Once I got into the DIY habit, my attention naturally shifted to food. How could I apply the same principles (creativity, frugality, etc.) toward getting delicious, nutrient-dense food for our family?
Over the years I’ve been able to find many sources of real food that work for our budget, and give me the peace of mind that my family is eating well. These are the tactics I employ to get nourishing, whole foods without a high price tag.
Grow it Yourself
An obvious and favorable option, do this whenever you can. And keep it simple. Don’t try to plant 25 different plants if you always kill your house plants. Guilty. (Find more articles on gardening here.)
There’s lots of real food available online, ranging from real salt to meat to snack foods. It can be found directly from the producer of the food or through sites like Amazon.
There’s also a great resource called the Green PolkaDot Box. They offer (mostly local) natural, organic, and non-GMO foods at decent prices, allowing you better control over your health, diet, and wellness.
I visited a friend once who had walnut trees outside her apartment that were dropping nuts all over the ground. So we picked up two gallon buckets of delicious walnuts. Later, we went on a walk and picked berries and pears that were on the side of a rural road. Foraging for food is fun and easy if you know where to look.
Or, talk to your friends. People are always giving us extra food from their gardens or pantries that they don’t need. Just let people know you’re interested. Yes, there are good uses for Facebook.
All are pretty inexpensive there, even with the cost of gas and the membership fee factored in. And that annual membership? I put $5 a month in an envelope and pay it every December. Suddenly, it’s much easier to pay.
I was ecstatic when I discovered that our natural food store had a buying club. With a $50 minimum order, I could buy natural products in bulk at a significant discount. Azure Standard does something similar and you can order online.
Or you can check your local natural food stores to see if they do something similar or know of a place that does.
After reading The Complete Tightwad Gazette, I was determined to figure out which food was cheapest at which stores. Thankfully, I’ve got a pretty good system figured out. I started using a price book by writing down the foods I buy regularly and wrote down prices while I was out shopping.
Over the course of a few shopping trips, I was able to look at the book and see that I was spending way more on apples at Safeway and could buy organic ones cheaper at Fred Meyer (Kroger). This was probably one of my best shopping moves ever, because shopping became much more streamlined after that.
From the Farm
Instead of hitting up a retail shop, go straight to the source. Many farms are happy to sell to the public and, while they might not be able to afford the organic certification, some do grow their plants with sustainable, natural methods. This is a great way to buy meat, too. Many farms sell the meat they raise prepackaged, or in bulk for a better deal.
If you’re in a city, check out your local farmers’ market. If you don’t have one, a rural area is likely not far away, giving you access to fresh, naturally grown food.
What are your tips for finding affordable real food? Share with the community!