You guys know I have five kids, right? And I will be the first person to admit that through the years there have been plenty of frozen chicken nugget nights around here. But lately, at the encouragement of several of Nick’s doctors, we have been really focusing on easy changes we can make to eat healthier. Unfortunately, children with special needs are often put on medications that do amazing things to help them, but can also cause weight gain and affect things like triglycerides. The easiest and most effective way to fight against that is to eat healthy foods as much as possible.
If you’ve been around for a while, you might remember that I saw a lot of changes to my own health after cutting animal products and gluten out of my diet a few years ago. I now eat mostly plant-based or vegan food, but the rest of my family eats a standard diet. However, over the past two years I’ve been making lots of small changes so that we are trying to transition to organic, non-GMO foods whenever possible and we try to avoid animal products as much as we can. For our family, it’s a choice for our own health but also about environmental factors and social responsibility. (If you’re interested, you can read why the United Nations recommends cutting back on animal products here.)
This is not a sponsored post, but it does contain a few affiliate links. I just wanted to share a few brands and tips with you I’ve really been loving lately that have helped our family eat better and been easy and affordable for us. I’m not trying to force any particular lifestyle on your family, I just want to share the ways we save money around here while trying to eat well. All the products mentioned in this post are brands I actually use and love.
Look online before you shop. Sometimes I have my groceries delivered or do curb-side pick up, but I ALWAYS look online at the flyer for the week and the online ordering portal before shopping. This makes it easy to see which organic options are the most affordable from our local supermarket. Peapod, our local delivery service has a search feature where I can just pull up all of their organic options. I know I can just about always get a pound of organic carrots at our local stores for less than $1, and a bag of organic potatoes for less than $5. Organic bananas are also usually pretty affordable in just about any grocery store near us. I don’t always buy organic, but if it’s affordable to do it, why not?
Aldi. Aldi is amazing for produce. I personally don’t really love their meat section or a few other things, but their produce section is fantastic for finding deals on organic or other produce. I’ve gotten avocados on sale at Aldi for as low as $0.39. That’s amazing, considering the closest super market to my house sells them for $2.50 each! They are a great place to stock up on organic berries, greens, or whatever else is available that week. This is also a great place to stock up on organic canned foods, like beans.
Freeze things. I know this seems really obvious, but think about it. Are you really utilizing your freezer as best you can? When I do invest in healthy, organic food, I want to make sure I’m not wasting ANY of it. I use organic bananas and berries or other fruits or vegetables (last week it was oranges and carrots) to make smoothies. When we have a little extra in the blender, I pour it into ice cube trays. Then I use those little frozen blocks and some water or almond milk to make more smoothies later in the week. It’s an easy way to stretch your money.
I also save the scraps from my vegetables in a mason jar in the freezer. When you are buying organic you don’t have to worry as much about what might be on your food and you can use the peels and rings. I save carrot peelings, pepper tops, onion scraps, etc. When the jar gets full, I fill a large pot with water and add the scraps, plus a few cloves of garlic and some salt. Boil it for a few hours (or do it overnight in a slow cooker), and you have organic vegetable stock for free.
Seconds. Some orchards near us sell what they call “seconds” or produce that is misshapen or bruised or has simply fallen on the ground and can’t be sold to stores. They sell it in bulk at highly discounted prices. There are companies that use this same concept to deliver misfit produce right to your door.
I’ve personally used Misfits Market, which serves the mid-Atlantic area. If you order through my link, you can get 25% off your first order and I’ll get a discount on my next order as well. The small box I ordered includes 10-12 pounds of organic produce. The picture shows what came in my order. I was happy with the quality of all but the squash, which I had to throw out because it was rotted by the time it arrived to us. But all of the other produce was great! I couldn’t find anything wrong with most of it. The kale was starting to wilt a bit, but I cooked it the same day it arrived and it was good. If something in your order is starting to wilt a bit, either use it fast or freeze it.
I have to say, I actually prefer Misfits Market over our local CSA. We did try a CSA, but it just really wasn’t for us. This way we are still supporting local farmers, but it’s more affordable for me and I can order just one box at a time, I don’t need to make a huge payment and commit to an entire season.
In order to compare prices and make sure I was really getting a good deal, I added all of the products to my cart from our local grocery delivery service, and the total after delivery came to about $60. In contrast, using my discount code, I only paid a little over $21, including the delivery charge, for the produce from Misfits Market. That’s a savings of about 65%. (Although, granted, I won’t have a discount code every time. Still!) Plus it saved me a trip to the store. My friend Amy tried it after I shared on Facebook and was so happy she’s already placed multiple orders.
See? It really would have cost about $60 to buy basically the same stuff from our local super market, but only $21 from Misfits. Plus buying from programs like Misfits Market not only saves you money, but it cuts down on the growing problem of food waste in our country.
Despite all these tips, I’ll be the first one to admit it’s true. Healthy eating can be expensive. We make the commitment to only buy organic, free-range eggs and let me tell you it hurts every time I walk down the aisle at the grocery store and know I’m paying literally 5x more for my eggs than the regular supermarket brand. In order to afford those kinds of decisions for a large family, we stretch our food budget in other ways. My next tip is to spend less on snack foods. I’m not saying not to buy snack foods, I have school lunches to pack and hungry tweens around here, too. I get it.
I’m suggesting finding more affordable options that are better for you anyway. If you could save money AND eat better, why wouldn’t you do that? Lately, I’m loving Brandless because they make it easy to do both. Plus they offer free shipping if your order is over $48, and with the size of our family it’s easy for me to get there. But you could combine a smaller order with a friend or co-worker and save on shipping that way. This is what I bought in my latest order.
And out of that order, this is how much happened to be organic (more than half).
I love that they have a ton of organic, non-GMO, vegan, and gluten free options. Actually, every food they carry is non-GMO and made without synthetic preservatives or flavors. And they are super affordable! The catch is that they don’t offer any name brand products (hence, the name Brandless), and they only offer packaged goods, no fresh produce. But they do have a ton of healthier options for packaged foods. Cold pressed, organic olive oil for $4? And organic tortilla chips for $1.50! (That’s 50% cheaper for the same sized bag than the store brand at our local grocery store, by the way.) The organic whole wheat pasta at Brandless is $1.50, which is the same price as the non-organic store brand at our local super market. Staples like pure maple syrup and coconut oil are actually much cheaper here than through either my local super market or Target as well.
And I love that they have affordable paperless paper products, like toilet paper and paper towels that are made out of renewable resources, and the prices are pretty much exactly the same as buying the regular versions of those products from our local stores. They also have biodegradable “paper” plates and flatware and compostable disposable cups. There is even a section on their website where you can “shop by values” and they will take you straight to all of their products for various lifestyles, like if you live gluten free. Did I mention an entire bag of Black pepper and truffle oil popcorn for $1.50? Yes, please.
Plus they have a great social mission. Every time someone checks out on their website they donate a meal through Feeding America. Their website says that to-date they’ve been able to donate over 3 million meals. So shopping here saves you money, gives you cheaper environmentally-friendly options, and is a socially conscious decision. What’s not to like? (Although some people are bummed out about the extra packaging and fuel for delivery services.)
If you use my Brandless referral link, you can get $6 off your first order.
What about you? Do you have any tips and tricks for ways for a large family to eat healthy and save money?
If you liked this post, please remember to pin and share!
You might also like: