Now that we are closing in on moving in less than three months, in the spirit of saving as much money as possible, I’ve spent the better part of my day wondering how to cut our grocery budget.
I try to buy only organics, I cook the majority of our snacks, I eat a solely vegan diet, although my husband doesn’t and my children occasionally partake of eggs and meat.
I re-read all the old standby advice –
- Join a co-op – Great advice, but not always sound, for example – I’ve found that it’s far less expensive to buy organics anywhere but the co-op in this area, where the prices are jacked up higher then I ever paid in Manhattan, NY.
- Grow a garden at home or at a community garden – Again, terrific idea, but what if you live in a teeny, tiny walk-up apartment with nowhere to put even a window box? Or you live in such a polluted area, that you don’t want to bother even trying to garden? Or, there are no community gardens nearby?
- Bake and cook from scratch – I already do that and I still want to cut my budget.
- Buy from the bulk bins – this works wonderfully for a lot of people. However, it does not work for us. My youngest daughter has severe food allergies and considering how I have on numerous occasions seen people using the incorrect scoop in different bins, there is a ton of cross-contamination going on in those things. We can’t touch them.
- Farmers markets – Awesome for the warmer months, but what to do during the other months when there no markets if you don’t live in California?
- Canning/Dehydrating and Food Storage – I love to get a box or two of ugly tomatoes from one of the local organic farms, let them ripen, and then spend a day with my husband making up and canning batches of tomato sauce. But (you knew there was going to be a ‘but‘ in here) what if you live in a super small apartment, or don’t have space? Hey, I’d love to get a separate freezer, but I don’t have the room for one.
- Shop at Trader Joe’s – I’d like to, but I don’t live anywhere near one.
- Join a CSA – this is something I’m looking forward to trying after our move.
- Create a menu before food shopping – then, write out a list and stick with it – I’ll admit it, I don’t always make up a menu before I go shopping. I do, however, make up an idea of what I’d like to prepare based on what season it is and what we currently have in the pantry, then I write a list and stick to that.
- Buy in bulk from stores like Costco/Sam’s Club/BJ’s – This is one I do stick with, but I’d still like to further cut my grocery costs.
Obviously, this is an incomplete list, but you get the general idea. Some things I can do – I can start perusing new library cookbooks and looking online for fresh ideas (my own cookbook collection has grown rather stale) and make up a menu for the week/bi-monthly, shop accordingly, and stick with it.
Out here in the PNW, I miss having a kitchen herb garden, but I have a tiny window that never gets sun (it’s under the patio roof) and there is no where that I could have put a little garden where it would have gotten regular sun (I carefully packed up my East coast kitchen herbs and my husband drove them out here, and they died within 6 weeks). This is one thing I’m looking forward to after moving.
What are some of your tried-and-true methods for eating organically on a budget?