Poor + Organic = Poorganic?

First, a few clarifying details about the $500 month just for those of you who are curious or are trying a similar thing.

  1. There are five people in our family. We have three children, ages 7, 5, and 3.  We have no food allergies or intolerances.
  2. We DO have some SMALL stockpile of foods, so obviously we will be consuming those items, along with whatever we purchase for $500 or less.
  3. Because we will be eating the stockpiled foods, I won’t necessarily be able to give you a perfect cost estimate per day, but I will try.
  4. We live in a small town near Charlotte, NC where gas and a gallon of regular non organic milk are both around $3.65 a gallon.  Your expenses might be more or less depending on where you live.
  5. I shop at our local Harris Teeter, ALDI, and the Farmer’s Market, primarily. Trader Joes and Earth Fare are a bit more of a hike. Whole Foods opens next week in the fancy part of town, which is kind of far away, so I am going to resist the temptation as long as I can.

Day 2


  • Me: Coffee with sugar cream and whole wheat toast. The second cup is usually black because I don’t refill the cream and sugar due to laziness.
  • ProvidinaTOR: Organic eggs on toast with HT ham. Coffee
  • Kids: Tasteeos with whole non-organic milk and honey.(Cheerios or cheapy equivalent are one of our five ingredient “exception” foods.) Non-organic clementine oranges


Please don’t judge me. Or do. GO AHEAD. I can take it. My husband suggested Subway after he saw me give my weary “Please don’t make me cook for these terrible kids after that church service.” (We are church shopping, which is a dreadful wearisome process much like dating. Try taking your extremely shy three year old to four different churches in as many weeks, and you might have a clue.)

I said okay and he ordered. I forked over the cashola, $16

Family: 2 footlong cold cut combos with Cheetos, Doritos, sprite, and a sweet tea.

(Don’t say it. I heard it. I heard you judging me. I heard it all the way over here through the space time continuum.)


Homemade Lara Bars. Those of you who asked for the recipe should NOT follow the method I am going to describe below.  You should Google it for more sophisticated information, but here is what I did.

For the first batch, I took a bag of leftover trailmix that had peanuts, raisins, sunflower seeds, etc (probably about a cup) and pulsed it in the mini-chop food processor till it was like fine bread crumbs.  Then I added some dates one at a time, pulsing until it was a thick pastey consistency. Then I pressed it into wax paper and left it in the fridge till I could cut it.

Since that worked pretty decently, I took some post-fresh old granola (oats, unsweetened coconut, chopped nuts, etc.) and pulsed it until it was crumby. Then I added dates to it in batches till it turned thick and pastey.  I did this in batches until smoke started coming out of my little food processor.

Then I dumped the food out and cleaned out wheezing, smokey processor. I tried again until I smelled the smell of burning metal. Then I tried to pulse again until I heard the sound of a lawn mower running over an anvil. Then I stopped.

I put the mixture I had finished in wax paper in a pan and refrigerated it till it was firm enough to slice.

So, all that to say, I think you can mix dates with about anything and turn out a fruitylicious treat, but your appliances might be in jeopardy.


As penance for feeding my kids “pink meat combo” and killing our appliances, I made these delicious ALL organic roasted veggies and ALL organic spinach and beet-green salad with homemade vinagrette.  I even used my one butternut squash that I grew in my garden, despite having an almost entirely unsuccessful summer of growing anything.  I would

estimate this dinner cost about $10 or less.  Although actually, I put the price of that butternut squash at around $40 since it is almost the only thing that I managed to grow. 🙂

Truthfully, my littlest two were not as psyched for it as they had been for Doritos, but they ate some of it and only cried for a few minutes when I refused to give them anything else after dinner.  (So in addition to being a bit of a food-hypocrite, I’m also really mean.)

SEE IT! See my squash! I grew that. 🙂

Anyway, that was day 2. Breakfast we did okay. Lunch we did terrible. Dinner we did awesome. I guess being poorganic means averaging out the poor and the organic by the end of the day.  We are almost a $100 down already, but I’m determined to menu plan tomorrow. What’s on my menu? Please help me. I’m weak.

Are you having fun laughing at my expense? Invite your friends to follow along with the $500 month too. 🙂

16 thoughts on “Poor + Organic = Poorganic?

  1. You made me laugh. I think the purpose of your experiment is to become aware of what you spend your money on and how you spend it. I think you’ve already been successful. From a mom who has raised 5 children on an extremely low food budget over the years you are doing great! Keep it up. I myself have often referred to myself as “mean mom” and none of my children argued the point. LOL I’m looking forward to following your adventure. From one who’s been there.


  2. We grew butternut squash once–I think we ended up with 3 or 4 that we were able to eat. No garden this year, but I just bought our first farmers’ market squash of the year–$1! Sometimes it doesn’t seem worth having a garden, or at least not growing things like butternut squash. My boys LOVE butternut squash though. 🙂

  3. Katrina,
    Just want to encourage you to keep your eyes on Jesus through this process. Budgets are wonderful and a great way of stewarding the resources we’ve been given. And it’s always great to challenge ourselves in new ways. But it can also become a guilt trap, really quick. An “I failed” or “I succeeded” pendulum of self-defeat or self-glorification. Do it for His glory. Rejoice in Him when you’re successful. Take the guilt right back to the Cross when you’re not. And trust Him to provide if you’re down to pennies. Your budget-or your success following it-doesn’t define you. You know that, but we all need those reminders (at least I do!) 🙂

    Looking forward to seeing how this goes for you, as I’m trying to reduce the number of processed foods we consume while keeping the food budget low too =D

    1. Thanks for this encouragement, which is SO TRUE. I always think I have conquered false guilt (Have you read this one?) but it can creep up all over the place. I LOVE seeing the Lord provide and realize that setting a monetary cap can be a little arbitrary, so I’m thankful to have readers who can both encourage me and challenge me not to become to nutty. 🙂

  4. My kids ate goober grape white flour tortilla rollups for dinner. ‘Bout the only thing organic or even remotely “real” were the inevitable dog hairs tucked within. Take heart. Wait, will I forever be the voice of the rebel? Where is January Laura, ready to slaughter Tyson with a single divided lunch tupperware packed with innocent carrot sticks and non GMO ranch? Oh. So sorry… She is fast asleep from fatigue of saying: “No, you may not have chipies for breakfast!”.

  5. I’ve been following your blog for awhile and you make me laugh…in a good way 🙂 I’ve been on a crazy food journey the past 8 months with trying to eliminate dyes/preservatives for my sensitive son. No judgement coming from here for your trip to Subway. We have those moments of weakness when we cave and go to McD’s…only I have my son’s behavior to deal with afterwards!

    Anyway, just wanted to comment and let you know I’m enjoying your blog. And we’re eating stir fry, BLT’s, goulash, grilled chicken and potatoes, strawberry feta salad, and taco salad this week. That is, if I stick to my plan 🙂
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    1. Ooo, I like that meal plan. I’m checking our inventory of food today and see if I can fit in goulash. My mom used to make that when I was growing up, but I don’t know if I’ve ever made it. Do you have a good recipe.

      1. Umm, nope! I barely ever use a recipe. I’m one of those dump and taste people 🙂 I usually just use tomato juice, some jalepeno for heat, a box of whatever noodles are on hand, some ground beef/turkey/chicken/sausage, and onion/garlic/salt pepper to taste. You can add tomatoes, peppers, even shredded zucchini or carrots to add in some veggies! Good luck with my ‘recipe’!!!

  6. hm, our grocery budget is normally $400 a month. in order to do your challenge i will need to add $100! GREAT! haha. 😉 (disclaimer here…. we eat almost no meat).
    last week i had coupons for sonic… and fed my kids ‘pink meat’ in the form of hot dogs… but made up for it with an all veg soup for dinner. we ‘do the best we can’… but they enjoyed the treat (i felt the nausea) and it was a nice break for me.
    it’s good to know what you are eating and what you are spending. i have noticed that since i have had more processed food (particularly last week)… i crave it. ugh!

    1. Well, the extra hundred will hopefully cover our non-food consumables, which I am including in the $500. 🙂 So I am going to have to include newspapers for coupons, contact solution, pull-ups, toilet paper and the like. But truthfully, I pulled out $300 cash and am seriously hopeful we can go a long way towards the next payday with just that since I have gotten quite lax on budgeting. I’m off to inventory the kitchen now and create a brilliant pantry meal-plan.

  7. Hi, Katrina,
    I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks and love it! Our family is slowly trying to cut out processed foods where we can. This was my first summer of trying container gardening with cherry tomatoes, a few peppers, and some herbs. I’m looking forward to trying again next summer. We visited family out of state this summer and they have an urban farm and we ate deliciously while we were there and I also thought my one son, who has some ADD tendencies, had better behavior (or it could have just been that he got to play with chickens and rabbits all day, who knows?!). Anyway, so I’m thinking that more natural foods may help with his focus.

    For dinner tonight we are having taco casserole. I use ground turkey (you could also use beef or chicken), season it, and add black beans, rice or quinoa or couscous (my kids like it simple, but you could also add corn or whatever). I put it in the over at 375 for about 20 minutes and then top with cheese, sour cream, and tomatoes (or salsa). We scoop it up with tortilla chips and it’s deliciousI usually always have the staples on hand and I can make it ahead of time (which I will do today since it’s the first day of school here).

    I’m thinking I’m going to try your challenge. It will take some planning, but I figure if I start in September, I have a few days to see what I have in my kitchen pantry and on the bathroom shelves! Thanks for all the time you put into this blog, I love it! 🙂

    1. Ooo, yum. I think maybe I’ll try that recipe. Maybe I can do it meatless? (We have no beef or turkey right now, but tons of beans, so I think I can try that adjustment.) I should have gotten my fall garden in the ground a MONTH ago, but I’ve been lazy. (Is there a theme to this blog lately, or what!?!) I guess maybe I can still try for a few things like carrots and spinach for the fall. THANKS so much for following and for leaving a comment. What an encouragement!

  8. Church shopping is a totally exhausting and often depressing experience that completely justifies lunch out. Praying that you learn quickly the place the Lord has for you.

  9. Enjoying your site. I love trying to spend less on food and still eating well. Grocery is almost the only flexible area on our budget so it really pays to plan! I just wanted to say don’t hold off on the temptation to go to Whole Foods. Contrary to popular belief, Whole Foods is very affordable. I have been a very loyal Whole Foods shopper since 1999. Their brand has come a long way. I do comparison shop at walmart and target and kroger and find myself saying, “this is cheaper at whole foods” quite often… and they have a huge list of unacceptable ingredients that they refuse to sell.

    1. Well, it is a good 45 minute drive for me, so I’d love to know which items you’d say are the “best buys” there, so I can make a good list before I go. I want to make sure that I make the most of my trip. How do you think it compares with Trader Joes and Earth Fare? (Do you have those stores?)

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