With the increasing popularity of healthy foods, simple organic meals for families are easier than ever to prepare. No matter what level your cooking skills may be, there is a way for you to feed your family organically.
Cooking from scratch is the most frugal way to supply your family with fresh, organic meals. It is as easy as replacing your non-organic ingredients with organic ones in most cases. Most people who feel unable to cook from scratch use lack of time as an excuse. This can be overcome with some careful planning for quick, easy meals.
- No matter how busy you are, a crockpot meal is usually do-able. Use your favorite crockpot recipes and substitute organic ingredients.
- Organic meat is usually one of the most expensive items on your menu. To cut costs, you can often use half of the meat called for in a stew or casserole and add extra vegetables.
- Consider time saving plans like Once a Month Cooking. When you have a week's or a month's worth of dinner in the freezer, it is easier to eat at home on busy nights. At the very least, keep a couple of frozen casseroles on hand for those kinds of days.
- Prepare food in advance. Cut up all of the onions you will need for the week and put them in a storage container in the refrigerator. Do the same with other ingredients. When you cook ground meat for a casserole, make more than you need. Next time you have to make a recipe that calls for cooked ground meat, you will have it done.
Even if you don't like to cook from scratch, by shopping carefully you can find commercially prepared organic foods.
Some convenience foods that come in organic versions are:
- Boxed macaroni and cheese
- Frozen entrees
- Boxed cake mixes
You will probably need to change the way you shop. Shopping locally at a farmer's market is often the best way to find local, organic produce as well as meat and dairy items at an affordable price. When you deal directly with the local producers of the products you are buying, you have a better idea of the freshness of your food. Plus, leaving out the middleman means that you may get your organic foods at greatly reduced prices. Another possibility is to shop at the nearest natural foods market. Whole Foods, Wild Oats, and Sprouts have popped up all over the United States as consumers increasingly look for natural, organic products. A quick Internet search should let you know which of these are nearby.
Costco seems to carry more organic products than Sam's does, if you are a warehouse shopper. Other national chains that are carrying more organic products are:
- Safeway/Tom Thumb
Often these stores will even have organics available in their store brand version, saving you even more.
Menus for Simple Organic Meals for Families
Now that you know how to save some time and where to shop, you may need some inspiration. Here are some menus for simple organic meals that anyone can do. Just remember to use organic ingredients.
Spaghetti with Vegetable Marinara Dinner
No need to use meat in this. Chop up carrots, zucchini, and mushrooms and simmer them in a good commercial organic marinara sauce. Use organic pasta, whole wheat if possible. This meal can be on the table in less than 30 minutes.
- Spaghetti with vegetable marinara
- Baby greens salad with garbanzos and organic Italian dressing
- Baguette or some organic bread
Crockpot Stew Dinner
Use your favorite stew recipe and half the meat called for. Use an organic variety of meat. Consider Bison - it is lean, usually grass-fed and organic, and has a wonderful rich flavor which makes up for the loss of some of the meat. Double up on the vegetables.
- Slow cooker beef stew
- Organic bread or biscuits if you have time to bake them
- Organic commercially prepared cookies or homemade
Wraps are a great menu item because they are so quick. It is much easier to find organic tortillas than organic bread in some locations. Try to use whole wheat tortillas for added nutrition.
- Vegetable wraps
- Organic chips
- Sliced apples and pears
An organic breakfast is just as easy as any other breakfast. Once again, you must be sure that all your ingredients are organic. You can make organic pancakes and waffles ahead of time and freeze them. Warm them up and top them with fresh, organic fruit and you are all set. Other organic breakfast items are:
- Apples and peanut butter
- Organic toast with a slice of cheese
- Organic cereal and milk
- Oatmeal or other hot cereal
- Organic eggs prepared any way you like them
Making simple organic meals for families is mainly a matter of changing old habits. By choosing organic items when you shop, planning carefully, and making things ahead you can make organic meals as easily as conventional ones.