Organic and Thrifty

The Organic & Thrifty Pantry and Shopping Guide

Finally, I’ve done it. In an effort to simplify and streamline meal planning and spending in 2010, I’ve made a comprehensive list of all of the foods we buy and eat regularly and have organized them by store, where I find the best deals.  I am going to make this into a 1 page document with checkboxes  to help me stay focused on what we need week by week rather than whimsical wants.  Of course, sales and deals are always allowed, and can be great substitutes for other things on my list. And since I’m “living off the pantry” this month, I decided to really quantify what were the essentials.

Thankfully, I live in an area that is within close proximity to all of the stores I frequent.  And frequent stores I do; being a stay-at-home mom allows me the ability to really shop around for best deals. I realize that not everyone has this luxury, and in those cases I would think that one-stop shopping, though perhaps more expensive, would save time.  Online shopping and home delivery services are also available in many locations and should be explored if time is of the essence as well.

I would obviously adjust this if I lived in a rural area and further streamline where I buy my products.  So without further ado, here’s my comprehensive Organic and Thrifty Pantry and Shopping Guide:

Organic, Grass-fed Beef/Lamb/Poultry/Eggs/Dairy: Our family will absolutely not compromise on this one.  Grassfed beef is high in Omega 3’s, CLA, and is usually more lean than CAFO meats.  Commercially-raised meats, in my opinion, are unethical and unsustainable and I would prefer to eat less meat if it meant higher quality.

*Local, organic, grass-fed beef purchased in quarters through our local Weston A. Price Chapter.

*Local farmer for eggs and poultry (find through Eat Wild or Local Harvest).  We love Malinowski Farms and Deo Volente Farms, two local operations in the Portland area.

*US Wellness Meats is a full-scale, online store for all kinds of high quality, grass-fed meat.  You can see more info about them on my Resources Page.

*To find a source of raw, grass-fed, clean dairy products, check out the RealMilk.com farm finder. I use my raw dairy to make yogurt, kefir, and (when I’m ambitious) soft cheeses.

Produce: In order to simplify my life, I’ve decided to strive to eat seasonally or eat quality frozen organic produce saved from the summer or purchased locally.  Produce availability thus changes with the seasons. In order to keep me accountable, we have joined a summer CSA and a winter CSA as well, so we enjoy farm-fresh, seasonal, organic produce regularly.  I end up only having to supplement a small amount from the grocery store.

*Mustard Seed Farms CSA (Winter) or Sun Gold Farm CSA (Summer)

*My garden (during the spring, summer, and fall. I had hoped the winter garden would offer some additional produce, but the killing frost and my lack of cold frame put that idea on the back burner!)

*Farm stands around town (Uncle Paul’s Produce, Mark’s Seasonal Produce, Mike and Debbie’s, etc.)

*Co-ops and local health food stores (New Seasons, Food Front, etc.)

*Azure Standard for seasonal deals on bulk produce.

What else I buy: Because of our restricted diet, we eat mostly meat, dairy, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.  We strive for quality over quantity, and thus I believe that by NOT buying a lot of packaged foods, we actually save significant amounts of money while maximizing nutrition.  While I try to build most of our meals around meats, dairy, and produce (see above), there is always a need to fill in the gaps with other staples. Here’s my list of what I buy where:

New Seasons/Co-op/Health Food Store:

  • chia seeds (read more)
  • coconut butter
  • Vitamin C tablets (especially during flu season)
  • colostrum capsules (also during flu season)
  • organic seasonal produce in excess of CSA provisions
  • aluminum-free baking powder
  • Truvia/Stevia
  • Kelp Noodles
  • Pine Pollen

Trader Joe’s:

  • alcohol-free vanilla flavor
  • organic heavy cream
  • raw cheddar cheese
  • nitrate-free bacon (Niman Ranch raises their livestock in a humane way)
  • nitrate-free hot dogs
  • Kerry Gold Butter (the best, cheapest place to get grassfed butter!)
  • olive oil packed sardines
  • plantain chips
  • hand soap
  • natural kitchen cleaner
  • scallops, frozen

Costco (Every year I wonder if keeping my membership here is worth it, because there are only a handful of item I still buy at Costco.  But if only for the great deal and convenience of the photo developing and the amazing deal on onions and carrots, I think it just might be worth it!)

  • organic carrots
  • organic raisins
  • almond butter
  • organic, frozen green beans
  • baking soda (for baking as well as cleaning)
  • spices
  • onions ($0.32/lb)
  • organic cane sugar (for making kombucha)
  • pecans
  • walnuts
  • ziplock bags

WinCo (This is our local, bare-bones cheap, bag-your-own-groceries, no-frills grocery store.  While not exactly known for its quality produce, there are often times when you can find locally-grown produce (though not a lot of organics). I usually stick to some basics when I’m here:

  • Thai kitchen fish sauce
  • Thai kitchen curry paste (red and green)
  • Lipton Black Tea (for kombucha)
  • Herbal Teas
  • Parchment Paper
  • Muffin Liners
  • Foil, Saran Wrap, etc.
  • Borax (for making my own detergent for dishwasher and washing machine)
  • bulk spices
  • canning jars
  • unflavored gelatin
  • baking powder

Fred Meyer/Walgreens: (Conveniently located right up the street, we often dash up here for a few things)

  • diapers (we are close to potty training and are using disposables in the meantime; our dear boy is too big for his cloth dipes and we don’t want to invest in a whole new set….hmmm maybe we should fish around for freecyclers)
  • paper towels (I hate the fact that we waste trees with this, but alas DH likes to use them).
  • toilet paper
  • toothpaste
  • bandaids
  • other toiletries,etc.

Grocery Outlet:

  • organic tomato paste ($0.50 per can)
  • frozen wild salmon ($2.99 for a frozen filet)
  • frozen veggies (green beans, turnip greens, summer squash)
  • specialty organic cheeses (gouda, goat cheese, brie, etc.)
  • markdown produce (depending upon availability)
  • any other random item that we need that happens to be really cheap!

Azure Standard: Azure standard is bascially your natural version of Costco.  Through Azure, you can purchase bulk products, fresh produce, and meats. The best part is that they deliver it to you!

  • dried coconut (I’m going to try to start making my own coconut milk from dried coconut this year to further save on costs).
  • sunflower seeds
  • lemon juice by the case (although this is a bit expensive and I’m thinking of just getting lemons instead)
  • navy beans (dry)
  • lentils (dry)
  • raw honey
  • stevia extract
  • chia seeds
  • real salt
  • arrowroot powder in bulk
  • coconut flour
  • spices

Other Staples I purchase online:

  • Organic Virgin Coconut Oil from Mountain Rose Herbs (We buy the 5 gallon buckets and it lasts for a LONG time)
  • Bio-Kult Probiotics (for healing my daughter’s gut dysbiosis)
  • Fermented Cod Liver Oil (a must-have for health!)
  • Blanched Almond Flour (spendy, I know, but we really ration this out and make it stretch!)
  • Vitamineral Green Food Supplement (this is amazing stuff; we go through this slowly as well, but it’s a great way to get greens into the kids)
  • Raw, unpasteurized almonds (Newsflash: you can’t get these at any store; they’re illegal and the labels don’t tell you!)

Well, I’m sure I’ve left something out, but these are the really critical staples. I will continue to add to this post (or subtract) as I see fit!

What would you add? Feel free to leave a comment to let me know!

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday and Works For Me Wednesday.