When my husband and I first transitioned to a healthier lifestyle, our grocery bill for the two of us was over $600 a month. Due to health reasons, I was on a very strict, organic diet. We were on a tight budget, but we had no choice but to shell out the cash each month for healthy food. I didn’t think that couponing and healthy living went hand in hand. Most of the deals I had been finding didn’t work with my new diet. I got creative and found many ways to afford this new healthy lifestyle and was able to bring our budget down by several hundred dollars per month, while still enjoying my favorite hobby of couponing! Here’s how I’ve been able to live healthy on a budget.
1. Search the expired rack at grocery stores. Usually found in the back of the produce section is a rack with bruised or nearly expired fruits and veggies. Many times, you can find organic items back there. I’ve found organic green peppers, organic peaches, bananas and organic lettuce. I wash and prepare it immediately once I’m home and either freeze it, bake with it or use it in that night’s dinner.
2. Collect organic coupons. There are so many resources for getting coupons for your favorite organic products. Mambosprouts.com specializes in all healthy/organic coupons. Coupons.com and Smartsource.com often offer organic coupons. Recyclebank is a site that offers rewards, such as coupons for healthy products, for completing simple quizzes, pledges and other activities. Pair these coupons with a sale, and they often end up cheaper than their unhealthy counterparts!
3. Buy store brand organic. Many stores now offer their own, affordable line of organic products. Meijer has their Meijer Organic and Naturals line. Kroger recently launched their line of organic products, Simple Truth. Some Aldi stores are in the process of rolling out organic products. Trader Joe’s offers natural/organic products at reasonable prices.
4. Buy online. Amazon sells many natural and organic products in bulk at a discount. On top of that, they offer coupons and additional discounts when using their Subscribe and Save program. By choosing the Subscribe and Save option, you can save an additional 5%-20% off the already low price. You can then receive shipments of the same product every 1-6 months or choose to cancel at any time. Vitamin discount sites like Lucky Vitamin offer vitamins and health foods at a much lower price than many stores.
5. Buy from a local farmer. We purchase our grass-fed beef from a local farmer. We typically buy a 1/4 cow, which lasts us about 6 months. The price comes out to about $2.80 per pound hanging weight, which is much cheaper than buying grass-fed beef in store.
6. Shop the warehouses. I’ve found that Costco offers some of the best prices on organic chicken and organic ground beef. They also carry many organic fruits, veggies and packaged foods.
7. Buy in bulk. Whole Foods, Better Health and Kroger, just to name a few, offer many healthy herbs and foods in the bulk section. You can save quite a bit on rice, oats, herbs, spices, nuts and seeds just by avoiding packages and buying in bulk.
8. Write a letter. Many companies will send you coupons and samples, just by sending off a quick email to them. I’ve received coupons from Food for Life, Seventh Generation and Earth’s Best after contacting them. Also, companies like Silk and Earthbound Farms frequently send coupons via email by signing up to be on their email list.
9. Shop clearance. Generally, when we think of clearance items, food doesn’t usually cross our minds. Many regular chain stores now carry organic products, but often times they don’t sell before the expiration date, causing the stores to mark them down very low for a quick sale. I’ve found organic cereals, bars, oatmeal, noodles and other organic products on clearance at Meijer, Kroger and even Whole Foods and Zerbos. Often times, there is a coupon available for the product too, which makes for some super cheap organic food!
10. Stick to the clean fifteen. If you can’t afford to always buy organic there are certain foods that have less pesticide residue than others. Bananas, avocado, oranges and pineapple all have thick skin, decreasing the chances of the pesticide reaching the edible part. Try to buy the “dirty dozen” (foods with the highest pesticide residue) organic. The dirty dozen include: apples, carrots, cherries, celery, kale, nectarines, peaches, sweet bell peppers, strawberries, lettuce, grapes and pears. The clean fifteen include: avocado, kiwi, sweet corn, watermelon, shelling peas, pineapple, papaya, mangoes, onions, garlic, cabbage, broccoli, blueberries, bananas and asparagus and have less pesticide residue.
Also, if you can’t buy all organic, you can soak your fruits or veggies in a solution that will eliminate much of the pesticide residue. Fill a large bowl with filtered water and 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide and soak the fruit/veggies for 15 minutes, then rinse.
With a little thinking outside the box, you can live a healthy life on a small budget. What are some ways you save??