Tips to Save You Money When Buying Real Food

My Top Resources to Save Money on Buying Healthy Food

Famers Market

It’s sad to say, but buying healthy food (also known as “real” food) is expensive and can easily blow your household grocery budget.

Recently my husband and I had to take a real hard look at our spending habits and it wasn’t pretty!

2 things became obvious:

  • Amazon is my addiction
  • we spend a crazy amount of money on “real” food

Trying to defend my spending on food (there’s no excuse for Amazon!), I looked up the national average for household grocery spending and found we were way, way, way, over that! With no more excuses I had to admit and accept the problem: we (I) buy items without thinking about their costs or whether we truly need them. With the problem identified, my husband gave me the challenge of coming up with a way to save money on groceries without sacrificing the quality of our food.

Starting out, I didn’t think it was possible, but now we’re saving around $1000 a month! Plus I now spend half the time I normally did in the grocery store! If you want to know my process, keep reading.

Shop Your Home First

This has been huge in chopping down our grocery bill. I’m lazy, so it was easier for me to go buy everything I needed to make meals that week than to spend time going through the fridge, freezer, and cabinets. I found that following this one tip alone helped cut our weekly shopping expenses down by 1/3.

Store Flyers

One of my other strategies is to meal plan based on what’s on sale. We get sales flyers in the mail on Tuesday. So after I inventory my kitchen and garage, I check to see what’s in the flyers and finish my meal plan for the week.

Online Coupons

The online coupon company I use consistently is Mambo Sprouts.

If you like good old-fashioned coupons direct in your hand, Mambo Sprouts has you covered. Go to their website and click on the top post under “Coupon Books” to request their coupon booklet be sent to your home.

Rebate Apps!

There are several rebate apps to use, but Ibotta and Ebates are the two we use most often.

Ibotta

Ibotta gives you cash back for items you buy. It’s like using coupons only without physically having to cut them out. It can take a few minutes to a couple of days to see the money credited to your account. Once there, you can opt to have the money sent to your PayPal account on turn it into a gift card from retailers like Amazon, Target, and Best Buy to name a few.

Before going shopping:

  • choose your store and the items you will buy
  • buy those items
  • scan the barcodes from the items (not necessary for produce)
  • take a picture of your receipt
  • all done!

I check Ibotta every time I go shopping. Even my husband likes using it! Ibotta is easy. When you join and redeem your first rebate, they’ll give you $10! Sign up for a free account here, then download the app on your phone.

(Note the above link is my referral link which will compensate me if you sign up. Thank you!!!)

Ebates

Anytime I do online shopping I check to see if the store is on Ebates, which gives you a percentage back on the purchases you make with its associated retailers. The percentages back is different for any given retailer and often changes throughout the month. 

Ebates website and mobile app are simple to use:

1. Register for a free account here and search for your desired retailer

2. Once you find your store, click on the provided link so you access the retail site through the Ebates shopping portal

3. Choose items to add to your cart like normal, complete your purchase, and you’re done! 

4. The rebated amount will automatically appear in your account in 1-2 days

The downside with using Ebates is that they send out rebate checks or PayPal payments quarterly. So if you make a purchase in February, you’ll have to wait until May to see the money. Also, you must have at least $5.01 in your account to receive a check.

Ebates is also offering an extra $10 in your account when you complete your first purchase of $25 through them. Plus, they claim to have over 1800 shops and services to choose from so you’ve got nothing to lose from checking them out!

(Note the above links are my referral links which will compensate me if you sign up. Thank you!!!)

Choosing a Shopping Day

I know that one of my local health food stores runs last week’s and the current week’s sales together every Wednesday, which makes half the store on sale when I go there!

Make a List and Stick to it!

This is old advice but so true. I always had a list, but I would buy whatever looked good to my eyes at the time. Now I go with a purpose. The only time I buy items not on my list is when the store is having a killer sale on items we use regularly.

Know a Good Sale

I had no clue how much items cost at the grocery store. I would buy what my family wanted without looking at the prices. I started saving our receipts and recording the prices we were paying for items into a spreadsheet. This clued me in on how much we were paying, when to buy certain items and when to wait. 

Freezer Chest

I’m not sure why we didn’t have a one of these before. Deep freezers come in handy when an item you normally buy goes on sale and you want to stock up! We keep ours in the garage and use it mainly to store meats and pre-prepped meals for the crock pot.

Vacuum Sealer

A must when using a deep freezer. I tried using regular freezer bags at first and they just didn’t cut it in the deep freeze. The vacuum sealer systems remove all the air in the bags which preserves food items perfectly. When you go to thaw out the items, it’s like you just brought them home from the store.

If buying “real” still seems to be out of your reach, then here are two tips I would like to share:

1. Prioritize your Budget by Buying Only High Quality Meats

This means instead of buying organic produce and snacks, buy organic or grass-fed beef and chicken. Check out farmers markets or take a trip to a local butcher (you trust) to get quality meats if your local grocery store doesn’t carry them.

Conventional meat produced in the U.S. contains high amounts of antibiotics due to the living conditions of these animals. Antibiotics are also given to feed animals to “fatten” them up quickly, requiring less of the farmers resources as it gets the meat to market sooner. We end up with these antibiotics in our bodies when we eat this kind of meat. And our medical care and quality of life are severely impacted as noted by our current antibiotic-resistant bacteria problem. 

2. Shop the “Dirty” dozen and “Clean” 15

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a list of the top 12 produce items you should always buy organic and the top 15 produce items that are ok to not buy organic. They regularly update their lists and have an easy to use app.  

There you Have It!

Purchasing “real” food is a challenge and a commitment to those of us on a budget. Putting these tips into practice can make a huge difference in your overall grocery bill. Thankfully the movement towards eating better has retailers and businesses taking notice, as they are starting to give us real saving options!

The hardest and best lesson I learned in making a “real” food budget work is setting aside time for planning. Although purchasing additional kitchen appliances makes stocking up on great deals a lot easier they are not a requirement. 

Do you have your own tips that are helping you save on the cost of real food? I’d love to hear them! Please leave a comment below.

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