Food Is Not Cheap: 4 Steps to Budgeting in Real Food
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Food Is Not Cheap: 4 Steps to Budgeting in Real Food

budgeting in food 1

By Diana, Contributing Writer

Are you working to ditch processed foods and put more real food on the table? This month we’re running a series called Real Food Made Simple: A Beginner’s Guide to Eating Better. Our goal is to answer the questions you might have and make the transition a whole lot easier!

Budget Friendly Tips! How To Save Money on Real Food! How to Eat Real Food for Cheap! These are just some of the topics coming at us from every direction these days.

Obviously, there’s a reason for that. Many of us have found ourselves in an economy where our cost of living keeps rising but our pay has been frozen for years, or worse yet, even lowered. Couple that with information pouring out at us with how to stay healthy, what vitamins we need for optimal health, different diet fads claiming they’ve found the secret to weight loss – goodness, it’s no wonder that many of us are so confused on how to make real food work in our lives.

It’s honestly really simple and something we can each budget into our lives.  However, just like in the beginning of time, as humans, we complicate things.

So to make things as simple as I can for you, I want to take you back to the Garden of Eden–to the time of Adam and Eve. My hope is that you will see that if we follow God’s plan, you’ll find that it is possible to budget in real food every day, and the best thing is that we’ll be getting every nutrient and vitamin needed for our bodies in the process.

In The Beginning

29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. 31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. – Genesis 1:29-31

On the third day God created every herb, seed, and fruit – on the sixth day he gave it to man for food. God’s intention for man was to live on a perfect earth, so he created the Garden of Eden. It was a perfect garden with herbs, plants, and fruits.

It was only by man’s sin that God cursed both man and woman.

To Adam, he promised…

17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:  “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”

It was after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden that our seasons came into play. Adam had to learn to work the soil by the sweat of his brow to grow food for his family as their life now depended on it.

Understanding God’s Plan

Food Is Not Cheap: 4 Steps to Budgeting in Real Food

Step 1: Food is NOT cheap and is something we will always have to work hard for.

When God created the fruits, herbs, and plants, he made them perfect by his touch.

Can you imagine if he said, “and, just to get these humans by, I’ll make some quick and easy broccoli over there with only half the vitamins they need because they’re cheap and that’s all my precious children have time for and can afford!”

God loves us and wants the best for us. His plants are not cheap, they’re perfect. He created them perfect for us–so perfect that he made them grow during specific seasons so that they would give us key vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need.

However, as humans we always try to one up God.

Here’s the takeaway: There is no easy, cheap, quick way to get good nourishing food.

No, he promised we were going to have to work for our food. That it wasn’t going to be cheap. That it was going to be difficult to get. This is our curse we will carry until death.

However, God didn’t leave us empty handed either.

He gave us the seasons, the tools, and the wisdom to cook, to research, to make due, and here’s the kicker… to depend on Him.

Step 2. We need to truly understand and embrace our seasons

It’s no coincidence that spring and winter vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and cabbage are loaded with vitamin c and k. That dark leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard, and kale have magnesium, iron, and calcium.

God knew what vitamins we’d need during which parts of the year, so he gave us those foods to be enjoyed and to nourish us.

Seriously, isn’t that cool to think about?!

If we eat vegetables that grow in their seasons, we’ll be healthier and our immunity will be strengthened.  It’s not rocket science, and we don’t have to listen to experts on talk shows that tell us to take this supplement, make this concoction, do this special diet, etc.

Our Maker has already made us the perfect diet. We just need to follow it. 

(I do take a raw supplement in the winter time along with a diet filled with vegetables.)

Step 3. We need to eat more vegetables, including legumes, and less meat

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By eating seasonally, this should come naturally. God created every vegetable, fruit, and herb to give us vibrant health.

Most of us are not getting enough vegetables in our diets.

The vast majority of us only eat a few vegetables: corn, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, and green beans.

For the sake of our health, we need to make sure that 50% of our meal is in seasonal vegetables and start limiting the number of days during the week that we eat meat.

Vegetables can taste just as great as meat if prepared correctly.

By doing this, we’ll save money and be healthier.

Step 4. We need to cook intentionally by saving and re-using

Food Is Not Cheap: 4 Steps to Budgeting in Real Food

Would you have guessed that the Tuscan kale and bean stew pictured above made these enchiladas including the salsa verde?

This is one of the components of cooking intentionally. We can save and work with our food in different ways. This lends itself to spreading the costs, keeping our budgets low, and the best thing yet, adding flavor and depth that would have otherwise taken us hours to achieve.

See, to some that’s cheap food, but to me that’s tending to God’s resources and nourishing my family.

There are so many other ways to cook intentionally. Saving scraps and bones to making stocks and broth is just one example. When we cook intentionally, we’re cooking wisely and giving our family the best.

A Traditional Menu Plan on a Budget

Food Is Not Cheap: 4 Steps to Budgeting in Real Food

As you can tell, this is a passion of mine–teaching people how to cook in season so that they can make delicious food that is nourishing and works within their budgets.

All it takes is a little know-how to dig in and start cooking using what God has given us throughout the year.

To do this, I’ve started a brand new menu plan service called Spain in Iowa’s Traditional Menu Plan on a Budget.

If you’re interested, stop on by and check it out. The first two weeks are free!

The feedback so far has been wonderful, and it gives me so much happiness when I hear that children are enjoying their vegetables and new meals every day. 

I’m also big on children eating vegetables, if you’d like to follow my series on Ridiculous Good Lunches for Kids, follow me on instagram.

You Can Do This!

I hope through this post you can see that God has given every good thing to be enjoyed and that by understanding His plan we can make wonderful dishes, filled with his perfect nutrients.

Other posts in the series:

Real Food Made Simple: A Beginner’s Guide to Eating Better

First Steps to Real Food

What Is Real Food?

Cutting Your Kitchen Prep Time in Half — Or More!

Confessions of a Formerly Picky Eater

How to Read Food Labels

The Grain Controversy: Should We Eat Them or Not?

Second Steps Towards Eating Real Foods: Switching Your Food Sources

Sweeteners: How They Affect You, Which Ones are Best, and How to Use Them

Simple Steps to Begin Cooking Homemade: Pantry Staples

5 Strategies to Help Your Husband and Kids Transition to Real Food 

7 Foods to Avoid

Finding Real Food in the Grocery Store

20 Easy Real Food Switches and Substitutions {with Free Printable Chart}

First Steps to Eating for Fertility

Keeping Costs Down in a Real Food Kitchen

Raising Kids on Real Food

5 Ways to Get More Fruits & Veggies into your Diet

Simple Steps to Begin Cooking Homemade: Baked Goods

Simple Roast Chicken (And Fabulous Side Dish Recipes!)

17 Homemade Spice Mixes {with Recipes & Why You Should Use Them!}

5 Ways Green Living and Real Food are Connected

Simple Steps to Begin Cooking Homemade: Soups, Sauces, and Simple Dinners

Do you have any tips on how you budget in real food? Please share in the comments below.

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  1. I love that, Jody! I need to do some more sprouting. I’ve also been meaning to start some radish and lettuce micro-greens at home. They’re so easy and so good for you 😀

  2. Many great pints, especially that it is a biblical precedent to have to work for our food. It is good to remember that the goal is not to eliminate our labour, but to honour God in it.

    I do think that the whole seasons thing can be rather idealized by those who don’t live in a harsh climate. I am very convinced that foods are most nourishing in their seasons. I had a large garden and shop farmers’ markets in the summer. But here in Ottawa, we have a four-month growing season, if the weather is good. I can and preserve in several ways, but it just isn’t viable to do it all. And so I consider the work that is involved in bringing fresh food to my family as part of the “sweat of the brow” involved in our food labour. I do prioritize what is closest to in season either here or elsewhere. But nothing is in season here November – April and very little in May and October.

    I think the fact is that food will never be ideal. God created all that is good and sin threw that off. So we work within what He has given and we give thanks for the ability to work!

    Thanks for spurring these thoughts! Insightful post.

    1. *** points not pints. 🙂 And I have a garden, not had. Autocorrect at work. 🙂 Also I meant to say that I sprout as well!

      1. Ellen, my brother’s falther in law gardens in Ottawa. I have been there for Christmas and have seen him harvest the tastiest radicchio from his garden or our supper. He mulches it heavily with straw and marks it with a pole so he knows where to dig in the banks of snow. He also starts his tomato plant inside in March and plants our nearly full grown plans at the end of May. His harvests make me envious and I can garden alot longer here, just south of London.

    2. 🙂 Another thing to consider (from the seasonal standpoint) is that geological evidence (when interpreted from a Creationist perspective) suggests that there were no stark seasons prior to the Flood; in fact, I’ve read the theory that there was not even rain before the Flood! (Each evening the land was shrouded in dew.)
      Not trying to “stir the pot”; my background is in archaeology so the whole intersect between nutrition, holistic health, and Scriptural evidence of God’s plan for our diet is of great interest to me.

      PS Ellen, I can relate. Though we have a longer growing season in the Pacific NW USA, it’s a very cool, damp growing season, so our options of what we can grow are limited.

  3. Another thing we do is hunt. My husband can, for just the cost of the tag, bring home completely natural organic meat for very little, especially since we do the processing (just a fancy word for cutting!) ourselves. Last weekend, he and my dad spent a day making homemade sausage – free of any crazy chemicals! – and filled our freezer with meat that will last through next hunting season. This has REALLY saved us at the grocery store since I buy very little meat, stretch the meat we do have with added veggies & beans, and make most everything from scratch. There are days when I really DON’T want to make something, and take-out is SO tempting, but both our budget and our commitment to me staying at home have made it necessary. I’m so thankful for great ideas and suggestions found on blogs like this – doing groceries and meals for a family of four for $50 or less per week is a huge challenge! 🙂

    1. That’s great that your husband hunts Kelly. I really want to make a commitment to going fishing this year. I’d like to stock our freezer with good fish. I totally understand you about those days you don’t want to cook! I’m there with you. On those days, leftovers and eggs become our take out food. So easy to make and always so comforting. That would be a challenge, Kelly. We spent $85 yesterday! I was pretty happy with that 😀

  4. Finding your web site has been such a tremendous blessing to me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about food today, it has really hit home for me.

  5. Thank you!!! you have delved into what I have always thought and didn’t know how to say it, and taken it so much further!!! really appreciate your insight–just trying to get the hubs on board!!!! G-d has truly given us an abundance of perfectly wonderful food, and we (they) are the ones who ruin the good stuff!

  6. That is such great info! Im going to get right on it,thanks for making it easy to understand! It just makes sense.

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