So it was only natural that when I quit my job to stay home with my babies that I started searching for ways to save our family money. One day I turned on a TV show that featured these amazingly thrifty women and men. They would literally FILL their pantries and freezers and even storage units with cheap or even free groceries! WHAT?!?! A little work with a pair of scissors and whala! A year's supply of toothpaste for under $5! I was hooked. I started gathering newspapers, printing coupons online, even climbing into paper recycle bins in search of the elusive free Sunday paper (don't judge. I now have good ammo if I ever want to embarrass my children). I clipped, I snipped, I studied adds. And then.... I shopped. I devoted one day a week to going to every store in town (luckily its a small town) and I saved! I saved big-time! It became an addiction. If I didn't save at least 50% off my bill, I considered it a fail! I even posted pictures on facebook of my "hauls" and asked people to guess how much money I had spent. It was such a high. (I am laughing out loud as I type, realizing what a boring life I lead!!)
You are what you eat...
That is when I started reading labels. REALLY reading labels. My "butter" didn't contain an ounce of milk or cream. Those "fruit" snacks = no fruit, and my coffee "creamer"? You guessed it, no cream. In fact I could hardly pronounce half the ingredients on that label. Now on to those other items where I was saving so much money! Surely I would save face there. Um, nope. Neon green mouthwash and toothpaste that contains sugar? Baby lotion that contains formaldehyde? And who has ever really read the label on those amazing disinfecting wipes- OMG! Did you know you are supposed to clean surfaces with soap and water after you clean them with the wipe? Most of them say "not for use on food prep surfaces" AND most of them can technically be classified as pesticides! I was shocked!
Saving Money - At what cost?
Healthy CAN be cheap! (Actually cheapER)
Healthy Groceries - on the cheap
1) Make your shopping list first, then plan your meals.
Huh? This is backward from the way most of us tend to shop. We usually plan our meals, then shop for the necessary items. Or you may have a hankerin' for lasagna, so you go buy just what you need for that meal. But switch that order around for just a month or two, and here is where the magic happens! Most stores put out sale flyers every week, or they have online sites that advertise their weekly specials. Grab a sale add, make a list of items that are good deals and sales for that week. THEN, plan your meals based around what is on sale!
2) Use coupons - but only the good ones!
Sadly, the majority of coupons will be for unhealthy items. Don't give in to the temptation! JUST DON'T. You don't need 10 boxes of sugar-o cereal, no matter how cheap it is! But did you know big brother grocery is watching you? Grocery stores (creepily) track you purchase habits by your store loyalty or member cards. To your benefit, you will start getting coupons that match what you buy! You know those little printed ones they hand you with your receipt? Yep, eventually you will start getting coupons for produce and other healthy items! No kidding!
3) Search for co-ops. If you have never heard of Bountiful Baskets - Oh my, are you missing out! For a small fee, usually $15, you get a bi-weekly basket FULL of fruits and vegetables. For more info, and to search for one in your town, go to www.bountifulbaskets.org
4) Buy in bulk and freeze.
Especially when buying meat, you will find much better deals on large, bulk packages like hamburger and chicken. Buy those big packages, then invest a little time and some freezer bags to split them up into smaller amounts and freeze them!