Here in Part II of this series on sustainable eating, I will look at some of the nuts and bolts ways to save money on sustainably raised/grown food.
1. Farmer’s Markets or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Go to the farmer’s market! No, seriously. Go. It’s nearly June. Summer is upon us and farmer’s markets are bursting with delicious, sustainable produce just begging to be eaten. There’s nothing like the first strawberries of the season.
Local Harvest is an amazing website which will connect you with places in your area which have sustainable food. Find a farmer’s market here!
When you shop at a farmer’s market, there’s no middle man. You are buying directly from the producer. Not only are you supporting the local economy, a small business owner, and sustainable agriculture…you are saving money, particularly on produce.
While you’re at the farmer’s market, buy a whole chicken. Do it (if you like chicken).
It took me an embarassingly long time to realize how much money can be saved when you buy a whole chicken versus boneless, skinless breasts. At the farmer’s market, we get a whole, 3 pound chicken for about 8.50. That’s less than three dollars per pound. At the grocery, free-range, boneless, skinless breasts cost nearly SIX dollars per pound! That’s insane. Please don’t pay six dollars per pound for chicken. Just cook the darn thing and take the skin off. There you go. Go to the farmer’s market.
If you don’t have time to go and meander through a farmer’s market (although I think it’s one of the true pleasures of summer), you can sign up for a CSA, or community supported agriculture. Some will deliver to your door, some will have you pick up in one location. It’s basically a bin full of whatever produce a particular farm has for that week (some are bi-weekly). Same idea as the farmer’s market, but more of a time-saver for the busy.
2. Keep Your Eyes Peeled
If you get a Sunday paper, there are coupons inside. Grab those suckers and get to work. Occasionally there will be a coupon for Eggland’s Best cage-free brown eggs, or for Organic Valley dairy, or Stoneyfield Farms organic yogurt. Keep your eyes peeled and you can find good deals through the paper.
In a similar vein, did you know you can print coupons from the Internet? I know, crazy right? I love technology.
Whole Foods has printable (as well as in store) coupons that change bi-weekly.
Organic Deals has great coupons and grocery store deals for organic and sustainable products.
Check the manager’s special table at the grocery. One time I got Puffins for $1.00 per box (normally $4.00) because they had too many and wanted to get rid of them.
Also, I have made a habit of checking the meat department for manager’s special. If you live in a mixed-income area like I do, there is always free-range, no hormone added meat that doesn’t sell. So it will go on manager’s special a few days before it’s sell-by date, and I’ll snap it up and stick it in the freezer. Some days it will yield nothing, other days maybe 3 pounds of sustainably raised meat for $6.00.
3. Think inside the (Big)Box
I am not one of those purists who will never buy anything from a Big Box store like Walmart or Meijer (the midwestern version of walmart).
Often, the prices for organic items (if they have them) will be cheaper at a big box store than at a regular grocery.
Or, some stores, like Meijer, have their own organics brand, which is cheaper than other name-brand organics. We get snack crakers, cheese, and bread for prices comparable with name-brand conventional items.
The biggest thing is to be willing to shop around a little and see which store(s) have the best selection of the sustainable items that your family decides are worth buying.
It takes a bit of work, but we’ve been able to figure out a mix of farmer’s market, grocery, and big box store options that save us the most money and let us eat sustainably.
4. Get Growing!
One of the best sources of local, sustainable produce is your back yard. Or, if you don’t have a yard, how about a little container garden?
Now, I know that not everyone has the time, space, or inclination to start a vegetable garden. But if you are interested in growing some of your own food, I found a few books and sites which might be helpful.
Week By Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook by Ron and Jennifer Kujawski
There are many websites and books that can be helpful for people who want to garden sustainably, regardless of the amount of space you have available.
These are just a few ways we have been able to save money on sustainable eating, and which I hope can be helpful for others. I would love to hear ideas or things that have helped you, so please do leave a comment!