Thursday, April 7, 2011

How To Do the Coupon Thing: Part 7-Saving on the Basics

Originally we were going to cover CVS, but after a question from Tricia at Returning to Disney and my own decision to cut many processed foods from my diet, I decided to make this one about saving on the basics. Most people eat fruit and vegetables, milk, and some form of meat. Yet this is the stuff that it can be hardest to save money on, especially when it's the basis of your diet.

So how do you save on the basics?

1. Make a price book. A price book can tell you who has the best prices for the stuff you buy. (Don't know what a price book is or how to make one? Check out my post here!) If you have a price book, you'll know when you see a good price on something or if you can pass until you get to your regular store. It can also tell you what store should be your regular store and which store you can pass up.

2. Check out the local "Healthy Stores". Most people have at least one or two stores that I label "healthy". This includes stores like Trader Joes and Whole Foods. These stores have a much better selection of healthy foods, including organics. You should also see if you have a regional store or two that sells similar products. Here in Southern California we have 2 major regional chains, Henry's and Sprouts. Both stores carry a large selection of fruit and vegetables (including organic) and many organic and healthy brands of "regular" foods.

3. Go Local! If you don't have a health store nearby (or even if you do) start looking for local options. Food is a lot cheaper if you don't have to pay to have it transported thousands of miles (and it's fresher too!). Check out farmer's markets in your area. For us, our city has a farmer's market every Tuesday. The city we used to live in (about 10 miles down the highway) has one every Saturday. If you don't have a farmer's market, look for the stands by the side of the road. These are local farmers and since it's usually straight from the farmer, it's a lot cheaper.

Co-Ops and CSAs, which both allow you to pay a fee and have access to local food similar to a grocery store, fall into this catagory.

Want to find local options? Check out Local Harvest, which has tons of resources including a search feature!

4. Stockpile. I talked about stockpiling last week but this is worth repeating when it comes to saving on the basics. If you find a great price on milk, buy 2 or 3. When fruits or veggies are in season, buy lots and freeze them. It's a lot cheaper to buy strawberries in late spring that in late fall.

5. Go Generic. We know that regular grocery stores carry fruits and veggies. But did you know that many grocery stores now have an organic fruit and veggies section AND carry their own organic boxed foods? Simply O is the Safeway brand for organic food (Vons is owned by them, so look for them there too!) For our Stater Bros shoppers, check out the Full Circle products there.

6. Coupons! Yup, even when it comes to the basics, there are coupons! As healthy food has become more mainstream, manufacturer's have realized that people want coupons for healthy food!

You can get coupons for many healthy brands. Check out Mambo Sprouts. They have a lot of coupons for brands like Luna, Silk, Almond Breeze, McCann, Kashi and many more. Also, as healthy brands become more mainstream, the more you will find coupons for them in your Sunday paper.

What about stuff like fruit, vegetables, and meat? Actually, there are coupons for those too! I've gotten coupons for tomatoes and pork in my normal Sunday circular. A lot of in-store coupon booklets carry meat and vegetable products for in-store only. In February I walked away with a lot of cheap meat at Vons because Safeway released an in-store coupon booklet that included a coupon for $2 off any Rancher's Reserve meat (their in-house brand).

Another advantage of healthy food going mainstream is that many regular manufacturer's now make healthy food, making it the same price as their regular type. Most of the coupons for the regular food work on the healthy food too! Last week I bought all-natural bread at our local bread outlet followed by natural Skippy peanut butter at the same sale price as the regular stuff. I needed bread and peanut butter and I didn't end up paying any extra for buying the natural food.

Even if you only buy food at stores that don't take coupons (like Trader Joes) you can still use coupons to get free deodorant, toothpaste, paper towels, toilet paper and vitamins (yes, it's possible on vitamins. I did it a few weeks ago). Drugstores severely discount these items to get you in the store on a regular basis. Don't believe me? Check out my Drugstore Donation list.

If you don't pay anything for toothpaste, you can use that money and buy organic blueberries instead.

So if you're trying to eat healthier or have dietary restrictions, you don't have to pay an arm and leg for it. Couponing and saving money can be done no matter how you eat.

This is part of the Series, How To Do the Coupon Thing. Check out the whole series here.


Sara Thompson said...

Check out Bountiful Baskets online. They are like a co-op. For $15 you can get a "basket" of fruits and vegetables. The disadvantage is that you can't pick the foods but we've gotten a great selection every time we've bought one. It seems to be a really good deal. Not all areas have a delivery location but it's worth checking out for those who do.

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