A common objection to eating whole foods and even buying organic instead of conventional is the burden these changes place on the pocketbook. Families in particular can find that making healthy upgrades feels cost prohibitive. Adding fiscal stress while trying to promote wellness is certainly not the goal, so while making these upgrades to your life try out some of these practical ways to shop smarter.
1. Check out discounted and online stores.
Costco: This chain of stores is leading the way in the bulk organics market. A stroll through Costco can provide healthy choices from meats, to fruits, and dried foods.
Thrive Market: An online store that functions like Costco in that they require an annual fee for membership. However, this fee is well worth it. Thrive provides natural, organic products for up to 50% off what you would pay in store.
Grassland Beef: This company supports local farmers across the country. It provides grass fed, organic meats that are extremely high quality. Although not cheap, they have regular sales and all items are frozen for easy freezer storage.
2. Bulk sections and bulk websites.
In a similar manner, regardless of where you shop, always look at the bulk foods section. Nuts can be found for less than the same ones sitting in packages nearby. The same goes for dried fruit and an entire array of foods. When looking for body care products in particular, I often purchase from online bulk websites. For instance, shea butter is quite expensive on the shelf, but a quick google search will reveal bulk prices that are far more manageable. Similarly, the lotion I purchase is available directly from the seller's website and is provided in bulk sizes that stores do not offer.
3. Fresh produce is really not more expensive than packaged foods
Next time you shop, make a circle around the circumference of the store before going last to the center aisles where all the pre-made food is. Processed foods have built into them the cost of processing, handling, and trademark recipes. They also have a hidden cost as many processed foods are high in sugar and additives which disrupt blood sugar levels, impact brain chemistry, and ultimately make you eat more and feel hungry more often, which equals more grocery costs.
4. Don't believe the marketing gods.
I once purchased a cleaning product for everything: glass cleaner, floor cleaner, toilet cleaner, shower cleaner, and on and on. Cleaning products are not only expensive and typically filled with toxic ingredients, they simply aren't necessary most of the time. I now clean my entire house with four basic products: vinegar, baking soda, Bronner's liquid soap, and essential oils. My bank balance and my body both love it.
5. Make a grocery list and stick to it.
6. Buy store brand items over name brand.
7. Learn to read price labels to compare "per ounce" cost between items.
8. Look at your "other" grocery costs.
Eating out, the daily Starbucks run, fast food - for many people these add up after a month of eating on the run. If you buy a daily get-up-and-go drink for $5 during the work week, you are spending $100 per month just on fancy adrenaline. Furthermore, stopping by Starbucks is often not just a coffee break - their tantalizing snacks often get thrown in and add up quite quickly. Eating out is seen as normal in our society. Not to throw eating out under the health bus, it is simply very easy area to go overboard in this area. Dining out meals are more expensive than eating at home and can be a quick area to reign in food expenditures.
9. Have fun with DIY products.
If you enjoy making things and saving money, the possibilities are endless for household and self care products. Many people have discovered how easy it is to make soap, saving money and eliminating those harmful fragrance-filled products. Whatever your need, simply youtube or google a DIY option and it is almost guaranteed to provide you with cheaper alternatives. In the process, you learn a bit about how things work and become more self-reliant!
10. Keep your blood sugar stable.
Eating a protein/fat/fiber-filled breakfast at the beginning of the day can set you up for success. It can help curb cravings and crashes later in the day, when you usually decide to get another cup of coffee or that sugary treat. Stable blood sugar also helps you not feel like snacking throughout the day, eating past full, and mindlessly spending your cash on snacky food products. One great way to help with cravings as well is to eat fermented foods. Sipping kombucha or eating sauerkraut will actually help reduce your "need" for snacks and sugars.
11. Plan it out.
Meal planning allows you to waste less food as you don't end up with ingredients that don't go together, surplus food, and food you don't actually want. It allows you to combine foods: i.e. two meals with basil means you don’t use half the basil and end up throwing the rest out after it goes bad because you don't want any more pesto!
12. Grow your own.
Full scale gardening is not practical for most, but a single window planter has possibilities. Herbs are especially easy to grow and especially expensive when purchased off the shelf.
13. Keep your fridge clean and organized.
Lost food is…lost. It's amazing how much food is wasted and forgotten about when the fridge is overcrowded and messy.
14. Keep organic produce fresh longer.
Place your veggies in a bag with a paper towel before putting them in the fridge. The towel soaks up the moisture on the vegetable leaves so they don't get brown, gooey spots as quickly.
15. Buy local. Buy the whole animal.
Local and roadside vendors are an excellent resource. Get to know them and they can provide you seconds at a reduced price and make other deals with you. Farmers markets are rather expensive, but if you stop by at the end of the market the vendors will often let you walk away with a deal. If you have space, buying the whole animal can save you meat money. Chicken breast is notoriously expensive, but a whole chicken is far less. Join up with neighbors as well, and you may be able to purchase a 1/2 or 1/4 portion of a steer. Speaking of neighbors, many folks have chickens for eggs or fruit trees they can't pick clean.
Any other ingenious ideas?? Share them below!