I think one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced since deciding to eat more whole healthy foods, is trying to do it on a budget. We all know that times having been getting a little tougher and the price of food seems to only be climbing. So what’s a person to do? Give up and go buy that processed box of junk for $1.99 and make it for supper? Although this may be tempting for the busy Mom to do, you can have the best of both worlds! I think the main thing that helps is to plan strategically and organize your time! I will discuss that more in a future post but first lets look at some ways to get good food cheaper!
Utilize your local community
Local farmers and even Amish communities are a gold mine for finding food cheaper. We have an Amish community not far from where we live. There is a whole “circuit” of little produce shops and stores in their community. I’ve been able to compare prices from one produce stand to the other and even pick up boxes of seconds for canning at times. They are usually very reasonable, as this is their livelihood and they are looking to sell their goods to make room for the next days pick from the field. I have heard but have not done it yet myself, that you may even be able to barter with them to some degree because they don’t have all of the things available to them that may be easier for us to obtain and trading items with them might be possible. I was able to pick up watermelons for a $1.00 each for a large part of the summer last year. These are not the huge watermelons, but you can’t even find a smaller one for that cheap at the store! Check out the produce stands around your area and the farmers markets. Be cautious with the farmers market. Some markets don’t require the food to be locally grown and I’ve heard of some vendors that just go down to the grocery store, buy some produce, mark it up and put it at the market. So I try to look for reputable small farmers that are selling their goods and I try to be aware of what the market value of the particular item would be in the store. If the farmer is the one selling it you should be able to inquire about growing practices, pesticides used or not and where their farm is located.
There is power in numbers!
This has been one of the biggest money savers for our family through the years. Network with a group of like minded friends and go in together to buy certain things in bulk directly from the producer if possible. Split the order among the members and save lots of money! For example: Find a local farmer that sells grass-fed beef. It may be cheaper to buy a half a cow and then split it up yourselves rather then go and buy a piece at a time. The more members you have in your group the smaller amount you will have to buy at a time, so you don’t have to put out a large amount of money at once. This can work for lots of food items. Buy a fifty pound bag of wheat and split it up in 5lb bags for each person. By each person sharing in the responsibility of splitting the food up at different times, no one person is burdened all the time. You can get items cheaper on Amazon by using their “buy and save” option. Then share the order with a friend when it comes in. I’ve done this several times with organic coconut oil. Also there are several companies online that don’t charge shipping costs if you purchase a certain amount. Ask your group if they need anything from this company, get the amount needed for free shipping and everyone saves!
CSA’s which stands for “Community Supported Agriculture” is a great way to obtain organic fresh produce locally! When I was first became involved with a CSA years ago we got our produce from the Amish community. We took turns as a group going to pick up the boxes for the week. Depending on the number of people in your group you may not have to take a turn very often. The farmer would put whatever his garden was producing at that time in the boxes and we paid an actual “share” of the farm. Often times our particular farmer would obtain produce from area organic farmers that may be plentiful. We’ve been blessed with wonderful strawberries, blueberries and sorghum in the Fall. Now our farmer has the boxes delivered to a home close to us and we are able to pick up our boxes locally with no driving to the farm. Check in your local community. CSA’s are becoming more prevalent.
I’ve just recently started purchasing some things from Costco. They are beginning to cater more to the Whole Foods Organic movement and stocking a lot of these items. I’ve discovered that the cost of membership is well worth what I save on buying my frozen vegetables and fruits from them. I always like to support local farmers first but find this to be a nice option as well!
There are some companies that offer good organic non/GMO food delivered to a location near you. One of the best ones I’ve had the privilege of dealing with is http://www.azurestandard.com/. This company provides a catalog with items at a discounted rate. A lot of the times they have specials/sales going on for specific things. You place your order online, pay for your order and then the truck will deliver your items to a designated spot near you for pickup. This is where your group of like-minded friends come in. You must have an order of at least $500 as a group to get the delivery and good price. This is usually no problem, even with a smaller group of people. You will all meet at a designated time, help unload the things and gather your items. There is no tax on these items but there is a delivery fee based on the weight of your items. This has always worked out to be cheaper then our local tax rate for me. Check with them for a pickup near you! Odds are there is already a group near you that you can join. I have found this to be something I look forward to each month, to see friends and catch up a bit.
Grow! Grow! Grow!
Of course you can look at the option of growing your own food. I know this may not be for everyone but I have found it to be the most rewarding myself. If you plant a tree in your yard, plant one that bears fruits or nuts! Start out small with your garden. Look into square foot gardening or a small raised bed. By starting with a good healthy soil and weed barrier down (see previous post) the weeding and risk of low yield is minimized. Even if you can plant a few tomatoes in pots on your patio, it’s a great start! There’s nothing better then eating a wonderful red tomato that you grew yourself! Your costs are slashed by doing this. Even if you preserve your food yourself which I highly recommend because you know how that food was grown and the cost is cheaper then going to the grocery store. Your cost is significantly less especially after your initial purchase of the canning jars or canner.
If your an animal lover like I am and have a small amount of land, how about getting a few chickens for fresh eggs? Chickens are very easy to start out with and require a small amount of space. A lot of neighborhoods are relaxing the restrictions for having poultry, so check with the county that you live in. If you find that you love it as I discovered, you can branch out slowly into increasing your flock to share eggs with others, or raising your chickens for meat. Maybe if your really dedicated and have the space you could obtain a cow or goat for meat and milk. The possibilities are endless and were an integral part of regular life for our ancestors to ensure their survival and independence. I think these skills are crucial to learn as we may not always have access to a fully stocked grocery store in the future. Knowledge is necessary!
Yes, eating healthy can be somewhat challenging, especially in todays economy. But part of that pioneer spirit from so long ago was figuring out a way to prevail when presented with a challenge. I believe we all have that God given spirit within us and it’s up to us to figure out what’s important to us and then to make it happen! Hope this post helps!