By Stacy Myers, Contributing Writer
Hello. My name is Stacy and I don’t buy all organic foods. Would I like to? Yep. Can my budget take the hit? Nope. For the longest time I felt really bad about not being able to buy what Suzy Awesome Homemaker was buying. But guess what? I’m not Suzy Awesome Homemaker – I’m Stacy Who Lives on a Budget.
In order for my family to be able to buy all organic foods, I would have to get a job. And if I get a job, when will I have time to cook all the organic foods from scratch? For me and my house, it’s much more important that I stay home and take care of my household than it is for me to buy 100% organic. That being said, I do make most of my foods from scratch. I feel better about making it that way than buying it already made and full of preservatives – so if my scratch ingredients are NON-organic, then so be it. Ahhhh. I feel so much better after getting that off my chest. 😉
I’ve been asked to submit a post listing my prices for the staple items that I buy. As a former self professed Coupon Queen, I am very budget minded and try to always find the cheapest price – I have a reputation you know. J Most of these prices I keep in a list in my head….which is also where a host of information resides. I’m going to give you my base price – the highest I’ll pay.
Sometimes I find it cheaper and that’s when I stock up. And you might be able to find some of these things cheaper where you live….but this should at least give you something to go on – a general idea of how much to pay. For example, if you live in Canada (Eh), then you will most definitely find cheaper maple syrup than I will – and you should also know that I am in envy of all you Canadians up there living off that awesome maple syrup. :-p
How to Get the Best Grocery Prices
I don’t buy organic butter. When I’m buying butter, I want these two things on the list of ingredients: cream and salt. Yes, I buy salted butter. Non-organic butter is already so expensive that I just can’t shell out for the organic stuff…..because we use a TON OF BUTTER. I buy it at my local grocery stores when I can find it for $2.50/lb. I stock up and put it all in the freezer. If I find it for $2 (which happens a few times a year), I buy all that they have at the store. Ha!
One day I’d like to have my own cow so that I (errr, Barry) can milk it. Right now, I don’t have access to raw milk. So, I buy milk from a local dairy. It IS pasteurized and homogenized, but I know they don’t use growth hormones – and right now that’s good enough for me. I pay $4.25 per gallon for whole milk. Note from Kate: I pay $5 per gallon for raw milk. The local dairies around me actually charge $6 – $7/gal for pasteurized milk so I’m getting a better deal with the raw!
We love using sucanat. I like to buy it in bulk. I can find it easily at my local bulk foods store for $1.73/lb. I know from talking to a few friends that they find it elsewhere for cheaper….but that’s my lowest price here. I usually buy 25-50 pounds at a time and store it in 5 gallon buckets.
I’m able to find local, raw honey for $10/quart. I know that’s a pretty good price no matter where you live. If you aren’t having success at finding it locally, ask at your farmer’s market. Note from Kate: I buy honey for $30/gal. The going rate around here is $4/lb. A gallon of honey is NOT equal to 8 lbs. It is at least 11 lbs. Factor that in when you’re calculating your price.
I buy eggs from my dear friend Leslie at NLV Farms. I get one dozen for $1.75. I’ve had friends who have found them for $1.50, but I know that Leslie uses great feed and takes wonderful care of her chickens…she’s even got a beach set up for them. Chicken luvin’.
The only shortening I use these days is Palm Shortening. It works great for frying stuff! I buy it from Tropical Traditions at about $25-30 per gallon. A gallon will last quite a while. Sign up for the TT emails and wait to get free shipping to help on the cost.
Okay, I’m coming clean again…I don’t buy organic coconut oil. Don’t shoot me. I feel good just using it, so I’m okay with not doubling the price for the O label. I pay $7/quart for coconut oil at my local bulk food store. I know that’s dirt cheap. If you need to buy organic, I know that Amazon runs great sales on Nutiva Coconut Oil. It’s even cheaper if you use Subscribe and Save. I’ll cover subscribe and save at the bottom. Tropical Traditions also runs sales, so watch their emails for those. Note from Kate: I do buy the Nutiva from Amazon and use Subscribe and Save. It works out to around $40/gal, but since it takes me 4 – 6 months to go through that much, I’m good with it. Plus it’s yummy.
I buy Rumford Aluminum Free Baking Powder from The Bread Beckers. It’s $13.12 for a 5 pound pail. I’m very lucky to have a local delivery point. You should check and see if you do too. They also have great deals on bulk wheatberries and sucanat. Note from Kate: I have found aluminum-free baking powder at Amish stores — just check the ingredients label. It’s pretty cheap there.
Recently I tried to make my own vanilla and it just ended up smelling like liquor because I’m cheap and didn’t want to use too many beans. I’m going to try again, using these Vanilla Beans from Amazon for $32 and a half gallon of bourbon from the liquor store which set me back about $18. Note from Kate: I’ve been making my own vanilla for over a year now, and the ratio of beans to alcohol is important! You can also choose bourbon or rum or other types of alcohol to create your own unique vanilla extracts!
Cocoa Powder, Spices, and Arrowroot Powder
I don’t know the exact prices on these, but I do buy them in bulk at my local bulk foods store. Check around – see if there are any of those near you. Amish stores are always a great place to visit for foods in bulk. Bulk spices are always cheaper.
I grind a majority of our flour, so I buy wheat berries in bulk – usually 25 pounds at a time. I’m lucky to have a local food co-op that I order these from. I pay around $17 for 25 pounds of white wheat and around $20 for soft wheat. The prices vary, but that’s pretty close. Check out Unfi to see if they deliver near you.
Meat varies widely based on where you live. My husband is a hunter, so we eat a lot of ground venison. I get this prepared for me at a local meat processor for $40 per deer. Not too shabby. I think the median cost around here is about $50 per deer. My daddy is a cattle farmer, so I get beef very cheaply too.
If you need beef, I suggest you go straight to the source – the farmer. Buy a whole cow or a side of beef at a time for a better price. Get a chest freezer – they’re worth the money.
I buy my organic chicken at Ingles. I love Ingles for organic meats – it won’t break the bank. And if you’re lucky you find mark downs that you can bring home and freeze. Recently I found a whole 6 pound organic chicken for $6. I can’t really help you with fish because I’m not a fish eater – BLECH!
Note from Kate: I like to buy wild-caught fish at Trader Joe’s, and go for the “ends and pieces” type packages, that are oddly shaped. They’re cheaper than nice fillets but with the same high quality.
I am willing to pay more for good produce. I don’t skimp on that. I try to visit my local farmers market and get a majority of my produce there. I also frequent local produce stands. I buy all my apples locally. Local food is best – and you’re supporting your neighbors. Win-win situation. I love organic produce, but only get about 40% of mine organic. When you buy from the Farmer’s Market, they don’t label their food organic. The government charges them too much for that – they don’t have anything else better to do with their time. *Cough*
We LOVE Organic Valley cheeses. LOVE THEM. We do not, however, love their price tag. I might buy one or two per month as a treat (around $4 for 8 ounces). The rest of the time, I use block cheese from the grocery store. Block cheese shreds up more per volume than pre-shredded and it’s not coated with cellulose. I look for sales of around $1.50 for 8 ounces and then stock my freezer. Note from Kate: Costco has good deals on imported raw cheese. We buy much of ours there for around $5/lb. Cheese is also fairly cheap at Trader Joe’s. We eat so much of it that we are pretty careful about this.
I find that the best deal on maple syrup, organic Grade B is via Amazon Subscribe and Save. I was clued into this awesome syrup by Mindy from The Purposed Heart. It’s the BEST deal I’ve ever found. You can get a quart for $15.62. Note from Kate: I’ve found maple syrup in Amish country for $38/gal. It’s not organic, and I’m unsure of the grade, but if you don’t use much that’s a great price. I’ve found organically produced (not certified) grade B at farmer’s markets for $48/gal. You will get the best price if you buy a gallon at a time — just find a couple friends to split it with if you don’t use it often! Also, Costco has organic maple syrup for about $12 – $13/quart.
For the most part, I buy pinto beans and great northern beans. I find both of these at Sam’s Club. I only shell out $9 for 10 pounds of pinto beans and $8 for 10 pounds of great northern beans. I buy the other types of beans I want (organic) at Ingles when they have them on sale. If you don’t get the Ingles paper, you can email them and ask to have it delivered via mail. They’ve got great customer service. Note from Kate: $1.75 – $2/lb. is typical for organic dry beans, but since a lb. of dry beans is actually quite a lot, this is still pretty frugal.
I also find my rice at Sam’s Club. We eat white rice, not brown. We just don’t like the taste of brown rice. I quit sweating it after I read this article from The Healthy Home Economist. Our favorite rice is Basmati and I get a 20 pound bag of it for $16. It’s not organic but it is non-GMO.
Okay, now for Subscribe and Save. S&S is a great program from Amazon. It’s available on lots of food products and personal use products. You’ll see the option on the right hand of the screen when you’re looking at the items. I use it frequently. It gives you 15% off and FREE SHIPPING. They want you to choose when to have it delivered again, but the price isn’t set in stone. So, after I get my shipment I cancel my subscription – my delivery is my reminder to do so. They do not penalize you for doing this.
Note from Kate: I don’t cancel mine. They offer the option of 1, 2, 3, or 6 months between shipping, and you can go in at any time and ask for an extra shipment, or to skip a shipment with no penalties. They will also remind you a few weeks in advance that your next shipment is coming up so that you can go in and choose to skip if you prefer. I use this primarily for coconut oil, but also used it to buy Traditional Medicinal’s pregnancy tea when I was pregnant with Daniel. With the “upcoming shipment” reminders, I’ve never been caught off guard with an unexpected shipment.
WHEW! Brain overload? Did I leave something out that you’d like to know about? Just ask me and I’ll get back to you.
**This post has been entered in Penny Pinching Party.**