Save money on groceries without Top Ramen: Eating sustainably on a budget

farmer's market buffalo sausageI've been reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a book extolling the virtues of eating locally (and the horrors of eating feedlot meats and processed, packaged corn- and soy-based foods of all kinds). The book is an apologetic sermon; apologetic largely because eating locally is so darned expensive. Though many farmer's markets now take food stamps, that's hardly the point: just pricing a pound of sustainably-farmed ground buffalo meat (the best substitute for ground beef at my farmer's market last weekend), and you'll know why you don't see families of seven stocking their freezer. (It's nearly $9 a pound, if you're wondering.)

So, you ask, what's the secret? How can I avoid CAFO beef and chicken and still feed my family on a limited budget? Eating with the seasons is nice, and all, but that box of McNuggets is priced right. And what better breakfast on the go than a nice Pop-Tart?

I've been experimenting, and thinking, a lot about this subject given (a) my desire to eat locally and (b) my generally limited budget. I'll start to "reveal" some of the lessons I've learned in a series of posts. Today? How to make the most of pricey free range, grass fed meats.

Eating Sustainably for Less: Pricey Meats Done Right
See Gallery
Save money on groceries without Top Ramen: Eating sustainably on a budget
This free-range local chicken had three or four lives, as a big family dinner with roasted potatoes and gravy one day; chicken salad the next; and chicken noodle soup the third day
I now buy a $8/pound Niman Ranch black forest ham twice a month. Slicing it thin and piling on the richly-flavored toppings (like spicy mustard and good swiss cheese in this panini) and I can make two pounds last for several fantastic meals.
This pork tenderloin wasn't cheap but I didn't buy an ounce more than I needed for "company" supper. No waste, less cost
Want to make your expensive meat dollar last? Buy stew meat and sausage. The buffalo breakfast sausage pictured here was a brunch scramble one day, and breakfast burritos the next
Get European and let eggs be dinner food, occasionally, with recipes like this poached eggs and red wine sauce.
This gorgeous slice of cornbread, slathered with just enough local butter and farmer's market greens, was the star of my Sunday dinner. Playing a supporting role? Fried black forest ham left over from yesterday's sandwiches.
Read Full Story

From Our Partners