Do you want to go green and organic but are worried about the added expenses? Us too! But never fear, we have expert Elizabeth Rogers here to share her top tips for a green, healthy and, yes, cheap, diet:
My philosophy about food is pretty basic: Eat simple, wholesome ingredients combined in delicious ways that provide me and my son, Emmett, with calories rich in flavor and nutrition. I love picking vegetables from my home garden. I also like locally raised produce and grass-fed beef—yes, I eat meat!—and organic, hormone-free dairy products. I like foods with little-to-no packaging, no preservatives, and lots of taste. And guess what? It’s not so expensive to eat this way. I know it might be easier (and sometimes less pricey) to zip in and out of a drive-thru than to get up five minutes earlier to make a sandwich. But putting in a few minutes is worth it when you consider the benefits of eating healthful, homemade recipes.
It’s also important to remember that nourishment from meals isn’t purely physical. Epicurus, the ancient Greek philospher, said, “We should look for someone to eat and drink with, before looking for something to eat and drink.” He’s right. Probably even more important than what we choose to eat is how we choose to eat it. Ideally, a meal should be enjoyed at the dinner table with friends and family, instead of gulped down in front of the television. Sharing a meal is a way to connect, to nourish our bodies, our minds, and our relationships. And research shows that kids who eat dinner with their parents regularly are more likely to do well in school and less likely to have behavioral problems. I realize not every family can make this happen, but we should all strive to eat consciously—to make good choices when possible, eat together when possible, and give our food and mealtimes the attention they deserve.
Here’s a bounty of good-eating tips to savor…
Two for One
The SHIFT: If you’re a milk lover, buy milk by the gallon instead of the half gallon.
Save $$: Up to $115 per year.
Save the Planet: A single large container requires less production energy and results in less waste than two small ones. Buying 1- gallon jugs of milk will reduce your waste production by about 12 pounds per year compared with buying twice as many half- gallon plastic jugs.
Shift-it Tip: Warn your kids that a gallon of milk is heavier than they think.
The Best Thing Since Sliced Cheese
The SHIFT: Buy block cheese instead of presliced or shredded cheese.
Save $$: Up to $100 per year for a family of four that buys 4 pounds of cheese per month.
Save the Planet: Block cheeses involve less processing and less plastic packaging than shredded or sliced cheeses, which results in less energy consumption and less waste.
Good for You: Block cheese gives you more versatility in how it can be used for snacks, appetizers, or meals.
What a Turkey
The SHIFT: Use ground turkey instead of ground beef.
Even $$: Prices can be comparable.
Save the Planet: Raising 1 pound of turkey or chicken requires 75% less energy from fossil fuels, 85% less water, and half the land required to produce 1 pound of beef. Poultry farms are also less polluting to air and water.
Good for You: Ground turkey breast has less saturated fat and less cholesterol than ground beef.
Shift-it Tip: If you think ground turkey tastes dry compared to beef because of its lower fat content, try mixing in some finely diced onions, carrots, and celery. This French technique will keep the meat juicy and flavorful.
The SHIFT: Cook with whole chickens, not cut- up ones.
Save $$: Up to $600 per year if all chicken (4 pounds per week) is purchased whole instead of as boneless, skinless breasts.
Save the Planet: Reduce the energy, resources, and waste involved with processing, packaging, and transport.
The SHIFT: Cut meat out of your diet one day per week and replace it with rice, potatoes, soy, or lentils.
Save $$: A family of four that reduces its meat consumption by just 2 pounds per week can save about $250 per year.
Save the Planet: Raising livestock consumes more energy, land, and water and produces more pollution and greenhouse gases than growing potatoes, soy, lentils, or rice.
Good for You: All else being equal, eating a diet with more whole grains and fiber-rich foods and less meat may reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular problems.
Shift-it Tip: Easily substitute tofu in any dish that calls for beef or chicken.
Ice Ice Baby
The SHIFT: Buy flash-frozen instead of fresh fish. Much of the fish available for sale these days is frozen at sea shortly after being caught. So this means most “fresh” fish was previously frozenanyway— just thawed for presentation.
Save $$: Prices vary by species, but frozen fish tends to cost less than fresh fish, mainly because its shelf life is longer and there’s less spoilage at the seafood counter.
Save the Planet: Even though fish are renewable resources—meaning their populations can be replenished over time—more than 70% of fish species around the world are endangered. The more we can prevent spoilage and the wasting of fish, the closer we’ll get to preserving threatened populations.
Shift-it Tip: When buying frozen fish, look for product that is either vacuum sealed or has a layer office on it. Flash-frozen fish is most likely to maintain its quality.