Frugal’d Up

I would have thought I’d have been the last person to do a post about healthy eating on a budget. That makes it sound like I’m made of money or have found the secret money tree. Well, I’m not and I haven’t – but it’s no secret that I love a good foodie splurge, if you will. When I didn’t have as many obligations as I do now, it was a lot easier, and I’ve gradually roped myself in to watch my spending a bit more on my trips to the grocery store.

It might help in a contradictory manner that there’s something about equestrians that requires us to own extras of everything, so I have that to splurge on too. Why yes, yes I do need more than one saddle, bridle, saddle pad, girth, brush, etc, etc, etc – even if I only consistently ride one horse.

So, how did I start being a little more watchful of my wallet? Here’s what I’ve started doing, maybe you can find some use, too!

  • Buy what’s on sale, and clip coupons! It’s difficult with “healthy” food, since all too often you’ll find tons of sales and coupons for junk foods, and not so many when it comes to health and natural foods. But, there’s almost always coupons direct from company websites, and every little thing helps. My grocery store will even double coupons under $1, which makes me really happy when I find a coupon for save $1 and I’m really saving $2. See, I really am frugal at heart. Additionally, I’ve begun buying the fruits and veggies that are on sale (that I like), and not every veggie known to man that is more expensive than any other. It hasn’t been repetitive yet, and this way I still allow myself one or two new finds/experiments.
  • Plan your trips. I don’t know about you guys – but every time I run in for one thing, I think of a couple other things I could get too. And then, oh, you know – since I’m spending so little – why not try this, too? And this? And then it’s not such a little shopping trip anymore. I’ve finally gotten over this hurdle and can run in a store for just one or two things – but on my “big trip” I make a list so I don’t go in there not knowing what I need and some recipes in mind I’ve been dying to try. Okay, that and I can hardly remember what I wore yesterday, let alone that I need more yogurt or oatmeal. This includes having some recipes in mind, but not necessarily meal planning if you don’t want to.
  • I really don’t need five kinds of jam. I’m actually still convincing myself of this, and same goes for nut-butters. It’s a WIP, but I’m getting better. These things take time, you know. Though my new $3 PB is a great find. Although I can’t say I won’t still be buying expensive nut butters. I guess that’s my weakness. Which brings me to my next point.
  • I allow myself a weakness/splurge. Because, even if I am trying to be conservative, I’m still a foodie at heart and just want to try everything. My main weakness now is nut butters, fruits, and veggies. I feel like that might be a general consensus 😉
  • I stock up on sale days with pantry items. Things like canned beans on sale for 69 cents? Um, why not? I’m always going through cans of them, and it just makes sense to get them on sale. I guess the dried beans are even cheaper – but I always just go the canned route. I guess I shouldn’t be giving money-saving advice, huh? Pretty much anything shelf-stable that I eat and see on sale and could use sometime within the next couple weeks anyways, I’ll grab if I’ve got the extra bucks. Just watch the labels and make sure they’re not clouded in sodium, and I’ve seen tons of canned fruits with HFCS and weird oils. Huh?!
  • Make your own food. Enter: bars, seitan, lunch, breakfast, coffee. I used to have an “I’ll eat out any day,” attitude – and now I’m all about packing! Not to mention, making a salad or some seitan on a weekend can last almost all week if you need it to, and even though bars on sale for 10/$10 is hard to resist – making your own bars is usually cheaper, too.
  • Frozen food is not always an enemy. Frozen veggies, actually – are often a great way to go. And I’m always seeing them on sale and with coupons! Some do include dressings and are not just the veg – but it all depends. And some are great mixes where you’re really getting a bunch of different veggies all in the same box! I’d even read that frozen veggies can sometimes even be better for you as they’re frozen right as they’re picked – sealing in all the nutrients. And same goes for frozen fruit!
  • Grow your own. Cost of a 6-pack of peppers? I don’t think I even paid $3! Even if I only grow one pepper, I’ve beat the grocery store cost of $3.99/lb.
  • Bring along your reusable bag! Not only is it environmentally friendly, but some stores even give you a couple cents off per bag. So, I say bring at least a dozen bags and put one thing in them all 😉
  • Buy store brands. For most things, at least. I mean, really – a big tub of Quaker oats is highly likely to be identical to a store brand. Same goes for a bunch of brands, and give you the choice of organic or not, too! Just compare labels.
  • Reduced produce can be a lifesaver! My favorite is when I can find three bundles of super-ripe bananas for just $2. An oatmeal lovers dream! And in summer, just freeze a bunch for banana soft-serve, too. Cheapest ice-cream you’ll ever eat!
  • Buy in bulk. Unfortunately, I don’t have a membership to a costco or a sam’s club – but I’m sure some of you do. And there’s debate as to whether bulk bins are sanitary at all, so I won’t preach on that issue, but I will say I do get some stuff from them.

And here’s your reminder to enjoy your pasta

In a really simple, really inexpensive way, too!

Olive Oil – 1 t. = ~ $0.15

Tomato – 1 whole = ~$0.75

Whole Wheat Penne – 1 serving = $0.16

Red Pepper – 1/4 of a large =~$0.75 (?)

Homemade Black Bean Cutlet (uhhhh….)

salt, pepper, dried basil

Feta Cheese – On sale + coupon brought this to only $1.50! so let’s say $0.15

and pine nuts – admittedly, purchased before I “frugal’d up” at $20/lb.

…you do the math. And compare it to how much you’d spend on this at an Italian restaraunt! (of course…you’re liable to get about 4 servings these days, but I digress…)

What do you do to save money at the store?


Filed under cooking, dinner, foodblog, health, health food, healthy living, lunch, recipe

20 responses to “Frugal’d Up

  1. Excellent post! I’m with you when it comes to taking a list and sticking to it. I am totally an impulse buyer when it comes to food, so when I’m looking to save money (which is always!) I try to be very strict about not straying from the items I went in intending to buy.

  2. I definitely have a problem with buying in bulk. 1) Paying more upfront makes it seem like more, though in the long-run it is less. 2) I don’t have enough room in my apartment. 😦 I spend most of my money on food, but I am hoping that by making a list and planning what I am going to eat throughout the week I will save some money.

  3. I coupon clip like crazy. This mostly works for pharmacy stuff like shampoo or makeup, but sometimes I’ll find a good food item or two on sale… like kashi!!! 🙂

  4. Great informative post!!!!! Yes, i agree with going into a store with a list – otherwise i end up buying way too much of unnecessary items. The things i do splurge on in my Greek yogurt and fruit and veggies!!!! But i do try and buy things when they are on sale – like canned beans and try and clip as many coupons as possible!!!
    Love the analogy with the pasta dinner!!!
    xoxo aim

  5. teenagehealthfreak

    I just try my best to get only what I NEED…I love to buy new things too!..but then again I think..heck I don’t spend ANY money of fast I let myself splurge on “exotic” things every now and then..just as if I were eating fast food or something…

  6. What a great post J! I definitely try to do the list and stick with it too but I feel like I constantly have to remind my boyfriend that! The canned beans are so cheap (even organic/low sodium) and when they are on sale I definitely am one to stock up. The fruit and veg sales are my favorite though…um 2 for $4 organic blueberries…yes please! Now I really need to make some bars cause my lara consumption is ridiculous these days on set! Oh and nut butter sales are the best…I found roasted almond butter on sale from 8 to 4…yum!

    Pasta looks great! Love me some pine nuts…

  7. Mo

    My biggest budget-saving (as well as time-saving) is to take advantage of your freezer. I do eat canned beans a lot but I also like to cook up dried beans which I buy super cheap in salted water, let them dry out a tad and then freeze them in ziploc bags. I just slightly defrost them and then measure out what I want to cook. I also buy onions when they’re on sale, chop them up and freeze them. I have about 135490 other freezing tips, so… 😉 Basically, peeled ginger, puréed garlic, puréed chilis and fresh herbs fare well in the freezer and it’s almost guaranteed that they won’t go bad before you use ’em all up. Okay, shutting up now! 😛

  8. Excellent post. As a grad student, I’m going to be watching my money very tightly over the next couple of years. I try to buy my produce seasonally, which ensures lower cost and better taste! I also look for coupons in the paper and on my favorite cereal box (kashi!). And of course, making my own bread and bars has helped tremendously (although I’m still a sucker for Ms. Lara). Thanks for all the great tips!

  9. Ohyes, it’s definetly an equestrian thing! I have aboiut 5 numnahs, 15 or so (!) rugs, multiple girths..but the amount of times I’ve actually really needed the spares proves they are necessary!
    I like all you tips though 🙂

  10. I love good food deals! I’ll have to try the bringing as many reusable bags as I can. I have a million so I might as well use them 🙂

  11. I love your tips! I still have issues with saying “no” to a new nut butter jar, but I’m better then I used to be. 😉

    Making a list and not straying from it is what works best for me. If I know ahead of time exactly what I need, I’m less inclined to splurge on something extravagent. Usually.

  12. Great post! I think you hit the nail on the head! I am so with you on all those points. Mot people just don’t take the time to think about it and get overwhelmed before they even start to shop. I cook my own beans too. They are so much cheaper and I think they taste better! I definitely splurge on fruits and veggies! I buy everything on sale too!

  13. Nice pointers. I love thinking about how some really healthy meals can still cost little, like rice and beans with vegetables, or pasta dishes and soups.

  14. maxinthegym

    Thanks for the tips! I always spend wayyyy too much hahahha

  15. Awesome idea for a post. I’m sure all of us foodies could use some of these tips. 😉

    I save by loading up on my Kashi cereal when it is on sale, because otherwise it’s almost $6 a box! I’ve also replaced a lot of my meat-based meals with beans and tofu, which has really cut down my grocery bill.

    Some things I just have to splurge on though, like Greek yogurt, nut butters, and berries.

  16. SUCH a useful post! some ideas i hadn’t even thought of before! i find it so annoying though because all of the coupons we get are for things like cakes and sugary cereals, things that i don’t tend to eat! it’s not as if we get coupons through the door for dried oats! hahaha..i think i’d be the only person in my family who would appreciate that!

    i remember when i was little and my mum would leave me in the car when she popped into the supermarket for a “pint of milk and a loaf of bread”. i’d be sat there for half an hour (sometimes MORE) and she’d come out with about 10 shopping bags! infact, she still does that today!


  17. I’m really really bad at shopping frugally, I must say. I’m an impulse shopper!! These tips are definitely helpful. How do you get the reduced produce? I’ve never seen it in a store!

  18. Katharina

    I love these tips!! I am also very savvy when it comes to saving. I find that TJ Maxx also has lots of gourmet finds. I also find that cooking and baking from scratch is drastically cheaper. Another thing is that I check the weekly ads. While I’m in Florida I also make use of my parents garden. They also have the luxury of having a discount healthfood store very nearby so I stock up on lots of goodies while I’m down here to take back up with me to school. Another tip is to actually check your pantry and fridge just to double check that you don’t have what you need hiding somewhere 🙂 I’ve done that a couple times.. oops!


  19. I. love. coupons. You can seriously find them for everything!! I need to be better about making my own granola bars and such. Especially lara bars! Why I continue to pay 1.50 a bar rather than make them is beyond me..

  20. Pingback: Healthy Eating within Budget | Nourished Fitness

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