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Get Real: Saving More and Spending Less on Real Food

**This post is part of the Get Real series. Please remember that this is meant as a learning community. We know that many of you are passionate about what you do and we want you to express that, just please do so in a way that will be an encouragement and aid to others making a transition. We want this to be a “safe space” for participants to learn. For that reason, we reserve the right to delete any comments that are not handled in this manner.

Last week Stephanie had a wonderful post on how to focus your real food budget goals and set priorities with your spending at the store. I’m going to take some time today and show you a few other ways to help cut costs when filling your cart with real foods!

Check out store and manufacturer’s websites and Facebook pages

One of the easiest ways to get coupons is to sign up on manufacturer’s websites. I have a specific coupon email address so I don’t get inundated daily with offers. And this way I can again see what offers apply to my meal plan for the week if any. Facebook is also a great place to sign up for offers. Again many companies will give you coupons just for liking their page, or will enter you in some great giveaways. Good Belly is a great probiotic packed fruit juice and if you sign up for their 12 day challenge not only do you get some great initial coupons, but they keep coming!

I also sign up for the Whole Foods blog which gives you a week’s notice on their bigger sales. For example, their grass-fed beef sale happens only every few months, and when it does, getting the advanced notice helps me to budget accordingly and know what cuts I can stock up on for the freezer and what I can use fresh.

Subscribe to some of the bigger coupon sites like Hip2Save, The Frugal Find, Mambo Sprouts, OrganicDeals.com, The Thrifty Mama has a great list of sites as well, to get some of the biggest coupon deals around. Including ways you can “stack” coupons with in-store sales to maximize your savings.

Make a plan

Check out the weekly ads in the Sunday or Wednesday paper, or online and create your meal plan around the big sales. Confession: Sometimes I reverse plan, and I got through the flyers and note the best deals, then I head off to Pinterest and see what pins I have that fit and make my plan. I stick to the stores I normally go to because then I don’t waste time wandering around trying to find things or get distracted by other items that aren’t on my list.

Head out and attack the aisles

With my list in one hand, coupons in the other, and reusable bags crammed in the cart with the carseat and toddler (we’re being honest here right?) I’m ready to shop.

  • Bring cash — Have a budget already planned for your trip? Then bring ONLY that amount with you to the store. This will help you not to overspend and if items are more than you planned, then its time to evaluate your list.
  • Check the store sales flyer and coupon book – See if there are any additional sales that you may have missed or need to take advantage of. Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Sprouts etc, all have in store coupon books that do have some great savings in them especially on canned goods.
  • Buy in bulk Looking for quinoa, granola, rice, almond flour on your list? Check out the bulk section first. Typically these items are cheaper in the bulk section because you aren’t paying for added packaging. Just make sure to check the cost/ounce against the boxed item to make sure you really are getting a deal. In some cases it could be about the same.
  • Buy by the case  With canned goods, juices, and snack packs, stores will usually offer a case discount. Sometimes up to 10%! Check with your store and see what you can get.
  • Check out the 50%+ off shelves – I know it looks creepy and overwhelming, but I have found some of the best deals on natural products in that rack. Including vital wheat gluten for $0.99 a BAG! Typically $4.99. See some of the natural, organic and “real foods” still aren’t as common to the average consumer. Therefore in your bigger grocery chain stores these items can sit for a long time on the shelf and not be bought. Score for you!
  • Bring your reuseable grocery bag – Most stores if not all will give you a reuseable bag discount up to $0.10 per bag. Which for me, especially on my big OAMM cooking day trips, can be up to $1 in savings!

What about the farmer’s market?

We’ve talked a few times about how to get the best out of your farmer’s market experience here are a few more tips:

  • Ask for the “rejects” – Often in the heat of the harvest there aren’t always perfect produce ready for their close up photo. There are a few with blemishes or scars that are still delicious. I saved $30 buying a #2 box of peaches last week and they still were absolutely divine.
  • Ask the merchant if they will do a bulk order for the following week – When I do my Summer pickles I like to shop around with the merchants and see who will give me the best price for my pickling cucumbers. Then I work a deal with them for a bulk order for the following week. Most of the time I can get them for almost $2/pound cheaper.
  • Don’t be afraid to bargain- Merchants don’t want anything to go to waste. And especially if you have cash, ask if they’ll throw in a squash if your beans come out to $4.50 so he doesn’t have to make change and you can get a deal.

I know how hard it is to keep real food comparable to the processed food budgets we’re used to. There’s no apples to apples here. I would love to have my grocery bill in half. However I keep telling myself, “Pay the farmer now, or pay the doctor later.” The money that I’m investing in the food that nourishes and strengthens my family’s bodies will help to keep our health care costs down in the future. It really boils down to that.

July Week Four Action Item:

Each week we will try to give you some simple action steps to put this journey into practice. It is important that you start this journey by understanding yourself, your goals and perhaps your obstacles.
  1. What are some of your favorite ways to keep your costs down at the store or market? Share with all of us below!

July Get Real:

Please take a moment to thank our guest authors by clicking over to their sites and/or liking them on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Sponsor:  Once A Month Mom
Guest Author: Stephanie Langford of Keeper of the Home

4 Responses to “Get Real: Saving More and Spending Less on Real Food”

  1. I never thought of negotiating for a bulk buy on produce! I’m going to give it a shot. Thanks for the tip.

  2. Marissa says:

    I like to watch for “Manager Discounts” in the produce, dairy, and meat sections at my local grocery store. These are items that are marked down for a quick sale because they will be “expiring” soon. They are still fresh; they just need to be used soon, like ripe bananas or prepackaged veggies. I just change my menu plan and use them that day or put them in my freezer to use later.

  3. Suzanne says:

    I have noticed that companies respond favorably to feedback, positive or negative. A good company will want to make things right if you have a negative experience. My husband would regularly buy some expensive coconut milk yogurt. He had an issue where he kept opening them and finding mold. I wrote to the company explaining the problem. We immediately received an apology, an explanation of what steps they were taking to correct the issue, and several gift certificates for free product. We will be lifetime fans of a company that both owns up to and fixes their mistakes. This taught us to always approach a company if something is wrong with the product; they may make it right financially for you.

  4. [...] When possible, cut out the middle man. Buying almonds, chicken, beef, eggs, and produce directly from the farmer, instead of a grocery store, will give you a higher quality product and more bang for your buck. [...]

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