One of the most frequently asked questions we get when people start changing their diet is "how do I eat healthy and not pay a fortune?" In Week 2 of Living Wellness for Growth Groups (LWGG), Ashley discusses the perception that eating healthily is really expensive (p. 100). There is research to suggest that eating whole foods can actually be less expensive in the short-term and the long-term (LWGG, p. 100)!
One area though that you can see an increase in price is if you are wanting to replace your favorite packaged food with another, healthier packaged food. "Healthy" packaged foods can be more expensive because you're not only paying for higher quality ingredients, but you're also paying for someone to make, package, and market them. Now, I will be the first to admit that I love a good bag of organic Kettle brand chips, Simple Mills crackers, Tolerant lentil pasta, or Orgain shake; however, I recognize that if I want to eat foods that nourish my body while also staying within budget, I need to monitor my consumption of foods that come in a package or wrapper.
I want to share a few basic strategies for managing grocery costs, and then I'll let you in on a super-secret-special way I shop online for pantry and household basics....okay it's not a secret, but many of you may not know about it.
The Basics--Saving Money While Grocery Shopping
- There are two basic categories of food that you will want to keep on hand: staples and fresh foods. Staples will vary depending on your diet needs, people in your family, and types of food you like to eat. In my house, staples include almond flour, avocado oil mayo, extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, frozen raw meat, etc. Fresh foods on the other hand include fresh fruits and veggies as well as fresh meats, cheeses, or milk/cream.
- Preparation, preparation, preparation (isn't that how the saying goes?). Don't head to the grocery store hungry and start throwing everything you see into your cart! You'll be way over your budget and realize that you have low nutrient snacks and no meals!
- Take an inventory of the food you have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. What fresh foods need to get used up now? What can wait until later this week? What staples are you running low on? What combination of staples and fresh foods can you magically combine to make a meal (this is how recipes work right?)?
- Think about what you are hungry for that week. Not sure? Look through cookbooks, YouTube, Living Wellness blog :), etc. Another option is to use some type of meal planner. There are lots of meal planning services available. I've personally used Real Plans before and really liked it.
- Decide how many meals you need for the week and then plan which meals you'll prepare on each day.
- Make a list of the staples that you need for the week. Make a list of the fresh foods you'll need for the week. Voila! You just created a grocery list! Before you head out consider:
- Any special events this week that you need to bring food for? Buying a veggie tray last minute could end up being way more expensive than buying some fresh veggies, chopping them yourself, and whipping up a batch of our Buttermilk Ranch dressing.
- Grab your re-usable bags! Some stores give a small discount for bringing these in (Whole Foods gives you $.10/bag and Target gives you $.05/bag).
- Get any coupons in the mail? Through email? On a store app? These can be a great way to save a few dollars. Everything adds up! Another step you can consider when forming your list of meals for the week is looking at the sale ad for your favorite grocery store and planning your meals around this. My husband likes to do this in the store. OMG, I need my list!
- Head to the store with list in hand. Trust me, it does not help you to stick to your list if it is sitting on the counter. Trust me. I've tried this many times and was unsuccessful. When at the store, stick to your list! This will help to reduce impulse buys.
Online Shopping Secret---shhh!!!
Moment of confession, I do a lot of grocery shopping online. But! Here's the best part, I hardly spend any time doing it. See I've found a few sites that hired magic fairies that take your list of items and when the appointed time of the month comes, poof! they ship those foods to your door. Okay, I don't think Amazon Subscribe & Save actually has fairies working for them, but it was a fun visual.
Ooops! I just told you one of my online shopping secrets. Did you catch it?
This week I'd like to tell you how I use Amazon Subscribe & Save to save time and money for grocery and household staples. I've been using this service for probably the past three years and love it!
With Amazon Subscribe & Save, you can set up scheduled deliveries of thousands of eligible pantry and household staples with free standard shipping. You pick the food/toilet paper/scotch tape/etc., schedule it, and it shows up at your door at an interval you set. Want to know the best part? The more you subscribe to, the more you save. You get 5% off eligible items by subscribing to them, but if you subscribe to 5 items to be delivered to one address in one month you get 15% off. I've discovered that you can find really inexpensive items to subscribe to like floss and Q-tips so that you can reach that 5 item/month range. My rule is that we either get 5 things at 15% or wait until the next month. Sorry dear, we're out of toilet paper until next month!
Don't need 24 rolls of toilet paper or 6 packs of floss each month? No worries, you can schedule items to ship every month, every 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 months. Confused? Let me give you an example of a few of our subscriptions:
- Orgain Protein Shake powder (1 unit scheduled monthly)
- Dirty Mouth Organic Toothpowder (1 unit scheduled every three months)
- Pure Body Naturals Shea Butter (1 unit scheduled every four months)
- Q-tips Cotton Swabs (1 unit [pack of 4] scheduled every six months)
- Westbrae Natural Organic Pinto beans (1 unit [pack of 12] scheduled every 4 months)
- Native Forest Organic Unsweetened Coconut Milk (1 unit [pack of 12] scheduled every 2 months)
Finding the right number of subscriptions for your family and getting them set up on a rotation throughout the year takes a little getting used to, but once you have it set up it works super well. You can always "skip" an item until the next month...or next month...or next month. You can cancel a subscription at any time except if it already shipped. Amazon also sends a reminder email before your subscriptions will be shipped in case you want to change what you are getting.
Note: Amazon also offers Prime Pantry as another service to get food and home pantry essentials at a discounted price. I've personally never used this but would love you to comment below if you have!
Well there you have it. This is one way that I've found that helps me to save money on packaged foods and household items we need while also sticking to our budget. Stay tuned for how I use Thrive Market, Lucky Vitamin, Mighty Fix, and Mountain Rose Herbs in upcoming posts! Not sure what you think about online shopping still? Just read this article by EveryDollar and it gives some great pros and cons to online shopping.
Please SHARE this article with friends and family and COMMENT below how you save money on food and household pantry items! Looking forward to learning from you!
You are worth more than mediocre. You are worth exceptional health!
Caitlyn J. Hanson
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose or treat any illnesses or disease. Please always check with your doctor before beginning any new nutritional or fitness program or before making any nutritional/fitness changes.