Natural Food/whole Food Savings

Updated on August 03, 2010
M.B. asks from Miamisburg, OH
12 answers

We are trying to eat more whole, natural foods with fewer artificial ingredients, gmo's, and pesticides. How do you save money by doing this? I've been making more things myself, but am pregnant with my fourth so that is getting harder.

Also, what do you feel is best not to cut corners on and where do you save money? For us, we've gotten good pastured, organic meat in bulk from a local farm and shop organic from the EWG's dirty dozen for pesticides but buy traditional produce otherwise. I tried a CSA box but just wasn't happy with what we received. I have been saving money buying traditional cereals instead of organic or making more whole grain pancakes/waffles in the morning. That's what we're doing; what works for you?

Thanks in advance for your ideas and opinions!! It's hard to navigate all of this, but we're doing our best.

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answers from Cleveland on

didn't have time to read the other posts, but I just saw a thing while sitting in my OB's office on this very topic. They say that when it comes to produce, if you don't eat the skin then it really is ok to not buy organic. So things like corn on the cob, melons, pineapples ect. are ok.

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answers from Kansas City on

your best bet is to find a farmers market near by. you can get a lot of organic stuff there very cheap! also keep an eye out for coupons.

our family invested in a dehydrator so we can make our own fruit leather, apple chips, jerky, etc. we use it constantly and it really helps!

are you buying natural cleaners and body care stuff too? the caustic chemicals in the store bought stuff adds up really fast. Try checking out they work with naturally based stuff online, but it is a LOT cheaper then the stuff at the store.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

bjs has some organics too, dairy and frozen veggies



answers from San Diego on

It's tough. We do the same thing and it can get pricey.

I try to buy bulk as much as possible and really research what I can do non-organic and what I have to do organic. I've found that making big batches of pancakes or waffles on the weekend will get me through a few weeks of breakfasts and just being smart about buying larger yogurts versus the small containers. I make my own granola....a bit of a pain on the weekends, but so yummy and way cheaper than store bought.

Costco is starting to carry more organic items like pasta, pasta sauce, olive oil, milk, eggs, etc. I don't shop there, but I've heard that Wal Mart is carrying some organics too.

Also there are food co-ops available. Don't know if there is one in your area or not.

We do a CSA and although I get crazy stuff sometimes, it gets roasted and put in a tortilla with some black beans for a healthy meal. It's cheap and healthy and makes us eat things I wouldn't normally eat. Tastes good too!

Good luck!



answers from Indianapolis on

Please be aware that organic produce is often treated with pesticides.

OMRI is a division of the EPA that has standards for organic farming and includes products that may be used to treat organic produce to prevent pests from ruining the crops.

You'll want to ask your local farmers if they use products on the OMRI list. I personally don't have a problem with them - I'm a cancer survivor and don't know what caused it, but my Oncologist hasn't recommended these changes yet.

Good luck!


answers from Washington DC on

hi meredith, good for you and good for your kids! it's hard to balance between budget and healthy (and how sad is it that Big Ag has created this weird dichotomy?) but it can be done. low IPM spray fruit and veggies can keep in you the 'local and healthy' realm even if organic isn't available or is too expensive. the only organic peaches i can get are trucked in from CA and crappy. so i go with low IPM, which means i still pay more than grocery store prices, but oh my, what amazing peaches i get.
when you do find a good source, buy up a ton and can or freeze. my blend-tec has been worth every penny i paid for it. smoothies from fruit frozen the day it's picked and raw milk, bread made from organic grains bought in bulk and ground at home, the list goes on and on.
but sometimes you just have to hit the grocery store or costco and do the best you can. the more you shop local and organic, the more suppliers you'll discover, and eventually i hope to be able to stay out of the grocery stores altogether.
also, find (or start) a buying club where you can band together to get bulk or wholesale prices, not only on produce but on good quality canned and boxed stuff too.
cheap S.



answers from Cincinnati on

Do a google search for the dirty dozen, which has the 12 most important food items to buy organic. Actually, this site is really good because it also has 10 (I think) food that you don't need to buy organic (why waste money on foods that don't really absorb chemicals?):

Whole Foods has coupons for a month or so. Go there when you have a coupon or an item that you can't find elsewhere, but then go to your local grocery or Walmart and buy local/organic there as often as you can - it's usually cheaper. For foods like cereals or breads, instead of worrying about organic, worry about ingredients. Make sure that your breads contain whole wheat instead of enriched wheat, and also try to stay away from artificial sweeteners (did you know that most white breads contain high-fructose corn syrup instead of sugar?) Cane sugar is healthier than processed sugar.

Good luck!



answers from Cincinnati on

I know you saidits getting harder to make things from scratch so I don't know if this is possiable for you, but next summer try planting your own garden with the veggies that you and your family eat the most often. i plant tomatoes and green beans, carrots and next year I am going to do potatoes as well. I plant a lot so I have alot to freeze and I love making my own tomatoe sauce with the tomatoes. ( a word of caution with tomatoes and gardening ingeneral with all the rain we have been getting in the midwest over the past couple of yrs alot of gardens have been getting root rot. Next yr I am going to try to build my own green house with pc piping and thick plastic shower curtain, to keep some of the rain at bay)



answers from Boston on

Kuddos to you for feeding your family top notch! You've gotten a lot of good ideas so far, and we do many of them ourselves. I've found that each CSA is very different, so you may want to try a different CSA next year and see what produce they provide to you. Some do half shares, which is nice if you want some veggies preselected and then you can add to it what works for your family. Hit the farmer's markets when in season, and consider doing your own garden like someone else mentioned. That is a huge money saver, if time is not an issue for you.

Definitely try to find a buying club -- we do ours through our local health food store. You can also buy cases of non-perishables from Whole Foods at a 10% discount (I think that's the % discount).

Try to incorporate more bean dishes to reduce meat, which is expensive when you are trying to only do high-quality meat/poultry. Once you master some bean dishes using the canned beans, then move on to use dry beans -- that's where the real savings comes in. Also buy grains in bulk -- brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, etc. Rice and other whole grains are far cheaper than flour products with a meal -- and much better for you.

If your family eats lots of bread, invest in a bread maker and use that instead of buying loafs of bread. Making as much as you can from scratch is where real savings comes in, I think. If I had more time to make more from scratch I think I could save more money on our grocery bill (salad dressings, breads, tomato products). Someday! :)

Keep up the awesome work -- your family's bodies will thank you!



answers from Atlanta on

Hi Meredith,

I noticed that as we began to eat healthier, we also began eating less. Once you start absorbing nutrition, the body doesn't crave or need as much. My husband used to order a 20 oz sirloin when we'd go out to dinner. Now he's stuffed with 5 oz at home. The chemicals in the foods really do negate the health benefits and trick your body. Obviously they get into your blood stream so obviously they effect everything.

When my husband lost weight, no activity change, no diet change....we could see what added nutrition does. He took an absorbable multivitamin/mineral complex that "hurried-up" the detoxing of his body and his body was able to absorb the actually nutrition. Antioxidants also help as well.

Practically, cut down on your meat intake as it's the most expensive. Eat more greens and veggies. Enjoy fruit smoothies. Purchase produce from Washington State or Oregon. Their state standards meet the US standards for organic even if it's not marked organic.

Make oatmeal or another hot cereal for breakfast. They are better for you and cheaper than cold cereal. Eat free range eggs instead of organic. Once you notice eating habits starting to change, you can step up and buy more specifically what you want. If you are eating healthier like this, you're not going to have to worry about the "traditional" worries like cholesterol, etc.

Hope this helped. You're welcome to pick my brain anytime!




answers from Boston on

You've gotten a lot of good advice. The other thing that I remind myself is that good food costs more. So I try to cut corners more in other places. When I look at meat that's on sale for $1/lb and the organic meat is $4/lb, it's tempting, but then I say to myself that I'd rather know what's going into my kids' bodies, and I'd rather know that those cows lived eating grass and hay than cows brains and newspapers (sorry to be gross, but it's the truth).

If you're torn in the produce section, remember that things that grow in the ground (potatoes, carrots, etc) should always be organic. Otherwise they just sit there and absorb all the chemicals in the ground. Things that grow on the plant can go either way, because they can be well washed (although I find that the organics often taste better). For milk, I just make sure that it has no BGH in it, because "organic" milk just means the cows got organic food, but there's no big difference in the milk itself (as opposed to the meat). The difference there is about $1.

Finally, read the packaging. For example, the store generic puffed rice at my grocery store goes for $1.50 for a huge box. It's not organic, but all that's in it is rice (no corn syrup, etc). That same box in the "natural foods" section would be much more expensive. Arnold brand makes a really yummy whole wheat bread that has no HFCS and it sells for $2.50 for a family sized loaf. Again, not organic, but I compromise there because we eat so much darn bread!

Good for you for doing right by your family and the planet!



answers from Chicago on

I'm trying to save money on non-food items. For instance, last week Walgreens had Scott mailers on sale with a coupon for 49 cents, no matter the size. Usually they cost at least 1.20, up to 2. I saved myself about 15 dollars by doing to the store a few times and stocking up.

So, I am looking to save on those "other" things, batteries, toilet paper, shampoo, etc. I've always been good at shopping sales, but I recently decided to start super couponing and stocking up a bit more. Hopefully it will work and I can keep on buying those whole organic chickens my hubby so loves ;-)

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