As a rule, we also don't buy dairy & only bring in the free range eggs. That sh*t aint cheap.
And every time we go grocery shopping I am torn between what I want & whats cheap, what I feel more satisfied eating & what is cheap, what is better for me & what's cheap. Sigh.
Here is a list of tips for eating well on a budget:
I wouldn't suggest this is for everyone, but it's pure magic for my family.
Fresh Options is a local company working with organic & whenever possible, local growers to supply Winnipegers with a weekly, by-weekly or even monthly delivery of fresh fruits & vegetables.
They also have a lengthily list of other add-ons such as eggs, breads & even local chemical free flower bouquets.
There are 3 size 'boxes' to choose from & are somewhat pricey for a cheapskate like me, but this is one of those very few things in life that I'm willing to shell out more up front for because I feel I'm benefiting from hidden cost-savers & health benefits.
The boxes come to my house every Wednesday between 18:00 & 21:00. This means I don't have to go trekking out to god-knows-where organic market to buy them.
They also come with a varied seasonal selection. This forces me to look up recipes for fruits & vegetables that I haven't tried before or that I usually don't buy because of the price.
The last amazing benefit is having a fridge full of fresh fruits & vegetables ultimately pinches my economical nerve to making sure they all get used before going bad. I am much less interested in going out to eat when I know I have things that could potentially go bad & get wasted at home.
For my family, fresh bins are healthy, satisfying & adventurous. Everyone should at least give them a try.
Dollar days/sell-offs/10% Tuesdays
Flyers make me sad because it's such a waste of paper. I wish I could sign up to receive flyers from only the stores I am interested in...
The benefits of these flyers is taking a look at what the Safeways & the Sobeys have on sale.
My obsessive money-saving compulsions would never allow me go to a store for a sale on just a few products (unless I REALLY love these products or use them on a daily basis), but it is great to be aware of a 10% off day or when dozens of products in a store are reduced for a 'dollar days'.
Watch your price per size
Cheapskates like me first & foremost think about how that product is gonna scan at the register & how much the total bill will add up to (also how long I am at my desk working to afford whatever I am looking to buy. Down to the seconds.) This is counter-productive in some ways though because the smaller price is not always the better value.
The solution? Get out your ol' handy-dandy calculator (they have them on phones now! You don't even need to look like a weirdo-not that I care if people judge me for saving money...)
Make sure you measure out how much money you are paying per milligram, ounce, pound, whatever & don't be conned by the lower tag.
This is another case of hidden benefits being more important than the monetary value.
When Mr. Ford & I started to live together, we had a problem.
He enjoyed whole grain breads & I preferred white. He also bought big loaves of local made bread & we could never eat it all before it expired & went moldy. I would buy the big named wonder-breads that didn't expire for weeks because I hated wasting.
Then Mr. Ford actually said something smart (weird I know), he asked me what I thought they put in the bread to make it last so long. Gross.
So now we compromise. We either buy buns which are nice little portion controls, or very small, local rye breads that we store in the un-insulated pantry so they preserve longer & don't get eaten-up by a bad cat.
Pickles confuse me. They were originally created by peasants wanting to preserve food longer throughout the winters. They are cheap peasant food, so why is a jar of pickled beans between $8.00 & $11.00 at Sobeys?
So I've taken to pickling things & intend to get more & more adventurous. You can pickle cucumbers, cauliflower, carrots, beans, peppers, onions, asparagus, eggs...& it will be dirt cheap!
You buy the jars which is a one time expense, the spices & herbs, also dirt cheap & wait for them to get delicious.
Buy frozen over canned
For some reason or another, in this day & age the cost of canned goods is rising & the cost of frozen foods is deflating.
You can get some amazing deals on Green giant stir fries & vegetable mixes that would cost you more & would be watered-down & poor tasting in canned form. I don't get it, maybe it's the price of tin?
Ideally, buy fresh, but if that option is not possible, or if you're the kind person who would end up ordering a pizza than cut up all the veggies for a stir fry, get yourself a nice frozen mix.
Look for sodium
Yes again, quality over price.
Mr. Ford & I were in Walmart recently looking for pasta sauce which we go through like nobody's business (Tip: canned pasta sauce is cheaper than jarred sauce, price of the container or demand for the convenience?)
I immediately chose the cheaper variety. Mr. Ford, being the new know-it-all that he is, looked at the back label. The cheaper can had about twice the amount of salt as the can that cost $0.50 more.
This speaks to me because it makes me feel like I've done everything wrong my whole life. Make sure you think about why something is sold at an abnormally low price & at what cost.
Why be content with just cow juice?
I have loved exploring soy, almond, hemp & rice milks. They are noticeably cheaper & don't spoil for a year. They also offer flavored options that are not -as- loaded with sugar as the dairy varieties on the market.
There are almost too many vegetables on the market that are not as 'all american' as their carrot & potatoes counterparts.
Some of them are even superfoods & they can usually be found at a cheaper price.
Look at the buck choys, squashes, kales & chards. They may seem scary but can usually be used in lieu of something more widely accepted & more expensive.
For example, instead of linguine, bake-up a spaghetti squash! Use some pretty rainbow chard in your stir fries & curries as opposed to cabbages.
Herbs & peppers over marinades
Have you seen the prices on packaged spices & marinades? People I'm telling you they're charging you for convenience & not for actual production costs!!! This is a conspiracy!
Lookout for cilantros, basils, dills & chili peppers. There's tricks all over the internet on getting them to last longer (if you don't want to freeze them) & a copious bunch of whatever herb is usually right around the mark of a poultry $1.50..
Mr. Ford & I had a lot of trouble with this one. Our rationalization 3 years ago was that food was going to cost us money in any form, and we both so conveniently worked in a stomping ground of big, delicious, addictive food chains.
A-Make lunches together before bed. It's a nice time to talk about our day & relieves you of having to scramble to hurry up & get something in to a bag before scrambling to catch a bus.
B-Make huge batches for leftovers. This is so simple it's genius. You don't even have a choice when you're making a lasagna, quiche, Sheppard pie or casserole. Choose foods that make a plenty!
Write to companies you like
I'm intrigued by extreme couponers. I love that these people save so much & sometimes even make money by doing extra work, but personally, I've got a full time job, aint nobody got time for that.
What I mean is that I don't feel I could dedicate myself to the hobby to such an extent that it would be worthwhile. It also goes against all my minimalist instincts & the foods that seem to go on sale also don't seem to be foods that I would consider good for you.
What I do have some time for & believe is worthwhile, is specifically using coupons for items that I like & that are healthy. For me, that's fresh fruits & veggies as well as meat substitutes, pastas, rices, wraps & eggs...you don't see coupons for this items (as a rule) coming out in circulars.
Find the maker of your favorite food brand & write them an email to let them know you like their product. Out of the 5 times I've done so, four companies have sent me a letter with multiple coupons for their product. This is good. This is very good. I will need to do more of this.
Heck you can write out a template!
'X is my favorite brand of X. Your product is the best I've had for the following reasons:_________________________. Please give me free stuff
Thanks you all for reading & have a happy Easter!