Tuesday, January 29, 2013

You CAN buy healthy on a budget

Last week I shared my favorite ways to shop for healthy and local produce.  If that doesn’t fit your budget right now, or you live in an area that doesn’t have lots of options, I am here to tell you that you can still eat healthy and it won’t cost you a ton of money.  If your resolution this year was to eat healthier or save money, I have you covered with this post! 

  • Make a list and check it twice.  If it’s not on your list don’t buy it.  Don’t give in to those impulse buys, especially if they aren’t on sale and are full of garbage chemicals.  I’ll check out the ads and see what produce is on sale and make my menu plan that way.  I won’t prepare a fresh organic fruit salad in November when I know the price is sky high on berries.  When organic kale went on sale 2 weeks ago I bought 4 big bundles of it and tried all kinds of new recipes.  
  •  Ditch the prepackaged meals, organic or not, they will cost you more!  They are doing all the prep work for you, and putting in all kinds of chemicals and additives so it stays “fresh” before you eat it.  How about actually making it fresh yourself with actual ingredients?  It will cost less when you buy the products and you can feel good about what is in it.  Doing your own cooking not only lets you control what you put in it, but also controls what you don’t put in it!  My recipe doesn’t call for propylene glycol in my chicken pot pie, but oddly enough it’s in there at the grocery store. 
  •  Buy from the bulk foods section.  Not only is the per pound price much cheaper, you can also just buy a few ounces or whatever you need for a recipe.  If you aren’t sure if you are going to like quinoa or couscous (but I promise you will love them!) try it out in the bulk food section.  This is where I buy my oats, grains, nuts and unsweetened dried fruit.  Stay away from the bulk gummy bears, they won’t save you any money and don’t give you any nutritional benefit.
  •  Sam’s Club does carry some organic produce and meats at great prices.  The 1 pound tub of mixed organic baby greens is just over $4, which is pretty good deal.  If you don’t already have a membership at Sam’s, don’t run out and buy one, unless you plan on using it more. Sam's Club lets each member bring a guest in with them, so if you do not have a membership find a family member or friend who has a membership and see if they would be willing to take you with them the next time you go.  (We don’t have Costco or other warehouse stores in Oklahoma, so I am only familiar with Sam’s)  They also do a 200% guarantee.  If you don’t like the produce, bakery or meat, they will double your refund back to you. 
  • Walmart does price matching from competitor ads.  You can read all the specifics at this link If you are reviewing the ads from other stores and they have an item at a great price, don’t drive all over town to pick it up.  You don’t have to wait in line at customer service, just tell your cashier, and I always have a printed copy of the ad just in case.  I have scored plenty of pineapples for 99 cents this way.
  • Aldi is a bare bones grocery store with rock bottom prices.  They usually aren’t in the most affluent sections of town and you have to pay a quarter deposit to use a grocery cart, but you get it back when you return your cart.  And if you are already bringing your own reusable bags you won’t have to pay for their bags.  I have seen peaches for a quarter, grapes for 88 cents, and carrots for 49 cents!  Those were all conventionally grown, but super cheap prices.  They also just launched their private label organic line called Simply Nature.  You still need to check the labels and read the ingredients, but it is by far the cheapest place I have seen organics.  I got a bottle of their Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (17 oz) – $3.99 and Organic Frozen Strawberries (12 oz) – $2.39 and was pretty impressed with both. 
  • Use coupons!  Please don’t turn into those extreme couponers on TLC, but you can save money using coupons.  Most coupons are put out by all the big name manufacturers and contain items that we don’t eat anymore.  Saving 55 cents on an item you weren’t going to buy already isn’t really saving you any money.  Living Organic for Less is my favorite site to plug in whatever I’m going to purchase and it will tell me if there are coupons available.  My friend Leandra runs this site, and hopefully will be guest blogging for us soon.  Usually if you print them from the computer you can print the coupon twice.  I also like this site for tips on saving money.  
What’s the best deal you have found on healthy items and where did you get it? 

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