Real Food Economics 101: Real Food vs Average Food Budgets

This post is part of a series, Real Food Economics 101. The series covers the cost of real food and applying the 80/20 rule to managing your time and money in the kitchen in depth. Click here to start at the beginning.

Last week in “Is Real Food Really More Expensive?” I suggested that real food is really very affordable … today I thought we’d take a look at proving it :-).

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Real Food Economics 101: Is Real Food Really More Expensive?

This is a pretty big subject so I plan to make this a series covering the cost of real food and applying the 80/20 rule to managing your time and money in the kitchen in depth.

Would switching to a real foods diet break your budget? On first glance, it seems the answer is yes. At least, that’s what you’ll hear from most quarters. Clean, wholesome food costs money, real money, and most people simply cannot afford it. Only those with big incomes can afford it, most of us can’t. If we look at individual food items like raw milk for instance or butter, I can see how people get this impression. Or if they are trying to replace processed food items for better processed food items of a similar kind. There can be some big price gaps here. But if you look at the overall picture of what it takes to make up a diet the gap generally completely disappears. This is particularly true of families that are eating out a lot or buying a lot of processed grocery items.

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Buttermilk – A Staple in Grandma’s Kitchen

Did you have buttermilk in your home when you were growing up? I think we did only on special occasions and holidays. Mom had a few recipes she made during these times that my Grandmother had also made. So buttermilk didn’t feature prominently in our families diet when I was a kid. But it did feature prominently in Grandma’s cooking. I had often wondered why the popularity but not looked into it very much until I started learning more about real food cookery. With that I’ve come to understand why it’s popular.

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Why Choose Beef Tallow?

Before entering into the world of real food you most likely never heard the words beef tallow before. Lard yes, beef tallow no. That is unless you’re:

So I thought we’d talk a little about beef tallow, what it is and how to use it.

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Grandma was a Real Foodie

So, maybe she didn’t know it, but she was. Was Grandma well off? Well, no, no more well off than most. And in many cases she was poorer than most, especially as she got older. Still she kept on making home cooked meals with the freshest meat and produce she could lay her hands on. And she did it frugally even if she wasn’t on a tight budget, just as a matter of principle. Yet our culture tends to think of foodies as an elite group of people with the time and money to dedicate to culinary extravagance. Does this sound like Grandma? If your Grandma was anything like mine she would be shocked at the suggestion! Then she would laugh until she cried at the mere thought :-).

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Why You Want a Vintage Cast Iron Skillet

Did you know you want a vintage cast iron skillet? Maybe you did and maybe you didn’t but after reading this post I think you will want one! I apologize in advance for tempting you with visions of the perfect new addition to your kitchen ;-). Cast iron is a must have for all southern cooks, but you probably already knew that. What you don’t know is why Grandma’s cast iron skillet is better than the one you have. [Read more…]

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A Word About Inadequate Kitchens and Tools

Do you live in an apartment? Do you have an old house with a little, old, dingy kitchen? Is all the kitchen equipment you have handed down from you mother-in-law? Is it too crowded? or is it devoid of tools, even a can opener? Do you dream of a beautiful, well-lit, well-equipped kitchen? If the decorating magazines are any indication, most of us do, myself included.

Still, most of the cooking done in the world happens in little, cramped, dimly-lit kitchens with simple tools. Meals get made, things get done anyway.

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Local Honey is the Best Honey

We, all of us have a sweet tooth, don’t we? Nature has fitted us with a strong drive to find the sweet in our food. In nature, sweet flavors are a bit rare and hard to come by. But in our foodscape sweet taste is abundant and cheap. Not only the inexpensive granular sugar which has been available in the west since the 18th century is widely available, but also aspartame, saccharine, and now sucralose or splenda. These sweeteners are all found in a wide variety of processed foods. And so our drive for sweetness is a major source of illness in our culture. We eat far, far too much sugar. Most of us are aware of this and seek to avoid sweeteners only to find ourselves in the candy aisle, again 😉

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Stovetop Beef Tallow French Fries

Do you love french fries? To not love french fries is almost downright un-american. But I bet you feel pretty guilty about an occasional indulgence. With this recipe you can put that to rest. The only thing unhealthy about fries is the oil that they are almost universally cooked in. That is a hydrogenated vegetable oil. So we switch the oil and voilà, we have a healthy dish!

Beef tallow is the fat McDonald’s used to use for their french fries. They changed over to a vegetable fat in 1983 under pressure from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (read The oiling of America for more info ). For those of us old enough to remember the beef tallow McDonald’s fries this recipe will allow you to continue your love affair with them, since McDonald’s no longer wants to cooperate 😉 And you can do so guilt free knowing that it’s a healthy treat!

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