25 Ways to Save Money on Food .... And Eat Healthy
Sarah likes to say, "We grow 95% of the food we eat." It's true that our local grocer couldn't keep the store open if he only sold to people like us. Here is our newest book that shows you great ways to get your grocery bill under control and eat in a healthy way. The book greatly expands on the ideas listed below, incorporates new ones, and is designed to motivate and point you towards seeking a healthier life style. It is filled with ways to save money on food.
If you follow the advice in the 25 Ways To Save Money on Food book, your health will improve! Every effective weight loss plan or every recovery plan for serious diseases includes a change in diet! Take control and change the way you eat before your doctor tells you to make the changes or else face the consequences.
If you practice even half of these ideas, we believe you may save a least a thousand dollars a year on food costs. What would you do with the extra thousand dollars? If your church has fifty-families and they became committed and encouraged each other, what could your church do with an extra $50,000? Click here for ordering information.
Ways To Save Money On Food
1. Buy vegetables, fruits, and meats "in-season" when they are cheapest and most nutritious and preserve them yourself. Freezing and dehydrating are easy, canning takes a little more work. Even in the grocery store, there is always something locally grown in the produce section as seasons come and go. Bob is carrying a big bundle of basil that will be dried, crushed and put into containers.
2. Buy things in larger sizes or by the case or in bulk when possible. A lot of your food budget dollar goes towards that fancy container. Buy big and break down into quart jars, tins or other reusable containers. Be sure to check the per unit pricing as some large package items may cost more per ounce than small package ones. We are not a big fan of bulk food areas at most grocery stores, but we love to shop at Sun Harvest Markets when we visit Texas. They have a great selection of hundreds of bulk food items as well as the usual organic grocery / health food store.
3. A great way to save money on food is by buying directly from the grower. Most town's and cities have farmer's markets where there is a variety of produce. At the Dallas farmer's market, we would by fruits and veggies by the case at the food wholesalers ac cross the street, skipping the farmer's market retailers altogether. Your neighbor might grow some extra vegetables for you if you let them know well before the season starts and are consistent in buying. Some older neighbors might need a little extra income and would enjoy the visit when a sale is made.
4. A great way to save money on food is to join or start a buying club. Food wholesalers will sell to you if you have a minimum order. A club of five or six people can easily come up with the minimum order. It does take planning ahead, consistency and someone motivated to get things done. If you don't know anything about a buying club, consider inviting yourself as an observer to one or two activities of an establishing club. Club meetings can be very social monthly gatherings where cases are split among the members. We belong to one where everyone buys whole cases and meets just long enough to unload the truck. You'll get a lot of good ideas by seeing the club in action. We know quite a few people who are not club members, but have members buy for them.
The wholesaler sends out a catalog to those on their mailing list. You look through the catalog and decide what to buy. You then deliver your order to the person who submits your order. Many wholesalers have free software to use to place your individual and club order. On the East Coast, Associated Buyers is a distributor you can contact. Check out their advice on starting a buying club. Do an internet search to find the distributor in your area.
5. Join or start a buying club to buy a couple of calves or lambs. Do some of the legwork yourself and save a bunch of money. A local farmer friend sells organic beef for $1.75 a pound, hanging weight. Split among four families, a meat would be a years supply of meat. You can also split truckloads of grains. A supplier: Walton Feed
7. Like to garden? A garden is a super way to save money on food. Plant your own garden or raise a couple of animals. Start small and work your way up as the daily time requirements of tending a garden or taking care of animals can be overwhelming. The rewards are great and most people find working in the garden to be a good way to relieve stress. Even if you're living in an apartment ten stories off the ground, you can grow a tomato or pepper in a container.
6. Most vitamin lines are private-labeled. In other words, the retailer contracts a vitamin manufacturing company to make vitamins with the retailer's label on the bottle. The markup can 200-400% over the base retail base price. Put a pyramid marketing scheme in the mix and the bottle can cost $30 for the same product that sells for $7.50 elsewhere.
8. Hunt or fish. Pick berries or gather mushrooms or wild herbs. Get with an experienced person to learn the ropes. Go on a herb walk. It can be a great family activity as well.
9. Learn to save money at ethnic grocery stores. We shop at Asian, Middle East and Mexican ethnic stores. A 50-pound bag of high quality rice costs less than thirty dollars. If 50 pounds is too much rice, split it with your friends. Your family might actually like rice that tastes good, isn't pasty, and doesn't cook in a minute. The same spices that sell for three dollars for two ounces, sell for six dollars a pound at the ethnic grocers. You may get your spice in a plastic bag or can rather than a fancy glass shaker. Shop around, you may be quite surprised at the values waiting there. If you don't know if the prices are high or low, or the quality is good - look at the people shopping there. Is the shop busy with ethnic people - that's your clue. These photos were taken at Patel's Indian Grocery at 1835 Central Avenue NE in Minneapolis.
10. Pray. Jesus said in the Lord's prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread." This really works - even in the big city. We lived in an apartment in Dallas and needed to get some meat in out diet, so we prayed. Within a month, we had 40 pounds of elk given to us, 75 pounds of Alaskan salmon given to us and located a source of fresh organic chickens. Some people love to hunt or fish, but their family doesn't like to eat it. Let your friends and relatives know if you like to eat venison, fowl or fish.
11. Learn how to grow sprouts. With a little planning and rinsing the sprouts daily, you can have fresh spouts for salads and stir frys with very little effort. Sprouts bulk up a salad, especially during the winter when out of season vegetables are expensive.
12. Try using grow lights to make your own salad fixings. (see the Hanging Lights page for plans). Varieties of lettuce, spinach and herbs will grow under the lights in the corner of the basement or utility room. No bugs, no sprays and the same stuff at the health food store costs $8 a pound.
13. Save time by cooking times 3 or 4. One meal for today, one for the refrigerator and 1 or 2 for the freezer. Having meals in the freezer is an excellent way to break the calling of fast food restaurants. Skipping a fast food restaurant is a great way to save money on food.
14. Save money on food by buying generic or store brands when possible. Most are identical to those national brands and savings can be up to 40%.
15. Set up a space for a pantry and stock it as much as possible with your preserved food, bulk food or food that's on sale at the grocery store. A grocer puts foods on sale knowing that the price difference will be made up by the other things that you buy. Always buying on sale beats the system. Keeping a small notebook with dates and prices will help you determine when is the best time to buy. Shopping in the pantry will save a lot of time over shopping at the grocery store.
Savory roast lamb shoulder (our lamb) with carrots and onions, baked butternut squash with brown sugar and pecans, fresh cut garden tomatoes, green onions and peppers, delicious rosemary potatoes, and for dessert, flan with raspberries. The only items not from our place are the Texas pecans and brown sugar on the squash and the milk in the flan.
16. Buy a freezer. A new good-quality medium-size chest freezer cost about $300 and will last for twenty-years or more. Instead picking up a frozen dinner from the grocery store, pick out a meal from your freezer where everything is on sale. Having the food on hand is a great convenience and a great way to save money on food.
17. At the grocery store, stick to the outside aisles and avoid the center aisles and the deli area. The more expensive highly-processed low-nutrition foods are in the deli or in the center of the store. Foods that are shelved between the knees and shoulder tend to be priced higher and those at chest level priced the highest. Look high and low because grocers know most people are too lazy to bend over or reach. Also, paths to the milk and bread will have appealing displays of high priced items.
18. Make a list before you do to the grocery and stick to it. Don't go to the grocery store hungry or you will buy more high calorie items that look good to you. If you're hungry, consider buying just a protein bar and sit down to eat it before starting to shop. Shop early and shop alone. Little helpers can really slow down your shopping and add items to your cart that are not on list. Treat yourself by buying extra items for the pantry or freezer that are on sale. Don't forget to pick up toiletries on sale, too.
19. Being cost conscience does not mean living on a bland boring diet. Most cooked foods are enhanced by judicious application of spices. If you're new to spices, pick out a spice and get a fresh (not stale) sample to work with. A few herb plants in the window sill be provide quite a variety. Locate recipes that use the spice and work it into your diet. With spices, if a little is good, a little more is not necessarily better. Work with it until you get feel for how it interacts with your food. You'll soon find a happy medium for your family.
20. Seeds and herbs are concentrators of nutrition according to our friend Jon Frank of International Ag Labs. That means learning to "re mineralize" your store bought foods with spices and herb blends helps to restore the nutrition of crops grown on depleted soils.
21. Don't limit yourself because of lack of knowledge. We would go to our favorite Mexican restaurant and buy flan for dessert at $3.50 a plate. A $.50 yard sale Mexican cookbook purchase and Sarah is making the exact same thing for about $ .25 a serving (see picture above). Most libraries have extensive cookbook sections and the Internet is useful for finding just about any recipe. Some cooks will give you their recipes if you ask nicely.
22. Plan your road trips with snacks that you've brought along. There is a simple reason why every gas station is filled with snack foods. That reason is most people fail to plan their actions. Most places wind you through the store, past every snack and drink display before getting you to the attendant to pay for your gas. If you're traveling with kids, bring your own snacks, make your bathroom stops at rest stops, and only have an adult pay for gas while the kids wait in the car. Better yet, pay at the pump and don't go in at all. The old, "out of sight, out of mind" proverb holds true here.
23. Recognize the way that you have been programmed during childhood. Were you rewarded with dessert for finishing your vegetables or doing some task? For bad behavior, were you punished with skipping a dessert? Do you eat candy or special food items by yourself as a way to compensate for rejection, loneliness, or anxiety? Were you deprived of certain food items as a youth and feel you deserve them now? Maybe you couldn't afford them, but now they're in your reach. Begin to substitute healthier, less expensive treats for what you're eating. Try popcorn instead of potato chips, water instead of soda pop, etc. Don't deprive yourself! Find new ways to recognize good efforts. I find that herbal tea with honey is more satisfying than a bowl of ice cream just before bed, but I've had to learn to change the way I think. Here's a mind-changing example: Is that a hot Krispy Kreme doughnut or is it dead white flour fried in pig fat and glazed with blood-sugar spiking icing?
24. Do you find that you crave certain foods? It may be that your body is telling you, "Stop feeding me dead food and feed me something alive." Consider the dog food brands - Iams, Science Diet or Eukanuba. One of their selling points is that balanced nutritional dog food requires the dog to eat less quantity of food than with cheaper dog foods. Does your dog food dealer know something that you don't? Read Jon Frank's article on Human Health starts in the Soil. Try getting your food in season and prepare it in healthier ways. You will not be as hungry and you will not need to buy and eat as much dead food trying to support yourself.
25. Try fasting. Jesus says in Matthew 6:16, "When you fast" not "If you fast". A great family project would be to research a situation like the one in Sudan where there are people starving to death daily. Make a plan to skip or scale back a meal-out or a couple of day's meals. Take the money you would have spent and forward it to relief ministry working in that area. This concept is mentioned in Isaiah 58 and teaches the importance giving to those in need .
26. Influence those around you. Maybe the snacks at the home school support group or the church fellowship have grown out of hand - too sweet, too expensive or too little nutrition. Expectations play a key role here, so don't just show up with your contribution and say, "We're changing everything." Explain and give people a chance to give their ideas so that they feel like they are part of the change. If you are going out to eat, avoid those restaurants where food choices are limited.
27. Put on a calorie cost on stuff you like to eat. I decided I was too heavy (and the picture on the left proves it!) and bought a treadmill to exercise and take off the extra weight. The exercise helps, but to lose weight, I really had to carefully watch what I ate. Eating a small bag of potato chips now means I have to fast walk for a mile and a half. To lose fifty pounds, I walked about 1,200 miles on the treadmill. At four miles per hours, that's 300 hours invested over a seven-month period. I still like my snacks, but now its popcorn or baby carrots instead of those high calorie snacks. The second helping or extra piece of pizza - forget it! It just isn't worth eating it when you have to work so hard to get it off.
28. Remember the old AAMCO Transmission jingle, "You can pay me now, or you can pay me later." I think most drivers know enough about their car not to neglect the maintenance. In the same way, some foods are just plain dead and don't deserve a place at your dinner table. They may be cheap or convenient now, but they will cost you later in poor health or even death. Food should help build health into your body, not tear it down. Get educated and begin to practice good maintenance in your diet.
29. As a child, I lived with my grand parents for a number of years. They had a big garden and didn't buy much at all from the grocery store. In the Spring, we would start eating rhubarb, radishes, lettuce, peas, strawberries, beans, carrots, tomatoes, corn, squash, apples, potatoes, etc. - all in a natural sequence. I didn't complain about the strawberry shortcake, but eating green beans for fifty beans meals in a row was a hardship on my young taste buds. ;-)
I believe that the natural sequence of ripening and eating in season had a cleansing effect on my digestive tract. Each ripe fruit or vegetable (in addition to having a laxative effect) had a unique pH and fiber content. My diet was cleansing and health building by divine order. Now days, you can buy any fruit or veggie you want in the produce section of the grocery store. Is it any wonder that the colon has become a waste holding tank and colon cancer is on the rise? When you buy, buy in the natural sequence. Not only will the fruits and veggies be cheaper and have a greater nutritional content, but they will tend to keep your colon cleaner.
30. Do you realize that some cans of cat food cost more than a can of tuna? Consider buying a can of tuna and mixing it together with a little rice for your cat.
31. We will use a coupon only if the coupon is in the store next to the item for something we have on our list. Many people save money with coupons, but we buy so little at a grocery store that clipping coupons is a waste of time for us. Before you buy a deeply discounted item, consider why the manufacturer would lose money selling you the product. Humans tend to do things habitually and is buying that product something you want to do when the price returns to normal?
More Thoughts On Food
- Food costs money. Food costs time. Food costs health. Food costs sickness.
- You will tend do what is important to you no mater what the cost.
- The first job ever created for man was to tend a garden. When you garden, you connect with God's original purpose for mankind. Gardens constantly display spiritual truths in action for you to study and comprehend.
- Great memories are centered around food, friends and family. Food by itself makes a poor substitute for friends and family. Don't eat food as a way to deal with loneliness or pain. Seek help.
- At the clinic or hospital, they ask if any member of your family has a history of (a long list) diseases. Genes play a part, but consider the thousands of meals that your family shared together. A good eating life style can overcome gene tendencies and bad eating life style can engage genetic diseases.
- Time and money are your currency. Eating great tasting healthy food for less money doesn't show a lack of riches - it just shows you paid more for it when you spend more time preparing it.
- The loyalties of the commercial food producers belong to their shareholders, not to you the customer. It is to their benefit to get you hooked on their products.
- The most unhealthy foods on the grocer's shelf are those made to sit there the longest without spoiling.
- There are many articles on coupon clipping - a practice, though money saving, puts the food they want you to eat on your table. Why not put the same energy into beating the system? We do and love it!
- Being overweight is epidemic in the US and many parts of Europe. Every weight loss program whether it is a exercise machine or diet plan has as a major element - changing what you eat.
- Because weight loss has become such a big business opportunity, nearly every program contains an agenda - buy our product!
- Every recovery/control plan for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc., contains dietary changes. If changing what you eat controls those diseases, shouldn't changing what you eat before you get those diseases be beneficial in keeping them far away? Think about it - really think about it!!!
- Eating is all about choices. The first sin by Adam and Eve was centered around making a food choice. Get educated: throw out bad thinking and accept healthy thinking so that your food choices will be easier.
- Almost every fact you know about good eating habits contains a spin on the truth perpetuated by those who have spent big money to influence you. Got Milk? The incredible editable egg! Learn the truth and put it into practice.
- Drinking a diet Coke or diet Pepsi with your burger and fries? Rationalizing just prolongs the making of choices. Take action now. Gather those around you who will help you succeed in making changes.
- Supplements can be a good source of supplemental nutrition. A good supplement has the most benefits for those who are sick or who have unhealthy eating habits. Be wary of a supplement that does "everything". Be wary of embracing an entire product line of supplements unless you are under the specific guidance of a nutritionist or a doctor.
- The average food item on the grocer's shelf travels 1,500 miles to get there. Add high fuel costs and your item can spike up in cost breaking your food budget. Consider supporting growers in your local area.
- The grocer's supply system is so automated that there is not much in the back room anymore. In a crisis, the grocer will be out of some items in hours and most items in a day or two. Consider keeping a supply of food on hand in your pantry or freezer.