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With farmer’s markets underway, backyard gardens planted, and the warmer weather getting families outside, many of us have clean and healthy eating on our minds.

We began discussing In Defense of Food in the Book Club yesterday, and Simple Organic has had some great stuff lately about making the most of fresh produce. And today, our friend Stephanie Langford chats with us about her latest e-book, Real Food on a Real Budget: How to Eat Healthy for Less.

Stephanie is the voice behind Keeper of the Home, and she’s also a contributor for Simple Organic. Her passion is to help families live as naturally as possible for God’s glory. And in her new e-book, Stephanie shares her wisdom on how to eat whole, real, nutritious foods without breaking the bank.

That’s the hang-up many of us have about eating well. We know it’s best for us and our families, we love the taste, and we’re willing to take the time to cook from scratch. But it’s expensive. We’re all watching our wallets, and this economy certainly isn’t helping.

Stephanie’s book aims to help us eat well and live frugally. What a great idea.

We chatted online recently — here’s what Stephanie had to say about her latest work. (And look for a giveaway at the end of the post!)

Interview with Stephanie Langford

Photo by Marco Lazzaroni

Me: What inspired you to write the book?

Stephanie: With food prices rising, our family growing, and our own budget tightening this past year, I found myself feeling more and more stressed each time I came down towards the end of the month with precious little money remaining. I was really feeling that pinch on my grocery budget, and I could only imagine that if I was feeling it, so were most of my readers and so many other moms and homemakers out there. The recession hit a lot of families hard.

I love teaching women how to eat whole and traditional foods, and how to use more natural products in their homes and on their bodies. None of it makes much difference, though, if they don’t feel like they can afford to buy better food and products in the first place.

This book arose out of my desire to not only teach families about positive changes that they can make in how they steward their health and the earth, but in order to enable them to make it happen financially as well.

Photo by David Shankbone

Me: I love that you tackle two of some of my favorite home management topics — whole foods and personal finance.  Explain to me why in today’s culture, these two things don’t often play well together, as though we have to choose between being good stewards of our bodies or being good stewards of our money.

Stephanie: I think it comes down to one word… convenience.

Our culture is one that craves convenience and that has unfortunately translated into mainstream food that is cheap and readily available, yes, but at the cost of our health. Over the years, the economy has molded itself around this desire for convenience in the form of processed, packaged and generally unwholesome foods.

The result? These are the foods that are being highly subsidized by government and large corporations, and thus they are the temptingly affordable foods on the grocery store shelves.

Enter the whole foods, slow foods movement. Farmers are raising animals and crops the right way, but they are having to fight against the mainstream culture in order to give us these high-quality foods. The cost of production is greater for them, and that means that it is greater for us if we want to purchase these nourishing, whole foods to serve our families.

As you said, they really don’t appear to play well together, forcing us to feel like we have to choose. The wonderful reality, though, is that we don’t really have to choose. I think we just have to be more intentional and proactive in where and how we spend our dollars, and in determining what the food culture of our homes will be.

Our family has learned how to purchase and prepare simple, wholesome foods that we feel really good about eating, even on a tight, single-income budget. Our own experience is what spurred me on to learn the skills and lessons that I share in my book.

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

Me: Be it from your farmer’s market, your neighborhood store, Costco, or wherever, what is one great deal your family enjoys currently?  In your book you mention your discovery of the best places for organic apples, brown rice, and salmon.  What’s been a surprising find as of late?

Stephanie: Can I share two? The first is one that we’ve actually been receiving for a while now, but it never ceases to amaze me what a great deal we’re getting.

Our eggs are organic eggs that receive pasture every day, from a local farm 30 minutes away. We’re worked out a deal with the farmer to purchase his “seconds,” the imperfect eggs that he can’t sell to stores, but that taste just perfect in our scrambled eggs and quiche. The price is amazing and it’s a win-win situation for us both.

The second is a more recent thing. We’ve begun to order five-gallon tubs of organic coconut oil through a wholesale natural foods company. A group of families get together through my mother-in-law’s church and by placing a large enough order, we are able to purchase these tubs (which last our family about one year) for a mere $55!

Suddenly my most expensive oil has become my least expensive. There is so much power in a group of people getting creative together.

Photo by Jodiepedia

Me: Share with us one tip you use to save time on cooking homemade from scratch.

Stephanie: Stop washing your dishes! I say that in jest, but only sort of. Since having my third baby this past summer, I have had to learn to be much more efficient in my kitchen if I am going to continue to cook from scratch with three little ones underfoot, while homeschooling and running a business.

I am learning to spend short but focused amounts of time (a half hour here, an hour there) doing as much food prep as I possibly can. I try to arrange it so that I am making things that are similar, using the same dishes and kitchen appliances, to minimize my need to get out and dirty more stuff.

An example might be to spend half an hour making two double-batches of power bars in my food processor, giving it a quick rinse and using it to chop all of my veggies for my next two dinners, and then shredding a block of cheese in it right after that. It’s quick and convenient and saves me time later on.

Another example is to commit to making a double dinner two evenings a week, so that I can have two ready-made meals in the freezer for busy days, but with very little extra time, effort or clean up.

Photo by Rene Ehrhardt

Me: If you could pick one main piece of advice for someone who wants to feed their family well, what would it be?

Stephanie: It would be to meal plan. I know that this is sometimes harped on, but I cannot emphasize its value enough (so much so that I devoted an entire chapter of my book to it).

When you intentionally plan out your meals, several things happen:
You have the ability to choose healthful meals during a calm moment, rather than making a poor decision when you are tired and frazzled at 5pm.

You will spend less money (and time) in the grocery store when you go with a detailed list in hand.  (Check out Simple Mom’s excellent grocery shopping checklist, a very handy tool.)

Making a plan helps you to use the food you already have. Did you know that Americans waste 14% of their food, averaging a loss of $600 worth of food each year?

Cooking becomes more enjoyable when you already know what you’re going to make and that you have all of the ingredients on hand. Meat can be thawed ahead of time, food prep done during a few extra moments earlier in the day. Making meals becomes simplified.

Giveaway Time

Stephanie wants to give three Simple Mom readers a free copy of her e-book, Real Food on a Real Budget: How to Eat Healthy for Less! Here’s how to enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post, answering the following question: What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to eating (or feeding your family) well?

2. If you’d like a second bonus entry, tweet about this giveaway using the Retweet button above. Include @simplemom and @keeperhome in your tweet. For example, your retweet could say:

“I’m entering to win @keeperhome ‘s new ebook on @simplemom. It’s all about eating #realfood on a budget.”

3. Blog about this giveaway on your own site, and include a link to this giveaway (

This giveaway will end on Sunday, May 9 at 11:59 p.m. EST, and I’ll announce the winner soon after. I hope you win!


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