Save Time and Money: Eat With the Seasons
Eating well and eco-friendly inexpensively can be a huge task, especially when you're just beginning the journey. The best bet seems to be growing your own food. But if you've never touched a seed and your thumbs are all shades except green, feeding yourself from gardening probably isn't going to be your first step on the path of eating healthy for cheap. You're going to have to find your healthy, sustainable food somewhere else.
Unfortunately, if you're new to budgeting or bargain shopping, the idea of thumbing through store ads, clipping coupons, and store hopping can be overwhelming as well. It takes a bit of organization, time, and patience. A weird, money-saving obsession helps too. But what if you don't have that passion and you're not ready to cultivate it? Do you still have a chance of saving money while buying quality food?
In short, yes. Although it is best to diversify your money saving methods of obtaining healthy food, the first and simplest step is to eat seasonally. Not only will you save money, but you'll be eating better.
Seasonal Food is:
-Better for you. It's generally fresher, tastier and packed with more nutrition than food transported in from far away or grown in less than optimal, natural conditions. For example, studies have shown that spinach harvested in Summer has a much higher vitamin C content than spinach harvested in Winter.
-Better for our Mother Earth. Since seasonal food tends to be local food, it takes less energy and produces less CO2 emissions than its out of season counterparts.
-Better for your budget. Buying food when it's in season almost guarantees the best price without having to worry about sales. In all truth, it's usually the season that determines the sales. For instance, I love blueberries with a passion. But in the Winter, they stay off my grocery list as they cost outrageously high in Winter. However, when July comes around, they are something I can indulge in.
-Romantic and fun. Eating by the seasons is like living in a French movie or a centuries-old book. You can be a Celtic villager celebrating a harvest or a mountain woman relishing the rhubarb she just got to make a pie for her twenty kids. It's just cool, man.
-Easy. Just take a little time to learn a seasonal food chart and plan your meals and grocery list accordingly.
Luckily, thanks to the continue growth of the Local and Slow Food Movements, there are many great resources available for those looking to eat by the seasons. The Food Network offers a general guide to Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables on their website. To find information specific to the region you live in, try a google search or look for the websites of Farmer's Markets in your area.
As far as recipes, RecipeZaar offers over 25,000 marked as seasonal. There is also some great books on the subject which are usually easy to find at most libraries and book stores. Local Flavors by Deborah Madison marks the top of my favorites list, with over 400 pages of local and seasonal food information, recipes, and gorgeous photographs,written by a well-established writer and vegetarian chef.