Shaun and I really hold healthy eating as a core value for our family. Sometime soon we’ll write another post on all of the amazing health turnarounds our family has seen since eating (and drinking) healthy has become a major part of who we are. Listen, eating healthy, whole and organic foods is not like eating off of the $1.00 menu @ McDonald’s, but YOU CAN eat well, very well in fact, on a budget.
We do about 60% of our grocery shopping @ Whole Foods and split the other shopping up between Costco, our local farmer’s market, and a conventional grocery store. I know it’s hard to imagine, but you really can get a bargain by shopping at Whole Foods. Here’s how:
First, you have to decide what’s important to you. We try to buy organic everything as much possible. But for price sake, there are some things we can do without. Here are a few must haves for our family though:
-Organic milk…hands down cheaper at whole foods by the gallon than anywhere else. Also, our kids pack organic milk boxes in their lunches…We DON’T get these at Whole Foods…will kill the budget. Instead go to costco or get them from the really good grocery delivery (free shipping) section on amazon.com. If you subscribe to an item you like there you can get an even greater discount AND not have to pay taxes. Something you conservatives should really love (Shaun wrote that).
-Organic cereal…costs a whole dollar more at Target and Kroger than Whole Foods…$3.49 a box versus the $2.49 we pay for a variety of cereals @ Whole Foods.
-Organic snacks…my kids eat them so much (in their lunch boxes and after school) that we refuse to feed them the crap that comes in other snacks. Here are some BIG no, no’s…High Fructose corn syrup (bump what you hear on the industry driven commercials…this stuff will kill you), Artificial flavorings and colors (known to cause ADD and ADHD especially in boys), and absolutely no Partially Hydrogenated anything (will cause cancer…for sure!).
Some good brands are: Back to Nature (not always organic, but genuinely natural as verified by the fact that I know and can read all of the ingredients). Cliff Kids Organic Snacks (our children absolutely LOVE their snack bars and twizzler like fruit sticks). The key is to buy them on sale at Whole Foods (right now all back to nature cookies and crackers are on sale 2 for $4. This stuff is normally $3.49 a box). Amazon.com also offers good deals on both of these brands and other organic kid snacks.
-Organic/Natural Meat- It’s tough to find organic meat. So we researched farms we know that give their animals whole, vegetarian feed, and have good farming practices (don’t mistreat their animals, and don’t keep them caged and overly restricted). Whole Foods buys exclusively from these types of farms. Here’s another secret: You can ask the butcher to make you a family pack of any cut of meat for a HUGE savings. We save 60 cents a pound on chicken breasts, wings, and drumsticks this way. Regular, mainstream chicken at Kroger or Target will cost you over $3 a pound. Buying it this way at Whole Foods costs less than $2 a pound…for the good stuff!
-Coupons & Sales – WholeFoods.com now has links to great coupons for in-store deals. You can also find a coupon book at the front of the store as well. Here’s a caution though – try to use a coupons on items that are already on sale, relatively affordable, or are must-have items or you won’t be saving much money. Also, as soon as you walk in to Whole Foods they will have a flyer that lists the truly great sales going on in the store. Sometimes they really do offer 50% of deals, BOGO, and more.
Other items we get from the Dekalb Farmer’s Market. Items like organic produce (which, when on sale @ Whole Foods can be @ the price you can find anywhere – we just bought a ton of organic apples, oranges, and strawberries there), butter, jelly, and pricier cuts of meat (steak, bacon, etc.) are much cheaper at our farmer’s market than Whole Foods. If you don’t live in Atlanta, your city may have a similar farmer’s market that will allow you to save some money and share the load with Whole Foods. It takes a while to get it down. But it’s worth the effort to raise a healthy family. The proof is in the pudding…last year our kids had perfect attendance…never missed one day of school for being sick…amazing!
Oh yeah - one last thing. If your school or church or civic group calls to schedule a tour (particularly with kids) Whole Foods gives you a TON of free groceries, food, and coupons. Our kids have gone twice and loved it both times! Once a month each store also offers cost-savings tours for adults. Take it!