Did you catch this opinion in last week’s NYT? A mother writes about her efforts to feed her family healthfully on a shoestring budget:

My turn with spade and hoe started a few years ago when I found myself divorced and flat broke. My livelihood as a freelance writer went out the window when the economy tanked. I literally could afford beans, the dried kind, which I’d thought were for school art projects or teaching elementary math. And I didn’t know how to cook.

Luckily, my late father had hammered into me that grit was more important than talent. So, when I couldn’t afford fancy food — never mind paraben-free shampoo — for my babies, I figured, if peasants in 11th-century Sicily did all this, how hard could it be?

…My goal was to have healthy, unprocessed food for $10 or less a day. Cereal was the first thing to go. It dawned on me that making granola was a matter of tossing oatmeal and nuts into a bowl with a little oil, honey and spices — and then baking until brown. No more $14 boxes of fancy grains with pomegranate antioxidants.

Read the whole thing.

Along those same lines, check out Urban Hermit, a memoir about an extremely obese and deeply in debt man who resolves to do something about his condition and accomplishes both largely by eating real (cheap!) food. Now a diet consisting solely of lentils and tuna sounds like quick boredom to me, but the point is that eating whole foods doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive necessarily.

The biggest complaint I hear about “real food” eating and cooking is the time and cost it requires. While I sympathize with both complaints, we have actually found that eating real food is less expensive than how we used to eat, which, while not totally unhealthy, was much more convenience-focused. It does take more time, but I have found that creating something in the kitchen for my family or friends’ enjoyment is immensely more satisfying than many of the other ways I spend my time. I’ll try to do better about including cost and time estimates in my recipes here to be more transparent about how much time and money we’re spending to feed our family in this way.