When my husband and I were newlyweds, our grocery bill was small. We shopped at the big box store, picked the cheapest version of each item on our list, bought a lot of prepackaged and processed foods, and did not shop organic because of the cost. It worked well for us and kept our tiny budget in check. I love looking back on those days! Ahhh, how simple things were!
Over the course of a decade, our eating habits slowly became healthier and healthier (see this post) and eventually we found ourselves buying mostly organic versions of the items on our list. As much as we could find anyway. Our jobs changed, our lifestyle changed, we had a baby…we researched and discussed the pros and cons of organics and decided together that it was worth it to us. We think the extra cost is worth it to take care of your health through healthy eating.
Now recently, we find ourselves in a situation where our grocery budget is out of control. So, I decided to look for solutions to get our budget back in check without compromising our health or too many of the organic food choices. Here is a list of the things that we have tested out and work for us.
We buy LOTS of produce, especially since we enjoy eating mostly plant based. When it comes to buying organic produce, you may have heard about the “Clean 15” and the “Dirty Dozen”. These lists are compiled based on pesticide residue. The big offenders are on that “Dirty Dozen” list. The “Clean 15” are the ones that really don’t differ much from their organic counterparts in terms of pesticide residue. Instead of buying every produce item organic, stick to only buying organic versions of the items on the “Dirty Dozen” list. It may not seem like much, but it definitely adds up. The farmers market can sometime have better deals on produce as well.
Another point about produce – Try to avoid pre-packaged versions of food. Our grocery store has organic chopped garlic and ginger in a jar or tube. It’s tempting to save that little bit of time chopping but it’s so much cheaper to buy an actual bulb of garlic or ginger root. Buy a whole celery instead of the washed, cut and packaged celery. Just a few examples of what I’ve seen and been tempted by at my grocery store.
…is SO EXPENSIVE! Our grocery store has them for about $5.50 per loaf. That one hurts me a little every time I throw it in the cart. My mom actually came across a bread recipe and shared it with me. At the time, making my own bread wasn’t on my radar at all, but I made it and fell in love with the wonder of homemade bread! Honestly, it’s not that hard! Plus, I love making food that is super nutritious for my family. It gives me all the good feelings 🙂 Here is the recipe that I like to use. Also, you don’t have to have a bread machine to make bread.
You can also make breakfast type breads even faster than sandwich bread. I make banana bread or cinnamon raisin bread for a quick breakfast item that we can take in the car with us. It’s a great replacement for that $6.00 package of cinnamon raisin bagels.
We’re big snackers and unfortunately, prepackaged organic snacks come at a high price. Granola bars especially. I found this super easy and delicious recipe for Key Lime Pie Energy Bars and it’s literally just throwing your ingredients into a food processor. I get some of my ingredients in bulk to make it a little cheaper per batch.
No bake cookies are another big hit at our house for snacks. One recipe in particular that I love to use is Almond Butter No Bake Cookies. So many healthy ingredients and awesome flavor!
Seasonal fresh fruit and nuts are always a healthier and cheaper way to snack when compared to prepackaged trail mixes or fruit snacks.
I love to buy a carton of good, organic orange mango juice, or organic mint and honey green tea. I try not to do it often though because they are expensive and unnecessary. We usually stick to water and milk. Sometimes we’ll brew some tea which is much cheaper than buying it pre-made. It’s a pretty easy switch.
Be intentional about the meals you plan and stick your list. It’s the impulse buys that can get you.
Make your ingredients do double duty. If one recipe calls for 2 stalks of celery, find another recipe to make later in the week that also calls for it so that whole bunch of celery doesn’t go to waste. Celery is just the first thing that came to mind because we have a habit of letting it go bad.
Eat leftovers for lunch the next day if you’re into that. My husband hates leftovers. More for me.
Plan a meatless meal or two.
Holy cow I love the iBotta app! Scan your receipt after you shop and get cash back. It’s so easy! I’m also motivated to use the app because I have the option to redeem my cash back in the form of a Starbucks gift card. I’m terrible at keeping up with paper coupons and remembering to bring them with me. Coupon apps work very well for me.
There is this awesome company called Brandless! Everything they sell is organic and it’s all $3! They also have other home products like toiletries and kitchen utensils. Browse the site and you may find some things you buy regularly for much cheaper. Organic maple syrup comes to mind. $3 folks!
If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you get free shipping. Sometimes you can find some pretty sweet deals, especially if you load up a Prime Pantry box. Sometimes it’s a better deal, sometimes it’s not. Go have a look!
I understand the struggle of needing to reign in the grocery budget but not wanting to give up on buying organic. Hopefully some of those suggestions will be helpful!