So, you’re ready.
You spent the weekend cleaning out your pantry, realizing nearly everything was fake and processed. The fridge and freezer are empty and yearning for fresh food. Your kitchen is ready to be stocked.
Prepped with your mean plan (which, of course, you found here at Live Simply) you embark for the grocery store. The kale, honey, and grass-fed beef are carefully inspected and placed in the cart. Proudly you walk up to the cashier, feeling good about the contents now sitting on the belt. Ring, ring, ring. “That will be…” Suddenly, the grass-fed beef and leafy greens look a bit less appetizing. Gulp.
Trust me, friends, I’ve been there. My first year of real food sounded very much like the story above. Today, years after making the real food switch, I still struggle with staying within a food budget. Over the years I’ve learned a few simple secrets to saving a few dollars and nourishing my family with the very best food.
Saving money on real food requires change. A change in the way you shop, think, and cook. Continuing to purchase similar products with the same convenience attitude often leads to frustration in the budget. With just a few simple changes you can ease the money frustration and eat delicious, healthy food.
Three Secrets to Saving Money on Real Food:
1. Get out of the store. It’s time to ditch the big ol’ conventional grocery store. Conventional stores are catching on to the organic and natural trend, but it’s all at a cost. The small amount of “real food approved” products are expensive. It’s time to venture out and save money.
Find a local farm for meat. I’m able to purchase 100% grass-fed beef for $5/pound. That’s a $3 savings per pound (compared to shopping at the conventional grocery store), plus I’m confident the product is truly grass-fed. I shop a local farmer’s market every Saturday where I buy fresh veggies. I usually walk away spending $40 for two large bags.
Even shopping a local health food store can save money on dry goods. (Read more about saving money at a health food store, here.)
2. Purchase ingredients and, if possible, buy in bulk. Gone are the days of buying pre-made meals. Nearly every pre-made convenience food on the market is processed, even when advertised “organic” and “natural”. Getting rid of convenience food saves money.
Instead of the pop-tart, purchase: flour, butter, salt, and fresh fruit (or good jam). These ingredients allow you to make your own mock pop-tarts, multiple times. Plus, the same ingredients can be used in a variety of recipes. The homemade goodies will nourish your family’s bodies, leaving them full and satisfied.
Purchasing ingredients in bulk, if possible, is also a huge savings. Five pounds of flour (or grain) is usually much more costly than buying twenty-five pounds. When I purchase meat, I always purchase a large amount direct from the farm (quarter or half a cow or pig). The allows me to save significantly on the price per pound. Ample room and planning are needed to make bulk purchases.
3. Shop seasonally. I’m an apple addict, but apples aren’t in season right now. Purchasing produce that’s out-of-season can add-up quickly. Buying seasonal produce saves our family money. Instead of one bag of apples, I can buy a couple pounds of strawberries and citrus. Plus, seasonal eating benefits the body with healthy variety.
I believe real food should be a priority. One which may call for sacrifice in other areas (such as entertainment or that new car). I also believe it’s possible to pay too much for real food, simply by not knowing how to shop or cook. With the three “secrets” above, eating real can be more affordable and enjoyable.
What are your best “secrets” to saving on real food?
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