Good Deals on Good Food

Eating healthy isn’t cheap! As I learn more about processed foods and spend more time reading labels, I am amazed to see the low, low prices on highly-processed junk food in the grocery store. Sure, some of the junk is expensive too, but it is more likely to go on sale and/or have coupons in the paper. How often do you see coupons for bananas? Or fresh green beans? Or broccoli? Those are the coupons I want.

I’m always looking for good deals on healthy food. Lately, I have been trying to go out of my way to find good deals on the good food I like to feed my family. This often means spending time scouring the grocery ads, Sunday paper coupons and the Internet for the best prices. It also means shopping on a day that is not the most convenient for me. But the savings are well worth the effort.

It’s not always easy to find the best deal on good food, but I have found a few tried and true methods that work for our family.

Here are my tips:

1. Use all of the coupons available. I clip the coupons out of the Sunday paper, check the grocery store ads for store coupons, check the store website (and other Internet coupon websites) for more store and manufacturer coupons, and today I even used a new Target app called Cartwheel. The best part is store coupons and manufacturer coupons can usually be combined for even more savings (just check the fine print of the coupons to be sure). Target even lets you use manufacturer coupons, store coupons, Cartwheel AND a 5% discount for using a Target credit or debit card. Talk about good savings!

Also, check the Internet for coupons on big ticket items. If you know you need to buy baby formula or something else pricey, do a quick online search for coupons for that item before going to the store. You never know what you’ll find!

2. Use the coupons on sale items. Every coupon junkie knows the best time to use a coupon is when the item is also on sale.

3. Use your grocery store loyalty card every time. You don’t get the sale prices if you don’t use your store loyalty card! Some stores allow you to load coupons from their website onto your loyalty card for even more savings.

4. Shop on the day your store offers the best deals. I love shopping at Sprouts Farmers Market on Double Ad Wednesdays (when the sales from the previous week and the upcoming week are both available). If your store has a day when it offers a special deal or double/triple coupon specials, be sure to shop on that day to take full advantage of all of the savings.

5. Shop in season and stock up. Fruits and veggies tend to be the least expensive when they are in season, so stock up when the best deals are happening and freeze some for later!

6. Buy bulk. I love shopping the bulk bins. I’m not paying for packaging, so the price is usually lower than the prepackaged foods. And you can bring a measuring cup with you so you only buy what you need for a particular recipe (no wasteful spending and no wasting food).

7. Buy clearance and “manager’s special” deals on items you know you will eat…and freeze them or save them for future meals! If I see organic or hormone-free meats for 50% off (or more) because it is getting close to the sell buy date, I buy them and put them straight in the freezer. I always have quality meats stocked in the freezer, and I didn’t pay a premium price!

Same with clearance items on food that won’t go bad…I stocked up on organic raisins at Target when they were on clearance (they were preparing to bring in organic raisins in new packaging) because they are a staple in our house so I know my family will eat them well before they expire.

8. Fill your cart with the fresh meats, fruits, veggies, grains and legumes that are on sale. Plan your meals around what is on sale that week or buy non-perishable items in bulk when they are on sale. When bulk quick oats were on sale for $.68 at Sprouts Farmers Market a few weeks ago, I bought enough to last our family the whole month!

I have also noticed when I fill my cart only with fresh sale items (fruits, veggies, meats, dairy and bulk grains and legumes), my total spending is less than when I throw in a bunch of prepackaged items. Many times I can buy enough for our family to eat for a week for less than $50 (at Sprouts Farmers Market – what can I say, they have incredible sales when I shop on Wednesday!) if I leave out the prepackaged stuff.

Sometimes we end up not buying things that we want because they are not on sale, but we end up trying new things because they are on sale. My kids go to the grocery store with me, so my 3 year old is even learning to ask if the fruit that she wants is on sale (she knows she probably won’t be getting it if it’s not)!

9. Buy fewer prepackaged and highly-processed foods. These items can add up quickly, as I described above.

10. Plan at least 1 meatless dinner a week. Have you ever noticed how cheap beans are? Do you love breakfast for dinner? It’s easy to make a healthy meal without meat. Eggs and beans are great substitutes for meat. Think outside the meat case!

When we shop this way, we are able to fill our pantry and fridge with good food (and a few treats!). Our family does not eat perfectly (and we certainly don’t claim to be perfect…we are always learning), but I do try to keep a variety of healthy foods in stock at all times.

I hope you find these tips helpful. I’m just like you…always trying to feed my family the best food possible without breaking the bank. If you have any tips or tricks that work for you, please share them in the comments section below. I’m always looking for more ways to save on the healthy stuff!