Digging Into Real Food ~ On a Budget

by Merissa on June 4, 2011

in Personal

If you've been following my real food diet posts this week it may be sticking in the back of your mind...but how does she do all this on a budget? Well, would you believe that it only costs us about $150 a month to eat organic and natural real foods? Not too bad. Here is how I maintain our healthy diet on a budget.

  1. I take advantage of surplus/discount stores. We get up to Robbs(Belle Fourche, SD) about once a month, maybe a little less. I often find flour there for $1.25 for 5lbs(King Arthur) and various other organic canned veggies and more. I don't spend too much money here but I do occasionally find some goodies.
  2. I buy in bulk. ALOT. This is my main shopping source. I buy most of our foods in bulk and I preserve it accordingly when I need to. I order from our co-op Azure Standard each month for our staples. I also purchase a few items at Sam's Club(like Tillamook Cheese(no hormones), Maple Syrup, ect)
  3. I order produce through Bountiful Baskets. Right now we get this every 2 weeks. I order the organic basket for $25. Right now it's taking us a month to get through 1 basket. I won't order throughout the summer but this will be super handy and cheap for the winter.
  4. I stock up on things like butter when I find an awesome deal, no matter where it is. On our recent trip to Wisconsin I found butter on sale for 1.99. I can't find it for less than 2.70lb here if I'm lucky and we go through alot. I brought 20lbs home with me in a cooler and it was well worth it since we had the room. This tactic also goes for other things. I recently go t a deal on organic roma tomatoes (.63lb) I bought 50lbs and canned them up so we will have tomatoes until the garden comes in.
  5. Meal planning. This has been essential to keeping organized and knowing what food I need when.
  6. Having a garden and preserving, preserving, preserving. Since this is basically free it's the very best way to eat cheap on a real foods diet.

I rarely go to the grocery store anymore since I order most of my food through co-ops and grow the rest. That alone has saved money since I'm not tempted by all the yummies in the store.

Learn more about real foods and natural living!

How do you save money on "real foods"? Where do you buy it from?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mary June 4, 2011 at 11:48 pm

I have been trying to find ways to give my family more real food and trim our budget at the same time also. The best way by far that we do that is to raise a huge garden and can the surplus. We barter our excess apples in the fall for beets or potatoes that we may not have enough of. We make our own (ultra-yummy!) granola cereal, and often have oatmeal or cream-of-wheat for breakfast also. I buy every single good condition canning jar I ever find at a yard sale, etc. for 25 cents or under. We make our own chicken stock and ‘cream of ‘ soups to have them healthier and less sodium packed. I picked up many great ideas for eating healthier and saving money from a small book I got on eBay years ago, called Living Frugally in an Unfrugal World. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to find new ways to save money while living better!


2 Charity June 6, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Thanks, Mary. I’m going to see if I can get a copy of that book. I just started a garden this year so I am hoping I have some success. Thanks too for that great book suggestion.


3 MARSHA June 6, 2011 at 8:11 am

This is another great series! Love reading your blog…I look forward to it every day! Thank you so much 🙂


4 Charity June 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I think our food budget is the most frustrating thing for us. We have kids so it is hard to maintain the 150/month budget. I average $450. I know that is steep, and we’re trying to cut it down to $150/paycheck thus $300 a month. Plus we live in a very wealthy area (we ourselves are not wealthy) and food prices here are astronomical plus they only double coupons to $1.00. Do you think me trying to cut down our budget to $300/month and starting small would work too? Do you know if the bountiful baskets is here in pa? I’m going to try and really figure out how to make more with less. I’m a little frustrated because we’ve made a goal to pay off $3000 in debt by the end of the summer. Cutting our food costs down would be so helpful. I use coupons extensively. Any other helpful advice would be so appreciated.. Thanks for your helpful posts!


5 Merissa June 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Charity, right now I don’t think Bountiful Baskets delivers on the east coast but they are always expanding so I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. When you start cutting down your food budget, don’t cut it down all at once or you will feel deprived. Try and find alternatives to what you are already buying that might be cheaper. Stick with buying produce only when it’s at it’s rock bottom seasonal price and preserve it for later. I hope that helps!


6 Charity June 7, 2011 at 3:41 pm

That does help a lot Merissa. Thanks so much!


7 Jasanna September 24, 2012 at 9:05 am

Thanks for this! I’m on a super small budget and trying to figure out how to get organic dairy/ eggs/meat into our diet, as well as things like fermented cod liver oil and coconut oil.. All these things tend to be expensive, and I can’t buy in bulk since I’m in an apartment. It’s been a bit of a challenge. 🙂



8 Victoria Gibson January 15, 2013 at 10:12 pm

I have a question that goes along these lines. I have a large family (there is seven of us), and would love to have a garden. The problem is I have two bad knees and a bad back. The docs wanted to do surgery on all three several years ago, but I was told I only have a 50% chance of walking afterwards. With small children I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Do you think that raised beds, and I’m talking at least 3 1/2 foot off the ground, would pay for themselves eventually? I love to be outside, and if I don’t have to bend I really don’t have a problem with gardening. I’m thinking raised beds filled with plants I start inside, black plastic on top of the soil and mulch on top of it. We were thinking of putting a few in every year, but weren’t sure if we would be better off spending that money stockpiling non-perishables.


9 Merissa January 16, 2013 at 7:31 am

I would think you could make some kind of raised tables to garden in. There isn’t really too much in the garden with deep roots so you should be able to get away with this and have it work great! You could make them out of old pallets or something else cheap so they wouldn’t cost much.


10 Kayla May 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm

I agree with Merissa. You should try raised table beds. Despite being only 22, I have bad knees from hereditary arthritis. I think the raised tables would pay gor themselves and save you a lot of pain. 🙂


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