All Natural on a Budget

Many people assume that eating all natural foods is a luxury that they can’t afford.  While it’s true that most organic versions of processed, convenience food is more expensive, if you make wise, informed choices it’s very possible to keep your costs in line with your budget.  If you’re currently relying heavily upon processed, pre-made food, you may need to start making a shift in your mindset.  Eating an all natural diet means you will likely be cooking more from scratch rather than opening a box.  Not only is it healthier to leave the heavily processed stuff on the shelf, it’s also less expensive.  You can make several dozen muffins in your own kitchen for the cost of six of them from the bakery.  And you know exactly what’s going into those muffins.  That means nothing can slip by you that might derail all the hard work you’re doing to improve your child’s behavior.  Believe me, I certainly have days when our schedules have us all heading in different directions and the very best I can do is to heat up a frozen pizza for the kids.  But I make sure that the pizza is the best quality, 100% natural version of frozen pizza I can get.  And also believe me when I say that the expense of that pizza ensures that those times are certainly more rare than they used to be.  Luckily making pizza from scratch is easy, so we haven’t had to give up our favorite Friday night family meal.

To help ease your mind and get your imagination started, here’s a list of some of the most budget-friendly all-natural foods you can find at almost any grocery store.  

yellow squash
100% natural canned tomatoes
dried beans – any
dried pasta – any without additives
brown rice
old fashioned pop corn
oatmeal – no additives
grits – no additives
corn and flour tortillas – no additives
sunflower seeds
pumpkin seeds
all natural peanut butter (just peanuts and oil in the ingredients)
all-fruit spread
plain yogurt – regular and Greek
canned pumpkin – no additives
100% natural pretzels
100% natural tortilla chips
canned tuna
canned salmon
chicken thighs and legs
turkey legs
ground turkey
frozen fruit
frozen vegetables
canned pineapples in 100% juice
canned peaches in 100% juice

Slightly more expensive, but worth it:
all natural beef
all natural, nitrate/nitrite free sausage
all natural pork
organic fruits and vegetables on the Dirty Dozen List
nuts – cashews, walnuts, pecans
100% natural dried fruit
all natural, organic bread
all natural string cheese/snack cheese
all natural cheeses
all natural bagels
100% orange juice
100% natural lemonade
ketchup with no high fructose corn syrup
organic milk

Worth a splurge when you can:
grass fed beef
antibiotic free chicken
organic cheese, raw if you can find it
organic, all natural cereal
locally produced honey
raw agave nectar
organic, expeller processed canola oil
organic, expeller processed olive oil
organic, expeller processed coconut oil
fish – halibut, salmon, tilapia
organic fruits and vegetables
flaxseed meal
wheat germ
organic nuts roasted without oil
100% maple syrup
almond butter
nitrate/nitrite free bacon
nitrate/nitrite free ham, turkey, roast beef
nitrate/nitrite free pepperoni
organic, all natural yogurt – regular and Greek
organic spices
Celtic sea salt

What are some of your family’s favorite all natural, budget-friendly foods?  I’m always looking for new ideas – so share your thoughts so we can all learn from one another!

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  1. Allie says

    this post is exactly what i needed. i'm just now beginning to switch to natural eating and didn't know where to start. thank you very much:)

  2. Heather says

    What about raisins/dried fruits? I've heard that they have sulfites in them.

    Please post the Dirty 15 list. Maybe you posted this before but I just found your blog.

    I'm trying to eat more naturally but it's a big process trying to get them to eat it.

  3. Our Family Eats says

    Gidgetnfroggi – great idea about the bulk bins! thanks!

    Allie – so glad I could help!

    Heather – thanks for reminding me, I meant to add a link to that. It's there now. I also added the link to the resource page too. Raisins can be tricky. Some kids can tolerate them well, some can't. Buy organic to avoid any additives, and watch your kids to see if you notice a pattern after eating anything that may be questionable like this. Good luck!

  4. says

    Thanks for sharing such a great list. My family love fresh fruit and vegetables so we take a drive into the country whenever we can and buy directly from the farmers. They often have a stall at the front of the farms or an honesty box to buy their produce. This is always much cheaper than the markets and worth the drive.

    • says

      Hi Cathy – what a great way to get fresh, local produce! I’m hoping to spend a morning doing this sometime this summer!

  5. Ilana says

    So, would you say produce and other such items purchased from a farmer’s market is okay? Or do you have to shop farmer’s markets with skepticism?

    • says

      I love to shop farmer’s markets and really recommend getting as much produce there as possible. First, it’s locally grown, so it didn’t sit on a truck for days before getting to you. And most small farmers don’t use an irradiation process like larger producers. so the nutrients in the produce are more available. You are supporting your local economy at farmer’s markets. I always look for organically grown produce and chat with the farmers about how they grow their crops. That’s my favorite part – getting to know the people who are actually growing your food. If you’re skeptical about their practices then you can keep looking for someone you trust. Most of the farmers I’ve met welcome visits from the public as well so you could even go and check things out for yourself.

  6. Becky McDonald says

    Please excuse my ignorance, but where do I find flaxseed and flaxseed meal? What is it’s purpose? Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Becky, My grocery store carries flax seed meal, many do. If you can’t find it you can order it through Amazon. My favorite brand is Bob’s Red Mill. Flax seed is high in Omega 3’s and fiber, two things most diets are missing. Omega 3 is important for kids who have ADHD symptoms which is why I use it as much as I can. You can purchase the whole seed or the ground seed – the ground seed (meal) is the best way to use it but it can spoil so keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. You can add it to baked goods, sprinkle over cereal, spoon it into smoothies… Here’s a link to purchase flax seed meal on my Amazon page in case you need it:

      • Becky McDonald says

        Thanks! Where in the grocery store is it? I must be looking right over it as I’ve been to two stores and still came home empty.

        • says

          My store is Publix and they have a special section for gluten free and all natural baking items. That’s where I find mine. If you can’t find it then see if you can ask someone to help – if they don’t have it many times they will order it for you.

          • Becky McDonald says

            Okay- I’ll try that. Thanks! I love your site, by the way. My sister and I are doing this together to keep each other going strong. Without your site, we would be lost! Thanks so much for sharing all of your knowledge!

  7. LaurenB says

    Icelandic Skyr is good… nothing bad in it very little sugars no growth hormones. Bit tangy tho. Mix it with some granola or fresh fruit and a tsp of honey… pair with half a grapefruit and half a whole grain bagel with natural peanut butter and you are full til lunch