Friday, May 6, 2011

Can budget and organic be in the same sentence?

You bet it can! There are a few ways you can stay on budget and eat organically. Here is a simple step by step list for you. 

BRING YOUR OWN BAG-Most stores offer a bag credit when you bring your own bag.   Some places offer 5 cents per bag and some offer 10 cents per bag.  Either way your getting a few cents off your bill and saving plastic from the environment.  I keep my bags in my vehicle and in my home.  You just never know when your going to need one. If I don't have one (which rarely happens) I simply only buy what I can carry. This way I learn my lesson and remember to bring my own next time.

NEVER REFUSE FOOD-Friends or family want you over for dinner? Be there!  Lucky enough to have a friend who gives you some produce they cannot use up? Take it!  Maybe a friend/family member who tried something but didn't like it and has more? Take it! Over the years my friends know I will take pretty much anything from them if I need it. You just never know what people are passing along to you so just make it known you will take anything.  From food, to clothes, and even garden supplies. The most important rule of this is to return the favor.  Anytime I need to get rid of anything I spread the word.  Someone will need what I don't want.

LOCAL -Anytime you see a farmers market or produce stand pull on over and check them out.  Your saving yourself money because these places mean less traveled food which in return means you save money.  Your also supporting local farmers! My personal favorite produce stand is Mark's NW Fresh Produce. I buy so much from Mark that we have a great friendship now.  In fact when I come by he usually will tell me what's on sale or what needs to be used and let me buy it for cheap so he can get rid of it. Last year I bought 6 lbs of jalapeno peppers for only 99 cents per pound and oyster mushrooms for $1 per pound. Of course I bought them all! Jalapenos I chopped and froze and mushrooms I dehydrated. Both of which I still use now. Remember to buy whats in season because its usually much cheaper. 

STOCK UP-This is a great tip! If you find a great deal on something get it. There is always a way to store food whether it be dehydrating, freezing, canning or storing it in a cold dark place.  For example:I find organic banana's on sale for 38 cents a pound at my local Albertsons sometimes. These are just spotted and need to be used or eaten up.  My kids will only eat banana's when they are spotted because they are much sweeter.  I simply buy everything they have and head home.  My kids will usually eat many of them and the rest I unpeeled and split each banana into 3 pieces.  I put them on a cookie sheet and into the freezer until frozen. Then I put into freezer safe containers.  Now I can have banana's on hand to make banana muffins or my kids can simply go grab a banana and eat it frozen. My girls love them frozen! So stock up and make the item work for you.

COMPARE SHOP- I don't just stick to one place when I shop so I can keep on top of whats on sale at each place and compare prices.  I know I can get produce cheaper at my local New Season's but I also know that I can get my half n half and cheese cheaper at Whole Foods.  I don't buy much canned or bagged food (which saves a ton!) but if I do I always compare name brand to store brands.  For example Whole Foods store brand canned crushed tomato's with basil is only $1.79 which beats New Seasons which has no store brand and the name brand ones are all over $2.99 per can.  Make sure to always check if they are USDA Certified Organic because natural doesn't mean natural and not everything is 100% organic. Luckily two of my favorite stores are within 1 mile of each other so I'm not wasting gas driving all around. Is it worth the gas money to drive 5 miles to another store just to save 10 cents on some pasta?

SUCK IT UP AND COOK-A huge money saver is to cook everything yourself.  I rarely ever buy any boxed, prepared, or canned food.  Why spend $1.99 on a box of mac n cheese that feeds 4 when I can buy bulk whole wheat noodle pasta for 91 cents per lb (need only 1 lb) and make my own cheese sauce for about 50 cents.  I saved myself over 50 cents by making it myself. Don't forget when you make it yourself your not consuming preservatives, fillers, all that extra sodium and who knows what else that companies put in their products to make them last forever on a shelf. Your also cutting down on your garbage by skipping packaging. Frozen lemonade is $1.50 but if you mix 1 cup of lemon juice, 1 cup of organic sugar and fill the pitcher with water you have the best tasting lemonade ever! Plus it will cost you around 75 cents saving you 50%.  See what I mean?  So suck it up and learn how to cook things! Internet is a great place to find out how to cook anything.

COUPONS-I once was a coupon freak. Wow can't believe I said that. Before my green ways I was a frugal mama just trying to stretch her dollar. Then when I decided to buy organic only I was shocked.  There was rarely ever a coupon for any organic product.  Luckily I decided to avoid all products and make everything myself which in return saved me more money.  Now days you can find many organic coupons in flyer's and the stores like Whole Foods even carry their own coupons in the store.  I almost never use any coupons now which actually keeps me stress free.  I remember the looks I would get from people, the "omg" I would hear from people standing in line behind me when I pull out my load of coupons, and no more hassles from workers about the number of coupons I was using.  Don't get me wrong. You can play the coupon game if you follow the rules, combine with sales and know how to make it all work for you. I just choose not to because we don't eat much prepackaged food.

BULK BABY!!-Don't forget to compare prices of products to the bulk section.  You can find just about anything in the bulk isle now so always check.  I love the bulk section! From laundry soap, honey, tea, noodles, and beans galore.  Its there! But always double check to make sure your saving money.  For example I buy Bragg liquid amini's every few weeks.  They sell it at Whole Foods packaged and in the bulk section.  Last time I went to buy some it was cheaper to buy the packaged than it would have been in the bulk section.  You just never know so always double check. 

CHANGE IS GOOD-I never ever plan my meals or buy the same things on a regular basis.  Some find it easier because they don't have as much time but I find its easier to wing it.  My produce is forever changing because I buy only what's in season.  Last week it was organic apples because they were 89 cents per pound.  This week it's organic cantelope because they were 2/$5 and weighed about 5 lbs each.  That made the cantelope 50 cents per pound.  Next week it might be just banana's for 89 cents per pound.  Being open to change is always going to save you money. I personally can say its more fun as well.  My kids are always excited to try new things and always give me feedback on if it was good or not.  Don't be afraid to try new things. 

USE WHAT YOU HAVE-This week my kids blew through their snacks within the first few days of me buying food.  Since I only go grocery shopping on Fridays (works for us) I wasn't about to go pick up more food and bust my budget.  Instead I went through my pantry, kitchen and garage freezer looking into what I had and used what I could to make snacks.  I found a few containers of pumpkin puree and made pumpkin muffins for snacks.  I need to use up what we have in the freezer so I can free up space for future food that's in my garden right now.  Which leads to another topic....

GROW YOUR OWN-a HUGE money saver is to grow your own food.  If you have an apartment or rent you can easily grow your own food in containers on a porch.  If your lucky to have some property then till up your soil and plant some seeds.  To really save money spread the word that your looking for soil, seeds and containers that anyone doesnt need.  Just tell them you will take anything! You can also hit up the Craigslist and find what people are giving away for free.  Start looking in thrift stores and make sure to check yard sales and their free boxes.  Get creative and make things.  You will save yourself a ton of money and you know exactly what has been done to your produce.  So sprays! No chemicals!

So what are you waiting for?  Start that garden and go start saving money!

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