The journey to eating real food always needs to be filled with grace. There are many ways to save on real food, organic and non-organic alike. Over the next couple weeks I will be sharing tips on how to save money on real food that will nourish your family and keep your budget in check.
Teaching people to make wise choices in purchases and learning how to use basic foods that we normally wouldn’t think to save like bones and vegetable peels is a bit of a passion of mine. I remember the first time I saw the cook at the school where I served in Mexico tossing the bones and offal from the chicken she was cutting up. I asked her why she didn’t save them to make stock. It turns out no one had ever taught her, she was just doing what everyone around her did. The next time she made chicken she giddily showed me the broth she had made from the bones and offal that she was going to use in our rice that day. Sometimes a person just needs to be taught. It is my hope that “mis hijas” in Mexico will rememer the things I taught them.
You might remember the book I co-authored this year, Frugal Secrets of Real Foodies. It is full of more in-depth tips, how-tos and recipes how to save money on real food. It also includes the authors’ personal stories on how we came to eat real food and save money while doing so.
Consider today’s post and next weeks a crash course while the book will take you a bit deeper.
Join a Natural Foods Co-op
The word co-op has been part of my vocabulary since I was a little girl. It is hard to remember a time when my family didn’t belong to one. Azure Standard is by far (in my opinion) the best natural foods co-op out there! The have good rates, a wide and I mean wide verity of items chose from and you can buy small to very large amounts. If I want to try a new brand of coconut milk and only want one jar, that’s no problem or if I really like something I can buy a few flats of it. Since Azure Standard is based out of Oregon there is no sales tax. An added bonus it that there is no shipping! Once a month you send your order in and meet the driver at a designated drop point to pick up your things.
My Top Azure Picks:
- Wheat Berries
- 5 gallon buckets with Gamma Seal Lids
- Coconut Milk
- Chicken Feed
- Real Salt
Save Veggie Scraps
Don’t throws veggie scraps away! Peelings, bits and pieces of vegetables like carrots, onions and celery make great additions to stocks. Cilantro roots and stems give amazing flavor to rice and soups. A little bit of leftover herbs can be blender with butter to make an amazing herb butter!
Bone-broth is so incredibly good for you! I can’t even begin to enumerate the reasons why I believe that everyone needs to eat it at least a few times a week. Homemade broths and stocks are the foundation for delicious soups and stews. They are also very frugal to make. Cartons of broth from the store are lack luster and cost up to $4 for a 16 oz carton.
I use a lot of chicken broth in my cooking so anytime I have chicken on the bone I save the bones in a zip lock bag and store them in the freezer until I have enough to make a pot of broth. Some may find it gross to reuse bones that have already been “chewed” on but the freezer and cooking process will kill any germs that might have been on the bone.
Buy off the Clean 15
I don’t know anyone who can afford to buy 100% organic food. That is why the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen List come in hand. If I can afford to buy the items on the Dirty Dozen I will. If not I pass them over and buy off the Clean 15. I try to follow this for grocery stores, farmer’s markets and farms alike. Sometimes though I still really want that orange even though I can’t afford the organic ones so I buy it, eat it and am grateful for it.
Buy in Season and Local
Buying in season will save you money where ever you go. It will also ensure that your food tastes better. Have you ever eaten a peach in the middle of winter? Blach!!! I can’t even go there. It just doesn’t taste right. Peaches can’t grow in the winter which means they were shipped from somewhere that is warm and picked before it’s prime.
This also ties into eating local. I remember visiting an aunt in the mid-west one summer, she was raving about a plum that she had bought at the store. I enjoy a good plum so I bit into one. I was taken aback by the bland flavor. When I looked that the box I saw an area code from somewhere just south of where I live in California. In order for the plum to get to Missouri and still look pretty without spoiling the plum had to be picked before it’s prime just like peaches you buy in the winter. Picking fruit before it’s prime also decreases the nutritional value. I love buying fruit at the local stands in the summer. They are less expensive and bursting with flavor, plus you are helping a local farmer!
Buying in season and local may save you some money but at times it still costs too much. Organic local peaches cost $2.50/lb in my area. Yet if I buy “seconds” AKA bruised fruit I only pay 75 cent/lb! Many times there is one little nick or blemish in the fruit so the farmer sets it aside. I bought about 24 lbs of fruit from my farmer one week for only $15! Most of the fruit was in near perfect condition. You can also look at the grocery store for marketed down items that are almost to their expiration point that the store wants to get rid of.
Stay tuned for Part 2 next Monday!
Now it’s your turn! What are your real food money-saving tips?
This post is part of Fat Tuesday,