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Save More and Spend Less on Real Food

On July 29, 2012 by Erin Fullam

**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 spend less on real food so that you can eat healthy without breaking the bank!

4 Ways to Spend Less on Real Food

1. 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. You can use a separate email address so you don’t get inundated daily with offers, or if you use Gmail, you can have these emails sent to a different tab so that they are separate from your regular emails. This way you can again see what offers apply to your 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. You can 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 The Life You Live, Mambo Sprouts, and Natural and Thrifty. Learn ways you can “stack” coupons with in-store sales to maximize your savings.

2. Make a plan

Check out the weekly ads in your local paper or online and create your meal plan around the big sales. Confession: Sometimes I reverse plan, and I go 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.

3. 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. 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 per 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!

4. Head to 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:OAMM Get Real Series

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 Meals
Guest Author: Stephanie Langford of Keeper of the Home

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