I have been working hard to exercise all my options for saving money on organic and natural foods since we have a weekly budget of $100-$120 to spend. From meal planning and making sure my pantry is stocked, to relying on helpful money saving resources and going to various stores for the lowest priced items.
Saving money on organic and natural foods is a bit of an “art” and although the main goal is to save money, how much money and on what items is what makes each of our own stories unique. Living in different areas of the country (or world) can also affect our food sources and prices.
I also have learned there is not a “one size fits all” approach when you’re working with a smaller food budget. It takes a bit of hard work on your end and it’s about finding out which avenue works best for what you and your family specifically need.
Through my trials and errors, I have realized the more resources you can come up or know about, the easier it will be to save money. Below I’ve compiled a list of buying resources, guides, and things I do to help me save money on our grocery bill.
1. Homegrown Cow
What happens when your area is considered a “food desert” and the taste of the meat local to you is not so good? You could buy your meat at Whole Foods or another health food store that carries meat, but the hefty price of meat can put a dent in your grocery budget. A great way to save money on quality meats is to buy in bulk, but often times it’s hard to dish out that kind of money — especially when you’re a little leery on if you’re going to like the taste.
That’s why I love Homegrown Cow, a virtual farmer’s market that allows you to shop by state, the way the meat was raised, types of cuts, and most importantly, size of order. I don’t necessarily have to dish out $600 on a 1/4 cow, but instead can opt for $250 worth of meat which still saves me a substantial amount of money versus buying individually.
Aside from offering red meat in bulk, Homegrown Cow also offers a great selection on poultry (check out this slow cooker easy chicken recipe I made with a chicken I received from Homegrown Cow), dairy, seafood, pork, and specialty meats like bison, elk, rabbit, and other exotic game animals. Customer service is great (I had an issue with my order coming on time and they took care of me without a wink) and although most of the orders are delivery-based, there are also options (if it works in your area) to meet directly with the farmer and pick up your order.
As someone who does live in an area where the meat is not that great tasting but wants to support local farmers, I love that Homegrown Cow allows me to support a small farm in the US. Even though the farm may not be local to me, they are still on the smaller scale and deserve to be supported in any way they can be.
2. Knowing What to Buy Organic and What to Buy Conventional
I always advocate for buying as much organic and “beyond organic” foods as possible, but the reality is it’s not always within my budget (or other families) to do so. Knowing this, I have become very familiar with what foods typically contain the highest amounts of pesticides, hormones, chemicals, and other bad stuff. This allows me to prioritize my shopping list and save money on the foods that don’t necessarily need to be purchased organically.
See also: Why I Don’t Buy Everything Organic
3. Knowing the Stores & Prices in my Area
Knowing the stores and prices in my area helps me save money on our food bill each week. I know that my local health food store carries high quality block cheese for cheaper than my local Whole Foods does, so I opt to buy my cheese there. I also know that I can buy organic sour cream and butter at my local Whole Foods for cheaper than I can buy at the health food store. Even more, I know the small family market in between both big retailers carries hass avocados for $.99, lemons for $.50, and a bag of cooking onions for $2.99.
By paying attention to prices, knowing what doesn’t need to be purchased as organic, and knowing my area, I’m able to pick and choose the best prices between all three stores. Since they are all fairly close to each other, I have made it a routine to hit all three stores on my shopping day. This way, I’m not spending extra gas money by making multiple trips on different days.
4. Meal Planning
What’s that saying, “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
Meal planning is certainly not for everyone, but it’s definitely something I feel everyone should give a try at least once or twice. I have found when I meal plan for the week, I’m able to stick to my budget better and only get what we need (aka staying within my budget). I have tried meal planning for the month, but it personally didn’t work my family; weekly meal planning is much easier for me to stick to.
When things are really tight for the week, meal planning truly helps by making you assess what you have in your pantry and freezer so you can make “something” out of nothing.
5. Homemade Versions
The seasons of life are always changing; some days we find ourselves barely able to keep it all together and then there are times where we feel like we’re the Martha Stuart of our home. Currently, I’m in the “barely keep it all together” season. This means I don’t make as many things from scratch as I usually do but I allow myself to be okay with that and I adjust my budget accordingly. Even if you can commit to making one or two items from scratch that you normally buy at the store, it will help save you money.
Here are a few things that I do make from scratch no matter how busy I get —
- Bone Broth
- French Onion Dip (we like to snack!)
- Taco Seasoning (did you know I sell it in my online shop, too?)
- No-bake granola bites
- Blueberry muffins
- Pancake Mix
6. Thrive Market
I recently wrote a detailed review of my shopping experience using Thrive Market and the cost comparison between Thrive, Amazon, and Whole Foods. I have only purchased once from there so far and I found for my family, it saved us money on our favorite “junk” food items that we would normally buy at Whole Foods for substantially more.
A few weeks ago I began giving Andrew gummy vitamins and we just ran out. I was going to buy them at my health food store but I wanted to check the price on Thrive first. I was able to find them on Thrive for $6 cheaper, so I put together an order over $49 to get free shipping.
One of the things I really like is that I don’t necessarily need to buy the specific item I want in bulk (like Amazon) to get a good deal, because sometimes my budget doesn’t allow it.
Amazon is great for a multitude of items. Investing in the $99/year Prime membership, gave me free two-day shipping on thousands of items which really comes in handy. I love using Amazon for coconut sugar, kitchen items, natural laundry soap, coconut milk, and coconut water. When I have a little extra wiggle room in my budget, I use Amazon to buy my pantry items in bulk because more than likely I’m able to find a good deal through Amazon.
8. How to Eat Well but Spend Less Ebook
I’m not a huge e-book reader, period. For me to purchase or take the time to read one, it has to really hit home with me. My friend Tara’s ebook, How to Eat Well But Spend Less did just that. She’s so practical, so frugal (have you seen her frugal meal plans?), and seriously one of the most awesome homemakers I know.
After I read her ebook — which was a quick read — I was able to start applying her simple steps to save money and it has worked! Because of her ebook, I know how to properly stock my pantry, meal plan, create a master list of food prices so I know when there is a good deal happening, and more.
This post is sponsored by Homegrown Cow. Thank you for allowing me to support my favorite brands and share them with you!