Raising a toddler these day redefines overwhelming. Not only do we have to make sure they don't toddle into a toilet, but we also have to make sure they are eating a healthy diet, not chewing on phthalate-laden toys, and not biting the other kids in daycare.
At this age, toddlers tend to become more particular about their eating habits. This can be terribly frustrating when we've spent hours making a balanced organic meal from scratch and they only want to eat Cheerios.
I've faced this struggle with both of my children, and although sometimes I am determined to starve them into eating chicken piccata, more often I compromise with organic cereal and hormone-free milk.
Not only is it exasperating—itcan be expensive! If you are hoping to provide clean, wholesome, and less-worrisomenutrition for your toddler (without blowing your entire life savings), these six strategies for going green on a budget are sure to help!
The good news is that organic is becoming more affordable than ever.
1. Big businesses making small changes.
As corporations begin to listen toconsumers who are voting with their dollars, it's now possible to find a reasonably priced pound ofgrass-fed meat at Costco and organic coconut oil at Walmart.
Even the bigconventional brands are taking steps to make their products a bit better, eliminatingartificial flavors and colors from popular kids' cereals and mac and cheese.
2. Mind your peas and cucumbers.
As far as produce, the Environmental Working Group releases annual lists of the “Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen"—the fruits and vegetables most and least likely to contain pesticides. You can download a handy app to keep track.
You'll usually notice that apples, berries, and stone fruits like peaches tend to top the dirty list.
It's also a good idea to go organic with anything where you eat the skin. Notice that avocado, kiwis, and pineapple are on the low pesticide risk list, partly because you'll be removing that inedible rind where much of the nasty stuff lives.
3. Go organic online.
Organicpantry items, such as grains, broth, spices, condiments, and snacks can be bought at discount prices from sites like Lucky Vitamin and Thrive Market. Some sites allow you to save more by buying in bulk or setting automatic re-orders for items your family uses regularly.
There are also coupon sites for natural and organic products including Mambo Sprouts, The Greenbacks Gal, and Organic Deals. Whole Foods Market has also launched a new rewards program complete with in-app coupons, and Berry Cart is a new app with cash back on select natural brands.
4. Save those seeds.
It's easy to say “grow your own," but sometimes you spend money on seedlings and soil to yield only four cherry tomatoes. However, if you have a green thumb or even a lucky season, you could score big.
This year I planted sugar snap peas from seeds and my kids have been having a ball picking and eating them. Even if you only have a small outside space or a windowsill, herbs like basil, mint, and parsley are easy to grow and can be dried for continued use.
5. The freezer is your friend.
You can save money by buying in bulk and freezing, especially when seasonal items like organic berries go on sale. Freeze fruits and vegetables, homemade baby food, grass-fed meat, large batches of soup, and baked goods. You can also buy frozen organic produce when it is cheaper than buying fresh.
6. Feed baby wisely.
If you are using formula, you know how expensive that can be—another great reason to breastfeed if you can. But if at some point you do choose to purchase formula, going with the powdered version not only decreases BPA exposure, it reduces packaging and is much less expensive than ready-made or condensed formulas.
And, although it may seem obvious to some, homemade baby food is seriously cheaper than all those little jars. Plus, it doesn't need to be time-consuming if you make large batches and freeze them in portions.
These tips won't keep your toddler from throwing spaghetti against the wall, but at least you can feel abit better knowing you didn't spend a fortune on the gluten-free pasta and organic tomato sauce.