My husband and I have fairly broad tastes when it comes to the foods we enjoy. We do most of our cooking from scratch, which allows us some flexibility in terms of the ingredients we use. Our weekends are often spent at the farmer’s market or international supermarket in search of exotic sauces, spices, and ingredients to add to a new recipe. Of course, some days we are too tired to be creative and are happy to grab a frozen pizza in between kid’s activities. Or, even better, head out to one of our favorite restaurants and have someone ELSE do all the work! No matter what your food preferences are, eating is one of those things we all have to do and it can get pretty darn expensive if you aren’t careful! Here are a few tips on how to start including more REAL food in your diet without going broke.
1. Go off the beaten path: Don’t just stick to your regular grocery store because it is what you always do. Try out some of the international markets, farmers markets, or wholesale clubs. Many have really good prices on basic ingredients and cooking real food is usually a much healthier option than buying premade or convenience foods.
Shopping for Real Food
2. Shop sales: This one is pretty obvious but you should never pay full price for anything at the grocery store. Combine sale prices with coupons for an even greater discount. Check out the clearance bins and see if your store offers discounts on overripe produce and products that are nearing their ‘sell by’ date. Buy discounted meats and veggies now and freeze for real food next week!
3. Shop online. There are a lot of great deals online for some of the higher end products you fellow foodies might enjoy. Discount delights can be found on places like Abe’s Market, which has a ton of natural, organic & eco-friendly products. Wine, tea, candy and many other specialty items can be found online with discount codes so the price could be significantly less than what you would pay in a brick and mortar store. You can even buy fresh seafood. hand made bagels and many other types of real food at some online stores.
4. Grow your own. You do not have to have a particularly green thumb to grow some lettuce leaves or a few radishes. Buy a small, premade raised bed or a few pots, fill with garden soil and add plants that you buy at the nursery. You might not be able to feed your family out of your own garden but some fresh herbs or a slice of tomato will make your next meal taste a lot fresher!
5. Join a co-op. So, you can’t grow a ton of food in your own yard? Somebody else can and they want to sell their products to you. By joining a co-op you can get a wide variety of fresh foods at relatively low prices. It will also force you to learn how to use seasonal produce which can be fun, if a bit challenging sometimes!
And just because you have pledged to eat more real food doesn’t mean you can’t splurge every once in a while on a dinner out at your favorite restaurant. Just remember to make smart choices when you are there….skip the fried and battered options and choose the meals with fresh veggies and lean meat instead. Or just order the fried cheese sticks and enjoy the treat! However, make sure you look for all available coupons, discount codes, or ‘frequent buyers’ programs that might be available. You can get top discounts on some great restaurants at MyDeals.com. And don’t forget that many restaurants will actually share their recipes with you! If you have a favorite dish make sure to ask the chef for a recipe so you can try to reproduce it at home!
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”