simple savings

Cornucopia., originally uploaded by mind on fire.

Given the economic crunch I know we're all trying to save money these days(!). I find it hard to do so sometimes when I'm also committed to eating healthily and buying fresh local produce. Because of course hotdogs & fruit roll-ups (blegh) are cheaper than anything free range or organic!

Back in the stone ages when I was a college undergrad and I took a nutrition class, our teacher recommended that the best way to stay healthy and spend less on groceries was to skip the middle aisles (read: processed foods) and only buy items on the periphery of the market (produce, dairy, bulk grains, etc). Of course it's not that easy!

One way we've saved money and lived closer to our values over the past few months is to subscribe to a CSA plan that offers a weekly "veggie box" of fresh produce from a local farm (produce in image above is just a sampling from one week of goodies). I plan our meals so we eat 2 or 3 dinners and several lunch salads from each box. Yum!

I came across an article today that discusses how the author cut her grocery bill by 75% without having to sacrifice buying organic and healthy items and though you all would appreciate reading it and seeing if you could save as much, too.

Another idea I'm toying with is hosting regular potlucks where everyone cooks a dish to share--which would save me some cooking time and I'd get to enjoy the variety of others' culinary efforts. This idea appeals to me on several levels--because I love spending time with friends and I think sharing the mealtime workload makes a lot more sense than everyone individually cooking well-rounded meals.

As long as you've dropped by, why don't you drop your best grocery money-saving tips in the comments for all of us to benefit from!

Photo by John


FoxyJ said...

Those look so tasty--I also recently signed up for a weekly produce delivery again (we've done it before). I just signed up so I think we need some tweaking--we've been getting a lot of chard and kale, which are hard to cook creatively for my kids. They prefer fruits. I do a lot of the things listed and generally keep our monthly grocery bill around $300 (for two adults and 2 small kids). We eat mostly vegetarian and I don't buy many processed fruit, but we have room for improvement. For example we've been able to cut out meat, but mostly replaced it with cheese and eggs. Need to try to add in more veggies now! The hardest thing for us is actually breakfast--everyone else in my family is locked into having cold cereal and juice for breakfast, and those are so expensive!

journeygal said...

We freeze everything. With just two of us, we usually can't eat enough of something before it goes bad. If the veges are starting to look like they may go limp, I freeze them and use them in stew/soup later. When chicken and/or peppers are on a good sale we buy in bulk, cook a huge batch of fajitas and freeze them in two-person servings. I've found that milk freezes well (we drink soy now, but it's still cheaper to buy a big container and freeze half). Frozen fruit goes well in smoothies or over pancakes later.

mamadoula said...

I always make a menu for the week before I go to the grocery store. That way I can look at how many times we eat chicken, red meat, fish, and vegetarian (dinners at least) by the week. I also try more new recipes because I have what I need on hand and cook dinner almost every night instead of ordering out because it's all planned and a no brainer.

I also try to make large amounts of whatever I'm cooking (soup, pasta, enchiladas) because my husband and I can divvy up leftovers for lunches throughout the week. WAY cheaper than eating out for lunch!

Bekah said...

I'm making our bread now!! Yesterday I asked the fam if they would prefer the stuff from the store and I got an overwhelming "NO!"

I make it in my kitchenaid w/ whole wheat flour (I have a wheat grinder), rolled oats, and white flour. Yum!

Erin G. said...

I just read "Harvest for Hope" (by Jane Goodall) and she makes a huge push for the local produce box because it is not only economically great for local farmers, but also good for the environment (cuts down on icky fumes infiltrating the atmosphere. No need to buy apples flown in from California when we have perfectly good apple farms 45 minutes away in upstate NY!)

I am going to put "box-o-veggies" on my To-Do list. It's a wise idea all around!

belleshpgrl said...

I also make a list of what our meals will be for the week to keep us from buying things we won't eat. The cheapest grocery bill we ever had was when I walked around with a calculator to make sure we weren't going over budget. It wasn't that hard or strange. I was pretty good at guessing the cost of the veggies based on their weight! Alas, we're usually over grocery budget by around $25 a month. It would be smaller if the man-friend would be willing to cut out soda and frozen meals for lunch. I'll have to work on that. But one thing remains constant-when I go alone the shopping bills are smaller...