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My Story: Eating Healthy for Less

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My Story: Increasing the Nutrition Factor

Cheap Healthy Food: Health Food Is Helping Me, But Killing My Budget

I've suffered severe headaches and migraines most of my 33 years. I recently had food testing done and it was determined that I have an intolerance to dairy, sugar, and corn products. I've found a whole food store in my area that is wonderful, but I'm having problems adjusting to NOT using coupons and my food budget is spiraling out of control. Where can I get coupons for health foods, whole foods, or any foods that are not processed, sugar-filled, etc. I've always loved the challenge of coupon shopping and now it seems that my new problem is just trying to locate the coupons! Any suggestions? Lori S.

Cheap Healthy Food: A Handful of Suggestions

My suggestions for eating "healthy" include:

  • If you don't already garden, start. Then learn how to can and dry your produce for use all year. This takes some learning and planning, but is well worth the effort!! (Your canned goods will make great gifts, too!)
  • Start an herb garden. The small amount of effort it takes will help add nutrition and flavor to your new diet. (Dried herb wreaths and teas also make great gifts.)
  • Even if you don't garden, invest in a juicer. Although juicers can be very expensive, we bought one for under $60 that has functioned well and met our needs. Making juices once or twice a week with a variety of fruits and vegetables is a wonderfully healthy way to add vitamins and minerals to your diet.
  • Also invest in a sprouter. Sprouts can be grown using a mason jar and cheese cloth, or a sprouter can be purchased for under $15. Buy sprouting seeds in bulk from garden catalogs ... you'll save a bundle! Sprouts are nutritionally rich (alfalfa sprouts especially), and can be added to sandwiches, soups, casseroles, salads ... just about anything!
  • Once you've started a garden and begun sprouting, check to see if your local health food store would be interested in purchasing any of your produce. You can probably beat competitor's prices because of your low overhead and lack of shipping fees. See if you can trade sprouts (or mushrooms or other produce) for products.
  • Don't assume that your local grocery does not carry what you need. Many now carry an abundance of organically grown vegetables, a variety of tofu's, and other items classified as "health food." Check your local grocery's prices against those of health food store whose prices are often greatly inflated. You may be surprised at how much you can save by shopping where you would normally.
  • Ask if the health food store you shop at has a mailing list, and then add your name. This should ensure that you receive coupons in the mail and notification of sales.
  • Shop on-line or from catalogs when possible. It's often much cheaper to purchase supplements and other non-perishables from catalogs or on-line stores.

Pamela C.

Cheap Healthy Food: From Scratch

I used to use a lot of coupons when I was buying processed foods, but a few years ago I started cooking from scratch. Now I mostly buy fresh meat, chicken and fish; fresh fruits and vegetables, and regular rice and pasta, which have less salt than instant brands. I rarely buy canned goods except for tuna, canned beans and chicken broth - and I always buy the low-sodium brands. I also rarely buy frozen foods except for occasional frozen vegetables. Even though I'm not using coupons as much, my grocery bills have actually decreased by $25 or more each week since I started cooking from scratch. Lori - you can also cook from scratch to save on your grocery bills. It's not difficult and not very time consuming. My husband and I both work 40 hours a week, and we still manage to cook dinner from scratch almost every evening. Buy a few good cookbooks that focus on healthy eating, or take a cooking class. Learn how to use fresh herbs (I grow my own to save money) and spices to add flavor to foods without using salt or sugar. Plan meals around seasonal fruits and vegetables, and meats, fish, poultry, etc., that are on sale at the supermarket. Make mashed potatoes, French fries, etc. from scratch instead of buying instant or frozen. Buy a Crock-Pot to make your own soups and pasta sauces. If you're concerned about excess sugar in store-bought bread, make your own bread. Nancy

Cheap Healthy Food: Try Ethnic Groceries

I find lots of healthy foods at ethnic grocery stores. There is a store is our area called Euro-Fresh and they have lots of fresh produce, bulk foods and lots of ethnic bakery goods and ethnic prepared foods. These stores are very reasonable and have wonderful deals on fresh produce. They have lots of whole wheat products, many different kinds of cheese, whole grain breads from ethnic bakeries, all kinds of Mexican, Greek and Asian foods.

I still shop at Whole Foods once in a while but I go to the ethnic grocery store first. They have the best selection of olive oil you ever saw. They also carry types of dried beans that I never even heard of. All kinds of beans sold in bulk. They have unusual kinds of bananas, stuff you never even heard of, just like Whole Foods but at a fraction of the price. So look in the yellow pages and find some ethnic stores and check them out. Marilynn T.

Cheap Healthy Food: Organic Food Co-Op

I was dealing with a similar health issue, but it was my son with the allergies. Health food stores are wonderful, but often expensive. I joined an Organic Food Co-Op. It was easy to do. We have a meeting once a month to place our order, and then pick up is 10 days later. It takes no more time than grocery shopping, and with all the bulk items that I am able to purchase I am saving a minimum of $50 each month in comparison to shopping at a grocery store, and even more if I bought the same items at the Health Food Store. You can find Cooperatives online for the area in which you live. TW

Cheap Healthy Food: Go Natural

The most nutritious whole foods are not what we find at a health food store but rather in the produce dept. The healthiest diet includes foods in their most natural form. The less we interfere with food the better it is for you and the less likely you are to be allergic.

Good locations for produce bargains are local produce stands, farmers markets, pick your own fields, asking local producers if you may "glean" from their field after it is professionally picked and even watching the want ads for opportunities like these. Some areas have local millers where you can buy grains, etc. Check the yellow pages. We buy our health food from co-ops and save a bundle. The two west coast co-ops I am familiar with are Mountain People's warehouse- Seattle, WA (206)467-7190 and Auburn, CA (916)889-9531 and the Azure Standard- Dufur, OR (541)467-2230. I know there are others around the country. These co-ops may even be able to connect you with others.

Co-ops supply large orders, $300-$600 minimums, of products including health foods, herbs, homeopathic medicines, natural health & beauty & cleaning supplies and more. some items are packaged in bulk sizes but many are in manageable sizes for anyone. The key is to buy together with others -CO-OP!! It has been a blessing for our family of 7. JulieBeth in CA

Cheap Healthy Food: Another Co-Op Advocate

I buy almost nothing at our local grocery. Instead I purchase most of our food from a whole foods coop. Our coop group consists of 8 families. The coop carries virtually EVERYTHING one would find at a healthy foods store, but at considerably lower prices. Many items are available only in cases, but members of the group can arrange to split a case. Once a month I sit down with the extensive catalog and my shopping list and create my order. I have created forms on my computer that make this simpler for me.

I then e-mail the list to the person in our group who collects the individual lists and places the group order. Two weeks later the members gather at the delivery site (my house!) and wait for the tractor trailer to lumber up the street. The unloading and distribution takes about an hour. Though this might sound like a lot of work, for me it takes less time than running to the store more frequently. We keep our group small to cut down on paper work and distribution time. There are many different styles of coop group, though.

What I don't get from the coop, I generally buy at the local whole foods store. And yes, it is very difficult to find coupons. I have gotten myself on a mailing list that distributes coupons specifically for products carried in those stores. You can find it at I don't buy cases from my local store, but I believe they offer a 10% discount to those that do. Judyth S.

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