I have just added this information to my Survival Guide page on my site, but it’s worth repeating. And I’m elaborating a bit more here.
Eating allergen free is bank busting. Eating organic, even more so. But this is our health. THIS is an area in life that you should be willing to pay more. We skimp in a lot of other areas to stay to a budget so that food is a priority. I can tell you that since doing this, we’ve had less doctors’ visits, which means less co-pays and less prescriptions. I only have to see my gastro every 2 years now for routine check ups and testing to monitor the situation, and I no longer am on steroids for my Ulcerative Colitis. I do believe the end justifies the means.
When you are eating fresh and organic, your local grocery store will carry much of what you need. But did you know that Costco has an amazing organic selection? So does Kroger’s, HEB and Walmart.
I’m selective about what I purchase organic too. I definitely stick to purchasing all organic for the “dirty dozen”…which has expanded since that term was created. i.e., if there is an edible skin on it, I won’t eat it. I do not want to ingest harmful pesticides that exacerbate my digestive issues. Strawberries, grapes, apples, peaches, celery, spinach, nectarines, bell peppers, cucumbers, snap peas, tomatoes, potatoes, hot peppers, corn, carrots, peas and blueberries. These are examples of produce that I will simply go without if I cannot find them grown organically.
But did you know there are cleaner options of produce that you can buy that don’t have to be organic to reap the same healthy benefit? Although they are not pesticide free, there is a substantially smaller amount in the produce due to growing practices and ease of growth with regard to naturally occurring pests. Papayas, mangoes, kiwi, avalados, pineapples, cantaloupe, grapefruit, onions, sweet potatoes and eggplant. These are items I don’t feel as guilty about consuming. Of course you should purchase organic whenever possible for maximum health benefit, but when the budget just will not allow, these are the places to cut back.
Same goes for meat. I really do try to purchase organic. But when the budget will not cover, I turn to the next best. All natural versions, grown on free range, pesticide free, no additives, no hormones, etc. I personally like Laura’s Lean Beef.
Online bulk purchasing of specialty items, such as packaged breads and gluten free flours, can also be a money saver. Shipping is free when purchasing a particular amount. Trust me, you’ll hit that amount no problem. Some of my favorite sites to order allergen free food include:
Other steps you can take to reduce costs and make healthy eating more manageable include.
1. Vitacost and Amazon both have monthly subscription programs that save money on items you know you will absolutely need. You can postpone or cancel an order at any time and save up to 15% off of normal pricing.
2. Ordering in bulk is often the way to go. Again for items you know you will eat more of, money is saved by ordering a case. Even Whole Foods offers a case discount when checking out at their physical stores.
3. Make more from scratch. The more you replace the processed items with items you make yourself, the less expensive your grocery trips both in store and online will be.
4. Get recipes online. You don’t have to invest in multiple new cookbooks. Many of the authors will post sample recipes online. Amazon has online previews of many of these books in which they will post several pages you can copy and paste recipes. Get to know your search engine.
5. Purchase frozen fruits and veggies which can often be less expensive than fresh. Especially when you are planning on using them for cooking or for ice cream.
6. Purchase produce on sale in bulk. There is so much that you can freeze. Buy onions and peppers on sale. Dice them, measure out 1/2 cups, put them in containers and freeze them for recipes. Go ahead and buys tomatoes in bulk. Make soups, sauces, etc., then freeze to shave off major time spent on a future dinner. Grapes go on sale towards the end of their growing season. We buy dozens of bags of them. Wash them thoroughly, pat dry and then put in containers to freeze. My boys prefer a snack of frozen grapes over fresh grapes any day. They taste like popsicles! And speaking of popsicles, buy watermelon when they are about to rot and the store is practically giving them away. Make popsicles and store in freezer for tasty treats!
Vitacost.com, for example, runs monthly to bi-monthly sales on their Ener-G bread. Sometimes it’s up to 50% off of retail pricing. Whenever they have those sales, I will order cases of bread and freeze it. Allergen free bread is super pricey. If you purchase enough during the sale, it will tide you over until the next sale.
7. Credit cards with rebates. There are several cards that will give you rebates on your purchases. There are no fees as long as you are paying your monthly balance in full. Amazon.com has a card that gives you Amazon points that can be applied to your account to be used as cash towards your next purchase. They double the percentage for anything purchased on their site.
8. Coupons. Visit websites for specialty allergen free products. They will often have coupons on their site for their products. Watch the packaging too. Right now, Daiya pizzas have a $2 off coupon for Daiya cheese. That’s huge when you consider a bag of Daiya cheese is roughly $4-5.
9. Grow your own produce. I have a garden in my backyard. It started off small with mainly herbs. It has since expanded, including bell peppers, jalapeños, tomatoes, potatoes, celery, onions, garlic, eggplant, okra and strawberries. Most of my plants were grown from organic seeds or food scraps, which is super inexpensive. And although I don’t yield an enormous crop, it’s enough to reduce the amount of veggies I have to purchase at the store…which absolutely impacts the bottom line…especially when you consider that an organic red pepper costs $4 each in many stores.
10. Pay attention to the time of year in which you are ordering certain items. You absolutely save money buying Enjoy Life Allergen Free Chocolate Chips for baking online. If you purchase in bulk on Amazon for example, you can save up to $2 per bag over grocery store pricing for a pack of 6 bags. However, during a warm spring, summer and even into fall, you are usually required to purchase a freezer pack from various sites for shipping to prevent melting…or you’ll be very disappointed in your bag of chocolate goo. That freezer pack adds back to the cost and erases your savings. So figure out how many bags you’ll need for the year and purchase them during the colder months. They store just fine in your pantry.
11. EBATES.com This is a no brainer. Sign up with EBATES. Then when you go to EBATES.com and link to a site such as Vitacost, you’ll earn various percentages back in rebates which will be sent as a check to your address each month.
EBATES now has so many partners, the opportunity to earn back cash extends well beyond food — you can do this for nearly anything you purchase online. I’m an EBATES customer, and I love my monthly checks I receive for simply purchasing the items online that I have to buy regardless.