Here are some handy tips for fresh and natural food shopping on a budget. You’ve made the decision to eat better; that’s great. But are you worried that shopping for fresh and organic foods will cost a fortune?
Believe it or not, shopping for wholesome ingredients can actually cost you less than your average grocery shopping bill. Here are 10 creative money-saving tips for natural food shopping on a budget.
Consider the condiment aisle your best friend
Ready-made sauces and condiments are cheaper than buying individual ingredients to create your own. You can also store them in your fridge and reuse them for months. Plus, they taste great! Try ready-made sauces like peanut, teriyaki, and Indian sauces to add a quick, cheap, and delicious touch to your food.
Photo: Earthbound Farms
Be on the lookout for coupons
Subscribing to your favorite brands can earn you coupons as well as other awesome perks. Earthbound Farm’s produce is farmed organically with no harmful pesticides. Signing up for their eNewsletter allows you to get coupon frequently emailed, recipes, and other tips, potentially saving you up to $50 a year.
OrganicGirl strives to offer the best organic produce. When you sign up for their email list you will receive coupons and promotions regularly along with easy recipes. Another simple trick is to look for coupons on product packaging. Keep an eye out for fruit coupons on cereal boxes, for example.
You don’t always have to buy organic
Consult the Environmental Working Group’s annual lists of the Dirty Dozen™ and Clean Fifteen™ produce. The Dirty Dozen are the fruits and vegetables that are the most pesticide-laden. It would be best to buy the organic varieties of the produce on this list, which is almost always topped by strawberries and spinach.
On the other hand, the Clean Fifteen list features fruits and vegetables that have little or no pesticide residue, like cabbage, onions, and corn. That’s where you can save a bit of money on your food bill without compromising your ethics!
Photo: Hannah Kaminsky
Just because it’s past the expiration date doesn’t always mean it’s bad
According to Men’s Health nutrition expert, Alan Aragon, the more refined and processed a food is, the longer it can be kept past the expiration date.
Canned goods usually have expiration dates ranging from one to four years if kept in a cool, dark place. If kept in good condition, they’ll likely remain safe to eat for up to six years. The same goes for frozen foods as well.
Pasta also has a very long shelf life. Because it has no water content it’s hard for it to spoil. It can be kept way past the expiration date and last years in your pantry as long as it does not smell odd.
Get coupons right at your fingertips with apps
Rebate apps like Ibotta and SavingStar allow users to get cash back on items, including fruits and vegetables, from various different grocery stores and warehouse clubs. Once you rack up on a certain amount of savings, the app allows you to cash out by transferring it to Paypal or converting it into a gift card.
Favado is a great app for those of you who want to plan and budget your grocery expenses. This app by Savings.com allows you to prepare your shopping list based on current store promotions and sales. All you have to do is select the store and a list of offers will pop up.
Shop in season
Foods that are grown in season don’t only taste better, but they’re also cheaper! During the winter, look for foods like root vegetables, citrus fruits, carrots. In the fall, look for sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and apples. In the summer, stone fruits, melons, and summer squashes are at their best. Asparagus, peas, and strawberries are best to buy during the spring.
For a list of foods that are currently in season, go to BBC Good Food for their seasonal calendar.
Frozen produce can be just as good and tasty as fresh
Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked ripe and then frozen immediately to maintain their nutritional value. They’re so convenient, often cheaper than fresh fruit, and taste just almost as good! For example, fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, onions, garlic, beetroots, cabbage, carrots, peppers, etc. are easy to freeze and can last months.
When buying frozen foods, stay on the lookout for any added, unnecessary ingredients or additives. The only ingredient should be the vegetable or fruit itself.
You can also make your own frozen food with fruits and vegetables on sale! After prepping and blanching (when necessary), place in airtight containers in your freezer for future use. Here’s a basic guide to freezing produce.
Get an “ugly produce” subscription
Put your chef hat on and get into D.I.Y.
Sometimes, buying the ingredients to make something can be cheaper than buying it ready-made. Store bought plant-based milk can be very expensive. Simply make your own with as little as two ingredients using this recipe.
You can also make your own nut butter and nut-based cheeses using affordable ingredients. Not only are they dramatically cheaper than buying them ready-made, but they can also be used for a variety of easy recipes. Use the nut butter to make your own granola bars and baked goods, or just smother it on a slice of bread and fruit.
Spice it up with seasoning mixes
Spices are a great way to transform and add bursts of flavor into your food. Rather than buying unnecessary ingredients to garnish your food and make it look appealing, cut down the cost and focus on spices you can add to enhance the flavor of your dish. Seasonings can be expensive, but they last a long time in your pantry and can be reused for other recipes.
One way to save money on spices is to use readymade blends like Italian seasoning, herb-and-spice blends like the ones by Mrs. Dash and Frontier, and barbecue seasoning blends. Even curry powder is actually a blend. That way you don’t buy 1,000 spices that sit in your cabinet for years.
Save your scraps for making broth or composting
Don’t let your food scraps go to waste! You can easily make use of them for a variety of purposes. Toss your vegetable peels into a boiling pot of water to make your own vegetable broth. You can also put your scraps into a compost bin to create fertilizer.
If it inspires you to start gardening, that’s great! Growing your own fruits and vegetables can save you tons of money, plus it can be fun! Container gardening doesn’t take up much space at all.
Natural food shopping on a budget doesn’t have to be stressful; in fact, it can be fun and pleasurable.
- More like this: 10 Money-Saving Tips for Vegan Grocery Shopping on a Budget
Skyler Isabella Gomez is a 2019 SUNY New Paltz graduate with a degree in Public Relations and a minor in Black Studies. Her passions include learning about the ethical and environmental benefits of veganism to create a better world for generations to come.