I have always been very concerned with what my child, and my family in general, eats. Call me a crazy Mama, but my little one does not even know what a Cheetos Puff is. I make sure to incorporate tons of fresh vegetables, organic dairy and real meat and make most of our meals, snacks and treats from scratch. One would assume all of this planning and preparation would result in a skinnier grocery bill but healthy food can often take up a large portion of our monthly budget.
With that being said, healthy food is something I cannot and will not compromise on. I have discovered some tricks to slimming down my grocery bill without resorting to buying super processed, sugar and chemical filled foods and products.
1. Use Coupons.
In the past, I have noticed that many of the coupons gracing my weekly newspaper offered discounts for foods that I don’t buy. Coupons for organic milk and yogurt were hard to find among the discounts for candy, chips and prepackaged foods. After a lot of searching and blog hopping, I found great resources for online coupons I can print right from home for environmentally friendly paper goods (like napkins) and natural foods.
Here is a list of some natural and organic coupon resources:
Horizon Organic/Stonyfield (sign-up required)
Organic Valley (sign-up required)
Seventh Generation (sign-up required)
I also often search company websites for foods I usually buy – this way I am finding coupons for the things I need rather than buying products just because I have a coupon. I also find that I save myself from the coupon shuffle as I wander the aisles if I print what I need from my list before I ever head to the store.
2. Take advantage of dried/bagged beans, legumes and brown rices.
I have found that dried beans in the bag are a better deal than the countless cans I used to buy, and some may even say they are healthier (Canned foods liners often contain high levels of BPA). Dried beans take a little more preparation and are a little less convenient, but I have been known to soak them the night before use and throw them in a crockpot during the day to cook.
3. Stock up on deals.
When I see whole wheat pasta on sale, I buy multiple packages and plan meals the following weeks around my purchase. I have even stocked up on natural, nitrate-free lunch meats on sale and frozen them until needed.
4. Make it yourself (Yeah, like, from scratch).
I skip sodium-filled spice mixes and make my own (I will blog about this another day). Instead of buying taco seasoning, I buy ground cumin, chili powder, fresh garlic, etc. and make my own seasoning. I save money this way and always have spices to add to a dish rather than fat or salt.
I make my own muffins instead of buying a mix or pre-made muffins from the store so that not only do I know what is going into our food, I save money and produce less waste since I am not cluttering our garbage with packages. I can also use cooking experiences as a tool to teach my child and bond with her.
Making products from scratch is not limited to food. I also make some of my own cleaning products by searching for recipes on the web. A one-part water to one-part vinegar mixture can clean just as effectively as something you may be paying top-dollar for at the supermarket (that also includes powerful chemicals you may not want around your children or pets).
5. Buy products that pack a punch.
I love cheese. But it can get costly (and my waistline often punishes me for my love affair as well). Instead of using a whole block of cheese in a recipe, I buy cheese with more flavor so I can still have great tasting meals, without all the fat and the hefty pricetag. We love feta and parmesan and need just a little bit to add a big punch of flavor to meals.
6. Prepare yourself.
I (almost) never buy cheeses or foods already chopped or shredded or sliced. I buy whole carrots and chop them into sticks for my little one to dip into some hummus. I shred my own cheeses. I chop my own onions. Sometimes conveniences are really nice to have when trying to throw dinner together after a hectic day. But chopping my own garlic is not going to make dinner come that much later.
7. Use your own (reusable) grocery bags.
Some stores are now offering a discount of a few cents when you bring your own bags. Its super handy to just keep a few in the car and get a little discount off your total bill. Every little bit helps.
Though some of these tips may not be feasible for everyone, try a couple of them to help make a dent in that crazy grocery bill. Every little bit helps. I mean, who doesn’t want a little extra money?