How to Buy Real Foods on a Budget
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How to Buy Real Foods on a Budget

Posted on Tuesday, March 4th, 2014 at 10:37 am
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Do you want to eat real foods without overspending? Try our tips for buying real food while still sticking to a budget.If you’re like me, you know the importance of eating plenty of real foods. Our society is full of processed foods and it is easy to get those foods for cheap, especially as a couponer. But just because it is a great deal doesn’t mean it’s good for you. I love to find new ways to make real food affordable for my family, especially as I try to add more organic ingredients to my diet. Here are some helpful tips I’ve come with to keep my budget under control yet still buy fresh, real foods for my family.

How to Eat Real Foods on a Budget

Make a Weekly Meal Plan – Pick a day out of your week where you have a little time and make a healthy meal plan for the week. Browse through your favorite cookbooks, websites or Pinterest for great recipe ideas. Create a list of the meals you’ll eat this week, along with a grocery list of what you’ll need to make those meals.  You’ll be surprised to find how many pantry staples you already have on hand for recipes. When you head to the store for the week, purchase only the items you need for these meals and you’ll save the money of extra impulse buys (unless of course you are also coupon shopping!) Stick to your list!

Shop at your Local Farmer’s Market – Ask around and find when your local Farmer’s Market takes place. Get there early and browse the vendors. You’ll likely see a nice variety, including organic and pesticide-free farmers. The items you’ll find will be in-season  so you won’t be paying the high prices of produce being shipped from other parts of the world as we see in the stores. You will almost always save money by buying directly from the farmer instead of the grocery store and it tastes so much better too!

Join Your Local CSA – If you don’t have time to get to a Farmer’s Market or prefer the convenience of having your produce gathered up for you, find a local CSA and get  a weekly box of fresh produce.  Often the price is very comparable to what you will find at a Farmer’s Market. Find a CSA near you at Local Harvest.

Make Your Favorite Foods & Snacks at Home – You can save so much money by simply making your own food at home instead of buying a packaged version at the store. Try making your own breads, granola, salad dressings, favorite snack or junk foods, sauces, soups… anything you can think of! It tastes so much better, uses whole but fewer ingredients and allows you to know what’s in your food. Many of the ingredients needed to make these items are probably already in your pantry which saves you money.

Grow Your Own Food – It is so rewarding to grow your own produce! Even if you don’t have much room, you can grow many veggies in pots or even consider just doing a small assortment of herbs in a pot. Whatever you can grow saves you money because you won’t need to buy it at a store.

Stretch Your Meals – If you choose to buy organic and grass-fed meats, you know it is expensive and a large chunk of your grocery budget has to go to pay for this. Use less of this quality meat  at your meals by adding less expensive ingredients like beans, brown rice, quinoa, pasta or extra veggies to make your meals stretch!

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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.