I’ve often heard people say that eating clean, or healthy, costs too much money. Maybe I’ve even thought that before. However, I’ve found a few tips to make clean eating a littler more budget friendly!
Little known fact: I used to have a money saving blog. Stop laughing. Seriously. When we lived in Virginia and were dirt poor (even poorer than we are now if that is possible) I got serious about saving money. I clipped coupons and worked the Extra Care Bucks at CVS like it was my job.
When I started eating healthier I noticed that it was harder to find coupons for things I could eat. So I just stopped using them altogether. Here is a sample of some “deals” I posted on my old blog. Sure I saved a lot of money but it’s all junk! Vanilla wafers, cookies, soda, peanut butter eggs, chips, etc. Junk, junk and more junk! (And let’s not mention all those toxic chemicals…eek! You know better, you do better!)
Looking through my old blog reminded me of how much I did enjoy clipping coupons and looking for deals. I want to get back on track with saving money and couponing but I want to do it healthily. Right now for my family of five, I spend about $130-150 a week on food. I’d love to cut that down to about $100 a week, maybe even less.
I’ll admit that this currently is not my area of expertise. I will be working on it in the coming months and I’ll post ideas and tips as I come across them. Since I’m not an expert, I mentioned on Facebook that I could use some tips and I got a few ideas from friends. I also read a great article in All You magazine about saving money on healthy foods. Here are some of my favorite ideas:
1. Coupons. Several people mentioned coupons and particularly using them at Harris Teeter (where they will double every day up to 99 cents) and during Super Doubles weeks (where they will double up to $3.00). Nuts, eggs, bread, frozen vegetables and almond milk coupons can usually be found.
2. Farmer’s Markets. I love buying local fruits and vegetables. We have several Farmer’s Markets in town where you can buy seasonal produce at a much cheaper price than the grocery stores. You can also talk directly with the famers and ask questions about their products.
3. Garden. If you have a green thumb (I do NOT) then grow a garden! I’m so jealous of my friends who post photos of their beautiful gardens and their harvests during the summer. I couldn’t grow a weed if my life depended on it. If you don’t garden, find a friend who does and offer to barter something with them. Mow their yard or babysit their kids in exchange for some vegetables!
4. Buy directly from the farm–and pick them yourself. We love strawberry picking this time of year. You can buy a huge flat of strawberries, picked yourself, for MUCH less than any store. The girls and I recently bought three flats for a little less than $20.
5. Join a CSA. If you have not heard of it, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The idea is you pay a certain amount per month or week and in return you receive a box of seasonal produce. Some CSAs even deliver directly to your door. I have been reluctant to do this because Madalyn and I are the only ones in my family who would eat most of the produce but if you have non-picky family members than this may be a great option for you.
6. Buy in bulk. We recently joined Sam’s Club for the first time. We had previously been members of Costco so we were familiar with the club store idea but I never thought I could save money shopping at one. However, there are certain things that I know I can get cheaper at Sam’s Club. They have a really good chopped Asian (bagged) salad that is about a dollar cheaper than Walmart. They also have the best pineapples for the best price. You can find large bags of nuts there that are cheaper and the two packs of my favorite orange juice (Simply Orange–no ingredients but oranges) make them cheaper there by ounce than at any other store I have found. Whole Foods, The Fresh Market, and health food stores are a great option for bulk spices, nuts, snacks, granola, etc.
7. Utilize your freezer. This week I found a large pack of turkey burger marked down to less than $5 for 3 pounds. I separated it into 1 pound sections and froze it. You can safely freeze all kinds of things including milk, cheese, chocolate, and nuts. Check out Andrea Dekker’s list of freezable foods for more ideas.
8. Don’t pay extra for the convenience. Bagged salads are more expensive than buying a head of lettuce. Pre-washed baby carrots are more expensive than unpeeled, full-sized carrots. Popcorn kernels are cheaper than microwaveable bags. Oatmeal is WAY cheaper if you buy the large container instead of the small packages (and those aren’t “clean” anyway!). Consider making your own granola, almond milk, and even yogurt to save money. Avoid “convenience foods” as much as possible.
9. Find a good app. I’ve been wanting to start a price booklet to keep up with the prices of various items that I buy frequently. My daughter actually found me an app that will do just that. You enter in the item, size, store and price and it will show you a price per ounce comparison from store to store. I’ve only just started using this app but it seems like a good way to keep track of what I am paying for things so I’ll be able to recognize a deal when I see one.
10. Buy a cow. Or half a cow. A friend of mine purchases a half a cow once a year and splits it with another family. It’s grass fed beef and I hear it’s really good stuff. I think the last time it was about $500 for half a cow but the meat lasts forever. If any of my local friends are interested, look into Nooherooka.
And the bottom line is don’t eat crappy food just because it’s cheap. Look at food as an investment into your health and your future.