Tuesday, April 27, 2010
We celebrated Kaitlin's 2nd birthday this past weekend and I knew we needed to have something that everyone could eat. I really wanted to try a new cake mix and thought about Cherrybrook Farms but after reading mixed reviews on Amazon, I went with our favorite from Pamela's. I've only made cupcakes with her mix before but they are always excellent. This is more of a dark chocolate flavor cake. What is also great is that the mix can be made several ways all listed on the package including an egg free version which is perfect for us. Beside the egg replacer, all that is needed is oil and water. I made the frosting from earth balance shortening, confectioner's sugar, salt, water, and a tiny drop of red food coloring. I would have preferred not to use it but I haven't had much luck in locating the natural food coloring here. I thought the cake came out perfect - I baked it using the preferred method which said to do so in two 8in. round pans.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
I only wish we had it in our budget to do it completely. I've tried to feed Austin as many healthy foods (or at least in my mind) as possible. I have not always had the money to buy certified organic but I try to buy natural foods and foods with no nitrates/nitrites, HFCS, MSG, or basically anything with an ingredient I can't pronounce. However, the more I read and research, the more I've wanted to switch to organics. It disgusts me to read about all these processed foods and know that he's getting some of that in his food. I also don't know how it affects his body. Finally, we have a little extra grocery money to budget and I think with really careful planning and shopping I will be able to swing the most important organic ingredients. The plan is to first switch the fruits and vegetables we eat most with the most pesticides to organic. This link to the Environmental Working Group provides the list of fruits and veggies with the highest level of pesticides. http://www.foodnews.org/fulllist.php
Because apples is the second worst fruit, we are also switching to organic juice and organic applesauce. Other websites also talk about buying milk, meat, and eggs organic so we will also be going that route. While the milk and the eggs are not too much more expensive the meat will be the hardest to stay under budget with. I plan on trying to make meatless meals more often and making them the smaller portion of the meal when possible. For example, I have several recipes that call for a pound of ground beef but come out just fine when using either 1/3 or 1/2 of a pound.
Finally, I'm looking more into snack foods and cereal. Honestly, it's not one of those that are on the must buy organic lists but so many products have the GMOS or some of the other ingredients I listed earlier. Kaitlin is not gfcf so I haven't been as careful with her food though she does eat most of what Austin eats. She likes ritz crackers and when I went to pick some up a few weeks ago, I thought I'd just check the label and sure enough HFCS was in there. Seriously? How does HFCS get into a plain cracker? Annie's has some ritz-like bunnies as well as some that are similar to the flavor of goldfish.
Some other tips to help me buy organic while on a budget:
Comparison shopping: I get all the flyers to the natural food stores (I'm lucky to have 3 close by!) and can compare sales with other regular stores such as Walmart (yes they do carry some organic)
Walmart: Just mentioned, they have some organic products. Bags of organic apples there were $2.48 today compared to regular apples at $1.98. So not a huge difference in price for much better food! They have a couple of other produce items, several canned goods, some dried fruit, cereal, etc... Another good buy there is the Evirokidz products. My walmart carries all the cereals and crispy rice bars.
Local Farmers Markets - We are fortunate to have a market every Saturday morning and I know there are a few local organic farms with booths there. You spend less buying local because it doesn't travel and the you get the bonus of it being fresher
Join a CSA - You buy a share and get a box of food that's in season usually per week. This isn't really an option for us or anyone who is picky and not willing to make use of all the food because then it's just wasting $$$. For more information, visit http://www.localharvest.org/
Buy in bulk - when on sale (and you can either eat it all or food that has a long shelf/freezer life). Amazon has a lot of great organic gfcf products that you can buy in bulk. I have also found a few products at Sam's Club like the Clif Organic Twisted Fruit. I can buy 24 for $11 which amounts to around $.46 a piece compared to around $.70 a piece at the health food stores. I can also make my own fruit leathers but these are great to have around when I don't have time for those!
Coupons - They are not always the easiest to find and of course there are less of these than regular coupons but sometimes you find a good one. You can also visit the websites of products to see if they have any special offers that you can print out. One website - Mambo Sprouts often has coupons for organics. http://www.mambosprouts.com/
Buy in season - this of course only applies to produce but the in season goods will be a lot cheaper and more comparable to the non-organic produce.
Check out local grocery stores for store brand organics - Some stores are now carrying their own line of organics which are a little cheaper than name brand organics. I only know of a few around here but you can easily look around your stores next time you are out. Albertson's - Wild Harvest Organics, Vons (Safeway & Dominicks & a few others) - O organics, etc...
Any other tips???