Buying high quality food is one of the most important aspects of my lifestyle. Sometimes it can be more expensive than conventional foods (but not always!). Here are a few hacks that I use to save some cash while buying real food.
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1. Coupon Clip
The nerd in me loves looking through the coupon flyers in the Sunday paper we get every week. I’ve done it for years. I’m a practical gal and always have been!
As my family has transitioned to a real food lifestyle over the years, I find there are less and less coupons that apply to our shopping lists since they are often conventional or processed foods.
But, it is still worth looking into! This is because more and more health foods are being stocked at regular grocery stores. I am often pleasantly surprised at seeing coupons for nut milks, dairy free yogurts, and organic eggs! This will only become more common.
But this goes beyond your newspaper coupons. Check the websites of your grocery store before you shop! You can print coupons from Whole Foods (they are the same ones they have in-store in small booklets). I know that Stop & Shop also does this.
2. Meal Plan
There are two ways you can successfully meal plan and save money.
A. Sit down each week and plan your dinners (and anything you might need for lunches). Check your pantry, fridge, and freezer so you’re not in the store thinking “Do I have this at home already?”
Stick to your list. Impulse shopping adds up!
B. Shop the sales and buy accordingly. If organic chicken breasts are $3 cheaper than they normally are, can you think of two weeknight dinners you can make with that? Flounder might be super cheap this week, but you’ve never tried it. This is your opportunity to expand your horizons!
Buy up the sale items for the week and then plan the actual dishes when you get home. This can be a fun way to try new ingredients and recipes.
3. Buy in Bulk
If you decide to buy the organic chicken breast that’s on sale, buying another package or two is a great idea. The freezer was a wonderful invention.
Now you will have meat to defrost for the days that get crazy (inevitable) or for the times you feel like Superman/woman and want make multiple meals at once.
You can also buy some items (usually nuts, nut butters, dried fruit, spices, gluten free grains, etc.) from some stores. I know that Whole Foods has bulk bins where you can fill containers as much or as little as you want and pay per pound.
This is helpful for those foods you go through quickly and need to buy a lot of or for foods you want to purchase a small amount to try.
4. Money-Saving Apps
We use our phones for everything, so why not use them to help us save more money? Here are four free apps to download!
- Ibotta. This app is my favorite! It allows you to browse coupons by store or category, and they have a thorough list of stores on there. What I love most is that the coupons aren’t always for branded products. There are always coupons for produce, meat, dairy, etc. For example, right now there is a coupon for “25 cents back on carrots- any brand.” You will need to snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items (that come with barcodes) when you get home. Easy money back.
- Whole Foods. The coupons on the Whole Foods app are different from the online/in-store coupons, which is great. That means more products to get discounts on. The app also shows you the week’s sales and provides a ton of recipes! (I saw that Stop & Shop now has an app and I am sure more stores are following).
- Target’s Cartwheel. I don’t shop at Target much, but if I am going it’s worth it to check out the app. Although there are usually a bunch of processed foods on there, a few gems will come up and surprise you! Once, there was a coupon for 25% off grass-fed ground beef. When I picked up the packages, they were already discounted a couple dollars off, so I got several pounds of grass-fed ground beef for under $2 a pound each!
- Receipt Hog. This is a general money-saving app. All you have to do is upload a photo of any receipt. It can be from grocery shopping, a clothing store, even gas! You earn “coins” or points for every receipt. Eventually, you can cash out through PayPal or Amazon. It takes a while to reach a payout amount, but when that day comes, you get some extra pocket cash!
5. Farmer’s Markets & CSA’s
During the spring when my town’s farmer’s market starts until the fall, I go every week that I can. It’s something I really look forward to! By chatting with the farmers themselves I get to learn exactly what their growing practices are. For example, one farm used pesticides at the start of seeding and not again throughout the plant’s life. Others assured me that they don’t use harmful pesticides but were not certified organic. These are important things to know!
I was able to find one farm that had pasture-raised mild Italian sausage without added sugar. I almost starting singing because I have a hard time finding that in stores, even Whole Foods. The farmer and I became friendly, and now we follow each other on Instagram!
There are other great CSA (Community Supported/Shared Agriculture) programs as well. Sometimes these are pick-up only but may also have delivery options. These seem to be more common than one might think. On several occasions I’ve found out about CSA programs near me that I didn’t know existed. Generally, you pay at the beginning of the harvest season and get a box of produce and/or meat weekly/biweekly/monthly, or whatever the option is.
Often, buying right from the farmer saves you a lot of money. You might even be able to work out a discount if you are going to consistently buy bulk produce or meat each week.
Another option is using a service like ButcherBox. Monthly subscription services are popping up for all types of products, why not for high quality meats? This is a service I am using myself, and I am happy with it. Here are some details:
- You can buy a one-time box, or sign up for monthly, every other month, every two months, how often YOU want it.
- You can cancel at any time.
- All meat is 100% grass-fed.
- You can choose a combination box (beef, chicken, pork) or all of one or a combo of two.
- You pay $129 for 7-10 lbs of meat (free shipping to the 48 contiguous U.S. states).
- You can add-on extra items (i.e. bacon, steaks, more chicken, etc.).
- Each serving comes to about $6.50.
6. Reuse & Repurpose
If you usually throw away scraps or avoid leftovers like the plague, it’s time for a mindset adjustment!
Whenever you have food leftover, think about how it can be repurposed.
- Freeze chicken bones and carcasses for when you are ready to make a soup.
- Have a few steak tips leftover or meat from a roasted chicken? Add it to a salad for lunch tomorrow.
- Start a veggie scraps bag and keep in the freezer to add to soups and sauces for flavoring. Carrot ends, onion peels, celery leaves, etc.
- Add fruits and veggies that are starting to get ripe into smoothies or freeze for future smoothies or soups.
7. Don’t Depend On Healthy Processed Foods
Gluten free and Paleo products have come a long way since I adjusted to the diet change in 2007. While these snacks and frozen foods are healthier replacements that ease the transition (and are definitely good to have on hand for emergencies), it is not cost-effective to rely on them everyday.
Packaged gluten free and Paleo foods can be pricey. Instead of buying compliant cookies, crackers, or frozen meals, snack on fruits, veggies, nuts, and leftovers. Make your own trail mix, prep a gluten free pasta salad for the week, roast a whole chicken or two with veggies, etc. Basically just PLAN and you will not need to rely on the more expensive foods.
8. The Dirty Dozen & Clean 15
I try to live my life with as few toxins as possible. I believe that a lot of environmental factors triggered the Crohn’s gene in my body to come to life. I believe that GMO’s, chemical pesticides, leaching plastics, and toxins in conventional household cleaning and beauty products are all contributors.
I know that organic is more money. If you cannot afford to buy everything organic, the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 is a great way to decide what to buy organic and what to buy conventional!
Download a list of the Dirty Dozen & Clean 15 right here!
9. Reusable Bottles
Did your family fall into the trap years ago of buying water bottled in plastic? We sure did. Whoever came up with that idea was a genius. Plastic water bottles are evvvvverywhere.
But there are better ways.
Plastic water bottles should be avoided for three main reasons:
- Chemicals in the plastic can leach into our water.
- They are polluting our environment.
- You are spending unnecessary money on them.
We’ve always had a few reusable plastic bottles in the house, which I would remember to use occasionally. However, switching to a non-plastic reusable bottle is the best case scenario.
Don’t fret, a high quality, non-plastic bottle brand does exist. It’s called Healthy Human.
I love this brand because:
- They are made of stainless steel (BPA free!)
- They have various sizes and colors of steins and cruisers.
- They keep cold beverages cold for 24 hours and hot ones hot for 12 hours!
- The steins even come with a brush to clean the inside of the stainless steel straw.
Having one of these bottles around will also remind you to stay hydrated during the day. I have a Stein in “cinnamon” and a Cruiser tumbler in “limoncello.” It will only be the cost of a few packages of plastic water bottles to pay for one.
Which of these tips are you going to implement to save some money?