>> Tuesday, May 5, 2009
This post was included in the 177th Festival of Frugality at Savings Not Shoes.
Last week, I revealed that I think I can keep my grocery bill at around $600 a month while still purchasing almost all organic and natural foods, non-toxic personal care products, and non-toxic cleaners. That's about $30 per person a week, or $120 per person a month (relatively speaking since three of the people in my family are under 5 years old).
Some people might read those numbers and gasp. Especially if you've searched some of the websites and blogs about lowering your grocery bill and using coupons. For example, a friend of mine, an avid couponer, only spends about $300-$350 a month on her family of four. But she also doesn't buy any organic foods or non-toxic cleaners and is not opposed to processed foods.
I could be wrong, but I think it would be impossible to get your grocery bill down to $300 buying as many organics and natural products as my family does (which is why I think it's essential to save money on energy efficiency and transportation and shift your savings to your grocery budget)."
Nevertheless, I think it is possible to eat organically for less than I'm doing.
So here are some shopping strategies that I use that I believe are keeping my spending high. Do the opposite, and you may save some money.
Shoot for as green of a grocery bill as possible.
Except for a very small number of items, my grocery list is almost completely organic, natural, and non-toxic. If I were willing to compromise on some items, my grocery bill could be significantly less.
Shop at the farmers market.
I like to support my local farmers, but at our farmers market, there are no sales, and all the farmers sell their produce at the same price. That means, I'm buying most of our fruits and vegetables in season, which is a cost-effective strategy, but it also means I'm not comparing costs or buying produce on sale.
Also, I know for a fact I can get cheaper organic milk and eggs at Kroger, and even though honey is much more expensive than sugar, I've been using honey in a lot of recipes because I can buy it locally.
Buy a lot of fruits and vegetables.
I try to stick pretty strictly to the 5-a-day fruit and vegetable rule. When I was growing up, we didn't eat nearly as many fruits and vegetables as my family does now, but because we're mostly vegetarians, I think it's important for us to eat a diverse diet with lots of yummy veggies.
Buy expensive fruits and vegetables.
Our tastes tend to lean toward the more expensive fruits and vegetables: avocadoes, mangoes, pineapples. If we looked at those foods more as treats, we could save a lot of money, but I like to indulge our appetites.
My kids are super wasteful when it comes to food. I try to use strategies to prevent wasting too much food, but when it comes to vegetables, I believe the best way to broaden their palate is to offer them a variety of vegetables every day. Right now, that means a lot of vegetables end up going to waste, but I'm hoping it will lead to healthier kids in the future.
Be concerned about packaging.
I often choose better packaging over price. I never buy individually packaged anything, and if I can get it from the bulk bins, I will.
Eat dessert and drink Coke.
I make cookies far more often than I should, and my husband and I are both admitted Diet Coke lovers. I could save quite a bit of money on our grocery bill if I cut out non-nutritive foods and drinks.
Don't Use Coupons
I've never had any success with couponing, mainly because the majority of coupons seem to be for processed junk (even processed organic junk) that I refuse to feed my family. Even when I come across coupons for organic products, I rarely take the time to figure out if I could save money by using them, unless they're for a specific product that I already buy. I'm just lazy that way.
I'd be the first to admit that I'm not the savviest shopper in the world. So don't follow my example, and you might save money on your grocery bill!