One of the tricky things about making things stretch is making choices when it comes to groceries. I have found that we are not able to buy everything organic. And Organic is a discussion of its own. But, here's a few of the things I try to do instead.
During the summer (May-October) we're locavores when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Two of the folks I buy from at the farmer's market aren't organics (because they've both told me that getting certified is a big pain), but they basically raise their plans organically.
There are 4 ingredients that I avoid as much as possible: MSG, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Artificial sweeteners, and Partially Hydrogenated Oils. All three weren't meant to be digested by us. We don't eat that many processed foods anyways, but here's a few we do eat: General Mills Cereals, Aldis canned goods and graham crackers, Bush's baked beans, Annie's or Trader Joe's Macaroni and Cheese (I couldn't not let my kids have mac and cheese), and regular condiments. For jelly, I've found McCutcheon's, a MD brand, that makes a juice sweetened or regular sugar sweetened grape jelly (instead of high fructose corn syrup). For cereal, I stick with General Mills or Post---Kellogg's uses Partially Hydrogenated Oils in their cereals and snacks! Keebler does too in their snacks. Aldis is a store that sells only generic groceries--if you have one near you and haven't shopped there, give it a chance. When I was working for General Mills years ago, I discovered that sometimes generics taste as good and sometimes they don't. When it comes to canned goods, it really doesn't matter and for the other staples that I buy there. High Fructose Corn Syrup is the one to watch out for in baked beans and the oils in the mac and cheese.
Unfortunately, I haven't found a good ranch dressing on the market that tastes like real ranch that doesn't have MSG in it. My husband says that MSG is the flavor of ranch. So, I switched to primarily making the Good Seasons Italian as our staple dressing. I make a lot of dressings from scratch, too, but the Italian I can't replicate. I just got one of the cruets made for their dressing this weekend and it makes it so easy!
The reason I stay away from MSG is because its been linked to Migraines.
Artificial Sweeteners make my body feel all out of whack like my blood sugar is going crazy.
The hydrogenated oils are supposed to kill us (or so the internet says) and make us fat. I avoid them as much as I can--but unfortunately I can't with tortillas and I don't have enough time to make my own. So, hopefully, we'll be okay since that is all we're eating it in.
High fructose Corn Syrup is an interesting one as well, but when I looked into it a while back, I realized that when you consume a lot of it, it immensely increases your desire for sweet things.
I try to be balanced about what I feed my family. I don't think we're too extreme, but I feel pretty wary of chemicals that chemists have invented in foods that aren't naturally occurring. And I don't know what the long term effect of them will be! It's been very interesting to me as the articles have come out this year that the our bodies see the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas as regular sugar and process them that way--so they can still make you gain weight if you drink too much of them.
Well, I better run. I hope you have a great day!