Organic on $50/week Budget
I think in my past life I was a depression era mother. I’m finding it’s my natural instinct to look at something others would throw away and ask, “can I eat that?”
Ok, maybe that’s not that true. When I have money I am perfectly happy to waste things inconvenient. Time becomes more valuable than using every part of a squash. Let’s face it, it’s easier to throw something away and buy ready-made things than make those things yourself. But when you are on a budget, it’s fun and rewarding to get creative.
Lesson 3: When Trying to Eat Organic on a Budget, You Need to Use Everything.
I look at it as respecting the ingredient. If you’re going to pay the extra money for organic food, it deserves a little respect. Just as the Native Americans used every part of the buffalo, I try to get the most out of my groceries.
“How can I eat that whole beet?” I ask myself. And you can. You can roast the skins, eat the flesh, put the greens in a stir fry or smoothie, and you can save that little rat-tail to make stock out of.
Here are some things I do to get the most out of my $50/week:
1. Don’t Throw Away the Scraps of vegetables. Keep Them to Make Vegetable Stock.
I’m talking the typically unused ends of carrots, asparagus, onions, lemons or the stems of kale or broccoli. All the snips you might usually throw out, I collect in my freezer until I have enough to make vegetable stock with.
Cheese rind is another good thing to throw in there if that’s something you have. Herbs that are going bad, too can be popped in the freezer to flavor stock. Even apple cores can go in your stock.
You could also keep the pulp from your juicer in the freezer and make stock with it.
When I have enough ends I throw them all in my slow-cooker with some filtered water, herbs, garlic and a little dulse or kombu and cook it on low for about 8 hours.
Why seaweed you ask? Seaweed is a powerhouse of minerals, antioxidants and photo chemicals. Adding a little piece of Dulse or Kombu to stocks and soups loads them with potassium, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, calcium, chromium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, riboflavin, selenium, vitamin C, iron, zinc and iodine.
After the 8 or more hours are up, run the stock through a sieve or cheesecloth or both.
Voila! Stock. Cost? Free.
2. Save Chicken Bones to Make Chicken Stock
There’s two things you can do here.
My aunt used to make broth out of a raw chicken. She would just put the whole thing in there, neck and all, with aromatic herbs and vegetables. Then she would pull out the chicken and make chicken salad out of the meat.
You could use the bones to make a second bone broth if you used that method.
The second would be my method, which is to wait for a rotisserie chicken to go on sale at Whole Foods or another health food store and eat the meat. Then when there is nothing left, throw the remaining bones into a slow-cooker with either the vegetable scraps you have in the freezer or some onion, carrots, celery & herbs.
Thought it sounds gross, “bone broth” is wonderfully nutritious. “Broth or ‘stock’ are easily digestible, helps heal the lining of your gut, and contains valuable nutrients.” Not surprisingly, bone broth is full of minerals making it good for your bones and a great aid when you have a cold or flu.
You do want to choose an organic chicken or at least one that has not been feed antibiotics or hormones.
3. Save Your Skins
I recently made a sweet potato soup and kept the skins I peeled off, put them on a cookie sheet with some oil & spices and made chips.
I did the same with turnip skins and beet skins.
I keep my ginger “skin” and either make tea out of it or add it to my vegetable scraps in the freezer.
I keep citrus skins for zest. Often a stir fry or salad needs a little acid so I grate some grapefruit, lemon or orange zest over it.
4. Get Creative with parts of vegetables you thought you couldn’t eat.
…Like the skins, for instance.
When I make a kabocha squash (which is often) I actually eat the skin. A lot of people aren’t into it, but I have always eaten it.
What I never ate were the seeds and the pulp.
I always knew I could roast the seeds but I never understood how to get the seed out of the outer layer. They always broke and it seemed to be more work than it was worth.
Then I googled it, thinking there must be as easier way, and found indeed there was. You basically remove the seeds from the pulp, lay them across wax paper and lightly crack them with a rolling-pin. then you put them in boiling water and the seeds float to the top. I knew it didn’t have to be that hard.
However before I found this approach the lazy me thought, “What if I just throw all of this mess — the seeds & pulp together — on a cookie sheet and roast it. Know what? It was good! I discovered you can make pulp chips out of the pulp.
The pulp always grossed me out. It’s slimy and weird. But if you get it crispy in the oven, it’s actually a nice snack. It has to get crispy though or it stays slimy and unappetizing.
In short, get creative and before you throw something edible away, think, “can I use this somehow?”
Ps: If you do gardening you can also save things like coffee grounds and eggshells…but that’s another story.