Sunday, March 21, 2010

Organic odds and ends

I am so excited that Jamie Oliver has a new television show coming out! So far, the only show that I have watched is Jamie Oliver’s School Lunch Project. I loved it and I have a feeling that a lot of his DVDs will appear on my next Christmas list. I truly believe in his mission and I am impressed with his efforts. For those of you that feel the same way, you can sign his petition here. If you aren’t familiar with him (or already love him) and get a chance to watch his upcoming Food Revolution (debuts Friday, March 26th 9pm – 10pm ET on ABC), you definitely should.

As I wrote in past posts, costs and budgeting are huge concerns of mine. In my household, as our family grows, it seems like the raises, bonuses, and opportunities to earn a higher income (like overtime) are becoming fewer and farther between. Especially in this economy. There just doesn’t seem to be nearly as much to go around.

I have really made an effort to buy primarily organic food since I started this blog. And, plain and simple, organic just costs more. I get frustrated at the grocery store when I see that my selection is reduced to a corner and the prices have risen considerably. I hope that once I receive the CSA share (just two more weeks!), that supplementing with meat and starches won’t be quite as pricey, but meat is the highest portion of the food budget, so I don’t have my hopes up too far. I have found a few tricks that I will share, and if anyone has anything else, please comment. Every little bit helps!

First, shop around. I know that isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially if your time is as limited as mine. I take one Saturday and month and meet a friend and travel out of town to at least one health food store. We can split the gas, it’s nice to have company, plus if there is anything else we need to do in the area we can do that, too. Health food stores aren’t necessarily always cheaper, but I usually find a better selection (especially with produce) and I have become so familiar with my grocery store corner, that I know when something is a deal. Eggs, for example, are ALWAYS cheaper at the health food store. And, come prepared. If you use your own reusable grocery bags, make sure to pack them, along with a cooler (you can usually get a bag of ice anywhere). I get a discount if I bring my own bags. And, one of the stores that we go to has a discount card program, which also helps.

Second, become familiar with prices. It’s difficult to recognize a deal if you don’t know what the item usually costs. My family has a few “go to” foods and dinners that I will purchase regardless of how much we have at home if I find a good price. I heard it referred to once as a “stock up price” which is exactly what it is. If I can find organic macaroni and cheese on sale for under $1, we stock up. The same with cleaning supplies. I have been lucky with coupons for the 7th Generation all purpose cleaner (spray and wipes) and have been purchasing them for 99¢*, so we have quite a few stored away right now. It retails for about $3, so I am saving 67% and that is worth it to me to buy a few extra.

Next, find out if your grocery store has an organic store brand. I shop at Kroger and just found out that they have a Prime Selection organic line. They sell various meats, pasta, and other things. These prices are much more reasonable than the name brand (even without a sale), so it has helped our budget quite a bit. Also, Kroger gets tricky with these items and doesn’t stock them in the health food section with the rest of the organic food, but along with the non-organic items (which is one of the reasons that it took me so long to find). Also, look at different ways to keep perishable food. For example, milk freezes really well. If I see about to expire milk on clearance (which is always a big yay! because organic milk is super expensive) then I stock up and stick the gallons in the freezer. Something like eggs is a bit tougher…

Lastly, use coupons and watch weekly ads. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but I did post links to a couple sites that pretty much give them to you. Check them weekly or monthly even. Sunday is coupon clipping day for me. I check the websites and the newspaper (except for Kroger which changes on Mondays). I have a small filing envelope (made specifically for coupons that is from the dollar store) that I keep in my purse, so I always have them with me. If you find an organic brand that you like, visit their website. The company usually has a coupon (especially for signing up on an email list) and some even post different ones regularly. Quite often I can get name brand items for less than the price of the store brand items by pairing my coupons with sales. Once I got my system down, it really only takes me about an hour. Everyone has different needs, so it may take you more or less time, depending.

Organic is just more expensive. But, I have managed on a very tight budget by doing these things and I still believe that for the health of my family and me it is worth it. It can be done; it just takes a little time and planning. I am interested to hear about how everyone else saves.

Also, check me out! Yeah, I'm that Mollie - yay!

*If anyone is curious about how I get a particular deal, just let me know.
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