Do you have a large grocery bill?
I usually do, as I have 7 people to feed each day. That is 21 plates of food, plus drinks and snacks each day, or 147 plates of food, plus drinks, plus snacks each week, or about 651 plates of food, plus drinks, plus about 651 servings of snacks each month. That is a lot of meals and it can really eat away at the grocery budget.
We live on one income, as most homeschool families do. My husband works in construction and things have been very tight in this field for several years now. We went through some very difficult times, had to change our whole life around, and there were several times we couldn’t afford groceries. The cupboards were bare. The freezer and fridge were bare too. We had to get by on things like peanut butter sandwhiches, apples, water, and a few things I could make inexpensively.
During this time, we changed jobs, moved across the country, rented a small house with no yard, and had loads of bills. Food just took a back seat to surviving for months on end. So it was a big challenge to find ways to feed my family on a small budget. We tried cheap food from cheap stores. Besides tasting bad, it caused some side effects including stomach pain, weight gain, headaches, and general not feeling good from the preservatives. Everyone suffered. We longed for real food like we had before on the farm. Garden fresh produce, grass fed meats, fresh eggs, raw milk, and natural and organic grains and superfoods. It took some adjusting and budgeting, but we eventually have been able to return to buying a variety of foods for our family within a budget that we can work with.
Here are a few ways I reduce costs.
Most important of all, if possible, by organic when you can. Think that is contradictory to saving money? Think again. I want to show you how you can include healthy organic and natural food in your family budget. Here are four ways it can help you save money.
First, using organic and natural foods helps you avoid getting sick and paying lots of doctor bills down the road.
No kidding, I am convinced that buying organic and natural, really helps you stay well and have a stronger immune system.
Many friends I know have forked out thousands of dollars in doctors visits and medications each year, and that is just for the common “bugs” colds, flus, and viruses. It is not a cure all. People still get sick with modern disease as we live in a polluted world. But over all it really helps the immune system to stay stronger than the standard American diet.
Other terms to look for when buying healthy foods besides organic are: Naturally Grown, Locally Grown, GMO Free, Additive Free, Preservative Free, Grass Fed, Raised on Pasture, Free Range, and Wild Caught.
Second, grow a summer garden if you are able.
You can buy a packet of seeds for a $1 or less and reap at least $20 or more of fresh food from that investment. I have grown my own gardens for nearly 20 years now and can tell you it really does save you money and the boost in fresh nutrients really helps the body. I was really blessed this year when my sister sent me a box full of seeds of various varieties she bought on clearance for nearly .10 cents a packet. I got busy in the late spring and planted as much as I had room for, and will use the rest of the seeds next season.
Third, buy items when they are on sale and use coupons where you can.
Something to consider is that most “food” coupons are for prepared foods that manufactures want to entice you to buy. Coupons are a good thing if used for the right purchases, foods in their natural form, condiments, paper goods and household supplies. But buying a lot of “manufactured” “food” could really mess up your health.
Stores rotate sales on lots of products. Watch the sales flyer and stock up when the prices are down. You can save as much as 50% on sales on many items, and many times this makes them cheaper than the non-healthy version at the other stores. But again, a word of caution. The longer a food such as meat sits in the meat department or meats and prepared foods in the freezer departments, the more amines increase and nutrients decrease.
Fourth, buy natural produce in season and freeze, dry, or can products that need longer storage.
Before any expeses are added by the “grocery system” for shipping and storage in warehouses, you can buy many local products in season at a fair price.
For example, fresh strawberries from a local grower, fresh lettuce, fresh potatoes at the farmers market, or fresh green beans and can them or freeze them yourself for longer storage.
Even doing a CSA for the summer saves you lots of money over buying the items at a grocery store. It cost anywhere from $20 for a small share and $35 for a large share of fresh, often organic grown produce for 20 weeks from a local CSA grower.
Buying a 100 lbs of local grass fed beef from a local farmer taking a cow in to the butcher, is cheaper and healthier than buying a 100 lbs of decent quality grass fed natural meat from the store. And making arangements with a farmer for fresh eggs and free range chickens is way better than eating factory raised meat from the store.
Fifth, you can buy lots of different products in bulk.
You can stock your pantry with bulk items you saved a lot of money on. I think this is the most overlooked step in the modern kitchen today. We are so used to single size and quick, that planning a bulk order and rotating the food in the pantry has almost become obsolete.
But families of days gone by knew that they needed to grow their foods as much as possible, and buy the rest in bulk sizes to get through till the next shipment was available. They might have to survive six months or maybe even the whole year on what they could get in a few visits to town each year. They knew to prepare for difficult times too. They knew many home remedies to help them get through common illnesses. Even though many people died during epidemics and famines, many people lived too.
In our modern world, we are both blessed and cursed by the modern convenience of groceries stores and resturaunts on every corner. Because we don’t know how to use this blessing wisely, it has become a curse to the very health of modern man. There are many good things about our modern system that have helped people in many ways, but in this area, the bad out weights the good and the long term quality of health of modern man is declining with new disease everyday.
As food has been modified for machine harvest, reduced pests damage in the large single crop fields, longer storage in warehouses before spoiling and shipping across the country or world, and some foods being manipulated in factories into pre-made long lasting products, the quality of human health has declined. It takes more and more medicine and the skills of special doctors to keep many people alive, as we have destroyed our bodies with our modern food system.
I am on a quest to reverse this damage in my own family. I am not perfect. I spent over 30 years of my life doing things the standard way. I still use&nbs
p;modern conveniences when it fits into my busy day or travels. But I have tried over the years to make healthy changes and reduce the amount of consumption of the less healthy products my family recieves.
One way to help reach this goal of getting healthy products, without breaking the piggy bank, is that I have joined other families in buying items in bulk sizes and case sizes. Not many stores will accomodate bulk sizes or give discounts on case sizes, so this is best done through a bulk food store or a local buying club. The health food stores and co-ops still want a hefty price tag on most items. Since my own family’s financial difficulties have been a huge issue over the past few years, buying healthy foods for the pantry has been a challenge on the budget.
We are now part of a local homeschool buying club offered through Weiser Natural Foods Discount Buying Service. I am the facilitator of Weiser Natural Foods. I used to own a health food store and after moving, I transformed my previous company into a bulk food discount ordering service. This company is willing to go the several extra steps it takes to aquire bulk products at wholesale prices and work with individual people who have special diets too. If you want to read about the service and see how they can help you, here is the link: www.weisernaturalfoods.com
I recently re-stocked my pantry with several needed healthy items, and I want to share some of the photos with you.
Here are some larger pictures of the overall bulk food order.
This is 50 lbs of organic sugar (Evaporated Cane Juice). It is very similar to white sugar in how it cooks in your food, but way different in its nutritional value. I also like using Sucanat sugar (SugarCaneNatural), and Rapadura sugar. These sweateners are loaded with nutrients and your body uses them as a food, where it deals with white sugar like a toxin. No kidding. And instead of lowering the immune system, these sweateners provide vitamins and lots of minerals to help keep your immune system strong.
Even healthy sweeteners should be used in moderation. Other good sweeteners are raw honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, dates, mashed fruits, and stevia. I would mostly avoid all other sweeteners. Some of the so-called “healthy” sweateners in health food stores are not healthy at all.
I am splitting this with another mom in our homeschool group.
We basically just open the bag and fill ziplock bags with the amount each of us wants.
These are 5 lb bags of natural nuts. Included here are raw almonds and roasted cashews.
This is a huge savings over buying a can of nuts at Walmart. And these are so much more healthy for you.
I use these in so many things like cookies, breads, salads, trail mixes, granola bars, ice cream toppings, and more.
Cashews are basically the only nut that has been pre-soaked in removing the shell, so it is ok to buy it roasted. All other nuts I prefer to buy raw and then I soak and roast them myself before using them. There are several anti-nutrients that soaking removes, and it activates enzymes that were asleep. These enzymes are needed to help our bodies digest the nuts. Once soaked, our bodies use the food similar to how it uses a vegetable. For optimum nutrition, all nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes should be soaked before using.
My favorite hot cereal in a 3lb bag for just pennies a serving. It comes in larger bulk bags too if I wanted to save even more. I will write a post on this blog on how to make the most delicious hot breakfast with this.
Ok, organic oats. There are so many ways to buy them: rolled, quick, thick, Scottish, Irish, chopped groats, whole graots, and made into oat flour too. I usually get the 5 lb bag of organic quick oats in hot weather when we don’t use as much, and the 25 lb bag in cooler weather, and save lots and lots over buying the oats at the local stores. I enjoy eating the thick rolled and the groats too, but my family finds them a little too chewy for their tastes, so I usually stick with the quick rolled in the bulk sizes.
Here is my 25 lb bag of organic quick rolled oats. I plan to make lots of cereal, granola bars, cookies, and Christmas gifts with this over the next two months. If I were to buy this in warm weather, or at a time when I wouldn’t use it in a few months, I would seal it in an air tight container, or use a five gallon bucket with a gasket lid and place in the pantry, or bag it in ziploc bags and place in the freezer. The goal is to use it before the oils in grains go rancid. You can tell by smell and taste if this happens. But it will take a long while for this to occur in these oats. Grains that are high in oils, such as rolled wheat or rolled corn, would go rancid quicker than the oats. I have kept them six months or longer without them going rancid.
Here is the 5 lb bags of organic rolled oats another mom got on this order.
Got these organic mixes on a great sale for $1.99 each. That is just outstanding.
I try to stock up when these items are on a special sale.
No preservatives. Nothing artificial. Quick and easy to make.
My children love the Dr. Oetker products especially the organic vanilla cake mix.
It is so versatile. Sometimes I make it as is. Sometimes I add some lemon juice
Sometimes I add apple sauce. But the kids favorite is when I add a can of pumpkin. Oh so delicious!
I also like to serve it just plain with a side of warm pudding. Tonight we will have it this way with
Dr. Oetker butterscotch pudding.
My family loves fried corn meal mush served with maple syrup. I just love cooking corn meal mush or grits and eating for them breakfast just like I would a bowl of oatmeal. I got one of these 5 lb bags of organic corn grits for my family and another mom got a bag for her family. It was just $1 lb.
Here is one of our favorite foods. Tree ripened green olives.
They taste even better than black olives. Only two ingredients:
Olives and salt. These retail in the stores for over $4
a can. I was able to buy them 12 to a case, for $ 2 a can. We serve these with
just about any meal as a side. Just love them and they are a real treat.
How do you like your flour? Well I like mine in different ways for different applications.
I use natural all purpose for gravy, cookies, cake, quick breads, pancakes, pie crust and so on.
I use hard spring white and stone ground for bread making. I use spelt flour for
some breads and cookies. I use some gluten free flours too including rice flour,
sorgum flour, tapioca flour, corn flour, and all purpose gluten free mixes.
I buy these items in 5 lb, 10 lb and 25 lb sizes. It is easy to store them in the freezer if I need more time to
use them up.
But if you are really industrious, you can buy whole grains and keep them
indefinately in a sealed container in your pantry. This great for grinding into flour, sprouting for wheat grass juice,
rolling or cracking for cereal, or uses in pilaf too.
One of the moms in our local homeschool club bakes bread everyday from fresh ground flour she does herself.
She buys organic hard white spring wheat berries (the whole grain) and grinds it fresh for the best and most nutritious bread, cakes,
and cookies for her family of 7 everyday. She recently shared a loaf with my family and it was so delicious.
What about peanut butter and other nut butters? My family uses a lot of this during a months time.
We buy a natural peanut butter in 5 lb containers made by Eastwind. It only has two ingredients,
natural peanuts and salt. It always stays soft and can keep at room temperature.
A wonderful product we have used for nearly 8 years now.
We really miss it if we run out before the next bulk food order and have
to get something from the local store. It cost a little over $3 a pound in these 5 lb pails.
We can buy it in even bigger sizes and save even more.
I recently bought a 30 lb pail of cashew butter and reaped a big savings over buying it in
one pound jars at the local store.
If you want to learn more about how to locate and prepare healthy nutritious foods for your family, and how to boost your immune system in the process, please check out the information on these websites:
Here is another article with tips about how to save on your grocery bill.
Disclaimer: The words written here are meant to share personal experiences only, not to diagnose or cure disease. Please consult your healthcare practitioner before making any changes in your lifestyle. You are responsible for your own life and it is best to be informed. Rather than just following someone’s recommendations, seek out studies with proven results that explain how and why different things affect us in different ways. Have good solid factual reasons for taking a certain path or making lifestyle choice. Your life depends on it.