Thursday, May 10, 2012

Saving Money Without Sacrificing Health

I was talking with Lauren over at Nutri-Savvy (seriously go check her blog out it is wonderful!) and it dawned on me that I am also posting little tips within my recipes, but there isn't just one place to find my tips.  Since we are getting into the season with fresh produce and farmers markets I want to share some tips on how to save money without sacrificing health. 

My monthly grocery list is mainly produce.  It is the best way to get the majority of nutrition that our bodies need.  But converting to the a whole food diet (we are still not 100% whole food, but we are getting closer!) means buying organic and local when possible.  And everyone knows how costly that can be.  So below are my tips on how to get good quality produce without busting the bank.
  1. Meal Plan - Now I can not stress this one enough.  You don't have to plan monthly like I do or even weekly, but before you go to the store make sure you WRITE down what you are buying and have a plan for it.   I use a calendar template from HERE and fill it out for each day.  One thing I love about this template is you can right click and insert a hyperlink for the recipe you want to use.  Big time saver to have the recipe right there!
  2. Coupons- Everyone probably knows by now that I am no longer a coupon fan.  The majority of coupons are for processed foods or ones full of preservatives.  With that said you can find coupons for produce or organic/natural foods, but they are far and few between.  The best way to find them is to either go to a specific product website or use a coupon database (like the one found HERE) and search by brand.  It can be tedious, but well worth it if you can save money on high value organic/natural foods. 
  3. Farmers Market/Produce Stand - This is my favorite way to buy produce.  You all may remember we have a year round farmers market here and while I love it, but right now I am taking advantage of going to the farm.  If we are out and I see a farm or roadside stand we stop.  Many times you can get great deals (especially if they are overripe).  Overripe veggies and fruit work great for sauces, salsas, jams, pie filling, and broths.  Another plus is everytime we go to the local places they give the kids a little extra.  Usually fruit, but the kids love it and so do I!  One more quick note about using local is that you never know what you will learn.  We went to a farm this past weekend to pick some strawberries and while I was talking to the farmer learning about his growing methods we got on the topic of natural grass fed meat.  Since he has been doing this his whole life he knew all the farmers who practiced these methods and is now helping us get into contact with these farmers so we can buy local meat. 
  4. Make Your Own - Many items you can make yourself.  Broths are very easy to make by using leftover veggies, bones, carcasses, etc.  Just stick them in the freezer until you are ready to make your broth.  Jams, jellies, salsas, and sauces can be made and canned.  Buying these veggies when they are at their peak and their prices are rock bottom will save you lots of money by the end of the year.  Also you can make your own seasoning blends.  Why pay money for taco seasoning, ranch mix, or onion soup mix when you probably already have the items to make the mix without any additives.  And yes natural items can be expensive.  For example, natural peanut butter is pricey so instead of buying natural peanut butter (which can contain extras like salt and/or palm oil) buy a bag of natural peanuts and make your own peanut butter.  There are endless ways to save here. Check out my Recipes Page for other recipes to help you save.
  5. Cleaning Supplies - This is probably one of my favorite ways to save money.  I haven't bought any cleaners (just supplies to make my own) in at least six months.  I have spent around $30 total for everything I need.  Check out my Homemade Cleaners Page to get started on how you can do this.  My top three are the ones I use the most often and have been incredibly happy with.  My very favorite is the Homemade Laundry Soap, it is simple to make and I still haven't used all of it up.  I probably have enough to last at least another 3 months (and that is with giving some away!).  My second favorite is the Surface Cleaner.  It smells fantastic and works great!  I use it everywhere including the bathroom.  I just love it!  And my third favorite is the Dishwasher Detergent.  I have made two batches of this already and have been pleasantly surprised at how well it works.  It is wonderful to know exactly what is in my cleaners and very satisfying to make your own. 
For me the most important thing to keep in mind is the health of my family.  I will spend a little more to make sure we are putting the best things in our body and that nothing toxic is filling our home.  The biggest excuse I hear is "I don't have time", and trust me I understand your time is precious.  It is much more convenient to open a packet or a jar, but many of these tips take literally 5 minutes to complete.  Obviously canning and making broth is more time consuming, but those are things I do with my entire family (just like when I was a kid with all my siblings, parents, and grandma) and you are creating wonderful memories at the same time.  Just ask my kids and they will tell you that homemade pasta sauce and homemade applesauce is way better when they help ;)  I even recruit my daughters friends to help.  Kids really do want to help and learn.  In the end you are getting a good wholesome product while creating memories your family will cherish and hold dear to them. 

How bout you?  What do you do to save money while maintaining a healthy diet?  Do you have any tips or tricks to share with everyone?  Leave a comment and share with us!


  1. I think that the best tip to go with tip #4 is how many things that you can make it ahead of time and freeze. I make a double batch of enchilada sauce and it freezes into four serving sizes. Brown rice takes longer to cook so I cook a big pot when we are going to eat it and freeze the others in serving size bags flat in the fridge. I cook a whole chicken or chicken breasts and shred the chicken so that it is ready for enchiladas, quesadillas or to be mixed into any meal because it is already cooked.

    The great part of making your own ahead of time is that you can use all the time when you have it and then have food to last for months but it only takes seconds to heat up in the microwave. It makes healthy foods as easy to eat as prepared food from the store!! Plus you only have to wash the dishes once :)

    1. I completely agree :) I love to make as much as I can ahead of time and freeze it. I must admit I have never tried to freeze rice and that might be something I will be trying very soon! Thanks so much for sharing yor tip!


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