The Poorganic Voice in My Head

Do you ever feel like the process of eating real foods on a budget is making you insane?

No, I’m not kidding.  I mean, for real, like the whole process of deciding what to buy might be making you into a crazy lady?

Today I decided to stop in at Walmart for the last few necessities of the $500 month.  Mainly, I have been asked to send in applesauce on Tuesday for Anika’s preschool class to learn about “smooth” texture, so I wanted to buy that since I do not foresee applesauce making in my next 4 days. (My mother and I made 14 apple pies last Thursday. If you ask me to peel an apple, I will stab you.)

While in Walmart, (a store that I repent of shopping in NEARLY EVERY SINGLE TIME) I realized that I was descending into madness.  Here is my inner monologue.

What did you come in here to buy anyway? Bananas?

They are only .53 cents a lb here. That is way cheaper than HT. I wonder how that compares to Trader Joes. Why do they charge by the banana, anyway? How much does a banana weigh?

What country are they from?

Bananas are never local. Get over yourself.

Do I have to buy bananas?

The kids love and want bananas. You only have a few apples and half a tasteless cantaloupe in the fridge. You need more fruit.

Are they on the dirty dozen?

Just buy them. The peel is thick. They are cheap. You need limes to make salsa. The conventional limes are .25 cents a piece OR you could buy the bag of organic limes for $3.

Do I have enough money to buy the organic limes when I don’t need or want a whole bag AND I’m only supposed to spend $20 in here?

No. You have to buy the conventional limes. They are not local either. Get over it.

Do I really need to buy limes and bananas in September in NC?

Yes, those things never grow in NC ever. Stop being a dork.

What else do I need for salsa? Can I find it organic?

You can get some organic cilantro, I’m sure. No. Wait. They actually only have an organic cilantro PLANT. I do actually want that, but then I need a whole bunch for the salsa.

Will it be bad to buy conventional cilantro since it is a green and greens are on the dirty dozen?

You can counter act the badness of the conventional cilantro by buying the organic, potted cilantro. Thus all your sins will be washed away. But not your pesticide.

Let’s get some lettuce since those heads of Romaine in the garden are growing slowly. Can you afford organic greens?

YES! This large thing is only $5 for 10 ounces. That is pretty good compared to the Earthbound Farms brand at HT, which is normally $3.99 for 5 oz.

Don’t you need tortillas?

Yes, but I know they are all going to have bad stuff in them.

Maybe you should make some?

Yes, but I don’t have time and we are out of coconut oil and I can’t afford more.

Maybe you should buy some?

Yes, but I know they are all going to have bad stuff in them.

Maybe you can make some with olive oil?

That will be gross. I love the ones I made with lard that time like the Pioneer Woman does. But I don’t have time this afternoon.

Maybe you can make some with lard?

Well, if I’m going to do that I should just buy the ones with the bad stuff in them.  Look here are some whole wheat ones that are $2.85 for 8 tortillas. They only have, um, 18 ingredients.

Maybe you should just buy the cheapest ones since you have obviously let go of all your principles?


How much are those Great Value ones?

Only $1.89 for 16. I won’t look at the ingredients and then I won’t know the depths to which I have fallen.

Good call. Now don’t you need peanut oil for popcorn since they don’t carry it at Harris Teeter?

Well, Harris Teeter only has the gigundous turkey frying vat or the organic peanut oil. I want the non-organic because it is cheaper.

Really? You are going to buy CHEAP non-100 days approved oil by which to desecrate the whole grain deliciousness of your popcorn?


Shouldn’t you just buy some coconut oil? They have organic coconut oil.

I can’t afford it. Next month I will buy some from, but this month, I only have enough for peanut BECAUSE I WANT PEANUT OIL.

And you call yourself a poorganic?!?

Shut up. I made you.

Your kids won’t eat tacos without sour cream, will they?

They should, but they don’t.

Why do you spoil them? Why do you indulge them in the needlessness of sour cream?

They are small and look like their father.

Shouldn’t you buy it at ALDI where it is cheaper or at Trader Joes where the organic is such a good price?

No, because I’m at Wal-mart, not at those other places.

Couldn’t you go to Harris Teeter after this to get organic sour cream since they don’t have organic sour cream here?

No, because I am already IN a grocery store and I AM NOT going somewhere else for one thing.

Don’t you think there is some kind of heinous evil in this sour cream? Maybe you could just put plain yogurt on instead of sour cream?

I COULD do that, but I am standing right in front of the sour cream right now and it is $1.50 and my kids love it and, YOU SHUT UP! You only put yogurt on tacos if you are missionary in PNG and have no choice. I have a choice!

You need lunch meat for Addie’s sandwiches. Do you think they have that Hormel meat that you delude yourself is natural?

Oh HOORAY, they do and it is under $3! Wow! I’m so excited.

What do you think “natural flavorings” are?

Don’t ask me.

What do you think lactic acid starter culture is?

I think it is best if we don’t know

Do you think that the real organic people would buy this?

No. They would raise their own pig and slaughter is and boil up their own rendered lard and roll their own tortillas, but DANG IT, I am at Wal-mart trying to buy my meat- sandwich loving 7 year old some five ingredient ham.

Why don’t you just increase your food budget? 

I can’t.

Why don’t you just take some money from somewhere else in the budget?

Because I’d have to take it from our giving and that isn’t going to happen.

You could take it out of tithe since your church closed and you don’t have to tithe.  Why not? It’s your money. No one would ever know and you would feel better about your food knowing that you got the best, organic real food. You wouldn’t be strapped to some arbitrary $500 budget that nobody can stick to.

Firstly, it’s not my money.

Secondly, you’d blog about it, dweeb.

Thirdly, people are more important than the best, organic real food. If you don’t give it to church, you have to give it to someone who needs it more than your kids need organic sour cream.

Fourthly, WE DID DO IT! We stuck to the budget! We got mostly real, somewhat organic, often poorganic, somewhat homemade, often store-bought food and household items for right around $500.

As for the questioning voices, I am not sure I can get rid of them. Literally, every time I shop, I hear these questions and MANY MANY more. (I didn’t even bother you with the inner monologue for the items I didn’t buy.) Am I the only one?

At the end of the day, I have to reassure myself with the knowledge that something is better than nothing.  Also, that my efforts at making these choices for our family are also choices that enable us to be generous with others.  Just in case you need the reminder, THAT is why we are poorganic–not because we NEED to be, but because we CHOOSE to be.

What questions do you ask yourself when you’re grocery shopping?

PS: I forgot to buy the applesauce after all that. Stupid poorganic voice!!!


59 thoughts on “The Poorganic Voice in My Head

  1. I don’t know you, but I love you 🙂 I was laughing out loud throughout most of this post – I am still amazed that you only spent $500…way to go!

    1. Thanks! Well, I think we were pretty close to $500, but we actually have to make it till the 25th. HOPEFULLY, I don’t have to go to the store again before payday. 🙂

    2. Thank you for being so real! I love it. We are trying very hard to go from an entitled mentality to one of giving, all while trying to eat clean and ethically raised foods. It is a challenge for sure and it does make me crazy. Especially as my family really doesn’t seem to care so long as all food tastes good and is plentiful. Thank you, thank you for sharing and making me feel like there are others out there that have crazy monologues too. It’s okay to be overwhelmed when we are not alone.

  2. “Because they are small and look like their father” was my favorite line until I got to “you’d blog about it, you dweeb.”

    I have an inner to-and-fro too, but it’s not as funny as yours, I’m sorry to say.

    I had my work colleagues over tonight and, among other food items whose labels I specifically did not read for reasons much like your own, I served chicken empanadas. “Did you make them?” a couple of people asked. “I’d love to be able to say that I made them from chickens I raised in the backyard and slaughtered myself, but [big dramatic pause] they’re from Costco,” I said. There’s a lot to be said for a party that consists of stuff you take out of packages. I can’t believe I just typed that.

    Are you familiar with the October Unprocessed challenge at Eating Rules? I think I need to do that in penance now.

    And congrats on feeding your family for only $500! Wow.


    I have SUCH SIMILAR conversations going on in the grocery store…

    There is wisdom in finding good healthy food, I think it is part stewardship, but there is also foolishness I think in running to 5 different grocery stores just because one or two ingredients then can be organic. I have the same dillemma’s, but WILL HAVE TO STOP thinking about it when in the store. I want to live my life, I don’t want to be lived by where or what kind of groceries I buy, and it could take like half my day just to find ingredients for one meal all over town just so I can get them organic/cheaper. I don’t want to live like that.

    We need so much wisdom but especially freedom I believe in deciding how to spend time grocery shopping and in what to buy. I think we need so much grace for ourselves as in not having to be perfect in everything that I eat or buy. There is a thought of stewardship and I think thats awesome. But when it becomes legalistic and all-time-consuming it starts to feel more like an idol than a way of life.

  4. Love the post!!!! Questions I ask myself while shopping in Germany….
    I have done some shopping on the economy and it is awesome… but sometimes we go to the commissary and there are many questions I ask myself while in that store….
    Commissary Questions:
    1). Why am I paying $0.85 per lb. for my bananas? Seriously…. not fair.
    2). I need a gallon of milk. A GALLON — I should not have to spend $4.00 on a half gallon twice. I need a cow. I need a goat.
    3). Bread — out of bread again! Seriously…. how many loafs of bread do people eat at once.
    4). Boneless Chicken Tenders — frozen… out of them again — I don’t want to buy a bag of chicken pieces…. I want the tenderloins.
    5). Where is the cilantro? ohh cilantro…where are you? ohhh there you are — you are called Coriander here in Germany.
    6). Sparkling water… you are my best friend.. my pretend soda — i love you and you are super cheap.
    7). What day is it? oh its payday…never ever go to the commissary on pay day — ever! 🙂

    loved your post — it was great I laughed so hard diet coke came out of my nose.

  5. Yeah, seriously hilarious. I also ‘LOLed” when you said, because they are small and look like their father, and all the dork and dweeb and shut up, I made you. Funny funny. And true! I’m so glad I suffocated that stupid schmorganic with msg and went back to shopping at Aldi. Dare I mention how much 20 tortillas was….? Or sour cream…..? Oh, and applesauce is 1.50 for a 6 pack at HT now, which is the same price as Costco and cheaper than Wal-mart last I checked. Obviously you need to come here for lunch today so that I can feed you and send you home with unexpected blessings so close to payday. 🙂

  6. And this is why I can’t go to the store with my kids anymore. They talk to me and I don’t hear them because of the internal monologue induced by label reading. We try to do it on an even smaller budget than yours…I’ve even had that same argument with myself about the tithe! I’m pretty sure I’ve walked right past people I knew in the store and didn’t see them because I was so stuck in my head debating with myself over the tortillas (yes, we buy them but I HATE it), the lunch meat (what IS lactic acid culture starter anyways), or the fact that I need to buy special snacks for my kiddos for preschool and there is NOTHING prepackaged that is remotely healthy that can sit on the preschool shelf for months and not decompose. Oh the woes of us enlightened westerners! 😉

  7. Hilarious! I can totally relate to the voice! I appreciate that you talk about the importance of giving to others vs. spending more $ on food. It’s encouraging to hear.

  8. I’m not sure which is worse when grocery shopping, the voices in my head or the voices of my children… Usually I’m able to shop with just the almost 2 year old while the 6 year old is in school, so that helps. The older one reminds me to check the dates on items at the local discount stores, and lately he wants to read the nutrition information on everything that is on our dining room table–I can’t imagine what grocery shopping with him now would be like!

  9. “Shut up. I made you.”
    It is such a struggle trying to determine what is most important to buy organic. To cut down on my insanity, I use the List Master app. I took the time to make lists for each store we shop at. I made columns for the item, volume, and total price. Then, when I was feeling patient, I broke that down into per ounce price. That way it’s easy to compare where I get the best price on something. I also have saved the organic price and non-organic price of items, so I can decide if the difference is worth the cost. It has taken some time, but if it helps cut down on that same dialogue that goes through my head, it’s worth it to me!
    On a tortilla note: a few years back, my husband and I started making our own corn tortillas. We bought a comal (which lives on our stovetop since we use it so much), “la tortilla oven” (this little fabric tortilla warmer that keeps them much warmer than those styrofoam containers), and a tortilla press (lined with a big ziplock bag cut into two pices so prevent sticking to the press). We use masa flour, mix with a bit of hot water, press, cook on the comal, done! It took some time to get the hang of it, but we love it! Is the masa organic- no. Does it probably come from genetically modified corn- yes. Hmmm…I have not thought about that until now. Shoot!!

    1. Hey, be a dear and e-mail me a copy of those list masters, won’t you? 😉 I actually had and used a kamal for ages and have made corn tortillas before and love them, but my kids prefer flour AND organic masa is expensive and hard to find. Alas . . everything has to be so complicated. Thank goodness that we have grace!

  10. Thank you for starting my day with a smile! So funny. And so familiar. It’s precisely the same questions and frustration I face when shopping. Like you said, it’s a choice we make and we just have to do the best we can. Some days are more organic and local than others.

    PS. I have an extra jar of organic applesauce I can bring by 🙂
    Tanya recently posted…The garden grows while you’re away…My Profile

  11. My inner monologue basically sounds like this: Get that one, it’s on sale.

    And then, because I didn’t price-shop at Wal-Mart, Trader Joe’s, Target and Ultra Foods, and I didn’t bring a coupon, and my husband forgot the store loyalty card, and the baby’s started biting me so now he’s taking more formula (oh, and there’s that growing thing), I get an email from Mint saying that we’re over budget.

    We are poorganic because we have to be, but I’m really, REALLY trying to change that by being smarter with each individual budget category, not just in the food department. I swear we’re doing better this month, but the amount in my bank account still makes me nervous until Pay Day. Just trying to keep the faith. Really relying on that in this area of my life is so new to me…
    MyPeaceOfFood recently posted…The Year of NothingMy Profile

  12. Loved this post! I too have the inner voice that comes out. I have those exact thoughts when I buy bananas, except I get ours at a convenience store for 38 cents a pound. I always think “Do other people go to a gas station/convenience store for fruit??”. Oh well, you do what you have to do.

    Also, thank you for reminding us that it’s more important to give than to buy something that may be a little better for you. I actually had this happen a couple of weeks ago as I debated whether to get our normal organic milk or a gallon of “regular” milk. I patted myself on the back as I chose the regular milk instead of taking two dollars out of my son’s Sunday School offering envelope. My family all survived the gallon of milk, plus I would have felt terrible taking money from our church!

  13. I hope you keep blogging about food (when you want to). I feel like you are a voice of normalcy amidst the ocean of freaky robot real food people. Reading other real food blogs, all I can think about is how I will never be able to sustain that kind of a lifestyle – cost wise, time wise, or even willing-to-wise. I have no desire to have a whole side of beef taking up my whole freezer for a year, you know? 🙂

    When I read your story and thoughts, I remember that the decisions about what is important to my family are ours to make – and I don’t need to feel guilty about buying conventional bananas in September or shopping at Aldi every once in a while (or every week).

    I am also in love with your philosophy on giving. I aspire to be as generous as you one day. 🙂

    1. Ok, I’m not the blogger but I just have to reply and say (as her sister and #1 fan) that I love this comment!! 🙂 Thanks for encouraging Katrina to keep on keeping on with her hilarious delivery of what is REALLY important.

  14. Love, love, love this blog!! Nice to know I am not the only person who thinks they are going crazy. I am torn between patting myself on the back when I score some cheap organic at costco and feeling guilty that I am not growing a huge garden and building a chicken coop. But in reality I need to remember I am doing my best and to look at how far I have come since first trying to add organic to my family’s life. Keep calm and carry on. 🙂

    1. I count myself sane as long as I can put my foot down against the chickens. I just have no desire, none whatsoever, to have scratchy, feathery, farmy creatures squawking about. (You know, beyond my kids–that is.)

  15. I have this conversation in my head ALL.THE.TIME. Today, in fact. But, at least I know I’m not alone with that voice in my head. 😉 Thank you for sharing!!

  16. I so love this. and i go through the same things too. this one has come up a lot lately:

    so, i don’t have time to make from scratch a home cooked meal. I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen today. Is it better to be prepared with the recipe that is quick, easy and yummy, that contains canned condensed soup ….or to just deny that dinner is coming and when it hits end up with take out that is surely far worse and more expensive than the meal containing the canned soup?


    i love your blog and i love that you keep it so real!

    1. Hmmm . . . .tricky on the condensed soup thing. I avoid buying them and then get into the same dilemma. It isn’t QUITE as easy as take out, but I have found a couple pretty simple DIY white sauces that work well in those cream soup recipes. For example, I have a chicken pot pie that calls for a can of cream of chicken and and can of cream of potato. Since I don’t have the cream soups, I make a white sauce (onion sauteed in butter, add flour, broth, milk, and seasonings). Then I bake a potato in the microwave, chop it up, add my chicken, a bag of frozen mixed veggies and the white sauce. You can pour it into a pie shell, or just pour over biscuits or toast. Voila! ALMOST as easy as take-out. But girl, I hear ya. Sometimes I walk a fine line. Plus I know the gal that owns our local pizza parlor, so that counts as local, right??

  17. Hi Katrina, see how much we love your poorganic honesty! I find the grocery shopping mental monologue so stressful and time consuming when we’re home in the UK, that is has just become Phil’s job. He has the ability to do the mental maths on all the deals and no organic guilt to deal with. On our budget we just can’t afford it. I was often so mentally tied in knots trying to figure out what was the cheapest, healthiest, lowest-fat/ calorie option I’d get a headache, or mental paralysis. I love the whole food, organic idea, and when we’re in PNG I can kid myself I’m doing well (just don’t think about the ‘Gro-fast’ hormone-ridden stuff you know they feed the chickens!), but back home the closest I get to organic is when my mum donates the items from her beautiful home-delivered organic veg box that she can’t use.

    Glad to know I’m not the only wierdo out here! Do we really need this kind of stress??

  18. The Lactic Acid starter culture in the meat? That is a good thing! Real salami is fermented the old fashioned way. Anything lacto-fermented is fabulous for you!

  19. Oy! I hear ya! I have these convos all the time. Especially the one over the tortillas. I know how easy they are to make. I have made them hundreds of times. But the ones in the pkg are FAR easier to just buy! And i do not always have the time. But I look at the ingredients list and toss them back on the shelf. Then I pick up another brand and do the same thing. I look at the whole grain ones and see they use canola oil or soybean oil, and back they go. Sheesh! Ten min. in front of the tortillas alone!
    Sour cream I have made myself, but only a couple of times. I always buy the Daisy brand as they are the ones with the least amt. of ingredients.
    Sometimes we just have to compromise…and not kick ourselves ’round the block and back over it.
    We do what we can with what we have, and that is good enough!

  20. HAHAHA! That was hilarious! I was laughing out loud reading it and my husband wanted to know what was so funny. He read it and laughed too.
    We say a lot of things to ourselves. Full blown conversations. Funny multiple personality stuff. I was read a book recently that mentioned that we (women mostly i would guess and of course that is a generalized ‘we’) talk more in our heads than we do out loud. The book estimated that we spoke 150-300 per minute to as part of our silent dialogues with ourselves. That is a lot of words. They can be encouraging and truthful or they can be distructive and lies. Either way they are powerful, aren’t they.
    Anyway, it made me really try to slow down and think about the conversations in my head. I can’t get them all out verbally much less down on paper. I think it is amazing that you are aware of the conversation in your head and were able to share it with us.
    Don’t call that really cool poorganic Katrina names! I kind of like her. 🙂 There is definitely grace and good laughter. 🙂
    May the words of your soul be uplifting and encouraging!

  21. I often ask, “Local or Organic?” when I’m at the store. My answer is usually whatever I can find for the cheapest price, a.k.a. neither. But it’s not even every time I go to the store, it’s totally random. Congrats for sticking close to your $500 budget; I’m tempted to shop around a bit and see if I can get some better deals on organic food.

  22. Would it be better if we could all afford the good stuff all the time? Yep! But right now, as we go back to serious budgeting after a long year of playing free-for-all while I was pregnant and eating like a monster, it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one compromising for the sake of sticking to a budget!
    Christa the BabbyMama recently posted…The BabbyDaddy Does BalletMy Profile

  23. I’m sitting, trying not to laugh out loud during my break between two part time jobs I hold. The first one let out early, so I found myself with extra time. I could have just gone home for a nice break, but that would add car wear and tear, along with additional gas usage, to do so. Being on a tight budget, as you know, every penny counts. I decided to drive to the area of my next job, and walk over to the library. I select a few books, then sit down at the computer to catch up on email and blogs of interest. I followed this blog through a comment of yours on facebook (100 Days), and while reading through the account of your voice in your head, I found myself nodding in agreement, and as my comment began–trying my hardest not to laugh out loud. Thanks for the challenge! (and the good information, too!) 😉

  24. Katrina! This is so fantastic! When we were home on furlough and I was trying so hard to be like you with couponing :), I would think things just like this to myself. I ended up crying one day trying to save the maximum amount of money (coupled with culture shock.. ugh) and Jeff forbade me to coupon. 🙂 I wasn’t even considering the organic concept. Life is hard… proven by the fact that we get to stresesd about a simple thing like grocery shopping! Thanks for your honesty.. and for mixing it with humor.

    1. I seriously think that the reason that I can no longer handle Wal-mart is because it is literally the anti-thesis of the PNG store, which was PERFECT for an indecisive girl like me. 🙂 One item of each type. Buy it if it’s there. Don’t buy it if it’s not. It was perfectly dreamy. (Can you tell that I’ve been gone five years since I am obviously seeing it through these dysfunctional rose colored glasses?)

  25. I go through this constantly! We too buy the maybe-ok Hormel lunchmeat. And my WM does not have organic cilantro. And we have consumed fields of conventional WM cilantro this year. So that’s a plant? Was it in the produce section?

    1. Yes, it was a plant, but it almost instantly died even though I followed the instructions exactly. If I wasn’t afraid to go back to Wal-mart and have an emotional break-down, I would have returned it. As it was, I learned a four dollar lesson. Buy conventional cilantro! 😉

  26. When oh when are you going to get serious about growing your own veggies? No, I said serious! Your cynical, OCD self would be a wonderful gardener. And with your creative hysterical side, we would put a hurtin’ on some small space gardening.
    There’s self-seeding cilantro sprouting on Saturday…I mean right now but had to alliterate!

    1. I think I will get serious when all the trees in the front yard fall down. After close scrutiny, I have determined that in the PEAK of summer, the max amount of sun at any one place in my yard is 5 hours. Even greens are a stretch. The spinach, kale, and swiss chard that I planted three weeks ago have done NOTHING. As in NOT ONE SPROUT. I think I am destined to be a supporter of gardeners rather than one myself. 🙂 (Incidentally, I killed the cilantro plant that I bought at Wal-mart within 4 days.)

  27. hahahaha! This is too funny and so true… I do the same thing LOL. I try to never go to walmart…it’s always a bad idea for me lol.

  28. I’m reading this late, but I relate sooo much to this. I even read it out loud to my husband to give him an idea of what happens in my own head every time I plan meals and shop! Thank you so much for sharing and helping this fellow Christian Mama who’s trying hard to take a deep breath and remember my priorities!

    1. I think we will probably all die of a stroke in the grocery store just from the excruciation of decision making. 🙂 Thanks so much for visiting.

  29. Wow! I thought I was the only one that did this!! It seriously looks like you were reading my mind the last time I went to wal-mart!

    1. Apparently all of us real-food wannabes are a bunch of crazy ladies! Dozens of women have said they do the exact same thing while shopping. 🙂

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