Mind the Gaps Diet
If you missed the first post in this series, read it here.
Last month I set you the challenge of looking at where your money is going. How did you get on? It is surprising that when you stop to analyse where the money goes, you are sometimes amazed. I know I am.
Okay, this time we will start to look at little ways to free up money in the kitchen. It has to be understood that we are not going to skimp on the quality of food consumed. The aim is, to free money to be able to buy the best food we can afford. After all, we are seeking to heal the gut, and seeing as the diet is going to be very restricted and it will be hard, we don't want to be doing it longer than we have to! Neither do we want to have to spend more money out on expensive supplements if we could have got more nutrients from our food.
My first piece of advice is to find the best value produce at the best price. This will most probably mean getting things in different places. Supermarkets are not the best place for vegetables (not even organic ones) or meat, as a general rule. I wouldn't say that I never get these things from a supermarket, but I try to limit it a mcuh as possible. Often the land on which the food has been grown/raised, has been intensely farmed and is lacking in nutrients. This will involve a fair amount of research and you wil be continually modifying your food sources, as you become aware of other options. Don't expect to sort it all in one go! So look instead for a local vegetable supplier - not necessarily organic, but fresh. Look for a butcher that sells local meat... preferably grass-fed, and if you are in the UK, it does not necessarliy need to be organic; local and fresh can be adequate, but see what your body can take. These will be your main financial outlays for food.
Look to buy in bulk where you can. Other things, like salt, dried herbs, cocoa powder, cheap honey (which I use for baking as heating destroys the enzymes, so it makes sense not to use your expensive raw honey), vinegar (for chemical free cleaning) can be purchased in a supermarket. I tend to be careful where I get olive oil from.
Do watch for convenience foods and try not to buy them. I can hear you saying "But we can't eat convenience foods on the GAPS diet," and most we can't, but we can still drink water, and little bottles of spring water are a very expensive form in which to purchase water. Either buy your own filter, or buy in larger quantities. Or things like raisins, which you can buy in snack packs for a much greater price gram for gram than buying a big packet of raisins and putting them in little pots yourself. Of course, snacks, like NAKD bars are very expensive. See our snack recipes for delicious ideas that are much cheaper making yourself.
I mainly shop in small shops now - butchers, greengrocers, health food shop and order milk from an organic delivery service,
Try and develop the practice/habit of filling the oven as much as you can when you switch it on.
Make twice as much, one portion to eat and one to save/freeze for another day. This is a great time saver too - less time spent preparing and washing up afterwards. The other main advantage is that one day, you will have a lovely easy meal - just reheat and eat... FANTASTIC!
Many GAPs diet websites give advice on batch cooking, especially health, home and happiness.
I love to make three litres of soup at a time, and then have three days holiday! I put the slowcooker on all night, and harvest the fatty broth to make three days meat stock for breakfast, then put it on again, with vegetables, to make enough for 3l soup.
Use up leftovers
You know, it's amazing how easy it is for food to get 'lost' in the fridge/freezer. Once out of date, or left too long, it goes off and has to be thrown away - like throwing money away! So, keep an orderly fridge. Use things in rotation. Every day, pull things that need using to the front and push the newer things back. Watch those vegetables too as they won't keep fresh for long! The GAPs diet makes using up leftovers easy - veg can go in soups and lefover meat scraps make lovely breakfasts/light meals. Omlettes are great too with leftover veg/meat. In fact, I often cook extra veg, so that I will have some just to reheat for breakfast, as Son 1 likes a savoury start to the day.
First, make a list before you go. The best way to do this is to make a meal plan for the week and aim to only buy the things you need. Don't be tempted by offers for more than you need. It is simply false economy. There are times I do go for an offer - if I need that item and know I can use it up. Otherwise I walk on by. Such things might be washing powder (though I mostly use wash balls) or tins, packages and frozen veg./fruit/meat.
Secondly: be careful what you buy where. I was recently alerted to the fact that anything you buy in a supermarket other than food, you have to pay more than you might elsewhere, for the convenience of buying it there. So don't buy stationary, car things, cookware, plastic bags/tinfoil/plastic wrap etc.. in a supermarket.
Keep the focus on meat, FAT and vegetables
If you are like me, it is easy to try and return to our old way of eating, albeit GAPS style - you know, a baked treat every day. Either that or we over rely on nuts and fruit. GAPS is about healing with meat and meat fats and vegetables and ferments. If money is tight, then cut the rest and you may even find some of your symptoms improve as a result!
Also, make use of non-dairy fats as they tend to be cheaper - e.g. lard. Don't forget a dash of olive oil is good too.
Make your own toxin free cleaners
Household cleaners are no not only full of toxic chemicals, but they cost a bomb too, and green replacements are not cheap. If you think vinegar and bicarbonate of soda don't work think again - they do! I have a little spray bottle, which I half fill with cheap white vinegar, fill to the top with water and add a drop of ecover washing up liquid. This is my 'go-to' kitchen surface/bathroom cleaner. Bulk buy bicarbonate of soda - it's much cheaper that way, and you can use it for detoxing baths too. To remove stains, sprinkle a little on the surface, dampen it and make a paste, leave a minute or two, and gently rub. Wipe off with a damp cloth.
Now, I know many of these things, you will say "Oh, but I already do that!" I am sure you do, sometimes...but if you are like me, we are human and things slip a bit here and there and it doesn't do any harm (only gives us more money left over) to pick ourselves up on things again. Or perhaps some of these things are helpful to you and you have never thought much about them. Either way I hope this post has been helpful.
Please do leave a comment if you have any other ideas that readers might like!
The New Year often turns our thoughts to reducing outgoings. I offer these thoughts as to how to do a healing diet on a budget. Is it possible? I believe it is. Yes, good food is often more expensive than processed food, but when you make what you put in your mouth a priority, then it's amazing how creative you can become at finding ways to reduce costs.
However there are several factors to be considered and we will look at them in a series of posts. In this post we will look at a few fundamentals.
Doing a healing diet on a budget is not a separate compartment from how we use money in our families generally. Our spending philosophy underpins every part of our lives. What do I mean?
I meet some families who consider themselves hard up. But when I get to spend time with them, I see practices that could be changed which would free up more money. Often money is almost literally being thrown away through unnecessary purchases. It makes me re-examine my lifestyle, to see that I am not unwittingly doing the same. I find there is always room for improvement.
At the root chore are our characters. Some find it easier to be frugal, others harder. If you don't know which one you are, spend time thinking about it, as it matters. The frugal ones are very careful about everything they spend. Could they get the same quality elsewhere but cheaper? They do price comparisons to get the best deal. They consider carefully whether an item is really needed, or if it is a whim buy, to satisfy a feeling, rather than a real need. They have an ethos of make and do, and recycle, rather than having to have everything brand new and up to date with the latest fashion, be it in furniture or clothing. They do not feel that their children will be deprived if they do not receive expensive presents etc...
So just for this week, have a really hard look at your spending habits. Maybe even write down everything you buy and how much it cost in the week. Then check that everything on the list was really necessary. Then have a little think. How many clothes have you bought (even if from a charity shop) that have hardly ever been worn? How much money do you spend on take-aways, or convenience food, like little boxes of raisins or water? How much electricity is wasted with lights left on all over the house, or chargers not turned off? The list could go on!
Some set a budget for groceries. We don't but I tend to find that my shopping bill tends to be roughly the same each week, with exceptions for when people come to stay, or birthdays etc... We hardly ever eat out (pretty impossible ont he GAPs diet anyway!). Others on a smaller income may find it necessary to have such a budget restriction. However there is often room for improvement.
Of course, good accounting is essential. You don't need an accounting qualification, but a basic means of checking what is coming in, against what is going out and making sure the books balance. It is so easy to live on credit, but never a good idea! Never spend what you haven't got is a good principal. Live within your means is another. I have heard others say that relying upon hand-outs from the government is not a good idea either, we should strive to be financially self-sufficient.
So, before I look at any other things you can do practically, think over these big things: your character, your lifestyle, your view of money and your general spending tendencies as they currently stand.
Next time we will look at some simple thrifty measures you can take right now in your home to help you be able to afford real food to heal the body.