There is a strange sort of shame in wanting the best when you have so little allotted for your family’s needs. I’ve talked to so many moms who’ve suffered reproving looks or even disparaging comments when they’re buying organic, high-quality food using a food stamp card. The judgment being made is this: how dare you opt for quality over quantity? How dare you want better food even if it means less food for your family?Thankfully my situation is not as bad as the author's, but I have been struggling with this for awhile.
I completely understand the feelings of shame in wanting the best. Is eating responsibly really an "elitist luxury"? It feels pretentious to buy higher quality foods when things are so tight. On the surface, it is cheaper to buy lower quality items.
(Not to say we never eat the "regular" stuff, we do. It's just that I try to avoid processed foods and stick to whole, mostly organic foods at home.)
On the other hand, there is guilt when I choose quantity over quality.
How can I buy coffee that is not "fair trade" when I know that the industry is notorious for child labor?
How can I feed my children chemically laden foods when study after study links those chemicals to cancer, hormone disruption and many other terrible side effects?
I have stopped couponing much partially for this reason. Yes, I can find some q deals on organic foods, but they are few and far between. So I do it when I can, but mostly my time is better spent cooking from scratch or growing/picking/processing my own produce.
I haven't figured it all out yet, but there are some tricks to eating well frugally. There are compromises to be made. I have had to be creative and invest a lot more time in planning and food prep. I have had to decide what is really important and let the other stuff go. I have also let go of the illusion of perfect consistency. For me, educating myself and doing the best I can is what feels right.
And then I see what the average American family spends on groceries. That makes me feel super "thrifty" in comparison. ;)
Quality over Quantity... I'm working on it.