In Part 1, we learned how to use a grocery expense chart to make a food budget. This article is about trying your best to cut expenses, by buying within your budget and keeping a happy healthy home with low-stress (which eliminates traveling an extra 30 minutes to shop at a special organic store).
I've been feeling my heart go out to those families who are struggling to feed themselves healthy, organic foods. Maybe that includes you. Maybe it doesn’t! Some of us don’t even think about not being able to afford top-quality foods. A lot of us take it for granted. The families who live in food deserts face it every day.
That feeling of guilt and frustration.
How to keep your family healthy while still paying the bills?
And how to entice older kids who are used to “fast” food and processed stuff to eat wholesome foods? Well, that’s a whole other topic. But it starts with making healthy purchase decisions + trying your best to grow some food yourself.
Grow Food in Your Kitchen
Before we get to good purchasing decisions, I want to encourage you to try sprouting your own microgreens in your kitchen. I do this without running water out in the bush! So it’s possible to do sprouting with very little fuss, and it greatly contributes to feeding your family the best, healthiest foods.
I mentioned in my last article that sprouting your own microgreens or sprouts is so easy and cheap. Anyone can do it! With a mason jar method or sprouting tray method, the seeds do all the work, and all you have to do is water them 2-3 times per day. You don’t need a lot of money to buy these seeds in bulk, and the materials for sprouting are also cheap and easy to find. It’s a win-win situation and can help you create beautiful, healthy salads and sandwiches for your family with food that is grown right in your own kitchen!
Watch my Youtube video to learn how.
Also, for a step-by-step instruction, I’ve covered it in great detail in my beginner urban gardening book: Grow a Salad in Your City Apartment which is available in paperback on Amazon. I want to help you grow your own food with zero land!
Buy in Bulk From a Local Health Food Store
Ask your local store if you can buy cases of your favorite foods like salsa, pasta sauce, butter, cheese, yogurt, coffee, cereals, juices, diapers, crackers, etc. Sometimes they will give a 10% discount for buying a case. I got my local store owner’s email address and I send them an email about a week before I need these items. I order a large amount to store in my pantry or a cool room. With a family of three kids, it’s not hard to use up a case of salsa or crackers. I am always an advocate of cooking at home, but the reality is that most people don’t have time to make everything from scratch. And a lot of moms, grandmothers, and others who do a lot of cooking, would rather spend their time reading a book, taking a yoga class, or spending quality time with their kids. So if that speaks to you, try buying your snack foods and ready-to-go meals in bulk.
I’ve noticed that some “bulk-buy” stores don’t really have the low prices that they claim to have. Now, this might not be the case in your town, so double check this. I’ve noticed that some companies will start out charging very low prices and later will raise them without anyone noticing, simply because they have the reputation of being a low-priced store. So be careful of that. And if you have a good grocery or health food store in your area that is willing to order in bulk for you, it might be more cost effective to go with them.
Having said all of that, there is a lot to say for shopping at a big grocery store chain, as they can usually offer low prices and wide selection. Plus, if a big grocery store is closer to your home, the gas money to travel further to Whole Foods, is not worth getting those perfect plums or artisan sourdough. Don’t be ashamed to shop at big grocery chains, especially if you have a large family. It comes down to what are you making from the food you buy: is it healthy meals or is it carb-heavy processed junk?
Your future goal can be: Buying all local organic foods
The Reality: Can only afford grocery-store bought produce from Mexico and California for now.
This is okay and fine and you can try to push your local stores into stocking more produce from surrounding farms, but for now you use what you have available to you.
Top 14 Cheapest Organic Foods
- Sweet Potatoes
- Carrots (ask for "juicing" carrots- bags of 25lbs!)
- Squash (Seasonal)
- Oranges (Seasonal)
- Head lettuce (not lettuce mixes or pre-washed)
The best tip I can give you to save money is to buy less stuff overall. Allocate a larger portion of your monthly budget for food and less (or none!) to entertainment and eating out. Cut out eating at restaurants or fast food/coffee shops and you’ll find that you can probably at the least afford organic “basics” and at the best, you can afford very high quality stuff like caviar, wild salmon, grass-fed dairy, liver pate, etc. This is all dependent on your income bracket and ability to travel to these specialty stores for organic food.
Not only is “buying less” a better choice for your family, but it’s also better for the Earth! Here’s to eliminating waste and plastics!
Join a Buying Club
Joining a buying club can help you to buy in serious bulk quantities and get very high quality food items. In another quality MOTHER EARTH NEWS article, Rebecca Martin and Dan Sullivan walk you through the steps to joining a buying club. It can be a little more complicated, but if you can find an existing buying club, it’s very easy to join and use.
Buy in Bulk and Preserve It
This is a tricky one, but if you are not a busy Mom or have an all-consuming job, you might be able to buy in very large bulk quantities (50lb bags) and preserve the food, such as canning, freezing, and dehydrating. Don’t fool yourself, as this can take a lot of time and energy to accomplish, but it can be very satisfying to see a root cellar or spare room full of preserved and vacuum sealed foods. Save Money on Groceries is another great article, that explains the best methods for doing just that.
Rosemary Hansen is an author, homesteading Mama, and a chef. She has spent the last 10 years “homesteading” in the city. She and her family have just started their off-grid homestead in rural British Columbia, Canada. Her books, Grow a Salad In Your City Apartment and Rosemary’s Natural Cosmetic Guide are a great way to ease into a healthy, pure lifestyle. You can connect with Rosemary at her website: www.RosemaryPureLiving.com or on her YouTube channel. Read all of Rosemary's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.