This is a question that we've often been asked. People believe they don't have the money to eat healthy, as organics or whole foods can be more expensive. We've done a great breakdown when we first started eating the organic way which was only in 2011. We ended up saving more money than we spent. Here's our logic and our techniques.
First we had to figure out how much money we were spending on food and what it means to feed ourselves. We both felt awful physically, Lenny had liver issues and I had a history of Crohn's disease. We were spending approximately $400/month on supplements, and the "miracle" supplement of the month to help out. What we took wasn't necessarily what we needed. Secondly, we bought foods from regular grocery stores. We purchased about $400 per person/month, so that's an additional $800/month. Plus, because the food was cheaper and we weren't eating a whole foods diet, we often let the healthy food rot. So we weren't using it anyway. Thirdly, because the healthy food was not being eaten, we would often eat out, order in, or meet up with friends. Let's be reasonable, most people have a hard time cooking at home, and I loved cooking, but because I didn't have a lot of energy, it was easier to go out and eat food someone else made. Between the 2 of us, at least $100 per week/month or $400/month. That's $1600 per month for only 2 people.
1. Where to Buy:
We firstly changed our food sources and started asking questions at the markets about how the food was raised/grown, and what types of chemicals/extras were added to their products. We found that the organic label is more expensive due to the producers having to purchase the organic label. But there are numerous producers who haven't purchased the organic label but still raise/grow their wares in an organic manner. Those ones are cheaper than the organic foods.
2. Buy Seasonal:
Over the years we've learned when the growers have almost finished their season, and during the end of summer there is numerous fruits and vegetables that start being reduced because the season is over and they are trying to get rid of their excess. We often purchase a 5lb box of blueberries for only $15 and simply freeze them ourselves to last for the winter. A 500 gram bag of fruit can often cost $20 in the winter when its not available. We stock up on a ton in the fall. We wait on foods that are out of season to the best of our ability as the prices are often skyrocketed. As during this spring, we found cauliflower to cost $12 a head!! When in August, it will go down significantly. Being aware of when food is most abundant and locally grown can save tons of money.
3. Frozen Meats:
We love our good meat. Once you eat organic meats its almost impossible to go back. The flavours in organics far surpass conventionally grown meat products. They can also be more expensive if the organic label is on them. Find a good butcher, we have a couple that we love, and ask them straight out how their food is managed and you'll be very surprised how happy and proud they are of their raising practices. Often you can find meat that's been frozen and is on sale at these great places. Stocking up on good food is always a great way to save on costs. Plus you never have to compromise on taste.
4. Consider Meatless Mondays:
Believe it or not, there are plenty of other foods that have a high protein value. Meat is more expensive in the first place, and changing up one of your meals per day can really help save on costs. You can do Meatless Mondays, or even change up one of your meals per day to include a vegetarian option. I've been super surprised myself over the past year on how tasty just eating some of these vegetarian options have tantalized my tastebuds. Some great, higher protein options can include: legumes (chickpeas, lentils, etc.); sprouts (sunflower, alfalfa, etc.), cheeses (some great wilder cheeses including goat and buffalo cheeses), and even mushrooms (not button mushrooms but oysters and shitaakes). You can create amazing stir-frys, stews, dips, soups all using these magnificent ingredients that you'll just love.
5. Prepping Ahead of Time:
Believe it or not, meal planning can save you a ton on temptation. When creating your favorite masterpiece, why not make 2, 3 or 4 batches instead of just one. When meals are pre-prepared, then food literally is just grab and go. This also saves you from eating out because "I don't know what to make"! It takes the guesswork out of your planning and creates magnificent structure on what your putting in your body. This can save you even more on eating the gorgeous food that you've purchased to stock up in your home, as opposed to letting it go bad in the fridge.
Overall, how much money did we save by choosing a Whole Foods way of life? So much. We still love our food and purchase great things, but we are under $1000 per month including supplements and including eating out when we feel like it.