In this blog, we are talking about 3 fairly simple things you can do today that will save you a lot of money. The best part is the return on your savings is actually a healthier nutrition lifestyle for you and your family.
One of the concerns we hear a lot is that good quality food is prohibitively expensive. And while that can be true without a little planning, it certainly doesn't have to be the case. The key word though is "Planning". Otherwise, you are just going to the store and somehow expecting the prices to get lower on items like grass-fed beef and organic fruits and vegetables. In this blog, we are talking about 3 fairly simple things you can do today that will save you a lot of money. The best part is the return on your savings is actually a healthier nutrition lifestyle for you and your family.
Find a Local Farmer's Market or Fruit Stand
Finding that secret hole-in-the-wall fruit stand isn't nearly as hard as it used to be. Growing up, the majority of the fresh fruit and vegetables we bought were from road side stands. You would pass a cardboard sign saying "Fresh Peppers" and that was enough for us to stop.
Today we have all the advantages of the internet to pinpoint even the most local of farmer's markets. Beyond just using Google to search for "Fruit stands near me", you can also go to the USDA's website here and find a listing of markets near you. The pictures above were taken at our closest local stand which has been there for almost 20 years. As you can see, there isn't much to it. But the people who run it are great and really go out of their way to take care of the customer and answer questions. We are able to save a lot of money on things like actual cage free eggs which cost about $6 for 20. It makes a difference too when the person selling them to you says they have personally been to the farm about 30 minutes away and picked the eggs themselves.
Talk about your farm to table eggs.
In the store it would be closer to $9 for that many organic eggs and you can never be certain about the true origin.
Another big savings for us is with the tomatoes and peppers. On average, we can save $5 to $10 just on those vegetables which is helpful since we eat a lot of both. So just on two or three products, you can easily save $10 or more. Of course, not every piece of fruit or vegetable is going to be a bargain and it does take time to do comparison shopping with your local grocery store. However, we also find it is worth it in the end and considering our local fruit and veggie stand is next to our local Wal-Mart and Publix, it doesn't require us going out of our way to save a lot of money and improve
Order with Friends and Save on Shipping
We are fortunate in Florida to be surrounded by a lot of farm land and open areas for cattle to roam. While this may seem like an unfair advantage when it comes to buying quality meats that are local, we actually prefer to have our meats shipped to our house from farms about 2 hours north of us.
Our reasoning is simple: We love the quality and the people who run it.
To save money on shipping, which is free on orders over $200, we get with friends and neighbors and put an order in together. Combine that $20 shipping savings with buying the butcher's best selling packages and we get something like 4 lbs of grass-fed beef, 4 pasture-raised chicken breasts, 8 hand-cut boneless pasture raised pork chops, and 16 pasture-raised chicken wings for $60.
Considering 1 pound of grass-fed beef at our local super market cost $10, the savings adds up quick. Now of course there is more work to be done here when you are splitting orders with other people. Nobody wants to be stuck chasing others around for the bill. So we make it really simple and collect all monies up front before we put the order in. That way if we collectively spent $400, I am placing the order with the money already in my bank account. Often times, we find our neighbors and friends are more than willing to participate as long as they don't have to do the ordering. So if you are willing to put an extra 20-30 minutes every other week to save a lot of money, this might be a great way to go.
If you are a CrossFitter, you might already have a co-op formed at your box where the owner places one big order and has everything delivered to the box for pick-up. Often times, even more money can be saved due to the bulk discount on multiple people ordering. If you don't have one set up at your box or gym, perhaps it is time to see if it will work.
If you happen to live in Florida like us, we definitely recommend checking out Chef Al Rosas who runs OrganicChefFoods.com. They will ship overnight anywhere within the state.
Buy Frozen Fruits and Vegetables Out Of Season
It is a common misconception that frozen fruits and vegetables are less nutrient dense than their in-season counterparts. While nothing beats the flavor of fresh from the tree or vine, going frozen is not a bad idea. Take for example strawberries. We happen to live roughly 45 minutes from the "Winter Strawberry Capital of the World", aka Plant city, Florida. So for us, fresh picked strawberries are in season from roughly September through March. Prices are typically low and it only makes sense to buy them fresh. However, this season was unusually warm in December and the strawberries were over-picked. This has lead to a shortage and prices have sky-rocketed. Instead of $3.50 for a bushel, it is closer to $8 and it changes daily. So instead we buy frozen organic strawberries for about $3 a bag and use them for snacks or to spruce up some oats.
The key is to know what produce and fruits are in season in your area. If nothing is in season, then you need to do a little extra digging and see where it is coming from before it hits the shelves. One way to start is to check out the USDA's Seasonal Produce Guide here and of course look for those local farmer's markets in your area. If what you are looking for is not in season, either decide to not eat it or look for a quality frozen variety that doesn't have any added ingredients.
Not only will you save money, but you will be eating fruits and vegetables picked at the height of ripening and flash frozen for packaging.
Eating quality foods and saving money do not have to be at odds with each other. When we hear clients or athletes tell us they simply cannot eat quality foods for cheap after we point them in the right direction, we assume they just do not want to deal with the extra work up front.
Here is the key though.
You only have to do the extra work once and you are good to go.
Isn't a few extra hours of your time this month worth eating healthy and saving money all year long?
We definitely think so and we love the fact that we are supporting local farmers.