Monday, June 27, 2011

How my Wife & I Eat Organic on $350 per Month – Part 2

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This is a continuation of the article How my Wife & I Eat Organic on $350 per Month – Part 1”.  If you find this article series useful, I hope you will “Like” it on Facebook, “Retweet” it on Twitter, and subscribe to this blog to get it delivered to your e-mail inbox.  Thanks for reading!

Part 1 left off with the first four of “8 Ways You Can Eat Organic on a Budget”.  Here are numbers 5-8.

5.    Shop around, and look where you wouldn’t normally look

Where do we get our organic foods?  Central Market, Safeway, Albertsons, our Commissary, Trader Joe’s, TJ Maxx, Ross, CostCo, Wildly Organic, Full Circle, and several other places that I’m just not thinking of at the moment.  I know, this seems like the exact opposite of the whole “stay out of the store” mentality I’ve been pushing, but hear me out.  If you are going to be in these stores anyway, keep an eye out for organic foods and their prices.  Write them down if you must, but have a good idea of who has the best price on what.  For example, TJ Maxx and Ross are the cheapest for organic teas, hands down.  CostCo kills everyone else on organic eggs and spinach.  Our Commissary has the best prices on organic bananas.  Trader Joe’s offers organic chicken for a steal.  You get the idea.

6.    Avoid packaged foods (organic junk food is still junk)

Look, as yummy as it may be, organic Mac and Cheese is not much healthier than conventional Mac and Cheese… they are both pretty devoid of nutritional value!  Of course, not all boxed or bagged foods are junk foods, but there are very few pre-packaged food items that should be household staples.  Pre-packaged foods are hardly ever local and typically come at a cost premium.  Just say no to them.

7.    Hit the Farmer’s Market… with a PLAN and a LIMIT

Farmer’s Markets are really great places to meet cool people and get wonderful deals on fresh-picked local groceries (eggs laid that morning, carrots fresh out of the ground, 100% grass-fed beef from a neighboring town, etc).  However, if you go there without a plan, you can easily kill a couple hundred bucks in no time flat!  Set a limit on how much you will spend (we usually say $30, but whatever works for you) and go in with an idea of at least a few things you want to buy.  If you have some cash left over, that is the time to decide if you want to try something new and different, or if you just want to save the money.

8.    Agree that it is NOT okay to say, “Okay.”

Living on a budget takes teamwork, and a food budget is no exception.  You both have to agree to hold each other accountable.  If you are having a moment of weakness and your inner red-faced 5-year-old is screaming, “I WANT IT!  I WANT IT!,” you need to know that your spouse will not cave.  You don’t need to be a jerk about it, but there will be times that a firm and decisive, “No!,” is needed.  Reckless spending is similar to an addiction in that it gets hardwired into our psyche.  At first, it is going to be very difficult to rewire your brains.  Enabling each other by saying, “Okay,” to avoid a conflict will only serve to make this more difficult.

$350 is no magic number, and costs will vary depending on grocery prices in your area, how big your family is, and your own personal goals.  Think of doing this in baby steps.  For example, if you typically spend between $700 - $900 on groceries in any given month, consider setting a budget goal next month of $600.  You’ll have $145 to spend for each of your first three weeks and then $165 to spend in the final week.  If you get to the point where that feels comfortable and perhaps a bit excessive, try whittling yourself down to $500 or $550.  Once you have developed good discipline about your grocery finances, you’ll surprise yourself with how little it actually takes to get you through the month!


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