Stacy’s Grocery Prices

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

Image by ColorMePink

Butter – 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!

Milk – 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!

Sucanat – 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.

Honey – 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.

Eggs – 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’.

Shortening – 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.

Coconut Oil – 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.

Baking Powder – 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.

Image by Jennifer Worthen

Vanilla – 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.

WheatberriesI 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 – 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.  

Produce – 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*

Cheese – 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.

Maple Syrup – 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!

Beans – 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.

Rice – 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.

Image by Fabulessly Frugal

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.**

What are your best prices on these items?  Was this guide helpful to you?

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for having me! :-) I cancel my S&S subscription every time simply because the price isn’t set in stone. If it goes up, I shop around instead of taking the next shipment. If it’s gone up a lot, I can usually find it cheaper somewhere else. Every penny adds up! :-)

  2. Laura says

    I’m a Canadian who lives in the US, maple syrup isn’t that much cheaper in Canada! Haha. I love this post. I struggle with spending so much money on organic food. My family is trying to become debt free also so that makes our budget tight. We garden in the summer and eat as healthy as possible. Its hard to fin raw milk in IL.

    • says

      Laura, it sounds like you’re doing great to me! We can’t have a garden where we live right now……and I really don’t think all organics are necessary unless you have a dietary restriction. Keep on keepin’ on sister!

  3. Lisa Imerman says

    I think this article was very good. Thank you. We do eat mostly organic, and a majority of our budget (after mortgage,etc.) does to food. We have multiple food allergies here so cooking at home and specialty ingredients are pretty necessary. We were doing a whole foods diet before a lot of the allergies were identifed, so it was not as major a shift as it could have been had we been on a Standard American Diet prior to the allergies. I do agree there are ways of cutting costs. We do get mostly organic but we also get mostly local so I feel that we get a good bargain and the best quality. I tend to buy our butter locally and it is pastured but not organic. Not the best ideal but as good as we can get locally within our price range. We pay about $9 for a pound and a half tub. It is the best tasting butter, so now we are spoiled with it. Just cream and salt. If I can’t get the local butter (happens sometimes) I buy the organic butter at whole foods or trader joes, for baking when I need unsalted butter I do buy the sticks at Trader Joes’ or Whole Foods, more expensive but the local unsalted butter is in a big block and much harder to measure and for some reason they add “flavoring” to the unsalted, but not the salted??

    We buy all our meats locally as well. We get a half cow which costs us about $1000 with the processing. so that works out to about $4.50 a pound or less overall. We have a garden so we grow some of our own produces and the rest we get by joining a local CSA or going to the farmers market. We buy from farmers who grow organically even if they aren’t certified. In the winter I tend to get frozen organic vegetables at costco (rarely as many of theirs are from China) or Trader Joe’s.

    We pay $13 (the price has gone up about every year, when we started it was $8) for a 2 1/2 lb jar of local raw honey here. We pay between $48-$59 for a gallon of Grade B local Maple Syrup, but it really depends on which producer we can source from and how that harvest went, we have had a couple of not so great years for production and the price spiked.

    We get eggs from a local organic farmer for $4 a dozen, beautiful pastured eggs. Other farmers around we sometimes get from are around $3.50 and not organic, so for me it is worth the extra money to get the organic, we get about 8 dozen every 2 weeks.

    I am in SE Michigan and we do get raw milk through a cow share, we have to drive a ways but are in a milk group so we only drive every 5 weeks. It costs us an upfront one time fee of $120 and then we pay $43 a month boarding fees for 2 gallons a week.

    Lisa

    • says

      Wow, that’s a great price for your raw milk! We paid a one time fee of $75 for our share and then pay $34.50 a month for 1 gallon a week. We can get pastured eggs for $4 a dozen, but we currently buy DHA enriched eggs from the store for now.

      Question about your raw milk- how do you store it if you only get it once every 5 weeks? Do you freeze it?

    • says

      Lisa where is MI do you get your raw milk and butter from? I have friends in Eastenr MI that I have been encouraging to try raw milk. They live in the Milford, White Lake, Walled Lake, Howell areas.

  4. says

    Wow, Stacy! This is an incredibly helpful post! I’ve been waiting for this one! Thanks so much for doing this breakdown! I think we are totally on the same page. If we were to eat 100% organic, I’d either have to work outside the home, or we’d go into debt. I wish we could, but we just can’t. I’m glad it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. :)

  5. Jill says

    Sam’s Club and Costco are GREAT resources for cheese. I can buy a gigantic block of Kerrygold or Tillamook (neither use hormones and Kerrygold is grass fed) for the price of half that size at the grocery store.

  6. says

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. I too cook from scratch and try to buy organic, but it is so EXPENSIVE. Especially living outside Boston where there is even higher mark-up at the grocery stores. I was having a similar discussion with my husband the other day…is it better to spend $2 for a bag of conventional apples and make our own applesauce, or spend 3x the amount for Organic ready made applesauce? My gut tells me it’s more important to know what’s going into what we make, instead of focusing on the organic label, right?
    I’m looking forward to reading through your site via the links~Thanks!

    Also, I buy butter at Costco and get a great deal, same for baking soda.

    • says

      I get baking soda at Sam’s, and you’re right – great price. :-)
      As far as apples – most people would disagree with you and say to go with ALL ORGANIC apples because they’re on the “bad” list.” I will say that I agree with you 100%. I don’t buy organic apples. I know. GASP! Don’t tell on me. I make it a point to buy LOCAL apples instead. I don’t care if they’re organic, but I do care if they’re local. :-)

      • Rebecca says

        I have to disagree with your local focus when it comes to apples. I live in the midwest with tons of local apple farms around and let me tell you they spray the heck out of those apples! I look for local and UNSPRAYED over organic but I absolutely would not just blindly “buy local” when it comes to the amount of pesticide residue on apples. 99.9% of those local farms are spraying pesticides like it’s water. Sure, you’re eating local apples but also a lot of good old local pesticides too.

        • says

          That’s why blogging is so great. :-) We can agree to disagree. While I think it’s great for those who only want to buy organic apples, I think that for someone who is trying to switch to a new way of eating, it makes more sense for them to first focus on buying whole foods instead of processed foods – in this case, buying apples to make applesauce instead of buying pre-made applesauce.
          Buying local is very important to me because I like to support local business…..and for the most part, around here the apples are “organic” even if they’re not listed that way, due to government costs and strict regulations.

  7. Kristie says

    I have been interested in gut healing and maybe the gaps diet. That leads me to this question. I read that it was very important to eat saturated fats, and we eat all coconut oil. (I am not supposed to have dairy.) I would like to branch out for health and budget reasons. Should I invest in tallow from wellness meats or palm shortening to fry things in and make skillet meals? I haven’t heard much about palm shortening. I would be interested in hearing opinions! :)

    • says

      I don’t know much about the GAPS diet, but Kate does. :-) I do know that we LOVE palm shortening and I fry just about everything in it. It works great and doesn’t make it taste too greasy. I would highly recommend it.

    • Kate Tietje says

      Hi Kristie,

      My favorite fat (other than butter) is lard. If you have any farms near you, or even butchers (look online — you’d be surprised — there are several near me that I never knew about until recently), you can ask to take the raw fat home with you and render it yourself. That’s going to be way cheaper than ordering from anywhere online. Beef tallow is great too, but it has a definite “flavor” so it’s only good for savory dishes (while lard can be used for sweet, too, because it’s neutral in flavor). I have found palm shortening quite greasy (but that might be because once, when Daniel was around a year old, he got the bucket I hadn’t quite sealed open and dipped his hands in, ate some, covered his face and shirt with it…oh my, was that a mess!! Very funny too) but it was nice for frying. Since I have a good source of lard I don’t bother with palm shortening. Another bonus is that pastured lard is high in vitamin D, one of the few foods that is.

  8. Alexandra says

    Kate, where do you get your milk from? Based on what you’ve written on your blog, I think I don’t live far from you (central Ohio), and I haven’t been able to dig up a source for raw milk – only local, grassfed, non-homogenized, lightly pasteurized milk (Snowville Creamery). I’d love to switch to raw if I can – could you let me know via comments and/or email where you’ve found it?

  9. says

    Love this, Stacy! I’m always curious about what others are spending on real food. Looks like we’re pretty much on the same page, but you gave me some good ideas. I’ll be checking into a few different options for some stuff to see if I can get it cheaper another way. Thanks so much!

  10. says

    Stacy, if you are dreaming of a milk cow one day, you may want to consider a dairy goat. Much easier to raise and lower maintenance. My parents have two and would think this would be a better route to go for non-full-time-farmers. Just throwing that out there. Dolly and Martha (My parent’s goats, named after Thomas Jefferson and James Madison wives, nerd alert) will both being having a few kids in the next six weeks-ish so we’re hoping to be getting our milk, cream, butter and cheese from them shortly.

    I am super intrigued by this sucanat business. As soon as I run out of the sugar I have I think I may give it a try. Do you have a post on your blog with details about it?

    We also gets our eggs from my parents for free who have 50+ chickens. They sell them for $3/dozen in their rural town, but organic fresh eggs go for $5 – $6 in Houston where we live.

    We get our vanilla straight from Mexico. We used to make a trip about once a year to stock up on this and other items. Not so much anymore with the drug violence and all. But I do have quite a reserve the will hopefully last until it’s safe to return. We pay $1.10 per 12oz.

    We go straight to the source for our beef. We split half a side (269lbs) between three family member households. So each household gets about 90 lbs, which is about a years worth for us. We pay $2.69/lb which includes all the cuts from hamburger to ribeye. My parents (starting to sound like a broken record) raise chickens for butchering. They buy the chicks and do the raising for six weeks and then my husband and I do the butchering. We pay them for the cost of the chicks and six weeks worth of feed which is $5/chicken. The chickens are usually 6+ lbs each.

    Most of our produce comes from my parents garden or our own backyard. So we buy nearly no vegetables or berries but do purchase most of our fruit (accept peaches.)

    We make our own syrup. One cup white sugar, one cup brown sugar, one cup water, teaspoon of mapeline syrup. At about the cost of $0.14/ 24 oz bottle. Surely not as good as the stuff that oozes straight from the trees but we don’t eat it often, so this works for us.

    Seeing everything you buy in bulk + the walk in pantry in our new house has inspired me to go big!

    Also super intrigued by subscribe and save. Do you get any of your groceries from there or mostly just personal care stuff?

  11. JoAnna says

    Great post…I enjoyed reading. We do what we can without breaking the bank….this helped take some guilt away from not going all organic. I figure if I can keep high processed foods, artificial ingredients, HFCS out of our bodies, we are doing pretty good. I try to buy as close to nature as possible. (butter not margarine, whole milk, not skim etc.)

  12. Ashley says

    Great article! I live close to you (in JC) and I was wondering what your local bulk supPly store was. I’ve looked at suucenet at Earth Fare and it was very expensive. I’ve never tried Ingkes either so I will have to stop by there. Thanks for sharing the info. I’ve never been one for shopping around but obviously it works!

  13. says

    This makes me feel a lot better about where I’m at in my real food journey! We get basmati rice from Sam’s, as well as a lot of our cheeses. Yum, I love good cheese. I think we’re going to save up to buy a 1/4 cow this year (I still have to talk to the hubby about this, lol). I have yet to find organic or pastured chickens for a price I can afford. The cheapest I’ve found is around $12 for a three pound bird. I just can’t shell that out right now. I have yet to find a source for raw milk. Tropical traditions is bookmarked when I’m ready to buy coconut oil and palm shortening!

  14. Kel says

    Lucky for some things– like organic produce from the farmers’ market cheaper than most conventional at the grocery store– but unlucky for others. I planned to pick up some raw milk to try today, thinking that if it could be had for $5 or $6 a gallon that wouldn’t be prohibitive. Turned out to be $8.49 for a HALF gallon at the co-op. So I’ll need to find another source. :( How do you go about finding a farmer to buy direct from?

    One of the grocery stores here (Davis, CA) periodically has free-range chickens/parts at 99 cents a pound, so when they do I stock up. Got organic raisins today, bulk, at the co-op for $1.99 a pound :)

  15. says

    Out here on the West Coast we have Azure Standard. http://www.AzureStandard.com. It’s a buying club with delivery routes based out of Oregon, but they serve a large area of the country. Check it out to see if there’s a route in your area. They have great prices for bulk foods, but also do perishables like rbst-free butter for 3.99# when you buy 10 #. Two of our (Portland, OR) local natural foods grocery co-ops (People’s And Food Front) have great sales days. Every quarter there is a 10% off on the 10th day at Peoples (you don’t have to be mamber to take advantage of it!). I make lists and stock up on staples that day. I also stock up on things that I have coupons for at that time. This year we’ve bought 2 Chinook Books (they have coupon books for local, sustainable businesses) and were given a third. They are 15$, but pay for themselves quickly at my house. Lastly, when I need a staple like rice or beans, and It’s not close to a sale date, I order 15-25# bags (depending on how they come) the Co-op gives a 7% discount for orders of a bag or case of something. I’ve asked around and other grocers do this too, just ask! Just make sure to store your bulk goods properly, spoiled food won’t be saving you any money!
    I wrote a post about how to store bulk foods called “It’s in the Bag: Bulk Foods for Everyday Use” http://nourishingfoodways.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/it’s-in-the-bag-bulk-foods-for-everyday-use/
    Best wishes for a healthy, frugal 2012-
    Dori

  16. says

    What a great post Stacy! We don’t buy all organic either, we make steps towards that but sometimes have to spend the money elsewhere. The top things we are careful about are meats (grass fed beed, and we get “organic” chicken from a market- not usda organic but it is), the dirty dozen fruits & veggies, and if I happen to buy anything packaged, I check the label for msg, food colorings or additives.

  17. says

    Great article Stacy! Thanks for the info and for putting this all down in one spot! It’s always great to see where other mamas are able to find a deal and most of your prices were pretty comparable with what I can find in northern Indiana!

  18. Areta says

    Where is your bulk food store? I moved to Bristol back in October and have been wanting to find a good bulk food store. I had a excellent source back in middle TN along with so many other good sources for our organic healthy foods. I would appreciate any advice or direction.

    • says

      I was referring to two stores: one in Bristol at exit 5 called D&D Country Store. It’s beside the Harley dealership. Great folks…..and if they don’t have what you need, they’ll order it for you.
      And I also like King’s Produce in Wytheville, Virginia…..but that’s a bit of a drive. I try to make it about once a month or so to stock up. :-)
      Good luck! Let me know if I can help you with anything.

  19. says

    Thank you for this great list Stacy! Totally with you on this. It can get so expensive buying everything organic. I had no idea about the aluminum in baking powder – makes sense, but for some reason it never occurred to me to check! Just did, I won’t be buying my store brand any more. Good thing I just found some at Costco for a good price – not as good as yours, but fine for me since I think it would take quite a while to get through 5 lbs.

    Can’t wait to check out some of the other tips as well.

  20. Catherine Clark says

    The rule of thumb I use is the Dirty Dozen. Those I buy organic. Then there are the clean 15(?) or is it 12? Those are the ones that don’t concentrate pesticides so it is okay to buy conventional. EWG and OCA all have pdf downloads that you can carry with you that lists the dirty dozen and the clean veggies/fruits. Makes it much easier to know what to choose organic. Plus don’t think that because you live in an apartment you can’t garden! Be creative; if you have even one wide windowsill or even a back porch you can have potted veggies and/or herbs. You can even grow some blueberries in pots indoors! If you have a balcony you can hang tomatoes, peppers, even cucumbers. Don’t think just rows; thinks containers and sunny windows; even without a sill you can find 2nd hand shelving or something that would work to put plants on. I have a tiny city lot in Chicago, IL. I have innumerable 5 gal. buckets that I am going to make full use of this year. You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to growing healthy foods.

  21. Liz Jones says

    It’s great that you mentioned buying spices in bulk, but keep in mind that the same can be done with herbs. Kate, you mentioned using S&S for your pregnancy tea, but you can make your own really easily by buying and mixing dried raspberry leaves, nettle leaves, alfalfa, and oat straw. Plus you can change it up with other different herbs.

    On a different note: everyone should consider foraging! Even in the city it is possible to find a lot of “weeds” that make for good eating (or drinking). For example, we have found black raspberries and mint easily. You might also think about asking your neighbors if you can harvest from their land; sometimes people have inherited fruit trees or other perennial food plants that they can’t or won’t (or don’t know how to) use but are happy to give other access to. It has helped my hubby and me quite a bit with our grocery bill!

    • Amy Floyd says

      Yes — forgaging! We can fill our freezer every year from wild blackberries in our area, and this year I scavenged pecans from trees in abandoned lots. My other suggestion is to search for scrath and dent stores. We have a large one in our area that, among other things, always have enough organic stuff to make it worth my while to make the 45 minute trip once a month. I have quite a stock of gluten free and grains from Arrowhead Mills and Bobs Red Mill.

  22. Jamie Garcia says

    Real quick I wanted to share what we get our staples for:
    1)Raw milk from a friend: $5/gallon (cream on top for skimming). This is the foundation for all my cooking honestly. (see #2)

    2)Cream is included with that price and I make BM, butter, cream chz, sr crm, & starting to make hard cheese & Yogurt b/c honestly that ALL we seem to eat around here and it looks extremely easy! I figure I can skim at least $20/month off our budget by making the last two things alone, especially since you can make a ‘mother’ and keep using that to start new batches of everything! happy dance!

    3)Raw milk ched cheese: $7.99/pound. Extremely expensive but a necessity in our family honestly. After doing research I just cannot do regular dairy products for my family.

    4)Pastured eggs $2.50/doz same friend. Going rate where I live.

    5)Bulk organic sucanat $1.50-1.80/lb. Mennonite farm store.

    6)Bulk hard white flour (saving for grinder) about 1/2 what I was paying in store (forgot to write price/# down!). Mennonite farm store.

    7)Condiments-Make all but one (mayo-Hain’s safflower mayo at iherb.com for around $3/ 12 oz b/c I just don’t have the patience for mayo!)for pennies on the dollar. Heavenlyhomemakers.com has the best recipes I’ve found so far. Ranch dressing, Italian dressing, ketchup, etc.

    8)Leading me to seasonings: I originally bought an entire simply organic spice cabinet from Food Lion when they had a 1/2 off sale to get rid of their organic stuff, b/c honestly no one buys organic up here except me and a couple of crunchy farmers. then I saved the glass jars b/c they are extremely sturdy and pretty and buy Frontier’s 1# bulk bags on iherb.com or vitacost.com, whichever is cheaper.

    9)Organic rice, beans-buy them online at amazon or from Mennonite farm store. try to get it under $0.27/oz.

    10)Organic, pastured, no-soy (yes I’m that crazy) chicken. We have a terrific Mennonite farmer about 30 minutes north of us http://www.yourfamilycow.com (PA) who does food drops all OVER PA, we’re talking Philly to Pitt to NJ border to MD border. We used to get our raw milk from them too, but at $7/gallon it was killing us. Having as little non-fermented soy in our diet is extremely important to me. I hit him up when he is emptying his freezers for the next years crop of chicken and buy in bulk for a discount. I buy whole chickens but he offers parts of chickens too at higher price/#.

    11)Fish, sigh. “Wild caught” sockeye Salmon from Walmart. I just cannot find something to replace this with out killing our budget.

    12)Beef. We buy 1/4 cow every year to year and half for $3.90/# straight fee. The beef is non-labled organic and minimal no-soy grain long horn (you will never eat another steak out if you switch to LH just a warning). That price is for filet mingnons, NY strips, roasts, and ground beef.

    13) Nuts, another thing we blow through here at home. Nuts.com is the cheapest with s&h for organic/raw nuts I’ve found so far. I also buy my peanut butter stock here for about $3-4/#.

    14) Produce, local farmers. We are extremely blessed to have a lot of farmers in our semi-rural area cashing in on the direct to consumer selling profits that grow exceptional products. Literally 5 miles from me I get canning tomatoes for $16/bushel. They are just slightly bruised, I never even have to cut out wormy parts honestly, esp since I just send it through my victorrio and call it sauce/chili/salsa. Corn is $3 for bakers doz another mile down the road. Peppers and onions I get for $12-15/bushel. Believe it or not Walmart has a decent selection of organic carrots, bananas, and salad greens year round, although I’m seriously experiencing heart ache, my budget likes it for now.

    15)Honey, YFC. Bought in bulk, 5 gallon bucket for like $100(?) Have to double check, but again it’s another thing I don’t ever buy regular. Theirs is organic, raw, and has the cappings. I waited until he had his seasonal bulk discount pricing again.

    Couple websites to find farmers/CSAs/dairies/cheap produce in your area:
    http://www.localharvest.org
    http://www.eatwild.org
    your local gov’t probably has a list of farmers on their website as well
    azurestandard.com-probably THE CHEAPEST semi-national co-op, If you live in their delivery zone I am SO JEALOUS.

    Phew mind dump, I LOVE swapping ideas and sources around!!

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