Keeping Costs Down in a Real Food Kitchen 8
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Keeping Costs Down in a Real Food Kitchen

Keeping Costs Down in a Real Food Kitchen

By Stacy Myers, Contributing Writer

Are you working to ditch processed foods and put more real food on the table? This month we’re running a series called Real Food Made Simple: A Beginner’s Guide to Eating Better. Our goal is to answer the questions you might have and make the transition a whole lot easier!

It costs too much to eat real food. I can’t afford it. There is some kind of conspiracy going on – healthy food costs too much…and the cheap food that I can afford to buy is bad for me. So, I keep buying the cheap food ’cause it’s easy.

The only people who can afford whole, healthy foods are rich socialites or people who live in a van down by the river because they don’t have a house and they farm all day long. I’m just a normal, average Jane and the only thing I can afford are Ho-Hos and Ding Dongs.

Nah – this whole foods thing is dumb and expensive. I can’t afford it. That’s for other people and not me – maybe one day when I hit the lottery…except I don’t play the lottery.

Does that sound dumb to anyone else? Real food is NOT too expensive – that’s a myth…and this is coming from a former coupon queen who would get $100 or more worth of groceries for $20.

It takes a little bit of knowledge, a little bit of work, and some effort to get good, whole foods at a good price. And I’m here today to tell you how – ’cause that’s how I roll.

Keeping Costs Down in a Real Food Kitchen

Our family has been at this “real food” thing for almost two years now. I’ve learned a thing or two…and I still have a ton to learn. I imagine when I stop learning, I’ll kick the bucket pretty soon thereafter. So here are my tips and tricks for eating healthy, whole foods on a budget.

1. Buy in Bulk

This is pretty much the smartest thing I’ve ever done when it comes to whole food preparation. Just about anything you want to buy is cheaper when you buy it in bulk. If it’s something that will keep or you can freeze (and you have the space) why not buy a bunch of it instead of one piddly little bag?

Buying in bulk is cheaper even if you don’t want to buy a 25-pound bag. You just need to find a bulk food store or a local Amish market. They buy in bulk for you and repackage into smaller containers. The price is still cheaper because you’re not paying for fancy packaging.

BUT, you still have to have the money. Some of my favorite posts on Buying in Bulk are from Penniless Parenting. Check out these posts to get some great ideas on how to afford bulk buying:

Bulk Buying with No Extra Money

When Should You NOT Buy Bulk 

Bulk Buying: The Hidden Savings

Bulk Buying: When It Pays and When It Doesn’t

Keeping Costs Down in a Real Food Kitchen

2. Use Coupons

This is a shocker…yes, you can use coupons for REAL whole foods. It’s just a bit harder to find them. Some stores like Earth Fare and Whole Foods offer coupons to their store. Even Target has some whole foods coupons. Always check the store website where you’re going to be shopping to see if they offer store coupons.

My two favorite sources for whole foods coupons are Recyclebank and Organic Deals.

3. Shop late at the farmer’s market

I love my farmer’s market. Going there and seeing the foods makes me so happy. Did you know that if you go by the farmer’s market right before it closes for the day you’re likely to get a better deal? Sometimes the farmers don’t want to take home their leftover bounty and so they’re willing to sell it at a discounted rate. Yes, a lot of the good stuff is gone – but if you’re not picky, you can get some good stuff for very cheap!

Also, never be afraid to ask for a deal. If you’re going to be buying bulk at the farmer’s market, ask the farmer if he would sell to you cheaper for buying a large amount.

Keeping Costs Down in a Real Food Kitchen

4. Cook from Scratch

For someone like me, this is easy. I love being in my kitchen. I thrive there. I also burn stuff there, but that’s beside the point.

Making things at home instead of buying them at the store can save you some serious cash! Things like homemade cream of soup mixpeanut butter, or pizza sauce are cheaper to make at home than to purchase the organic alternative at the store.

Tons of things can be made from scratch. And if you need a cookbook to help you, Easy. Homemade. is where it’s AT!

5. Grow your Own and Can It

I can’t grow things. I have the black thumb of death. But having a garden is a great thing for someone into real food. You can grow what you will eat and do it organically.

Then when your bounty comes in, you will be able to freeze or can it. Canning is a great activity to do with family members – or on your own. If you need help, there is a great tutorial at The Prairie Homestead on how to use a pressure canner.

Keeping Costs Down in a Real Food Kitchen

6. Eat wild game

Around the Myers house, we eat a lot of venison. I was raised on it, so it’s normal to me. It helps to be married to a hunter. Each year we get a deer and have it processed with some beef fat to help cut the gamey taste. This costs us $40 – that’s it. $40 for a year’s worth of good-for-us meat.  If you process it yourself, the cost is free.

There are all sorts of wild game you can eat – turkey, pheasant, elk, and road kill (totally kidding on the last one). If you don’t hunt, just ask around and find a friend who does.

7. Shop Online

Since having children, I have really embraced my hermitude. I like staying at home. So, for me it’s nice to be able to get groceries online. And the fact that I can save SO MUCH by shopping online is another perk.

My favorite place to shop online is Vitacost, and I’ve talked about my love of this online store here. You can also score some great deals using Amazon Subscribe and Save (get a discount and free shipping).

Other stores like Tropical Traditions offer newsletters where you can sign up and get notifications of sales and free shipping. One of my new favorite places to shop online is Honeyville. I like to buy almond flour there. They offer a flat shipping rate of $4.49.

With online shopping you need to take into account shipping charges. Just because it’s cheaper online doesn’t mean that it will be with shipping added on. I like to wait for free shipping offers.

Editor’s Note: is another good store to order natural foods online. (Use code CEC426 for $5 free credit towards your order.)

Keeping Costs Low in a Real Food Kitchen

8. Utilize Freezer Cooking

Sometimes cooking real food can get overwhelming. Sometimes you will come home and say to yourself “Self, I should just go to McDonald’s.” Tell self to shut up.

There are going to be times when you just don’t feel like cooking from scratch. You might be sick, tired, or just lazy (if I’m anything, I’m honest). Don’t fall off the wagon just because a few days get overwhelming. For these times you need freezer meals.

The next time you’re making a dinner, why not make two? Then you’ll have one in the freezer for one of your lazy/sick nights. Lots of crock pot meals can be made in advance and frozen.

Natural Living Tip ~ Keeping Costs Down in a Real Food Kitchen

So, now I’ve shown you how you can save. Let’s share some tips!

good frugal food book cover 22

Editorial Note from Erin: KOTH Creator Stephanie is on vacation, so I can take the liberty to toot her horn and mention that she has written an AMAZING book called Real Food on a Real Budget. If you want to learn how to transform your eating habits without emptying your bank account, Stephanie’s book will take Stacy’s points and expand on them. You can check out all of Stephanie’s books here.

Other posts in the series:

Real Food Made Simple: A Beginner’s Guide to Eating Better

First Steps to Real Food

What Is Real Food?

Cutting Your Kitchen Prep Time in Half — Or More!

Confessions of a Formerly Picky Eater

How to Read Food Labels

The Grain Controversy: Should We Eat Them or Not?

Second Steps Towards Eating Real Foods: Switching Your Food Sources

Sweeteners: How They Affect You, Which Ones are Best, and How to Use Them

Simple Steps to Begin Cooking Homemade: Pantry Staples

5 Strategies to Help Your Husband and Kids Transition to Real Food 

7 Foods to Avoid

Finding Real Food in the Grocery Store

20 Easy Real Food Switches and Substitutions {with Free Printable Chart}

First Steps to Eating for Fertility

Raising Kids on Real Food

5 Ways to Get More Fruits & Veggies into your Diet

Food Is Not Cheap: 4 Steps to Budgeting in Real Food

Simple Steps to Begin Cooking Homemade: Baked Goods

Simple Roast Chicken (And Fabulous Side Dish Recipes!)

17 Homemade Spice Mixes {with Recipes & Why You Should Use Them!}

5 Ways Green Living and Real Food are Connected

Simple Steps to Begin Cooking Homemade: Soups, Sauces, and Simple Dinners

What’s your #1 savings tip for cooking in a real food kitchen?

Disclosure: There are affiliate and referral links included in this post.

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  1. Thank you for this post! I get so irked when I hear someone lament that they just CAN’T eat healthy, real food because it’s too expensive. I’m a former couponer, too, but my grocery cost has gone DOWN since switching to real food. Just the other day I was comparing my 2012 grocery expenses to the USDA national average for our family size…my numbers are below the lowest cost food plan (the thrifty plan). I shop online, belong to wholesale buying clubs, barter work time for a CSA share, and shop sales/use coupons for what I can’t find anywhere else in a regular grocery store. Scratch cooking does take more time, but it can be done in larger batches (why make one loaf of bread when you can make 5 or 6 in the same amount of time?) and the extras frozen. It is totally possible!

    1. I agree that cooking from scratch is for sure cheaper than processed foods. I buy as few prepacked processed foods as possible. I think it depends on your definition of real food. I like this website a lot but it can be overwhelming because it seems like whatever I do, it isn’t enough. I’m trying to transition to using butter and olive oil more and less canola oil, but then I read that I must use organic, grassfed or raw butter, all of which are way out of my price range. I can barely afford to keep using butter. We buy as much fresh produce as we can afford, but buying organic (even just the dirty dozen) doubles the price of everything. I buy my flour in bulk, but it isn’t all whole wheat, sometimes it’s bleached and it comes from a regular store (Sam’s Club), not an organic co-op. I was a little irked by the above reference to ding dongs and ho-hos. I never give my kids these things, and they are ridiculously expensive. But for some of us there is an in between. Most people can afford not to buy processed foods, but not everyone can afford to buy local organic CSA quality produce. Not everyone can make their own peanut butter, homemade jam and whole wheat bread made with presoaked grains. Last summer we made it a priority to buy more local produce, and the quality was great. But it was so expensive and it wasn’t even organic. I ended up hardly eating much of anything just so my kids could get the “good food.” I deal with an underweight preschooler and a an underweight baby with dairy allergy. My husband is always hungry it seems. (If I told the truth I feel the same way a lot of time). We buy very few luxury items (unless you consider fresh fruit a luxury). Sometimes I feels like a losing battle. Even when I feed my kids what I used to (and some part of me still does) believe is good food, like from scratch stews and soup, fresh fruit, peanut butter and cheese (yes they are conventional, not organic), everywhere I look I’m being told that I’m poisoning them and that if I would just work harder I could feed them “Real Food” instead, and to say otherwise makes me a whiner. Don’t mean to rant, I totally respect others and their food choices. It’s just hard to stomach having my hardwork to make from scratch meals compared to giving my kids junk food because I can’t afford the “best” stuff.

      1. Bethany, I’m sorry you drew that conclusion from what I wrote. I went back and read it again and nowhere did I say that non-organic foods were equal to HoHos or Ding Dongs. I really meant ACTUAL HoHos and Ding Dongs. This whole post is about good, whole foods….not organic foods. I’m talking about REAL food – which it seems as though that’s what you’re feeding your family – not a bunch of processed foods full of preservatives.
        I think maybe you misunderstood the idea of real food. Real foods are things that only have one ingredient: maple syrup, flour, produce, meat, eggs, etc. Real food is what I feed my family.
        I do not buy organic produce for the most part. I don’t make my own peanut butter. I am not part of a local, organic CSA. I don’t buy organic cheese OR butter. I buy the regular stuff – because that’s what my budget allows.
        I’m sorry my post made you feel like you were doing less than your best – but I hope I’ve cleared that up a bit and you can see where I’m coming from. 🙂
        I’m saying that it’s possible to feed your family good, real food and still be on a budget.

        1. Stacy, I didn’t meant to be address you directly, but this article set off some feelings I’ve had about this website in general, which I love in many ways, but has a tendency to make some of us feel really overwhelmed. I appreciate your clarifications though. It’s to know that I’m not the only mom who has to find a halfway point sometimes. Your article is actually one of the ones that made me feel a bit less inadequate. Your real food is similar to my definition though I’ve seen it defined by others (even here on Keeper of the Home) a bit more strictly to include only organic foods. Sorry if I came off as angry. This is an area that I’m struggling with right now. I really do appreciate your efforts to encourage those of us trying to do the best with what we have.

          1. Aw honey, I”m just sitting here grinning my face off. 🙂 I know where you’re coming from….because I’ve been there. I finally had to just slap myself and say “Stacy! Who gives a fat rat what Suzy Organic Homemaker down the street does?” I don’t care anymore. For me, feeding my family REAL food, and avoiding HFCS, food dye, and hydrogenated oil is my main goal.
            Some months my budget allows more organic foods and some months it’s less. I just go with what I have, and I know the Lord will bless my efforts to feed my family well. 🙂
            PS – I have yogurt covered raisins in my pantry right now…and I didn’t make them. LOL

  2. Love this, Stacy! Great information with a fun voice :). I’m going to adopt the word “hermitude,” because I’ve become the same way since having babies. And, I’m going to send this to a couple friends who are wondering if buying real food on a budget is an urban myth.

  3. Thank you for this article. I see some things I haven’t made use of yet. My family of 6 is getting ready to move this month. We’ll be going from a high paying job to a very low paying job (computer web developer to evangelist). My 4 kids love to eat fresh fruits, any advice to find good deals on such things as fresh produce?

    1. I am always scanning the marked down produce – and I take it home and freeze it. I buy in season in bulk and freeze that too.
      I mentioned above shopping later at the farmer’s market to get marked down produce – you could try that too! 🙂
      Good luck in your new adventure – I know God will bless it.

  4. we’re on food stamps right now so eating healthy is a huge juggling act right now of planning, planning, and more planning! even wic is out to undermine my efforts with deliveries of skim milk, processed cheese, and gmo corn cereal right to our doorstep. i really wish there were more venues to use our benefits while supporting local farms around here. it is a fight between my desire to feed our family the best i can and reduce our debt with no money to do either. sometimes i have to make compromises but i’m not going to give up!
    one step that has helped is to only buy the cheapest cuts of the best meat available, often grassfed stew beef. if grassfed isn’t an option i still have one other trick up my sleeve, an old cast iron meat grinder. since i refuse to buy store brand ground nastiness i’ll buy a large roast, grind it and freeze in pound sized packages. it’s not ideal but at least it only one animal’s worth of meat and i can control the quality a little.
    p.s. if you hit the deer with your car it’s not roadkill it’s venison to go.

    1. Great comment! 🙂 And I had to giggle about the roadkill thing….I always get a little sad when I see a deer on the side of the road that no one took. LOL

    2. We are in the same situation. Our Farmers Market (when it is actually open during the summer) takes food stamps, but the sellers dont sell food they actually grew-it just comes from mass wholesalers just like the box stores. We try to prioritize just like you to make the best choices possible with more limited resources. In Oklahoma, there is an option for some CSAs that take food stamps, but we havent pursued it yet because you have to go through each company/farm to see if they are willing.

    3. Have you checked with your local farmer’s market. In New Orleans (where we live) and Boston (where we used to live) the farmer’s market and Co-Op offered EBT customers an incentive to buy healthy and local. When they used the EBT card, they could get 20% off the price and in Boston they would give you 2 tokens for $1 to buy your produce. Good luck to you! It makes me so happy when people want to do right by their families 🙂

    4. I am so with you there, on food stamps it is way harder to find/eat good foods that are reasonable because you are way more limited to where you can shop for them 🙁 and I never understood WHY wic allows some of the things they do yet anything organic is a big no! its crazy!

  5. I recently started ordering in bulk from a local produce distributor. It’s not local, but it’s good for organic produce that doesn’t naturally grow in our area or items that are hard to find. For example, I bought 40 pounds of bananas for $5.

    1. Please share your source Rebeca my kids and husband cannot kick their banana habit! Walmart actually sells organic bananas here in W. MD, but I’d love to get them in bulk.

  6. I substitute ground flax for eggs in a lot of my baking. It saves me a lot of money! The cost of those eggs really adds up fast, surprisingly.

    1. I am able to get eggs from a friend, so that’s REALLY nice. 🙂 But I’ve heard the flax seed thing works great!

  7. We do not have a whole foods store around here at all. We also do not have a farmers market either. Makes me sad. LOL! Do you know of a website that I can go to find farmers markets in my area?? I know there are none to close, but maybe I can find one not to far that I can venture to now and then. 🙂

    Working on the all natural from scratch cooking. My advice is take it one meal at a time. I plan my meals ahead of time and I add one totally 100% from scratch meal each week. So I’m gradually adding them into my week. I’m up to 3 100% from scratch meals per week now. It helps ease me into the transition and learn new cooking skills along the way. 🙂 Have a great day!!! 🙂

  8. Hi, I reeeeally like this article! We are a family of 8, and I have a hard time feeding my children something like, top ramen, for instance. I sure wish we had a farmers market. I’m in Alaska, so we only get markets seasonally 🙂 But everything else in this article, we sure work hard to practice, and it helps a lot! I also mill my own grain for flour and bake breads. And lastly, I wanted to share my business. I’m a representative for Wildtree. I’ve posted my website. We teach freezer mealing 😀 The freezer meals we make use the Wildtree products (which have no MSG’s, preservatives, additives and high fructose corn syrup). Please feel free to contact me. Thank you, and thank you for putting this article out!

    1. I think learning how to cook freezer meals is a great skill – I enjoy doing it when I’m pregnant to prepare for the baby’s arrival. 🙂

  9. Removing as much deer fat and silver skin as possible helps to get rid of the gamey taste. I also like to use venison in saucy/spicy dishes like chili, and I’m looking forward to trying some new recipes I found online at I’ve got a venison roast thawing that I will braise with cherries tonight!

    1. I use venison in just about anything that calls for ground beef. 🙂 The added beef fat is a real game-taste killer!

      1. Soaking meat (bear, deer, whatever) in salt water overnight really helps get the “wild” taste out too. We’re eating bear this winter, for ground meat, and it’s fantastic! The cuts we made were really tough, but the ground meat is great. My husband can’t tell whether he’s eating bear or beef when I feed it to him!

  10. Thanks for this great post! My sister-in-law was just asking about how to keep food costs down while eating real food. It just seems to take a bit more effort, but you can have a lot of fun with it. I think my favorite part of cooking from scratch is spending time with my wife and older daughter in the kitchen, learning together. This series of posts on real food has been so educational! Keep them coming!!!

    1. Yes! And it’s great to be able to teach your children were food really comes from – and it’s not the drive thru. 🙂 Thanks, Jon!

  11. There is a non-profit program available in several states for fresh produce at a reduced rate. It is similar to a CSA but without a manditory committment. This is not old or bad produce, in fact, just the opposite. This produce does not sit in a grocers’ warehouse for weeks before being put out for public purchase. I do not get any benefit from this endorsement. Go to: for more information and locations. I’ve been doing this for 20 months and love it.

  12. Great reminder post for me! I really do need to get on the band wagon for online shopping. Why does that intimidate me so much? And I never catch free shipping. Ha! But this is one of my goals for the year…learn to shop for food online.

  13. Great ideas! I think bulk buying has saved us the most money. I had a hard time keeping our budget under control until I found co-ops nearby. I live in a very rural, low population area and when I first started making the switch I had a hard time finding sources for real food. But slowly I found not only one, but two co ops that deliver close by. Then an Amish store opened a few towns over (where some of my family live so I can visit and shop). I shop online too for some things that I just can’t get locally. So my advice is-don’t give up! Keep your ears and eyes open! I love this series!

    1. I love Amish stores! And most of the time if you need something and they don’t carry it, they are happy to place a special order for you! 🙂

  14. This is in reply to Jenny about where to find a farmers market, etc. I use to not only find farmers markets, but it can list websites for CSA’s and farmers that sell their products directly…. it also lists what products they do sell such as various produce, dairy, meat, etc. So, even if you don’t live close to a farmers market, there may be a CSA or farmer that has different drop-off sites which would be close to you….

  15. Don’t know if you’ve ever tried them but we order a lot of our bulk supplies from I’m usually pretty happy with their prices!

    1. 🙂 It’s a great blessing to those who can get it. Azure does not deliver here – I’ve talked with them about it.

  16. Great post!! And I’m loving this series! I really wish I would’ve taken your advice on freezer cooking though, I was up most of the night with 3 sick babies, and my husband very sweetly offered to pick up cracker barrel on his way home from work..and since I definitely don’t want to cook tonight, I’m going to let him and try not to think about the expense!:)

    1. Freezer cooking is so nice! I love knowing that I have something in the freezer if I need it. Next time you make a casserole or a batch of soup, make it double….then your problem is solved. 🙂

  17. This was a good post with some great tips. We don’t buy in bulk as often as I would like, since we really don’t have the space to store it all. We also have to do more freezer cooking since I tend to get lazy and order out. The costs of ordering out is just sooo expensive. I am a little disappointed by the shopping online aspect 🙁 In the end you are losing money because the money doesn’t go back into your community. We try our best to always buy our food locally. I find from talking to local producers you can also get deals once in a while, especially if you talk with them regularly (they will give you deals or add extras in). CSA’s are also a great way to get local veggies/fruits for a much better deal.

    1. I agree with you – I’m a HUGE advocate of keeping it local…that’s why I suggested wild game and farmers markets. 🙂 My husband and I support local business whenever we can. However, we live in a rural area and can’t get a lot of the things that we’d like to have. So, for those times we buy online. 🙂

  18. Thank You for the helpful hints! I still feel kinda stuck financially though. We recently discovered Costco so buy more bulk and that has helped, plus it decreases number of trips to the store and we all know we never just get what’s on the list, so saving some money there. We live in suburbia so game hunting is out and the 2 farmer’s markets I could find are only open on weekends. I work weekends. I’m with you on the gardening… I can’t keep a houseplant alive, plus we live on a hill with trees, so no real space to garden. I love the idea of making more from scratch, and maybe I’m approaching it all wrong, but getting dinner made is already a time struggle. And I may have to get a 2nd job on top of it 🙁 Any suggestions for squeezing some cooking/baking time into a hectic schedule? Thanks in advance!

    1. It does take a bit of time to cook. Are you meal planning? Sometimes it helps cut down on time spent cooking when I have a meal plan and I know in advance what to thaw/prep, etc.
      Make the most of your time and get all the help you can from your family – make it a family affair to make meals. And when you DO get to cook, batch cook – make multiples and freeze the extra for later.

      1. Yes, I have been working on better meal planning and it helps, especially since I’ve found some crock pot things my husband will eat (the kids are a whole other battle!). Kids “helping” unfortunately just slows me down and makes meal prep take longer… our 9yo does her homework at the table while I’m cooking dinner, so she can’t always help. My hubby keeps the 5 and 3 yo from underfoot, supervises toy clean up and bathes one of the boys. I’ve tried batch cooking and have found that things just don’t taste right after being frozen, and have thrown things away due to taste (or in the case of frozen cheesy potato soup, clumps of goo when reheated). I put the food in plastic containers then put that into a ziploc freezer bag so I can write on it. I am transitioning to glass storage containers, but that is costly too and the process is slow 🙁 I save my glass for frig leftovers and microwave use. Am I doing freezer storage wrong? I really do appreciate the advice!

        1. it may be the method you are using to reheat frozen foods. i take soup or bone broth out 24-48 hours before and put in the fridge, then slowly reheat over the stove (not the microwave). i double batch all the soups i make and it makes for quick warm dinners.

          i know what it is like to be busy. really, i think the best idea is to transition in baby steps. don’t try to do a 180 change overnight or you will be overwhelmed and quit. decide on 1 area of change you are going to tackle and then once that becomes routine, add another. it may be as simple as buying more fresh fruit to have on the counter for snacks and focusing on the dirty dozen/clean fifteen lists. also, buying produce in season ensures you are getting the most nutrients while spending the least amount of $ and buying on sales more likely. or maybe choose to make your own beans from dried beans instead of from a can – health benefit and cost saver.

          you can do it, just don’t try too much at one time.

          1. Thank You! Perhaps for now I will stick to just meal planning and cutting back on carry out/fast food. You’re right, it can be so overwhelming! My grocery runs are 50% longer too… due to all the label reading and price comparing, but I’m slowly figuring out which is the best compromise!

          2. Good tips above! Baby steps are the way to go – otherwise you get frustrated and quit. And we don’t want that. 🙂
            I’ve never had an issue with frozen foods tasting bad – it sounds like you’re doing it correctly. I’d give it another try and see….perhaps you will find that you only like certain foods frozen. 🙂
            And you could just do the prep in advance and freeze it – chopped peppers, onions, etc. Cooked meat, cooked cream-of soup, etc. 🙂
            Good luck! And holler at me if you ever need encouragement.

          3. Pam,
            It used to take me a lot longer to shop, too, when we first started our whole food diet transition. But now I can go in, know what I need and get out. I still do some label-reading of a FEW things (usually new items I notice or things I don’t purchase very often). But for the most part, I have a pretty good grocery shopping “routine” and that saves time! Also, because I have certain things that we always buy (like Full Circle Organic Ketchup), I know to stock up on them when they are on sale…saving money, too! 😉 We also buy a lot of bulk items from Vitacost (best price I’ve found for organic coconut oil) and Country Life Natural Foods (ships to your door for FREE!) I’ve found not buying so much processed foods opens my budget up for more fresh produce, etc.

    2. I use my crockpot alot! I think that has been a helpful time saver for me. If you have one, maybe start meal planning and use the crockpot a few nights a week to see how it goes. Also, maybe invest in a rice cooker. In addition to steaming rice and quinoa, they also steam vegetables! Good luck to you!!

  19. i will take a look at the links you provided. we live on a missionary income while living in california – have 5 hungry little boys… yes! i know it is possible to eat real foods while on a budget! i am always looking for new tips. i love being a part of a csa, owning a raw milk share, and ordering through azure standard. meal planning always is key for me!!!

    1. Having Azure Standard there for you is a HUGE blessing. 🙂 I am sorta jealous. Okay, I’m a LOT jealous. 😉

  20. For the month of January, we went on a partial fast with our church. The kids gave up dessert and we stopped buying things like juice, Go-Gurt, etc. When we stopped buying things like that, we had extra $$ to spend on better quality food. We now drink only water and milk (ok, and COFFEE!). Another huge $$ saver has been to make our own bread. It was an initial investment in a breadmaker, but I use it more than my actual oven and now the kids refuse to eat storebought bread when I try to be lazy and buy it…

  21. One more thing that I do a lot! 🙂

    “Use Everything.” Seriously! We save veggies scraps and bones for stock. Bits of leftover meat get mixed with eggs for breakfast. Extra egg whites get turned into some healthy, grain-free cookies. You can even bake potato peels brushed with butter and call that a snack. A lot of stuff is truly “food” even if it’s not something you’d normally think of that way!

    This is a time-saving tip, not money (but it relates to the bulk buying) — bulk cooking. I’m in the process of making quadruple batches of many of our favorite “ingredients” — English muffins, tortillas, pitas, waffles, sandwich buns, etc. These will make 4 – 8 dozen (depending on the recipe) and will mean super easy meals later. I’m also freezing a bunch of shredded cheese, and I have home-canned tomato sauce and salsa in the basement. NO excuses when we need something to eat fast…it’s there! I can’t eat out with my family’s food allergies/sensitivities for under $20/meal. At home I could do it for $5, often, maybe less. Not to mention it’ll be healthier and tastier! There are (almost) 6 of us, and yes, I can sometimes make a meal that cheap, especially for me and the kids. My husband likes his meat, which costs a bit more. 🙂

  22. Stephanie your blog rocks! I am a Christian, homeschooling mom and holistic health coach! I love, love your site! I can’t wait to dive in and learn more and share it with others! You are such a blessing!!!!!!! Thank you!!!!

  23. I just discovered this blog a few days ago looking for some grainless cooking ideas. Over the past year or so my husband and I have begun eating more healthy… more of a clean diet. A few months ago I started blogging some of my recipes and thoughts about eating real food. I like what I’ve found here. Thanks for sharing your ideas and resources. – Sheila

  24. These are all great ideas! I just wanted to point one thing out about the wild game meat. We are also big venison eaters, but you are leaving out a lot of hidden costs to them. There is a fee for your hunting liscense that varies depending on you state. Also, unless you own your own land that it is leagal to hunt on (again, laws vary by state), you have to pay deer lease fees, which can get pretty high. We have to “tag out,” which means get the maximum number of deer, in order for it to be worth it each year. You will hear no complaining from my husband though!

    1. I sometimes forget those costs. 🙂 I don’t have them because we hunt on family land – and because if we get meat from friends, they’re also hunting on family land.

  25. I shop at a Mennonite store and they have alot of cheap stuff. I buy stuff like flour, sugar and potatoes, onions and such in bulk. They also sell outdated stuff really cheap like pastas, juices and stuff like that. I generally just buy pasta and their bacon which I think is made from scratch? They also have other good stuff for cheap. I am to feed us better too. We eat venison which my husband hunts and he is teaching me how to hunt too. We grow a garden every year and we even have another Mennonite store where we get twenty pounds of tomatoes for ten dollars. We canned alot of tomatoes last year and this year decided it would be cheaper just to buy then instead of grow them. Our tomatoes don’t get as big as theirs do. We are however going to plant lettuce, carrots, broccoli, turnips, greenbeans and some other stuff I can’t remember. LOL. I also make our bread and am trying to get into making our own pizzas and stuff like that. Anyhow, my point is any little bit that you can do to help yourself eat better is going ot help you in the long run. I totally agree withy you Stacey.

    1. Amish stores ROCK! I’m so blessed to have one 20 minutes away! 🙂 And thanks for the great comment – I like when people agree with me. LOL

  26. I LOVE this! So many people tell me that it’s too expensive, but I find my spending at an all-time low. I take advantage of Amazon and Vitacost, and I have back-ups of the items I use regularly in the freezer. The only things I get at stores or markets are perishables, and I have great sources for each item.

    Cook from scratch, prepare foods in advance so you don’t ever go to McDonald’s, and EAT REAL FOOD. 🙂

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