A recent thread in a discussion group I belong to discussed the cost of food and eating healthy. If you aren’t growing your own food, eating healthy is a budget challenge. With your health at stake, your grocery budget needs to be a priority. Think of the co-pays, prescriptions, time, and gas money you spend on your trips to the doctor. Wouldn’t you rather put that money toward something else? Reducing my grocery bill is something I’m working on constantly. I am always looking for advice, new programs, and tips on how to get the good stuff at a better price. Here a few things I’ve found that save me a few dollars.
Grow your own food. This is where vertical gardening, raised bed gardening, and container gardening come into play. Most people may not have the ability to have a large garden and the time to maintain it. Gardening is still something we can all do. Even if you just have a tomato plant and small window sill herb garden, you are offsetting some expenses and providing your family fresh healthy produce. I am building myself a vertical garden right now and preparing for this next growing season. Keep an eye out for my posts under Brown Thumb Gardening. The Tower Garden by Juice Plus is a package deal to accomplish this objective. I know some people using them and they keep posting all of the tasty looking veggies they’re growing!
Local Farmer’s Markets. Find the local farmer’s market in your area and make time to go there. Talk to the farmers and learn about their growing methods. Some farmers use better than organic methods but don’t have the expensive organic certifications, some do. Feel comfortable with who you are buying from. You may even get an opportunity to visit their farm! Windcrest Farm Organics is a great example of this right here in Union County!
Make friends. Start talking with other like-minded people in your neighborhood or community. United by a common goal you all may be able to start a community garden or share the bounty from you individual gardens. Just yesterday I was friendly to a man in front of me at Earth Fare and discovered he has a one acre organic garden. He said he just gives away the extra and invited me to come by and pick up his surplus kale. Connections like this are fantastic!
Produce Co-ops. I love these but for me they can be a small challenge. This is because I often fail on the planning part. When I’m in a rhythm with ordering and eating what I order this is a success. I found out about a local co-op that provides local organic produce as well as grass-fed meats and other grocery items. There are several pick up locations and the pricing seems reasonable. Its call Go Local NC Farms.
Trader Joes. This is my number one grocery store for proximity to my home and cost and quality of food. I’ve found Whole Foods to have some good prices as well but the store location is a little out of my radius. Earth Fare can be great with their new Tomato Bank points program. Kids eat free on Thursday evenings is a terrific way to save some money if you want to go out to eat. There was a recent post by Groovy Green Livin about how Trader Joes does not allow GMOs in their store label brands. Thank goodness for that! I’ve found I need to keep an eye on the produce for freshness when I shop here. I get a lot of great staples here though at good prices.
Costco. Big box stores can be helpful. Costco is the best for my family. I go about once a month and buy things like chicken stock, canned diced tomatoes, and bulk fruits. This helps to stock your pantry quickly. Try to stick to your list or this kind of store will get you in trouble. I’ve noticed that everything I seem to pick up is $10 per item, and that can add up fast!
Other Grocery Stores. Keep an eye on your local grocery stores and pick up on their sale trends. Sometimes you’ll notice the organic milk drops down to $3 periodically. I need to get better at doing this! Shopping online can help because you can review what is on sale at the store without going. This prevents you from picking up random things you don’t need!
One thing seems to remain constant….the better you plan, the more you save. When I have a plan, I save money. When I don’t, I buy a bunch of random things with no goal in mind. That is when produce starts to rot in your fridge before you develop a recipe to use it! Plan plan plan! I found a great website to help you organize your recipes. I’m starting to publish the recipes I post here to it as well. When you are browsing the internet for ideas, you can save them under different categories to this website (almost like Pinterest) and reference them later. I think this is how I am going to eventually develop my meal plans! Its called Yumprint.
Along with planning, using the EWG’s list for the dirtiest and cleanest produce can help you make good decisions as well. This shopping list from It Starts With Food will also get you on the right track! Print out the worksheet from 12 Months to Toxin Free to start planning on diversifying your diet by incorporating new fruits and veggies.