. While I consider it a worthy topic for a blog (obviously), I was amazed at how much blog space was devoted to this topic. Still, while many think the topic of food not worth the time of any deep thought or consideration, I personally feel that something we do numerous times throughout the day is worth improving and thinking about. I have also found that what I eat greatly effects my health, which in turn effects my quality of life, which in turn effects how effectively I can serve my family and community. I think it’s very important.

But at some point you are faced with the question of how much time and money can you put into your own pleasure and health when there are so many less fortunate than you, even starving in the world. Or, what if you really desire and even need to invest more money in buying more healthy food, but simply can’t afford it? These are some of the questions that came up in the comment section in a recent post and I am very glad to have the opportunity to address them, even if briefly.

Limited Budget/Limited Time

Maggie asked the great question, ” How do busy people on a budget make it [eating healthy] work?”. That’s a great question Maggie! One in which I am still figuring out the answer too. 😉

I would like to mention first, that I am definitely in the category of not being able to afford all that I would wish on food. My husband and I have made buying nourishing food a priority. We don’t own nice, new cars, we don’t buy a lot of new clothes or other new things, and currently don’t own a house. While we would love to be able to set more aside for our future, we also consider our health an investment for the future, and so have chosen not to sacrifice that in the pursuit of more savings. Yet, even with those sacrifices, I could easily spend a lot more on food if I had unlimited resources. My strategy is to simply do the very best I can with the resources I have. It’s simple and it’s really the only choice I have. And that’s my advice to others who also don’t have unlimited resources. While I do encourage others to make your health a priority, I also realize we can be very limited by our budget.

So how do we make this work? Can we eat healthy food and be on a budget as well? I think we can, within reason. My budget is probably middle ground. I am certainly not trying to win any prizes in frugality (that’s not my goal), but I also have a much lower budget than many others. My husband will be going to college in a few weeks, and we will be quite tight financially. I hope that I am able to share my successes in being able to be frugal and still be feeding us nourishing food. There is no simple answer to how to make that work, but it takes time, energy and thought in figuring out how to make it work for your family.

I also will be in a more limited time frame this upcoming fall, so I plan on not having as much time in the kitchen. But that’s okay, I just need to continue to get smarter in my meal planning. Freezer meals, simple soups, crockpot dish,s simple rice/veggie/meat dishes, etc will find their way to my table more often. I have personally found that making my own chicken broth and transforming that into a variety of soups has done wonders for my budget. They are also very fast and easy to make. I will try to share my time saving ideas as well throughout the year. While I can only direct you to a few resources on this blog so far (Nourishing Frugal Food Carnival, 12 Tips For Squeezing Nutrient Rich Food From Your Dollar, Making Changes and searching for more frugal and easy recipes in the recipe index), I do invite you to come along on my journey as I share what I am learning and what works for me. 🙂 I hope that you all can share your successes as well with us.

Here are just a few other links you may find helpful.

Cooking from Scratch while keeping your day job

Your Family could be eating organic food for less than Processed food
12 Foods you don’t Have to Buy Organic

What about the Starving Multitudes?

Sage WiseOwl brought up the important topic of the less fortunate. I hope that the above answers your concerns a little, Sage WiseOwl (though there will never be a complete answer to this problem). But I wanted to take this topic a little further by really considering what we can do personally in helping the needy.

This was just the opportunity I was looking for to address a topic close to my heart. As we seek to be wise in how we feed ourselves and our family, we are also at risk of being self-centered if that care doesn’t extend to others. In fact, this is an issue that I have been giving great thought too. People who just talk about how sad it is for the less fortunate, but never do anything to make a difference, don’t truly care. True care for the destitute takes action. I also don’t admire people who spend less on food because “others couldn’t afford it”, but don’t offer any of the money they are saving to others. It’s only depriving their family, without helping anyone. On the other side, I seek to emulate those who have chosen to live simply to give freely to others.

Along those same lines, I have been thinking about the example I want Elena to have in me as a parent. I want to instill in her a love of giving. A common thing for parents to say to a child who is refusing to eat their dinner is, “There are millions of starving children around the world who would love to eat what you have. Eat your food!” While this might instill some gratitude for their own provision, whether they eat their food or not makes not an iota of a difference to anyone in need.

I feel that all of these attitudes are wrong, or at least have some wrong in them. Real care must take action. Because of a growing conviction that this is an important part of our lives, I will be hosting an blogging event in the fall that addresses this issue of doing real sacrifices to give real help to those in need. While everyone must decide for themselves where the line lies between serving self and family and helping others, I hope that this will serve to help us give serious thought to what we personally should be doing to help those less fortunate than us.

In the end, I have no simple answers (no one does), but I am excited about the opportunities this blog presents to be able to be a resource for us in our pursuit of nourishing food within our budget, and future discussions of how to extend provision to others in need.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. Sarah says

    You are a great resource and inspiration, thank you!

    I am by no means the most frugal, but I’m certainly not throwing money away and I appreciate the Mercola link; I haven’t seen that one before! I make our smoothies or oatmeal for breakfast, we have leftovers of real food for lunch and I cook from scratch several times a week (eating the leftovers for lunches and normally at least once a week.) We shop seasonally at the Farmer’s Market (and I scout out the $1.00/lb produce each week so I can buy the more expensive pasture-fed eggs, raw milk or raw honey) and our health food co-op. I find it disheartening sometimes to read the “frugal” blogs as they focus on coupons and most of the coupons I see are for items that we do not eat; boxed items full or preservative-full, corn-syrup-full, msg-full food ad cleaning products that I can’t keep safely around my son. I appreciate your blog for inspiration!


  2. Kimi Harris says

    I have also experienced the same discouragement in reading “frugal” blogs that concentrated on non-nutritious food. I had to stop reading them because I was getting discouraged in how “much” I spend on food when others would get buy on so little each week.

    I am so thankful that this blog has been an encouragement to you! It sounds like we take a pretty similar approach to cooking. 🙂 I hope that this blog can prove to be a meeting place of like-minded people, where we can all encourage each other and help each other out in our pursuit of eating well. 🙂

  3. Robert says

    Your blog is so helpful and encouraging! I have been a lurker for a while, so I thought it was time to comment. 🙂 I really appreciate your links and tips for serving nutritious meals on a budget.

    One of the things that I do when money is extremely tight is to buy organic beans and grains and cook a variety of meals, rounding the meals out with fresh produce. I use the dirty dozen lists and try to buy organic and seasonal produce. There isn’t a lot of variety, but sometimes we can’t afford healthful variety in food.

    I am definitely no expert. I don’t always cook as healthfully as I would like to due to time and budget constraints, so I really enjoy reading blogs like yours that encourage me to work into a healthful lifestyle. Thanks for all of your input!


  4. Sarah says

    I am only starting to learn what is truly healthy and ‘nourishing’ to the human body. It’s a long process. And we don’t have a lot of money for food either. At first I thought it was incredibly expensive to eat healthy. But as I get away from prepared and get to the sources of ‘real’ food, I am finding it’s not as expensive as I thought. And as I scout out sources where I can buy certain things in bulk and freeze them when in season-it’s actually cheaper.

    And, as I go along this journey, I find that God has brought people into our paths who we can help in little ways. Lending or buying ‘Nourishing Traditions’ for someone. Buy an extra gallon of raw milk for someone.

    I’d love to find another family that I can prepare extra meals for when I am preparing my own, that is truly needy.

    I do believe if we are open, God will put the right people in our lives who we can truly help. Not only by providing food, but by showing God’s love and grace as well.

    Even your blog is a blessing and truly helps others along the same path.
    God bless and keep up the great work!

  5. Sage WhiteOwl says

    Thank you for addressing these concerns. I am forever learning from you & everyone that leave comments. Looking foward to whats' next.
    Again THANK YOU!

  6. Anonymous says

    I found it to be cheaper to shop ‘nutritiously’ rather than not. I even had a guy look into my cart recently and exclaim, “Wow, you must cook…” Yes, I replied, “I work full time and cook nutritious meals ever day.”

    I had about a weeks worth of meals in my cart, I don’t know how many days of food the other person had, but mine was much less money…

  7. Badger says

    Loved this post and loved following all the links to such great tips! And I especially love that you’ve opened up a dialog on this issue.

    One of the goals of my food blogging is to show people that meals prepared from whole foods don’t have to be expensive or complicated. I get so many comments from people lamenting that they don’t have TIME to cook fresh vegetables, whole grains, etc. and it makes me CRAZY! With a little advance planning it does NOT take any more time to cook whole foods than it does to stick a box of frozen junk into the microwave. Simple preparations and taking advantage of “down” time by using a slow-cooker or an oven on low heat makes this kind of cooking just as fast and convenient as any other.

    On the budget issue, I really think a lot of people don’t realize how inexpensive a whole foods diet can be. Look in any Sunday paper and you will see loads of coupons for processed JUNK, and people think they are saving money by buying that stuff with the coupons. Hello, you can make several meals from a bag of plain brown rice, some fresh seasonal veggies and cheap cuts of meat that will cost WAY less per serving than that box of salty flavored rice, even with the coupon! And you will be getting actual nutrients and not just a mouthful of starch and sodium!

    I really hope that the more we all talk/write about what we are putting on the table and how, the more people will realize that it’s not difficult OR expensive to cook/eat/shop this way.

  8. Maggie says

    I am a grad student in Indiana and recently went from eating healthy to almost vegan. I don’t have a lot of choice in where I can shop. I plan on going to the farmer’s market but that stops in October. It will be a challenge to eat healthy and not spend a lot. The regular grocery stores here do not even sell bags of brown rice. Hopefully we will figure out some good tips and meal ideas that do not take a lot of time and money.


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