04 Apr Eating well on a budget
It’s no secret. Eating well can be expensive. It seems odd that you can buy a product that required less ‘work’ for the manufacturer (less processing) and it is more expensive. It’s a little frustrating, but it’s economics. Good food usually doesn’t have a long shelf life. When I was first married, my husband was shocked at the amount of money I would spend on food. Over the last 4+ years we’ve been married, he has felt a difference in his energy level and how he has less sickness or aches and pains since he altered his diet a bit 4 years ago. (Maybe I’ll ask him to do a post on his perspective sometime.) I learned how to eat well on a budget and thought I’d share some tips.
1. Buy in season and store.
I love my green smoothie for breakfast, but it requires some frozen fruit. This can be expensive. In the summer, I look for deals on fruits and then cut them in chunks, place them on a cookie sheet to freeze for a few hours, and then store them in Ziplock gallon freezer bags. My husband and I found a massive deep freeze in our local classifieds and picked it up for free. It is worth the room it takes up in our laundry room. This summer I’ve snagged some red-tape bananas, peaches from a friend’s tree, pears brought in from an Oregon orchard by a friend, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and soon to be added to the list–blackberries. It’s really cheap to do it this way, but you’ve got to keep your eyes peeled.
2. Buy in bulk.
This one is fairly obvious, but I had to include it or this list wouldn’t be complete. I have a friend, Chirine, down the street who orders from different vendors and has people come from all over the state to pick up bulk grains, pastas, produce, nuts seeds, and lots more. I just went by last week to pick up 10 lbs of golden raisins for my Super Charge Me Cookies. If you’re close to Utah, her website is www.AlpineFoodStorage.com. She saves me tons of money. If you don’t live close, you can consider starting a co-op of your own. Chirine would be more than happy to offer suggestions I am sure.
This is a new adventure I’ve been trying and loving it. I follow some local blogs and keep track of the deals for me so I don’t have to spend a lot of time. I mostly print coupons online so I don’t have to be clipping from a newspaper. MySLCMommy.com posts a ‘healthy food’ coupon list about once per month. It’s the best. I’ve also visited the websites for my favorite brands of food and subscribe to their email list. They send coupons and special offers regularly.
Every week, I glance at the new ads when they arrive and save them on top of my fridge if I see something I want. Then, before a shopping trip, I pull them down and see what I will buy. My husband often stops by a store on his way home from work and I will go to another to get some great sale prices. On the weeks where that just doesn’t happen – we go to Wal-Mart with the ads in tow and they honor the prices of any ad. It makes for a fast trip. I will admit, I felt sheepish at first (and a little cheap.) but I got over that really fast. The clerks usually praise me on getting such a great deal and it’s kind of fun.
5. Make it yourself.
It’s easy to pick up a spouting mix or some baked goods, but it’s not the cheapest way of eating. After finding a sprouting mix that I love (Pro-Vita Mix by Life Sprouts), I started making my own sprouts to save money. When I looked into getting a large quantity to save money, I found that a 5-gallon bucket would cost over $100. A good friend of mine gave me the recipe for the mix and I bought all the ingredients in 50# bags and made it myself. My husband and I mixed it up and found we had 5 buckets of mix and spent less than $200. We haven’t even used 1 bucket in the last year. I should get sprouting again! If you like to buy sprouts, I suggest buying a simple sprouter (or make one) and some seeds and start your own. It’s so easy. If you want more information on sprouting, leave a comment. If there is enough interest, I’ll put a post together on the topic.
How do you eat well on a budget? Leave a comment for other readers
by Heather Marchant