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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"Crunchy" Couponing: Eating healthy on a Budget

Photo courtesy of Vegetarian Times

**Crunchy: "Granola", someone who strives to live a green, earth-friendly lifestyle (or hippy-ish, depending on who you ask)

There are many ways that you can work towards bringing more health-friendly foods into your home. But many people think eating a healthy diet works against their plans to stick to a grocery budget. A mostly organic, fresh produce-rich way of eating does not have to cost you an arm and a leg. Here are some basic tips for meeting your health goals and your weekly budget:

Coupons: I used to think that people who coupon’d ate nothing but free macaroni and cheese, discount Rice-a-Roni, and cheap canned corn. I did not draw a line between healthy eating and coupons. However, if you know what to look for, you can save a lot of money on organic and health food products through coupon sources.

  • Mambo Sprouts-will mail you a book of organic/green product coupons and offers printable coupons for selected products.

  • Grocery store produce coupons-I had no idea that my local grocery store (Food Lion) occasionally offers coupons on produce. This blew my mind since produce (specifically organic when I can get it and fresh herbs) take up the largest portion of my grocery expenses.

  • Alot of traditional products have organic options but aren't shown on the coupon but are applicable for the organic option. As long as a type isn't specifically included or excluded, the organic should apply. (canned tomatos and spaghetti sauce are two things I have applied this to!)

Eat Local and In-Season: produce prices vary greatly depending on how far a product has to travel to get to you. Strawberries in November from South America are going to cost a whole lot more than state-grown ones in May. Not only is the price to you much lower, the "footprint" on the eco-system is much lower if a truck does not have to haul them from places far away. (Learn to can and freeze fruits and veggies so that you can enjoy the produce bought in its prime and at its most economical price!)

Get outside of the grocery store: This is an extension of the last step but takes it one step further. When the weather warms up, take advantage of farmer's markets, road side stands and "pick your own" farms. Many small farms grow their products organically but don't have the money to pay for certification. Talk to your local farmers, form relationships with them and use "pick your own" farm experiences to make the agricultural experience more "real" to you and your family. Right now is also the best part to get signed up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box of fruit and veggies-the prices are lower, support local agriculture and the variety of products often force you to get out of comfort (boring!) zones. Find a CSA near you through Local Harvest.

Try Meatless Monday: (or Tuesday or Wednesday or all days!) Some experts say that there is no other step that you can take in your home to reduce your carbon footprint than to reduce your meat consumption. A mere 15% reduction in meat consumptions improve your health and weight per several studies. Beyond that, serving meatless meals reduces the bottom line on your grocery bill significantly. Don't fill up your grocery list with pricey processed faux meats either!

Make it yourself: It is debatable whether making your own products (like bread, for example) is more expensive and time consuming than buying it at the store. But there are a couple of reasons that making things yourself is preferable:

  • you know what is in the products you make (you make bread and it has 4 bread is full of 47 who-even-knows-how-to-pronounce-it ingrediants!)

  • you can use flexibility to create your recipes (this helps reduce food waste and increases your creativity in the kitchen)

  • you get to have the enrichment of the making experience (don't underestimate the creative process in cooking and it is wonderful to share these experiences with your family!)

Hopefully these tips can help you reduce your grocery budget, your carbon footprint and your junk food intake...Please share any healthy, money-saving tips you may have!

1 comments: said...

Great Post...we always have one or two nights a week that are meatless. I once heard you should shop mainly the outside lanes...:)

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