By Kristin Cosgrove
The more I learn about health and wellbeing, the more important I believe buying organic food for my family to be. Now, that is not to say that this household is 100% organic, because it isn’t, however I am learning to prioritise the items I truly prefer to be as close to their natural state as possible (meaning grown, raised or created without the use of chemicals, pesticides and preservatives).
I think it’s easy to become overwhelmed when shopping for organic produce or super food items. Some we’ve never heard of and it all seems very expensive. Over time, I have been converting my family to an organic, whole foods diet and I have picked up a few hints to make the process easier along the way.
Buy produce in season
If you stick to fruit and vegetables that are in season, you will find the price comparative to conventional counterparts and in some cases cheaper! Eating what’s in season, like strawberries in summer and pumpkin through winter is great for your body and better for your budget. Your produce will be fresher and last longer resulting in less waste and much more deliciousness.
A little goes a long way
Grass fed, local, biodynamic, organic…when it comes to buying quality meat for a family of five, things can get expensive. I have learnt to make two lamb shanks go further by making them into soup with barley and vegetables, a roast chicken makes a lovely dinner, leftovers for sandwiches and stock for the next nourishing soup on the menu. Minced beef can be bolognese one night, tacos the next and little cottage pies on the weekend.
Grow your own
Growing a few things in your own garden can definitely save money on your grocery bill. Easy things like herbs, greens (lettuce or silver beet) lemons and chilli don’t take up much room and are great to have on hand to add extra flavour to your cooking.
Join a co-op
I am very lucky to be part of a great, local fruit and vegetable co-op where a group of us chip in money and time to have a weekly delivery of fresh, organic produce. Once a month, we go down to the community house and take our turn at packing and delivering the boxes which is actually great fun. Many cities and suburbs have these initiatives and if you can’t find one, why not start one! Get in touch with me if you need any more information.
Keep it simple
Including more organic food in your diet doesn’t have to happen overnight. It can be a gradual process. Begin with the one thing you feel is most important, like, for example, apples. Then, each week, as things in your pantry run out, consider replacing them with an organic or natural alternative.
I have also found my cooking to become much simpler (yet no less delicious!) as I have improved the quality of ingredients I work with. This warm and nourishing vegetable soup is a great example of how you can fill hungry bellies with wholesome food and not break the budget.
Hearty Vegetable Soup
Chop the vegetables for this soup as finely or as rough as your kids will allow! I have even made it by grating all the veggies when my kids were smaller, and feel free to use any vegetables you have rolling around in the crisper!
(Use organic ingredients where you can and notice the difference!)
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
2 sticks of celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 swede, peeled and grated
2 tomatoes, deseeded and diced or a tin of diced tomatoes
1-2 cups of shredded greens like spinach, kale or silver beet
Any herbs you have on hand including rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil, oregano, bay) or use dried herbs if you like.
2 L Stock – if you have homemade chicken or veggie stock use it! Otherwise, a good quality store bought stock is fine.
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
OPTIONAL – 1 tin of cannellini beans
OPTIONAL – 1-2 cups of pasta of your choice
1. Get a big, heavy based pot on the stove and melt in some ghee, butter or olive oil. Be generous!
2. Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat for five minutes so they are soft.
3. Add the rest of the veggies, herbs (except parsley) tomatoes and stock and simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the veggies are soft but still holding their shape.
4. If adding the beans and pasta, which are delicious and make this soup go even further, add them now and give them a good 15 minutes to cook and soften.
5. Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of good parmesan and parsley and some salt and pepper to taste.
Kristin Cosgrove is a whole food baker, blogger, educator and mum of three. She is a real food devotee and owns a small business, Mamacino Homemade, making whole food treats and snacks for those without the time (or inclination) to do so themselves. You can find Kristin at her blog, or on facebook. To see all of Kristin’s articles and recipes, click here.
You can find Kristin at her blog mamacino.com
Or on Facebook facebook.com/mamacino