Eating well AND affordably seems impossible. We walk the aisles, compare prices, think we’re on target and then get hit over the head with a nasty number at the register. Choosing healthy foods and sticking within a budget does not have to be an impossible combination.
Here are my tips for savings on food in general as well as saving some cash when you decide to buy organic…
- Make a List, Check it Twice. I know this seems obvious but making a grocery list can cut your grocery bill dramatically. Take at least 30 minutes each week to leaf through your favorite cookbooks or collect recipes you see in magazines. Choose three recipes to make in the coming week, check to see which ingredients you have and make a list of those you don’t. The key is to not stray from the list!
- Buy Less Than You Think You Need. It feels more economical to buy the giant bags of avocados, apples or carrots but then we throw many of those fresh foods away. The next time you reach for “extra” fresh produce “just in case” you need it ask yourself “will I use this in the next 5-7 days?” If you’re not sure, don’t get it. Those avocados will still be there if you need them on Wednesday.
- Buy in Bulk. More and more grocery stores are stocking up on bulk items like rice, nuts, seeds, beans, dried fruit, herbs and spices which are cheaper than buying the packaged versions. Plus, you can buy exactly what you need for the next week or two and not worry about nuts going rancid or herbs losing their flavor.
- Buy Beans. Organic and grass fed meat can be a pricey protein source. But, thankfully there is such a wonderful variety of beans available to us that make for wonderful meals and great additions to soups and stews. Dried beans are ridiculously cheap. Don’t want to soak and cook them? Getting canned is still very affordable. Eden Organics is a great brand to try.
- Save Scraps for Soup. Don’t throw out the ends of celery, parsley stems or carrot peels. Making chicken or turkey? Save the bones! (I’ve shamelessly taken home doggie bags of bones from restaurants). These are the essentials to delicious stock rich in wonderful minerals with which you can make great soup for pennies.
- Buy Real, Not Fake. Sure, the small package of granola for $5 is convenient but you can buy a dozen organic cage free/free range eggs for $3-5 and have delicious breakfast all week long. Buying true, whole foods will always be cheaper than a packaged option.
- Buy the Clean 15. Some fruits and veggies are sprayed more heavily than others so if you’re on a budget check out the list of Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen. This guide will show you, which fresh foods should be bought organic and which are ok to buy conventional. Put this list in your wallet or purse to refer to at the store.
- Shop with a Friend. You can save on gas, split the cost of that big bag of apples and hold each other accountable to your grocery lists. Want to take it one step further? Cook a collection of meals for the week together in your kitchen. You’ll both have go-to dinners, which will save you tons of time.
- Buy In Season and Local. Strawberries in December are going to cost you a fortune and be imported from Chile. Not to mention, they won’t taste nearly as good as when they are in season. Buy locally from your farmers market where food will be in season, more affordable and taste delicious.
- Grow Your Own. You don’t have to have a farm or be a master gardener to grow your own veggies. Herbs can be easily grown in small containers and all tomatoes need is sun and water. Choose three veggies to grow and start small. If you don’t have to buy a single tomato for an entire summer you will save big!