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For more money-saving tips take a look at 8 Simple Ways To Eat Super Healthy Food On A Budget: Part 2.
Not too long ago there was a question on a Facebook mom’s group asking who bought organic food . While the answers varied from “No way! It’s wayyy too expensive,” to “Absolutely everything I buy is organic,” and everything in between, it seemed as though most parents at least wanted to buy organic food…they just felt some serious sticker shock when they actually went to buy it.
And although this was just a small informal survey, I think this concern spreads far beyond the mommy boards.
I have been there too. Fortunately, our family has been working towards eating more local and/or organic foods for the past few years. And I’ve collected some great money-saving tactics along the way that I’m pleased to share! I have a lot to say on this (OK, I have a lot to say on just about everything….), so I have split it into two parts. Part 1 here focuses on tactics that don’t require the use of coupons, rebates, or apps….it’s all things you can do at home and while you’re at the store! So here we go:
1-) Scope out the manager specials
Most stores would rather sell meat, fish, etc at a super discounted rate then have it go bad and not sell it at all. That’s when we come in. Every time I go to the store I take a peak at the USDA organic meat section and see if there’s any manager’s specials. At our local store “manager’s special” means the meat has to be discounted by at least 40%! If there’s anything good we stock up and IMMEDIATELY freeze or marinate what we bought. Anything we freeze we work into our meal plan over the next few weeks.
The biggest disadvantage with this is that it’s not consistent. Sometimes you’ll go and it’ll be like finding gold, and other times you’ll find nada. I suggest taking roughly one week and going to your local store every night so that you can gauge when they mark down the meat. It’s definitely worth the time, given that this trick can help you get USDA organic, grass fed, or free range meat for roughly (or less than) the same price as conventional meat.
2-) Buy store brand
As the demand for natural and organic food goes up, more stores are jumping in and offering their own brands. Sales aside, these brands are always cheaper than the name brands and normally just as yummy.
And sometimes, the store brand is STILL cheaper even when the name brand is on sale. The trick is to know which has the lower unit price.
What is the unit price, you ask? It’s the price of an item per number, weight, or volume (the “unit”). For example, a 64 oz bottle of juice that costs $3 is $3 / 64 oz = $0.047 / 1 oz. Don’t rely on the tags in the store for this. Too many times I have seen the math done using different units (which means you can’t directly compare costs), the unit prices not updated with the sale price, or worst, the math done wrong. Your wallet will thank you if you take the time to calculate the numbers yourself.
3-) Pick your (food prep) battles
If you look up similar posts to this one, most will suggest to avoid buying food with the work done for you: pre-chopped onions, pre-cut fruits, pre-washed green beans, individually packaged chicken breasts.
And while on the surface I think this is a great idea, I must politely disagree on a deeper level.
Here’s the thing: I stand at a whopping 5’0” if I hold my breath, reach for the stars, and add a little poof to my hair (really…I’m that short!); I do not want to battle it out with a watermelon the size of my toddler.
So what happens if I buy that whole watermelon? I stare at it every day and tell myself “I’ll deal with that tomorrow.” And then it never happens. And the whole thing gets thrown out.
I know this about myself. So I give myself permission to spend a little extra on pre-cut watermelon that I know we will eat rather than persuading myself that I’ll save some money if I do the work myself. Because at the end of the day, that money will literally end up in the trash.
Now, maybe you are a normal height person (so lucky!) and don’t have any problems cutting a watermelon. That’s great! Buy the whole watermelon and save some dough. But if you hate chopping onions or washing your lettuce, give yourself permission to let someone else do the work for you.
4-) Know your own inventory
We once ended up with five jars of whole grain mustard. Five. By no means did we need five jars of whole grain mustard on hand. The issue was that we could never remember if we had any, so we kept buying more every time we went to the store (and as a result we didn’t get any particularly good deals on them). Had we kept track of what we had we could have waited to buy more mustard until a good sale or rebate came around and saved some money.
We have since learned our lesson. When meal planning now we go through and see what we already have and what we need. Having our kitchen and pantry organized makes this process painless and helps us waste less.
So that’s my first four tips on how to eat healthy on a budget. What tips and tricks do you use for saving money on healthy food?
For additional tips take a look at 8 Simple Ways To Eat Super Healthy Food On A Budget: Part 2!