Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
18 Jul

How to Eat Healthy and Save Money

2329185659 16fa094265In the last several weeks we’ve served up budget tips (and you’ve shared great suggestions and discussion) all in the interest of making the PB diet more affordable. It’s tough times out there (still), but it shouldn’t keep us from living the healthiest life possible. Actually, tightening the grocery belt might even have its benefits.

It pays to prioritize. The budget possibilities run the gamut: shopping warehouse stores judiciously, joining CSAs, deep freezing/canning for winter months, growing your own, foraging at farmer’s markets, experimenting with “thrift cuts,” paring food purchases down to the healthiest and most essential, etc.

As the economic concerns in the country grow, this topic isn’t going anywhere soon. We’re in or approaching the best, cheapest part of the agricultural year, and we thought we’d throw out a few additions and reminders that can help you get the most for your food dollars now and in the coming months.

We’ll say it again: CSAs

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The media has been all over this subject lately, and time may be of the essence. The New York Times ran yet another article this week on highlighting the cost savings of farm shares. Though summer shares are likely sold out (we suggest still trying), it’s the perfect time to sign up for fall and early winter shares. Many farms have separate “peak season” and “fall/early winter” contracts. Also, many farms are starting to take orders for late summer and fall meat shares. Once fall hits, people start thinking stock-up. It’s best to beat the crowd. With all the publicity, shares will likely go more quickly than normal.

Don’t overlook frozen veggies

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It’s the peak of summer, and you’d expect fresh to be cheaper than frozen at this time of year. Not necessarily so. With higher gas (transport) prices, a late spring in the Midwest, and regional floods and fires, frozen fare may be the way to go. You may also find great sales on frozen veggies as stores attempt to move the products while most consumers look for fresh this time of year. It’s a great time to stockpile for fall and winter.

Do organics judiciously

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We know, we suggest and harp on organic options a lot – and for good reason. But in this economy, some organics count more than others in terms of your personal health. (Sure, we understand and support “organic” as a socially conscious consumer commitment, but not everybody can make that choice all the time.) Meats and high fat dairy, eggs, and soft skinned fruits and veggies are organic priorities. Other items not so much. In terms of personal health, a tomato should be organic (or at least hydroponic – which uses less pesticides), an avocado doesn’t matter as much. As for nut butters: buy raw if you can but forgo organic (except peanut butter) to save a few dollars. Or, buy an organic version for the kids and conventional for the adults in the house. And skip organic for items you use only occasionally like condiments.

Cut back on “indulgences”

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Yes, this can seem like a harsh one. As much as we love our wine, our dark chocolate, our artisan cheeses, etc., they add a fair amount to the bottom line of the grocery receipt. If you’re on the PB challenge for the month, hey, you’re probably saving already! If not, see if you can choose one thing to do without. As for healthy but expensive items like berries, only buy them on sale or find other substitutes.

Master the game of coupons

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We mentioned a while back that it pays to call companies outright and request coupons for their products. They tend to be more “generous” coupons than those you find in the Sunday paper. Likewise, you don’t have to sift through 15 pages of coupons for Lunchables, Fruit Roll-ups, and Teddygrams (or Tyson Frozen Ready to Eat Chicken like those above).

Nonetheless, those customer service folks will eventually become hip to your game. A call or two can yield good results, that 7th or 8th attempt not so much. What’s your plan then?

Target your coupon search by seeking out “special interest” publications. “Natural health” magazines and other “crunchy” or alternative publications generally pique the interest of those who would buy healthy and organic. As a result, the ads and coupons will be geared toward this kind of audience. Oftentimes, the coupons are for $1.00 or more. A subscription might be worth it just for yourself, or consider sharing one with a friend.

More and more upper end grocery stores now publish their own seasonal magazines featuring new product lines and customer programs (catering, etc.). To garner interest, they often include coupons in their publications. Some stores even publish a separate natural or organic magazine. The best part: the coupons are often manufacturer-based, meaning you can use them anywhere and not just in their store.

Another option is the online coupon realm. Yes, it’s subject to the same junk food focus as those Sunday ads, but you can sometimes do searches for specific products or categories like organic. A few tips for those online sites: don’t necessarily scan just for pictures. We found a Cascadian Farms coupon that showed a box of cereal, but the coupon could be applied to any of the company’s products, which includes frozen veggies.

Even if your coupon search doesn’t turn up servings for many healthy items, you’ll likely find a few coupons for household or personal products you can use. Saving a few bucks there can mean adding a few bucks to the food shopping for the week. Hmmm. Maybe go for those blackberries after all….

Any coupon kings/queens out there? Other tips or suggestions to share? What other tricks do you use to trim the budget these days?

To round out this post we thought we’d link to some of our previous budget friendly posts as well as a few of the best from around the net.

Oh, and check back later for budget-friendly recipe ideas!

Health Eating on a Budget Round-Up:

3 Budget Friendly Healthy Foods Tips

Healthy Eating on a Budget

Dear Mark: Cheap Meat?

Cheap Meat Round II: “Thrift Cuts”

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget

Affording Organics

Urban Gardening

My Paleo Kitchen: 10 Money Saving Tips

The Simple Dollar: Ten Ways to Find Bargains on Fresh Food

freemoneyfinance: How to Save 20% on Food Prices

Modern Forager: “You’d Have to Be a Millionaire to Eat Like That”

Get Rich Slowly – Unit Pricing: Get More Food for Less Money and The Grocery Game

Kenn Christ, pinprick, Zesmerelda, val’sphotos, ninjapoodles, Darren Hester Flickr Photos (CC) and a Hat Tip to Total Fit Mom

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I think a lot of us, I know I fit into this category, are in a hurry and get into the business of assuming that we are to busy. I do not save coupons even though it guarantees money saved. Indulgences were taken care of when gas prices went up, I honestly think this a major factor in why a lot of Starbucks are closing. My mother is a thrifty shopper and always takes full advantage of coupons. I think another way is to have a “card” and always look for discounts when you are a member of the supermarket, this much I do pay attention to.

    Bill wrote on July 18th, 2008
  2. “As the economic concerns in the country grow, this topic isn’t going anywhere soon”.
    This article is right on when it talks about ways to save. I am a mother with three children and I always, always pay attention to coupons, ten years ago I didn’t but now it is a must!
    Thanks for such an informative article. I do have a question on the frozen fruits though…
    When you freeze vegetables do they lose there vitamin potency?

    Stephanie wrote on July 18th, 2008
  3. Hello Mark,

    Yours is a healthy looking icon!

    If you or any of your readers would like coupons for Cedarlane Natural Foods http://CedarlaneFoods.com/GoodFood.htm I’d be happy to send you some.

    They’re all natural, organic and delicious.

    Just email me your street address at Feedback@CedarlaneFoods.com

    Best regards,

    Dailey
    The Big Cedarlaneoholic

    The Big Cedarlaneoholic wrote on July 18th, 2008
  4. Dailey, Dude…I’m not sure my readers would find much of your fare appealing. Most of it goes way against the grain of the PB. Thanks for thinking of us, though.

    Mark Sisson wrote on July 18th, 2008
    • well I’m interested. I only stumbled upon your blog because of the CedarLane entry here.

      Elizabeth wrote on January 24th, 2012
  5. Stephanie,

    From what I’ve read, frozen veggies/fruits don’t lose any vitamins or minerals. The only thing that’s diminished is the “natural enzyme” content, according to raw foodists. Most people don’t seem to think this is too big of a deal. Many are skeptical of the idea of enzyme content at all.

    Jen wrote on July 18th, 2008
  6. Whole Foods is putting out this huge coupon book right now with 1/2 off and 1 off coupons on a lot of items in the store. The book also has a lot of recipe’s in it (That may or may not fall under the category of this diet) but ask for the Mambo Sprouts book when you check out. :)

    Laura wrote on July 18th, 2008
  7. Thanks for a great article on a topic close to my heart!
    Being frugal during economic downturns can be a fantastic opportunity to revisit your eating habits and cut back on those indulgences.
    We started a budget many years ago now and not only have we saved a substantial amount of money, we have improved our health by following some of the tips you have posted here.

    Ms. Penny Pincher wrote on July 19th, 2008
  8. Coupon Ninja here.

    I’ve used coupons for about two years now, and you are correct — a lot of it is for junk foods. However, as mentioned you can call or write to companies to inquire about coupons, and more often than not you can find printable coupons online as well. There are many forums online with which to learn the art of couponing. You can get many things for free or pennies on the dollar if you pair coupons with sales. If nothing else, you can spend less money on other necessities and put the saved money towards higher quality foods.

    Coupon Ninja wrote on September 12th, 2011
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    uggs sale wrote on February 13th, 2012
  10. My problem with couponing is that I never get coupons for products I use. Never. Plus, I live in a smaller city where we only have 5 main grocery stores and none have any grass-fed meats. A Whole Foods is an hour away in 2 directions. Another issue is my daughter has to be on a gluten-free diet. This does work pretty well with paleo diet, but I have to watch condiments and broths/cream of whatever soups. Any suggestions?

    Noelle wrote on April 16th, 2012
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    money wrote on June 10th, 2013

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