It ain’t easy feeding a family, at least not if you want them to eat healthful foods -- and you’re on a budget. I’m always shocked at our household’s grocery bills, which reflect the high prices of produce, dairy foods and lean meats. Sometimes I think it would be easier – and I know it would be cheaper – to stock up on hot dogs and Cheez Doodles.
So I am happy for the publication online this morning of a guide to buying healthful foods without breaking the bank. The Environmental Working Group has put together “Good Food on a Tight Budget,” which lists about 100 foods that are “nutritious, cheap, clean and green,” chosen with an eye toward packing lots of good-for-you nutrients – but little sugar, fat, or sodium – into the least expensive foods.
The EWG has an agenda, of course; the D.C.-based nonprofit organization works to draw attention to the presence and health effects of chemicals, from pesticides to ingredients in cosmetics. So the foods the group has selected for this guide were chosen in part because they typically carry light pesticide loads. But if that sounds all science-y to you, know that the guide is very straightforward and user-friendly. It also provides a 10-page PDF file full of recipes, including a nice mix-and-match guide to making soups.
The EWG can sound a bit preachy, though. The pathetic cheese selection comes with the stern recommendation to “Eat less cheese” and points out “Making cheese generates harmful greenhouse gases.” Harrumph.
The meat section’s kind of grim, too: You can have chicken or turkey (remove the skin) – or goat, which the guide notes is “the world’s most commonly eaten meat.” (I do appreciate the recommendation to remove the poultry skin rather than buy skinless poultry, which is wicked expensive.)
I also like the helpful tips scattered throughout; in the fruit area, where 14 fruits, from apricot to watermelon, appear, there’s this reminder: “On medicine? Ask your doctor about grapefruit.” Grapefruit, which is on the good-fruit list, can interfere with some medications.
In keeping with EWG’s goal of helping consumers – including the “tens of thousands of Americans now enrolled in the federal nutrition assistance program,” as the press materials note – eat well on the cheap, the guide is free. Those who donate money via the site get a free hard copy of the guide, and EWG is printing a bunch up to distribute to food banks and anti-hunger organizations.