This month we are talking all about local food. But, whenever we talk local, I inevitably hear some version of this:
“You are lucky. There are really no local sources near me that have quality food. How am I supposed to eat well when there are no good options?”
I understand the frustration. A few years ago, I didn’t know there were local sources around me, and I felt very frustrated! I am lucky that there are local sources and I now know about them. But it’s not easy to feel like you have no good choices when you really want to feed your family well.
If local’s not an option for you — either at all, or just for certain items — then you can (thankfully!) turn to the internet for help. There are a lot of great options from online companies that can ship directly to you. I want to tell you about one such company today: Wise Choice Market.
Wise Choice Market
I first heard about this company a year or so ago, when they only offered cultured/fermented foods. But now they offer quite a lot more than that, and all their products are organic. You’ll find:
They do not skimp on quality. The bone broth is made exactly the way it would be in a home kitchen — a 24-hour slow simmer with plenty of bones from organic chickens, seasoned with real sea salt. The “stock” that you buy in a carton from the store is not the same.
The soaked nut butters and cereals are so much more digestible. I often make the cereals myself, and they are rather time consuming. I do the nut butters, too, but they don’t always turn out so well. I can’t seem to get the right consistency (I think a food processor is supposed to do a better job).
Soaked breads, I make all the time. Sprouted bread? I can’t get anything that isn’t crazy-dense and basically inedible!
These traditionally-made foods are time consuming, and easy to mess up in some cases if you’re not at least relatively knowledgeable in the kitchen. You can learn, as I have over the last several years, but sometimes you just want to feed your family well now. Wise Choice can help you do that, by providing you with top-quality foods.
Wise Choice was nice enough to send me a package of products to sample. Included was: an assortment of Manna sprouted bread (various flavors), 4-pack Coconut ice cream Sampler Pack (vanilla, chocolate, berry and pina colada), soaked mixed nut butter, and Honest Potato Chips.
Their shipping was fast — I got a notice on Monday that the package had shipped, and it arrived just two days later. Since I had gotten the frozen coconut dessert, it arrived in a thick white foam cooler with dry ice packed in. Everything was completely frozen when I got it. I unpacked it, putting the breads and coconut dessert in the freezer, and leaving the chips and nut butter on the counter.
First, we tried the chips. Ben got to them first. They’re cooked kettle-style, which I like best. You can’t taste the coconut oil that is used to make them — they just taste like “normal” potato chips, except a lot better. Basically like any really good kettle cooked chips, but they are healthier because they use coconut oil. They’re a great option for someone looking for healthier snack food but who may not prefer the taste of coconut. These were gone almost immediately!
Next, the coconut ice cream dessert! I went for vanilla first. Oh…so delicious. The coconut flavor is an undertone, and the vanilla bean flavor is really rich. I thought I might love it best. Then Ben got out the chocolate and I had to sample that one too. I ended up trading him half the vanilla for half the chocolate, because the chocolate was rich and delicious too! We ate…way too much. Well, all of those two flavors in two days. I’m already scheming to buy more of it, because it is that good. I’m planning to use the fruit-flavored ones as a smoothie base this week for breakfast. I’m sure the kids will love that. And I will love that it’s a pretty frugal use of it, and that it contains so many beneficial medium-chain fatty acids!
Millet-Rice Manna Bread with Mixed Nut Butter!
Then, the bread. We pulled out Multi-grain and Banana-Walnut for breakfast on Saturday. It was very dense, cake-like (which they say on the website) and it kind of falls apart when you slice it. It really isn’t a bread-like texture at all. Ben and the kids didn’t really like it, although they ate it. I honestly didn’t think I’d like it, when I first sliced it — it seemed too dense and gluey-looking. But, I like the multi-grain one with Kerrygold butter on it, and had a slice with my salad for lunch, too. It grows on me, the more I eat it.
Finally, the nut butter. I got another couple slices of the multi-grain Manna bread and put the mixed nut butter on it. The mixed nut butter is fairly thin — they add coconut oil to make it this way. It spreads easily on the bread. It’s lightly sweet (they add local raw honey) and yummy as a snack. Not to mention rich with nutrients! It doesn’t take much, so I think this jar will last quite awhile. It’s very nourishing and yummy too!
Can I Afford This?
The big question: Can I Afford This?
Yes, it’s expensive. As with many things, you get what you pay for. And yes, it’s going to be cheaper to make these foods yourself, in most cases. But…you may not always have the time or skills to do it yourself. In that case, buying the highest quality you can is actually going to be better in the long run than buying cheaper but lower-quality options. There are simply certain “staples” in the diet that really need to be present and really need to be high quality.
The best idea is to pair some of these high-quality options with low-cost healthy options to create affordable yet nourishing meals. In fact, doing this exact thing is how I’m lowering my grocery budget in time! I’m paying over twice as much for butter as I used to, and I’m buying more eggs than I had been, and I’m planning to buy high-quality olive oil soon, but I’m pairing this with seasonally-cheap greens, potatoes, rice, and other lower-cost items. It increases the nutrient-density of the food (and the taste!) while decreasing costs.
Let’s look at a three-day meal plan that includes these foods and which is still fairly frugal.
- Breakfast: Two slices Manna bread with 2 tbsp. soaked mixed nut butter ($1 for bread, $1.35 for nut butter, total: $2.35)
- Lunch: Salad with homemade dressing and grilled chicken ($2 for salad veggies, $0.50 for homemade dressing, $1 for chicken, total: $3.50)
- Dinner: Bowl of vegetable soup with bone broth ($2 for vegetables, $2.25 for bone broth, total: $4.25)
Daily Total: $10.10
- Breakfast: Two slices Manna Bread with 2 tbsp. soaked mixed nut butter ($2.35)
- Lunch: Bowl of vegetable soup with bone broth, salad ($4.25 for soup, $2.50 for salad, total: $6.75)
- Dinner: 8 oz. salmon, brown rice, steamed broccoli ($2 for salmon, $0.50 for rice, $1 for broccoli, total: $3.50)
Daily Total: $12.60
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with veggies ($1 for eggs, $0.50 for veggies, total: $1.50)
- Lunch: Bowl of vegetable soup, 1 serving coconut dessert ($4.25 for soup, $2 for coconut, total: $6.25)
- Dinner: Grilled cheese sandwich, salad ($1 for bread, $0.25 for butter, $1 for cheese; $2.50 for salad, total: $4.75)
Daily Total: $12.60
If we continue like that, then it would only be $82/week or $325 per month for one person to eat. For more people, bulk buying can help lower prices, bone broth could be diluted some to stretch it, etc. The bone broth is among the most expensive items here. If, instead, you chose the bread, nut butter, and fermented condiments, the totals would be a lot lower. The stock could be an occasional purchase when you really need it but just don’t have time to make it.
Focus on onions, potatoes, carrots, celery, chicken, beans, ground beef, and whatever vegetables are in season along with these more expensive items, and the overall prices still stay down. That has been my new theory lately — I buy pastured eggs, grass-fed butter, raw milk, and a few more expensive ingredients, but I use those very cheap ingredients to go with it. That’s a big way that I’m increasing our nutrition and keeping prices lower!
Affording groceries isn’t about just buying the cheapest that you can find. It’s about choosing what can and should be cheaper, and what needs to be more expensive. You don’t need as much of the expensive items, anyway, because they’re so nutrient-dense and rich!
A container of the coconut ice cream dessert is $8, and that’s about 4 servings. If I wanted to buy local, high-quality ice cream, I’d pay $10 per pint, which is pretty similar in price. But it doesn’t have as many health benefits as the coconut dessert, which is rich in medium-chain fatty acids (which can boost immunity). If you’re going to have a treat, a healthy treat is even better! $2 per serving for an occasional treat is not bad at all. Plus, I’m using this as a base for smoothies. That means that perhaps 1/2 a container ($4) is going to be part of rich smoothies to feed four people. That’s part of a frugal breakfast, indeed.
A $5 package of the Honest Potato Chips will net 3 – 5 servings. They’re made with coconut oil, so they’re nourishing and you don’t need as much. Pair it with a sandwich and some cheap chopped veggies (we like carrots, celery and cucumbers) and you’ve got a great and not too expensive meal.
The Manna bread and nut butters are rich in nutrients, too, so a slice or two with a tablespoon or two of nut butter is all you really need — and that’s pretty inexpensive, as you see above. ”Good” bread anywhere is going to cost $4 – $5 a loaf; this is only slightly more but it has no compromise ingredients. And if you don’t have good breads locally, you might only have the option of a $3 “not so great” loaf…or this excellent loaf.
Wise Choice Market offers free shipping on orders over $99 (to continental USA), and there are also bulk discounts on many of the items in their store. The bread, broth and coconut ice creams are shipped to you frozen, so you can keep them in your freezer till you need them, and store the chips, cereals and nut butters in your kitchen, so it’s worth ordering in bulk.
The bottom line? Yes, it’s affordable. It might not be if you wanted to buy all your groceries from them, but choosing a few high-quality ingredients to use with other, frugal ingredients can really increase your nutrition without increasing your grocery budget.
And, it even decreases the desire to go out to eat on busy nights! With some easy ingredients, soup and a sandwich could come together in 20 minutes. If you think about it this way, that having prepared, healthy ingredients is cutting down on your eating-out budget, then you may even save money buying this! Not to mention how much healthier it is!
Want to Win?
One lucky winner is going to get a chance to WIN all of these food items from Wise Choice Market to try for themselves! This is a giveaway of $100 in delicious, healthy food items!
Winners must be 18 or older and in the Continental U.S. Giveaway closes on Saturday, May 18th at midnight. First entry is required; all others optional. Entries are by Rafflecopter and must be entered on the form below to count.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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