Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: how to afford the good-for-you food

OrganicLet's be honest here... The good stuff doesn't come cheap.  It's pretty devastating to wander around the grocery store, having to choose between the stuff you can afford, and the stuff that's going to keep you healthy.  Some retailers definitely play up the trend, and mark up the "Green" goods, because they know people will pay it.  This is a jerk thing to do.  But a lot of retailers don't have much of a choice either.  They have to make money too, and if the product they're buying from the farmer is more expensive, then it's going to be more expensive on the shelf too.  Not dousing the hell out of a crop with pesticides means more crop-loss due to insects, predators, and diseases.  It also means hiring extra help to manually weed the crops.  So the price per organic produce item has to be higher than the non-organic one because the farmer and the retailer have to make up for the losses and the labor somehow.

Understanding why it costs more is great, but it doesn't make it suck any less at the cash register.  So what can you do stay healthy, and still keep your costs down?
~Buying local produce at farmer's markets cuts out the middle-man, as well as a tremendous amount of shipping charges.  You can buy straight from the grower, and cut out the extra retail mark-up cost, as well as the extra fees and fuel involved in shipping it to a store.  When you buy organic produce from the grocery store that has a sticker on that says it was grown in another country, you can bet your ass that most of what your paying for is the shipping cost to get it here.

~If you have the time and patience for it, cooking from scratch is the way to go.  Buying ingredients, rather than already-prepared meals is way cheaper per meal.  I get it though... Time is a hot commodity also, and there's no shame in letting someone else do the dirty work.  I lucked out on this one.  I married a cook.  Before I met him, the only time the stove was turned on was for grilled cheese or scrambled eggs.    

But what about stuff like cereal, and other things usually not found at your local farmer's market?
~Buy generic.  True, some of the grocery store's generic brand stuff is pretty dreadful.  But some isn't.  I have no idea what other grocers offer, but ours has it's own generic store brand of hippie-dippy options.  So I'm able to cut costs pretty significantly by buying that stuff rather that the commercial version.  Cutting costs here allows me some extra wiggle room for stuff that I can't find so cheap, like fruit (other than apples, Vermont's not a prime location for growing fruit crops).

Source:  Martha Stewart
Still not happy with the options, or don't have a local farmer's market?
~Do it yourself!  Container gardening is wicked easy and insanely cheap.  It's virtually weed-free, you can either grow from seed, or buy "starts," and you don't have to go any further than your front porch to get the fixings for a salad in the summer.  

Thanks for stopping by,


  1. I hear ya. My lil town of 10k people is finally home to a health food store but DAMN is some of that stuff expensive!
    I love using the local farmers markets to purchase my fruits and veggies (and syrup. . oooh girl, Wisconsin makes the best maple syrup!!)
    This season, I plan on doing my own lil greenhouse. I got a plastic covered clothes hanger that zipps up the side (used for hanging up and protecting suits and whatnots). I wanna use that as my green house to hold my hanging tomato plant and hanging strawberry plant.
    Thanks for writing about container gardening! I didn't know that was possible.
    You ROCK. . seriously! Wooo!!! \m/

    1. oh honey...those words about Wisconsin making the best maple syrup...? Wicked lucky i'm not going to tell on you, but those are serious fighting words here in VT. lol. I LOVE your hanging tomato "greenhouse" idea! In my wildest dreams I'll have a massive greenhouse in my back yard...someday...

    2. Hmmm. . a chicken coop, a massive greenhouse. . a cow for milking?

    3. The Husband wants goats. maybe next year...

      I'd love a cow, but it would be tricky to find the space for one. maybe a mini jersey though!!!?

  2. I'd say start with the goats. Cows take up a lot of room and are stinky.