When my husband and I started the Maker’s Diet seven years ago, we switched our entire diet overnight. I was so sick, and didn’t have time to make gradual changes. I just wanted my life and health back- yesterday.
I literally started reading the book on a Thursday, finished it on a Friday, went shopping on Saturday, and started Phase 1 on Monday. With all the sudden overnight changes, that meant something else quickly changed- our grocery budget.
The change couldn’t have been more drastic. We went from grocery shopping once a month at a discount warehouse and spending $200 monthly for two people, to shopping once a week at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and our local organic farmer’s market. Our grocery bill went to $500 a month or more. To this day I don’t know how we did it. We were making a very, very small salary at the time and that was a HUGE chunk of it each month. However, what was most important was that I got my health back. And not only did I get my health back- I got my hope and a future along with it.
Now that we also have 3 baby birds to feed, I’m constantly analyzing, planning, and strategizing about how to feed everyone optimally, without spending our last dime on organic carrots. And with organic food costing 2-3x as much as its conventional counterparts, it can get discouraging.
The good news is- even though it’s hard, it can still be done.
I believe with all my heart that God honored us for stepping out in faith 7 years ago, and choosing to follow His plans and ways for healthy eating and living. He has commanded us to steward our bodies and treat them as His temple, and to choose life. I firmly believe that when we say, "YES," to Him and what He asks of us, He will give us the provision necessary to reach that goal. Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t have to take a tough look at our checkbook and spending habits, but it does mean we don’t have to do it alone. He wants to help, and He will. I’m living proof.
So how have my husband and I managed to eat organic food on a modest income for the last 7 years, brought 3 (hungry!) children into the picture, and not filed for bankruptcy?
The answer is two fold.
First, we had to make a firm decision that we were going to make this work, no matter what. Once our brains committed to that reality, we were able to look for solutions, instead of excuses. When we say with our mouths, "I can’t do this, and I can’t do that, and I can’t afford this…" it shuts our brains down. They won’t even probe further for a possible solution, because the decree has already been made. My husband and I made a firm decision that we would follow the Maker’s Diet, no matter the cost, because I was so sick, and so in need of help, that going back was not an option. Going forward was my only hope.
I’d like to add here a quick word to those of you who are currently "healthy." When I got sick at the age of 19, I thought I was "healthy" too. I literally went to bed one night, apparently fine, and woke up the next morning with pain in my stomach that did not go away. I got sick "overnight" or so it seemed by the way my symptoms manifested. I am not trying to scare you, but what I am challenging you to is not taking your current health for granted. If you are not following God’s ways and you are breaking His laws with processed, refined foods, and a lifestyle that wears your body down, sooner or later you will break. You cannot jump off a cliff and expect that gravity will not apply to you. It is the same with the way He made our bodies. It may not look the same for everyone outwardly, but it is reality nonetheless.
I say that because it is so important in our discussion of eating well for less. If you do not commit 100% to doing something which is different than 98% of the world, and also costs more, you will fall off the bandwagon when the going gets "tough." And you will definitely fall off the bandwagon if you don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing, and how you are going to do it. That’s where meal planning and other strategies that I reveal in my cookbook come in.
Second, we had to make a plan. We had to take a hard look at our budget and prioritize our spending. We had to cut back in non-essential areas. For example, we don’t drive new cars, and we have no car payments. The insurance is minimal. My husband uses a monthly cell phone plan, which costs us less than $30, and I don’t own a cell phone. We don’t spend money on new clothes except for on discount clothes for the kids when really necessary.
We don’t eat out, (even eating at Whole Foods or our favorite organic restaurant is a REAL treat) and we go to the movies maybe once or twice a year. Our home is 1300 square feet and has 3 small bedrooms and 5 people living in them, but it’s a blessing to us and has a huge backyard for our boys. (And a garden to save money!) Are you getting the picture?
Many people say they cannot possibly afford to eat well, but the average American spends over $200 per month eating out at restaurants, and that’s not adding in coffee besides, which can easily add up to $150 or more for families each month!
The point is, once we made a firm decision that this was the road we were going to walk on, our spending habits followed suit. Everything else we bought was subject to the goal of eating healthy and living in God’s best for our lives because of it.
On Thursday, I’ll be talking more about specific strategies I’ve used to lower the cost of organic foods in our household. I look forward to talking with you then!