OK, ran into a website on the internet, www.moneyning.com, and by perusing a few articles found “10 Tips for Eating Healthy on the Cheap.” Of course I had to also read the comments below. Now I am wondering just where all these folks are shopping and where in the country they live, cuz it sure ain’t in the Northern MN where we have to add on the cost of transportation to the middle of nowhere. I’m thinking that has to be why food costs more here, because I can’t figure out any other good reasons.
It’s the same old stuff I find on all internet articles; use a shopping list, avoid processed foods, only drink water, only buy in-season produce, shop at the farmer’s market for produce not the store, eat healthy cheap staples (oatmeal, beans, and rice,) start your own veggie garden, avoid the drive-thru, clip coupons, and stretch your meats by using tofu and grains.
I’d just like to start by saying this IS MN. The only fruit we ever have in season are apples, and some berries. So, hope you have a nice neighbor, friend, or yourself who grow them, or slather on the (maybe DDT-free) bug repellent for the bird-sized mosquitoes and Lyme disease laden ticks and go berry picking in the woods, or go to a berry farm and pay too much, OR go to a store and pay WAY too much for organic fruit and berries because the cost of being labeled organic and filing the paperwork is frivolously stupid. Purchasing in-season produce in MN only happens from maybe June (with several types of lettuce and spinach, edible flowers, maybe honey and ??,) to early harvest produce some cucumbers, cabbage and summer squash, asparagus ,rhubarb, and said above berries begin, July has peppers and some tomatoes, August has carrots, grapes, beans, garlic, more tomatoes and the apples begin, to Sept being the big winner with melons, onions, potatoes, and corn.
Every other type of produce self-gardeners can try their hand at growing, you need to visit a local farmer’s market, or it’s transported in and we have to go shopping. I know it IS possible to grow certain types of cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, pears, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew, currants, gooseberries, kiwi, garden huckleberry, mulberry, June-berry, elderberry, beets, cabbage, broccoli, herbs, parsnips, peas, radishes, turnips, eggplant, horseradish, leeks, pumpkins in MN. As far as the herbs go the mint family; Lamiaceae, includes basil, oregano, marjoram, catnip, all the mints, as well as rosemary, thyme, lavender, summer savory, and sage, are all grown for their aromatic leaves. Hardy perennials in this family can become invasive, especially mints. The carrot family, Apiaceae includes dill, parsley, chervil, cilantro (also known as coriander), fennel, and lovage. I know a few other herbs can be tried such as mallow, which are in the next growing zone, it just takes some experimentation and a green thumb. This information is all from the MN Extension Service at the University of MN and is deemed what is normal for MN, but I know many Master Gardeners and hobby gardeners that grow other veggies and herbs that aren’t on their lists.
Of course don’t forget the wild edible fruits that can be made into jams, jellies, sauces, tea, wine, dried fruit, spices, and survival food. http://fruit.cfans.umn.edu/files/2012/08/MN-Wild-Edible-Fruit.pdf has a huge list of these with pictures, tables of when to pick, and uses.
My point is that IF you can’t grow your own garden because you live in an apartment or something, or don’t know how, then you must purchase your produce from someone else. Like I said in the first paragraph, I want to know where the writers of the article are shopping, because the prices they listed are way lower than here. The comments start with someone stating something about canned vegetables at fifty cents. Around here you can maybe find them at that cost when they go on sale, maybe. He goes on to list seasonings+vegetable oil+electricity=fifty cents for a meal. I question that too, with the cost of seasonings around here.
Another commenter says to buy spices, oil, honey, rice, and tea at ethnic stores. He obviously doesn’t live here. Our ONLY ethnic store is in Solway (a don’t blink or you’ll miss it kind of village) and their prices are high. They can do that since they are the only kind of that store. A lot point out farmer’s markets, but I’ve done my comparing shopping. OK, if you compare organic prices the farmers markets MIGHT be lower. However, if you are living on a low set budget from Social Security Disability payments you still can not afford organic and must shop at normal stores and get the drugged food. Even better, you probably have to go to the local food shelf where all you’re going to get is over-processed, GMO, non-organic, but maybe local farmed food.
Also, when you shop it helps to purchase the store brand. Yes, I agree with this. You are going to get some bad-tasting stuff sometimes though or some extra chewy canned fruit or hard cereal. The same goes with some generic brand stuff. However, as with some of the off-brand stuff your store-bought produce is not fresh. It probably sat in cold-storage for a year before it made it to your market. http://www.foodrenegade.com/your-apples-year-old/ Welcome to the world of fungicides and waxes. Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate. Much food found in grocery stores is highly processed and grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modification. Some of it has been irradiated, waxed, or gassed in transit. This is what us poor folk have to eat. We really don’t have much choice due to pricing. The food industry is backwards. What is good for us is expensive, and what is bad for us is cheap. At the farmers market, you can find meats, cheeses, and eggs from animals that have been raised without hormones or antibiotics, who have grazed on green grass and eaten natural diets, and who have been spared the cramped and unnatural living conditions of feedlots and cages that are typical of animal agriculture. If we are poor we can’t purchase with our conscience. We must force ourselves to eat that bite of conformity.
“I recently got 2 zucchinis, 2 yellow crookneck squash, 6 peppers, two eggplants, several tomatoes, and a watermelon for a total of eleven bucks, from an Amish roadside stand.” Here is an example of a comment from the article. I really want THAT Amish roadside stand to come here, because at any roadside stand or farmers market around here to buy those same items I would pay approximately $20 to $25, and that’s a low guestimate. At the local organic food Co-Ops, pah-lease, add on more money. Of course I am assuming those are colored peppers and not green. Colored peppers seem to be made of gold these days, tomatoes too.
Here are more tips in the comments: Don’t go out to eat ever. OK I don’t. My kids already hate me. Enough said. Don’t buy pop. Like I said, my kids hate me. Use coupons. Well, I tried to clip coupons. I’ve noticed that coupons tend to be for processed food, expensive foods, foods we would never eat, and 2-for-1 deals. So coupons never really help us. But I do make my grocery list around the items on sale in the grocery store weekly circular (I shop often enough to know whether or not it’s a “real” sale.) I also listen to the radio a lot and when an announcement says “meat sale right now at…” I check it out to see if it really is a good sale. See if your local deli or supermarket sells the lunch-meat ends. Ahhh, what? This must be a city thing, or our local deli owners are taking all this home for themselves. I have asked for bruised bananas though. Buy a bread machine at your Goodwill, and make your own bread. You’ll never go back. Well, this only works for those people in the family that don’t have an “allergy” to fresh baked breads. There honestly are those of us out here who can NOT eat fresh baked bread due to the yeast content. It is a trigger for migraine headaches. REAL migraine headaches, not those headaches that everyday people who have an ordinary headache have mistakenly begun to call every headache. Real doctor diagnosed and often food triggered migraines.
I digress, back to more tips. Stop drinking orange juice. Seriously, just stop. The sugar in it is practically pure glucose… and it’s freaking expensive. MMmmm, I wonder how many people would do this. I had to though, as it is yet another migraine trigger. I can not have anything with citrus in it, not even as an additive. There went my Doritos. Well, that’s a combination of the additive and the fake cheese. Spices, oil, and tea? See if you have a grocery “outlet” like Amelia’s, Aldi’s, or any other “bents/bumps/bargains&overstocks” store. Ah, there it is. Now I know these people must be from a city somewhere, because I have never heard of any of these places and don’t know of an overstock store anywhere either. Braising cheap or “undesirable” cuts of meat. These include Boston butts/pork shoulder, brisket, shanks and even ribs. I must admit to not knowing a lot about meat or meat cuts, but I do know I splurged and bought brisket once. Yes, I called it splurging, because it was WAY expensive. So, I don’t know why that’s on the list. In my opinion nothing beef is affordable right now. WELL, the people in this article are calling eggs at $3 a dozen and a quart of cream at $5 cheap, which they are NOT, so now I know I’m poor.
My older brother and I had a conversation about all those articles on the internet about how to live cheaply, or how poor people could save money. In our humble opinions NONE of those articles were actually written by poor people. They were probably written by people with annual incomes of at least $80,000+ with one child and they think they are poor, or at least middle income. To me they are rich. If I ever had that much money I wouldn’t know what to do with it. One popular rule of thumb holds that anyone earning 25% more or 25% less than the median is within the middle class. By that metric, households earning between $38,954 and $64,924 are middle-class. Even if I had $30,000 I would try to do cartwheels! Being disabled and on a fixed income, my average annual income for the last 15 years has been $13,000. I want the people who write these articles to try to eat healthy on that. Actually, I want to shove their article down their throat and ask them how much it cost and if it was healthy.