Unprocessed – and Organic – on a Budget (and Fusilli with Chard & Bacon)

The Grain Free Family TableCarrie Vitt is the author of the successful cooking blog Deliciously Organic, and has authored two cookbooks: Deliciously Organic and The Grain-Free Family Table. Carrie also runs a successful meal-planning business and an online 10-video course called Real Food Boot Camp that teaches how to reduce inflammation and find better health with real food. After struggling with health issues for years, she turned to an unprocessed, grain-free diet and has been able to overcome Hashimoto’s disease, chronic migraines, IBS, and eczema. You can also find Carrie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Fusilli Pasta with Chard and Bacon

When I changed my diet to organic, unprocessed food years ago, I discovered it’s more economical to buy ingredients from many different sources. Today I’m sharing with you the most helpful tips I know of to ensure a successful month of unprocessed eating without breaking the bank.

First Things First

Stop buying so many packaged foods and start buying whole unprocessed foods instead. Packaging costs money. Why pay for cardboard and plastic when you could use that money to buy food? Most American pantries and refrigerators overflow with pre-made packaged foods. Even if the packaged food is organic, you’re still paying more than if you made it yourself. Take salad dressing for an example. Honestly, we don’t need to buy bottles and bottles of salad dressing. Most bottled dressing at the store contains preservatives, stabilizers, emulsifiers, and oils that don’t nourish. Homemade salad dressing takes minutes to prepare and will keep in the fridge for a week or two. It costs less, and you get the added bonus of knowing all the ingredients.

Grocery Items and Buying in Bulk

One of my favorite resources is Azure Standard. Their site is a virtual “Whole Foods” at incredible prices. You can find anything from grain to meat to sunscreen. I buy a lot of my bulk grain, sweeteners, butter, spices, oils, and other items there. Azure has drop-off locations throughout the US. You place your order online (they also have a catalog) and once a month meet at a specific spot. A large truck pulls up and the driver hands you your goods. If you don’t have a drop-off point near you, try finding a few friends who also want to order and split the shipping.Thirty dollars for shipping isn’t much when you split it among five friends. If you want to save even more, buy some of their food in bulk and divide the order with others. Recently, a friend and I ordered 25 pounds of organic brown rice ($32) and split it. That’s enough brown rice for at least six months in our family. I also enjoy buying their organic spices, pouring what I need in glass jars, and freezing the rest. $11 for a pound of cumin versus $4 for a small jar at the grocery store means more money in my pocket.

Dry Ingredients

I also save a significant amount of money by ordering ingredients through Amazon.com. They have a program called “Subscribe and Save” that enables me to buy products at a discount and get free shipping. I buy my maple syrupwhole grain flours, Celtic sea salt, and other foods this way. Mike, our UPS guy, regularly delivers good ingredients to my door, at a budget-friendly price.

Meats

Organic, pastured meats generally cost more. Having said that, we don’t have to pay the incredible prices at the major grocery stores. I like to buy my meat in bulk straight from the farm because then I know exactly where my meat is coming from and I save a lot of money. You may think you won’t be able to find the right kind of farm near you, but it’s easier than you think. We are a military family so we move every couple of years and each time our family has moved, I’ve wondered where I’ll get my meat and I’ve always found a reputable farm to purchase from. It might be a few hours away, but I find a friend or two who wants to order, we ride together, and make a day of it. I store my large order of meat in an extra freezer. I use the site Eat Wild to find local organic farms. For a few more of my favorite tips you can read one of my recent posts, 15 Tips for Going Organic on a Budget. Today’s recipe uses only six ingredients and provides a quick way to get a meal on the table. Brown rice pasta, swiss chard, red onion, bacon, cream and salt. It utilizes several of my pantry staples so I only needed to buy a few ingredients to make a quick, delicious, and nourishing meal for my family.

Fusilli Pasta with Chard and Bacon

Fusilli Pasta with Bacon and Swiss Chard
5 from 1 vote
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Fusilli with Chard, Bacon and Red Onions

You can use other types of pasta in this dish such as spaghetti, macaroni, farfalle, etc. Estimated total is $8.49 -- just $1.42 a serving.
Course Entree
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Yield 6 Servings
Calories 364 kcal
Author Carrie Vitt

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces Fusilli Pasta brown rice or whole wheat
  • 8 pieces Bacon cut into small pieces (nitrate-free, pastured preferred)
  • 1 large Purple Onion diced
  • 1 bunch Swiss Chard washed, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon from skillet and place it in a bowl.
  3. Add the onion to the skillet and cook until caramelized, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add chard and stir until limp.
  5. Add pasta, cream, salt, and cooked bacon. Toss and adjust salt to taste. Serve immediately.

 

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24 Comments on "Unprocessed – and Organic – on a Budget (and Fusilli with Chard & Bacon)"

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Christine
Guest

Thank you. Very informative post!
I like that I am slowly becoming more knowledgable about my foods and how to easily make more nutritious choices. My next step is to try to find a way to make bacon easier. I really miss turkey bacon which I could microwave.

Jeanne @JollyTomato
Guest

This quote has been echoing through my head ever since I read this piece: “Why pay for cardboard and plastic when you could use that money to buy food?”

It’s a great thought to keep in mind while at the store. It sure is “easier”, for example to buy a six-pack of individual cups of organic kiddie yogurts, but it’s so wasteful. Find a big tub of yogurt that you like and then you’re paying for the *yogurt* and not all that plastic.

Great post!

Debbie T
Guest

I wanted to give a recommendation for iherb.com for buying flours and grains. They have various discounts the larger your order is. I have been using them for awhile and no problems. I have found their prices are cheaper than amazon even!

LeAnn Bellos
Guest

Just shared on facebook!

Briita
Guest

how does one find bacon that is completely unprocessed? even the bacon my mom has made out of her pigs has sugar in it. just curious, because i thought i would have to avoid it for the month, and now there might be hope????

Jamie P.
Guest

I would sugguest looking for “uncured” bacon, it’s also occasionally labeled “nitrate free bacon” It’s processed using a kosher salt cure method, and has to be kept cold at all times or else bacteria will form rather quickly. I always just ask my farmers which methods they use, and the ingredients, however for a higher price it can be found in wholefoods.

Andrea Omgard
Guest
I`m living in southern Germany and to me it`s an unthinkable idea to travel “few hours”, for buying meat! What about the American gas prices? Is it still that cheap? Though my car is very small and economical, here in Germany I could buy a lot of organic meat, even in expensive shops, for the money I had to spend for driving several hours. On the other hand: Maybe we also do have more organic farms here. Within 10 – 30 min. I can reach at least 3 farms, where I can buy meat or eggs. I like your idea, not to spend so much money for packaging material. My todays slogan was: Why pay for organic food, if I can get it for free? So I spent a nice indian-summer day on the country. My daughter and I gathered some 5 kg (about 11 pounds)sloes. This means: Sloe-apple sirup,… Read more »
Deliciously Organic
Guest

Andrea – I buy my meat in bulk, so taking an afternoon out to buy 1/2 a cow and then putting it in the freezer is a very economical way to go. Around here organic, pastured beef is anywhere from $8-25 a pound. When I buy straight from the farm in bulk, I pay around $3.50 a pound (for every cut of meat).

Andrew
Admin

Thanks for the clarification, Carrie! I just updated the post, per your email, to indicate that you buy meat in bulk and store it in the freezer. 🙂

Veronica
Guest

Thank you for all of the great information! Azure Standard looks very appealing. I’m looking forward to learning more about it.

Sharon
Guest

Noticed you left out a great, affordable source of organic produce– a garden. Anything from pots on a window sill to a backyard (or front yard!) garden to a plot in a community garden can be used. Of course, you can’t do it just for one month…

And it jumped out to me too that some of your suggestions are car-dependent. I’m not comforable doing grocery shopping by car when there’s a decent chain supermarket and farmer’s market in easy biking distance. There is a great store for barely-legal milk and organic meat in town, but I’d have to drive there and that’s not going to happen. Guess we all have different priorities– some folks are fine with driving all over the place, and some aren’t.

Leigh
Guest

Good point. Maybe you could work with some friends so that you don’t have to drive there every week, and pick up food for everyone so that the gas price per food item is less. I’m sure if you factor in the fact that the food in the chain store has to go through so much travel and processing it might cancel out the gas for a few families to buy at the store that is farther away?

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