I often have readers ask me how I save money while feeding my family a healthy, and mostly grain free diet (I’m Paleo, my daughter is gluten and dairy free, and my son and husband can eat whatever). The truth is that it’s taken me a long time to get here. I didn’t do it overnight, but I was (and am) committed, and because of that commitment, I continue to make connections that allow me to shop less and less at the grocery store.
There’s your first clue. The less you shop at a grocery store, the more you’re going to save. I’m here to tell you that I don’t use coupons on a frequent basis anymore and I rarely wait for a sales flyer. While Jane is waiting for a sale on yogurt, I’m using a quarter cup from the last batch, to start a new batch. When Robert is buying hamburger in bulk at Costco, I’m in the same parking lot, only I’ve just met up with a local farmer, bought better quality meat, paid less per pound and won’t be back here for meat, next week or even next month.
It isn’t always easy to get everything into place, but once you do, you’ll actually end up spending less on groceries and eating better quality food. Put down the supermarket weekly sales flyers, quit clipping all of those coupons, and start saving some serious cash!
Here are my tried and true ways to save money while eating high quality healthy foods:
A typical order from Vitacost
Let’s start with the easiest. Whether you eat Paleo, gluten free, or would just like to make sure you’re family isn’t eating genetically modified foods, ordering online can save you a bundle. I personally am unwilling to pay for shipping, and if I can cut out any tax, that’s even better. Vitacost is my favorite place to buy pre-packaged foods and supplements online because they ship for free on any order over $49, there is no sales tax (at least for residents of WA state- check what the policy is for your state), and I rarely can beat or match their prices by shopping at my local grocery stores. Plus, they offer a lot of deals when you sign up to receive emails from them.
The other day I spent $150 and got a coupon for $30 off. Now, how many coupons would I have to clip to save $30 off the top of my grocery bill at my local store? And that’s not even including the fact that every time one of my readers or friends signs up and spends $30 we both get a coupon for $10 off our order! I don’t know about you, but that just makes me smile. 🙂
Get $10 off your first order at Vitacost! Just click here for the coupon code, sign up and you’ll be on your way!
Items I typically purchase at Vitacost
canned coconut milk (they carry the brands I like and trust, plus they are the best price I’ve found)
gluten free graham crackers
protein powders- whey for my husband, pumpkin protein powder for me
rice noodles for salad rolls
pink himalayan salt
supplements (the absolute cheapest price I’ve found on CALM magnesium, plus, even cheaper if you buy the Vitacost version)
shampoo (before you buy, I always suggest checking over at Environmental Working Group for the most non-toxic brands)
Want $10 off your first order at Vitacost?
Trader Joe’s, Costco and your local co-op
I know I know, just a few lines up I poo-poo’d the whole “grocery store” scene. But the truth is, I still shop every week at a grocery store. Honestly, during the summer I barely need to, but there are still items that I end up going to the store for.
That being said, here are the (local) places I go to get quality food, at a fraction of typical grocery store prices.
Here are items that you might see in my grocery cart at each store:
grass fed “raw” cheese
grass fed hot dogs
organic peanut butter
organic fruits and veggies (during the winter I buy most of my produce at TJ’s)
plain full fat yogurt (I like both the Trader Joe’s brand organic with the cow on the front, and their full fat Greek yogurt)
nuts and seeds
gluten free oatmeal
gluten free noodles
boxed almond and coconut milk
dry cat food
homeopathic remedy Oscillococcinum
organic strawberries (when I can’t get them locally)
organic peanut butter
My local co-op (PCC for those of you who live in the Seattle area)
eggs (if my hens aren’t producing enough)
sauerkraut (when my winter stash runs out)
meat: fish/chicken/beef/pork/lamb (I am willing to pay more for quality meat. However, that doesn’t mean that I always do. I often pay less or the same for higher quality meat than I’d get at the grocery store-see below how I go about this)
(notice I don’t purchase anything pre-packaged here. I get it all at Vitacost.)
Through word-of-mouth, I’ve connected with a local farmer who grows amazing organic vegetables. They’re not as expensive as the Farmer’s Market, live only a few miles from me, and I get to order from their weekly offerings. I have done the math, and unless I start my plants from seeds, I often cannot grow the food for less than it costs me to buy dierectly from the farmer. Why? Because they’re professionals. They don’t let slugs ruin their lettuce crop, they know how to keep their spinach from going to seed, and what to do when leaves get a coating of white dust on them. For every carrot I grow, they grow 30. I still plant a garden for my own enjoyment and so my kids can learn to grow their own food, but I am no competition.
Bulk Buy group
I am fortunate enough to be involved in couple of large bulk buy groups. Anyone who gets a line on a crop that is available from a local farmer can put together a bulk buy for the group. This is a well established group that has many relationships with farmers and ranchers, but you really don’t need that to have a bulk buy.
Let’s say you want beef but can’t afford a side of beef. You can ask the farmer if he’d be willing to send it to the butcher and request that it be turned into hamburger. You then get together 5-10 families who would like to buy premium hamburger for (let’s say) $5 a pound. We’ll guesstimate that the side of beef weighs in roughly around 300 lbs. You figure out a minimum order (maybe only 5 lbs), get enough people to equal 300 lbs and let the farmer know. I guarantee that a week won’t go by before someone from that group calls to let you know how much they love the hamburger and to be sure to include them on the next order.
We often meet for pick-up in the Costco parking lot, and at $5 a pound for grass fed hamburger, I’m beating Costco’s price by a couple of dollars (I think it was around $8 per pound last time I checked. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).
You can do the same with fruits and vegetables. Ask one of the farmer’s at the Farmers Market if they’d consider selling their produce in bulk at a reduced price. You’ll be surprised how willing they are to work with you.
If you’d like to find a bulk buy group near you, I highly recommend getting in touch with a Weston A. Price Chapter leader near you.
Items I typically purchase through a bulk buy group:
vegetables– potatoes/sweet potatoes/cucumbers/squash/onions
pork and beef sausage- no MSG as requested by our group
hamburger- all of the good cuts are included, so this hamburger is to-die-for
If you live in a rural area, or don’t have access to high quality foods, then you’ll want to check out azurestandard.org and see if they deliver to your area (pretty much the entire West Coast as well as Alaska). They sell everything from wheat berries to fresh produce to chicken feed, and their prices are competitive.
I’m often asked where I get such large quantities of shredded dried coconut that you see in my videos. The answer is Azure. I pay waaaaay less for dried shredded coconut, arrowroot powder, tapioca starch, California grown rice, chicken feed, laundry detergent, bar soap and more through Azure.
You have to sign up (FREE) to see their prices, however I don’t know that I’ve ever once gotten an email from them for anything other than my order receipt. You do have to find a drop off location near you, which generally involves contacting the person, or people in your area that are listed on the website (sometimes calling the company is easier, but their website seems to be pretty user friendly at the time of this writing). You order by a certain date, and then have to pick up on the day they deliver. It seems a bit complicated the first time, but once you do it, it’s super easy. Plus, you don’t pay shipping or tax as long as you spend more than $50 (which is very easy to do).
Go here to find out more about signing up.
Notice that I did NOT mention Whole Foods or Amazon
Yes, you can find good deals at both. But I don’t have Amazon Prime (and I find that some of my specialty items aren’t shipped free even if I was a member), and Whole Foods is just plain old expensive.
Eating healthfully can be more expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. How and where do YOU save money on health groceries?
To Your Health!