Linda Watson, author of Wildly Affordable Organic: Eat Fabulous Food, Get Healthy, and Save the Planet-All on $5 a Day or Less shares the steps you need to take to eating healthy on a budget.
Commitmentnow.com: How did you discover that it was
possible to eat organic food for $5.00 a day or less?
Linda Watson: On a whim, I tried three weeks on the Food Stamp Challenge to see what it would be like for an organized, thrifty cook. The results were so delicious and varied that I extended it to three months. After four years of fine tuning, the result is my book Wildly Affordable Organic.
Commitmentnow.com: What steps need to be taken in order to begin eating healthy food for less
Linda: Cook seasonal foods from scratch and pick ingredients low on the food chain. You'll get the best taste, nutrition, and value. And you'll be skipping all the transfats, preservatives, and artificial flavor maskers.
Commitmentnow.com: Can you share with us five of your best tips for buying organic at a reduced
• Buy in season.
• Look for sturdy produce: green peppers cost less than asparagus.
• Go for mini-bulk: buy two melons for five dollars instead of one for three.
• Add water at home. Cook or brew your own beans, rice, tea, and coffee.
• Cruise the bulk aisle for the best prices on everything from corn meal to spices.
Commitmentnow.com: Tell us how you ate for $1 a meal per person?
Linda: The key is in the cooking! A typical day might feature peanut butter on toasted homemade bread with tea for breakfast, a bean burrito with salad for lunch, oatmeal-raisin cookies as a snack, and high-protein pasta with a tomato and vegetable sauce for dinner, garlic toast, and grilled summer squash. All delicious!
Commitmentnow.com: What basic ingredients are needed to plan ahead and save money on food?
Linda: A big advantage of cooking from scratch is that you use the same core ingredients in many different dishes. I wouldn't be without white whole wheat flour, olive oil, garlic, ginger, ground chipotle, and a big selection of dried beans.
Commitmentnow.com: What are some of your best tips for freezing food and produce?
• Use a bent straw to suck the air out of freezer bags to prevent freezer burn.
• Feed your freezer: fill it with fruits and vegetables in the warm months and baked goods in the cold months.
• Keep your homemade food in the freezer, not processed food from the grocery store.
Commitmentnow.com: What deals can be found in the Hispanic food aisle at the grocery store?
Linda: Spices, vanilla, and masa for making tortillas. Homemade tortillas are a snap and taste so fresh!
Commitmentnow.com: How can a person find deals at a farmer's market?
Linda: Look for deals on ugly tomatoes and super-ripe produce. I love to buy "ice cream peaches" which are so ripe they need to be used the same day. I'll make up ice-cream base, enjoy some and freeze the rest. Also take a friend and buy in quantity. Ten ears of corn are much cheaper than three ears.
Commitmentnow.com: What are some foods that can be cooked ahead of time that will save a lot of
Linda: Take ten minutes a week to cook two pounds of dried beans. You'll get twenty servings. Eat some that week and freeze the rest. Soon you'll be able to enjoy a different bean dish every day. It's like making your own fast food!
Commitmentnow.com: What are some shopping strategies that few people know about?
• Always check the unit prices. Often the medium-sized package cost the least per serving. Stores bank on shoppers in a hurry grabbing the biggest containers, thinking that they are also grabbing the best price.
• Buy only what you need. I used to always buy milk by the gallon because that's what my mom did. But with just two of us in the house, it makes more sense to buy half gallons and not throw any away.
Commitmentnow.com: Can you share a few recipes with us that are great money savers and also nutritious?
Linda: It's so hard to choose! But some of my favorites from Wildly Affordable Organic are:
• Cuban Black Beans
• Noodles in Spicy Peanut Sauce with Seasonal Vegetables
• Southern Summer Pesto. Cook green beans with the noodles for a fantastic one-pot meal.
• Ginger-Glazed Carrot Cake.
To buy Wildly Affordable Organic click here.
About the Author: Linda Watson lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with my husband
Bruce (aka her Taster). She started the Cook for Good project in the
summer of 2007 after becoming obsessed with the national Food Stamp
Challenge of living on a dollar a meal per person for a week. A
three-week experiment became a lifestyle, a website, and the book Wildly
Linda helps people cook like it matters in classes at a wide range of venues across the country, from the Share Our Strength's national Conference of Leaders to SAS Institute, from Whole Foods to food banks, from Slow Food groups and co-ops to colleges and clinics.
Find Linda online on her site CookforGood.com, which features free weekly recipes and food news. She's also has columns on The Huffington Post and GoodVeg and is a frequent guest blogger on DrGreene.com.
She's had an odd but thrilling career so far, including developing a top-secret expert system for the Institute for Defense Analyses, working with Tom Clancy and Douglas Adams on computer games, riding the dot-com wave with Egarden.com, and being the director of her county political party and the Raleigh Independent Business Alliance. As Garrison Keillor says, you can do anything with an English degree!