The Little House Living Show – Episode 014 – Saving Money on Healthier Foods

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The Little House Living Show – Episode 014 – Saving Money on Healthier Foods

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What’s In This Episode?

0:36 – Introduction
1:35 – Gardening
2:27 Meat in Bulk
4:12 – Pre-packaged foods
6:52 – Seasonal foods
8:25 Foraging
9:22 – Coop ordering
12:06 – Frozen foods
13:46 – Lists and Meal planning
14:28 – The perimeter
16:14 – Bone broth
19:25 – Farmer’s Market
21:14 – Whole foods
22:55 – Coupons
25:37 – Waste and special foods


Links Mentioned in This Show


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Podcast Transcription

Come back to another episode of the little house living show. I’m excited that it’s a brand new year, and I hope just like I’m sure many of you guys do that this year is going to be a little bit simpler and a little bit calmer than the last year was. So today I want to talk to you about eating healthy and doing it on a budget. So I’m not going to talk about specifically about what healthy foods to eat, but you know, what’s best for your family and your body. And so I want to give you some tips on how to find those healthy foods on a budget. I know that healthy foods can seem like they’re so expensive to shop for and sometimes even really hard to find. So hopefully the tips that I have today will help you, especially if you’ve made some resolutions to live healthier or just shop healthier during the new year here.
So the first thing that I want to start with is kind of something, I’m pretty sure that show guests, but that is to plan on starting a garden this year. The easiest way that you can get healthy food is just to grow it right in your own backyard. I’m a big believer that anybody can have a garden no matter where they live, whether that just be in buckets on a deck, or even in a window, sell any type of garden, big or small, you can get food from, or you can get herbs from that. You can have healthy food right there in your home. And obviously, it’s one of the healthiest foods that you can get because it doesn’t have to be transported. It’s just right there. And you know exactly what goes into growing that food. That is probably the biggest tip I have and the one that I follow myself every year.
So I’m planning a big garden this year, and I hope that you are planning a big garden or at least any kind of garden this year as well. So the next tip that I have for you is to start buying your meat in bulk. So if you eat meat, I know that it can be healthy and it can be inexpensive to go vegetarian or Gavi. And, but if you do eat meat, like we do, there are a lot of sources to buy your meat in bulk from you can buy it right from the local farmers. You can buy it from membership stores. There is also different meat services, just depending on what area you are in. So you can always ask on Facebook or anywhere else to find a good source of bulk meat. And I will be sure to put a link in the show notes to my article on buying meats in bulk, I’ve got a really detailed post on buying chicken and pork and beef in bulk and what you want to know before you do that.
So I’ll make sure that’s there so you can check it out if you are interested in buying meat in bulk, but basically when you’re buying it in bulk, it’s a cheaper price and you know, meat can be a whole food, as long as it doesn’t have anything added to it. You can always add in your marinades or grind it or make it into sausage or whatever after you buy it. But we’ve personally found that the best way to buy meats is to buy it in bulk. So I will make sure that I link that so you can check that out if you’re interested. So the next tip I have is to not buy healthy, junk food. And by this, I mean, like I junk food, like anything else, the pre packaged boxes of crackers or snacks or cookies, it’s really not that healthy because it’s processed anyway.
And it’s really expensive to buy. What’s labeled as healthy junk food instead of just making it yourself. So if you can skip all the pre-packaged healthy junk food, and that is one of the best ways that you can save money on healthy foods, you can always make those things yourself or just be very, very selective in what pre packaged snacks you do decide to buy. If you feel like you need to buy them to save time. So the next thing that I want you to remember when you’re thinking about saving money, unhealthy food is to search for deals in really random places. If you’ve been on the blog a lot, you’ll know that I talk about shopping at discount stores or surplus grocery stores. Those can be a great place to find healthy foods and even organic foods on a huge discount. And if you are one that does like to buy the healthier pre-packaged foods, that is a really good place to get them.
I don’t typically buy that much pre-packaged foods, but what I do buy, I usually buy it from a discount grocery store. And by that I don’t mean like all the, I mean, a surplus scratch and dent type of store. And I will make sure that I link to my article on how to find and how to shop at surplus grocery stores in the show notes as well. So you can check that out, but it is a great way to find some of those pre-packaged things that can save you time or just, you know, save you from going out to eat if you really need something quick. But yeah, there’s some really great deals there. Some of the things that I bought the last time I was at the surplus store that we have locally was some organic canned soup. It wasn’t canned, actually it was in like I’m not sure what that thing is, the little cardboard box, but they had some organic chicken and rice soup and I thought, Oh, this is going to be great.
If the power is out and we ended up using it on days when we just didn’t really feel very good. So it was a nice little thing to have in my pantry. And it was a healthy food. It was an organic food and I got it super cheap at the surplus grocery store. So definitely a place to check for deals. So the next thing about saving money on healthy food is that you want to try to find foods that are in season. So obviously right now, berries are not in season. And so you’re not going to find a great deal on them. They may look really pretty in the store, but they’re going to be really expensive. And honestly, and they’re not going to taste that great anyway, because they had to come a really long distance and, or had to be ripened to be able to get to the store.
Definitely try to find a list or make a list of the foods that are in season in your area and try to shop based on that list. So like right now in the winter, we should be able to find good deals on potatoes or winter squash, some of those other good, basic staples. Citrus is always a pretty good price right in about mid winter. So look for those type of deals and then save some of that other stuff for summer or spring. And if you do find a good deal on those in the, in the season that it’s in season, then stock up and freeze the extras because you’ll have the best tasting stuff right in your freezer and you paid the best price for it. That is exactly what I did last year with strawberries. I bought a whole bunch of them when they were super cheap.
And I think it was like a dollar 50 a pound, which is a really good deal where I live. I bought a ton of them. I cut them all up and put them in the freezer and we’ve been able to enjoy them all winter long and they taste so good because they were in season when I bought them. So definitely try to keep it in season. Another thing that you can do, and this is probably not going to be the best option right now, but later on in the summer, or even in the spring is to forage for food. So there’s a lot of good foraging books out there, but I would recommend finding one that is specifically for your area. And then there’s also a website called falling fruit, which you can search for great foraging areas in your neighborhood or in your area.
Don’t forget that hunting or fishing is also another good way to forage and something you can still do in the winter, even when you can’t, you know, get the fresh food to forage or fresh produce or herbs by foraging, you can always hunt or fish. And yeah, that’s another great way to find really inexpensive, healthy foods because it’s doesn’t have any pesticides on it or anything like that. It’s just a great way to find stuff. The next thing that I want you to do, and this is, are going to work with all grocery stores, but you can definitely ask your grocery store, what they do with their old produce. Now some of them have a policy where they have to throw it out. Some of them donate it to food pantries, but sometimes they will sell it. So go ahead and call or talk to your local grocery store and ask for the produce manager the next time you’re there and just ask them what they do with their old produce.
You never know what you might be able to find. And even if the food is to, you know, kind of wilty for you to eat, you could still feed it to your animals and keep them healthy through the winter as well. So the next thing that I have on my list here is to buy your pantry staples in bulk. So not everything is a good price to buy in bulk, but there’s a lot of dry goods and things you might go through quickly. And it just makes sense to save money by buying larger amounts. So some foods that come to mind that are less expensive when you buy in bulk are things like beans, flour, rice, oats, sugar, olive oil, Apple, cider vinegar, and different types of dried herbs and spices. Those are all great for buying in bulk. Obviously, if you know my website, you know, that we buy most of that kind of stuff in bulk from Azure.
And I can link to them in the show notes too. I’ve been shopping with them for the last, I don’t know, definitely over 10 years now. And I get all of those types of things from them because I found the best price on their brand, you know, specifically for those basic pantry staples, but just something to keep in mind when you’re shopping and something to check into. Oh, and also, just to note, I know that a lot of you asked me where Azure delivers to, and I think they deliver across the country. Now, I know I saw a thing that they were making some new routes over on the East coast. So if you previously could not order from them, you might want to check it out again, and I will link to their website in the show notes. So you can find it easily.
All right. So the next thing I want to talk to you about is buying produce that is cheaper by the pound. So we like all kinds of fruit in our home. My kids are really not that picky when it comes to fresh stuff, but it doesn’t make sense to me, for me to buy a four 99 a pound container of strawberries when I can buy organic bananas for 99 cents a pound or less, actually, usually I can get bananas for around 50 cents a pound. So it’s just something to think about. We’ve tried to have a good variety in the produce that we eat. And so I’m not always buying one type of produce just because it’s the cheapest, you know, we like to have a variety, but it’s just something to think about. Maybe, you know, if bananas are cheaper than strawberries at a certain point in time, you just eat more bananas than you do of the strawberries and kind of save that for a special thing, just to save money that way, just consider the price per pound and how much you’re actually getting in that pound as you’re shopping for produce.
So the next thing I want you to consider is shopping in the frozen foods. Aisle buying frozen produce is one of the best ways to save money on produce, especially in the winter, because cheaper, fresh produce is just not available, especially not where we live. So frozen foods are usually picked at the peak of their rightness and they’re flash frozen, frozen. So they have all their nutrients intact. It’s just, it’s a great way to buy inexpensive produce, especially if you don’t need the fresh version of that particular produce and a lot of produce. And you know, especially fruits does just fine when it’s frozen. So we tend to buy a lot of frozen peas and a lot of frozen broccoli because we go through a lot of broccoli and it’s really good when it’s frozen. And I use it in a lot of stir fries.
So that application works perfectly. Obviously, if you like eat a lot of smoothies and stuff, frozen fruit is a great way to go. And if you haven’t had a lot of frozen produce, you’re definitely going to notice a difference in the taste between the frozen produce and the produce that you’re buying. That’s not in season since the produce that’s frozen is picked at the peak of ripeness, it’s just tastes better. So that’s something to consider when you’re shopping and you’re not able to find a good deal on regular produce. Let’s move into a few more tips here. I know this is kind of long, but hopefully you’re sticking with me and I’m making some notes on some of these things that you can use the next time you go to the grocery store. And one of the biggest ways that we saved money by going, when we go to their grocery store is making our lists ahead of time.
This really is just a general money saving tip when you’re shopping and you want to make your list ahead of times, do you know exactly what you need to get at the store? You don’t forget things so you don’t need to have additional trips and you do not buy things that are not on your list. So take cash with you for the amount that you need to spend on those items on your list and leave everything else at home. So you’re not tempted to go off of that list and buy things that your family really just does not need. And if you’re not sure how to make a list you might want to consider making a meal plan. And I have quite a few articles on doing that, including a ebook that I put together on how anyone can meal plan. And I will link to all of that in the show notes as well.
So another thing that I like to do when I go to the grocery store is I promise to myself when it go in that I am only going to walk around on the perimeter of the store. So the perimeter or the store is aware, the fresh produce is it’s where the fresh dairy is. It’s where the fresh [inaudible]. I do not need anything in those middle aisles because it’s almost processed stuff. Now on occasion, I will stray into those aisles if I like need a thing of salsa or something like that. But for the most part, I stay away from those Isles on my regular shopping trips and only go around the perimeter. And not only does it make my shopping easy because I have just, everything I need is right around that perimeter, but I take less time in the store because I’m not wandering through the Isles, looking for different things.
It’s just super easy to go around that perimeter. And generally that is where all the healthy foods are in the store. So just something to think about the next time you go to the store. Now, this next tip I mentioned earlier, and that is about having meatless meals. So you don’t have to go completely vegetarian or vegan just to have some meatless meals. And it doesn’t have to mean that you’re getting less protein or having meals that are less filling. So you could have meals that incorporate more eggs or more beans, just kind of whatever some of your favorites are. Some favorites in our household are to do bean bowls or loaded baked potatoes. Those are both really yummy, both really filling. And if they’re being topped with the right things, they’re really full of protein as well. So just consider at least having one meatless meal a week, maybe more than that, if you can.
And that can definitely save you money off of your grocery budget as well. Okay. So the next thing I wanted again into is using bone broth. So bone broth is something that our family has been making for a long time, and we love it. We use it for so many different things, not just for soups or, you know, your typical uses for broth, but I actually use it to make a ton of different homemade sauces. It’s just a nice, good base for my sauces. And since our family is dairy free, I can use it in a lot of sauces where somebody else might use milk or something. It’s kind of amazing what it can be used for. And it’s super healthy when you’re actually making the broth from the, the bones of the animal. So bone broth is super easy to make. I used to always make it in my Crock-Pot.
And I think that is the tutorial that I have on my website, but now I make it in my instant pot because I am trying really hard to get into using that more. So all I do is I usually make chicken broth. That just tends to be what I have on hand. The most, I guess I do have some beef bones now, so I need to make some more beef broth, but so for chicken, I will take the whole chicken and frozen or not frozen, and I will put it inside my instant pot, and then I will fill the water up to the line in the pot. And I will usually add things just to make the broth richer. So I usually add leeks and celery and carrots and a whole garlic cloves, and then a little bit of salt, pepper a Bay leaf.
Sometimes I don’t add all of those things, but I do like to add them when I can discuss it makes the broth so much richer than I said it on high pressure for an hour and 30 minutes and just let it do its thing. And then once it’s done, I let it cool off. And then I put it in individual freezer, containers that hold, I think my containers hold about two cups, a piece, and then I stick it all in the freezer so we can use it as we need it. So then I can just pull out a one of those little cups, unthought and use the bone broth, whatever, but it is super healthy. It’s a really inexpensive to buy whole chickens or to be able to get beef bones to make beef broth with. And so it’s just a great way to add in more nutrition to your foods.
And like I said, we pretty much use it every day, not necessarily in soup, but I make so many different sauces including my homemade soy sauce with it. And we use that in a ton of different stir fries. So I will link that recipe in the show notes so you can check it out and yeah, definitely think about making bone broth if you haven’t started already. Okay. So this next tip kind of has to do with the summer, but it’s just something to keep in mind for later. And that is obviously to shop at the farmer’s market in the summer produce is plentiful, and it’s really easy to add to your healthy food stockpile by shopping at farmer’s market. So even if you grow a garden, it’s great to shop at the farmer’s market for things that you didn’t produce or plants that didn’t grow in your own garden or whatever.
It’s one of the best ways to find a really good deal on food that is local hasn’t traveled in is just really tasty. So I have a blog post on making the most at the farmer’s market and how to get to great deals at the farmer’s market. And I will link that in the show notes as well. So you can check it out and distri about summer. So the next thing that I want to talk to you about is making one pot meals. So one dish meals or crock pot meals are such a great thing to make, because you can literally add just about anything into these, into the meals and the soups, and nobody will be able to taste the difference. So it’s a great way to use those frozen vegetables. If your family is really picky or to use up scraps that you might have in your fridge, if you’re making a soup or something like that, super easy to do, and your family will not know pretty much what you put in there, unless you tell them.
So it’s one of my favorite ways to keep from getting too much food waste in my house and just to use up things that I may not otherwise be able to use that. So when I talk about a one-pot meals, it usually means a soup or a stir fry. Those are kind of the basics for what we like to make. We don’t eat a ton of grains, so I don’t usually make a lot of like skillet meals, which tend to use a lot of pasta or rice. But those are definitely also really easy one dish meals that you can make as well. Especially if you’re looking for something that’s a little bit more filling. So definitely something to add to your meal plan for an inexpensive meal that can still be healthy. Just a couple more points that I wanted to make. I know this is getting a little bit longer than some of my other podcasts, but there are just so many different ways that you can save money on healthy food.
The next thing I wanted to talk to you about is buying the whole food instead of buying other versions of it. So like, say for instance, at one certain point in the year, apples are going to be cheaper than buying Apple sauce. So instead of buying applesauce at that time in the air, buy apples and make your own there’s so many different things that you can make at home and save a ton of money on by buying the actual food. I, the actual whole produce version of it instead of buying the process pro version of it, another really good example is jam. So mostly in the summer, you can find really good deals on fruits and you jam is super, super easy to make. Like if you’ve never canned before, start with jam, because it’s just ridiculously easy to make. I actually don’t use any sugar in my jam.
So there’s a way to do that too. I use just a little bit of honey and use the Pomona’s pectin. I can link to that in the show notes, but we use a whole food and we use honey and Pomona’s pectin and make a ton of jam. That’s really inexpensive because we’ve already gotten the produce for a really good deal. And then we can set up to have it all winter long. So like right now we’re enjoying toaster different meals with jam that is, I’ve got triple Berry and I’ve got peach jam and it all is super tasty and tastes super fresh, but we don’t have to buy the jam at the store. We use the whole food version instead, and we added the ingredients that we wanted to in the jam instead of having excess sugar or something like that. So definitely something to think about before you grab that processed version of the product.
So when we think about saving money, unhealthy foods, or on any foods we think about using coupons or in-store discounts, so there’s not a lot of great coupons out there for healthy foods. And if there is, they’re usually for like a processed version of the food, but I found pretty decent discounts just using like the different store apps. So in our local area, we have Safeway and they don’t have great deals every week, but I always check the deals on my app, the special deals that are for my store card. And sometimes they will have a really good deal on produce or on something else that I would buy from the store. And even if they don’t necessarily have a specific coupon for that item, I get rewards for shopping there. And so then I can use those rewards and turn them into my own coupons, which are usually coupons for something like $2 off of any produce purchase or something like that.
So it’s a great kind of sideway to save money on the healthy foods that you want to eat. Like I said, coupons are kind of hard to find, but if you really dig and look into those different avenues for finding discounts, it is possible. The other thing that I have seen at the stores on occasion is marked down produce or markdown meats. And so this is a good way to get a discount on a product that normally would never have a discount on it. So for example, a couple of weeks ago, I went into target and they had a good kind of chicken and they had a bunch of coupons all over it because it was at its best by date, but I’m just going to take it home and freeze it. So I got a whole bunch of chicken and took it home and froze it and it’s perfectly fine, but we got some discounts on something that we wouldn’t normally be able to find a coupon or a discount.
On another example of this is on my little Safeway app. I had we buy a lot of white sweet potatoes because I personally can’t eat regular potatoes, but I can eat white sweet potatoes, which are not as sweet as the regular sweet potatoes. So I had a discount on my coupon app for Safeway instead of a dollar 50 a pound. I could get them for only 99 cents a pound, which it’s a really good deal. So we went in and asked if they had any boxes in the back and ended up just buying a whole case from Safeway and got that discounted price on the entire case. So that kind of combines a couple things, definitely talk to your produce manager, cause I wasn’t going to buy just the three pounds or whatever they had on the shelf and check your discounts of what you have for your local grocery stores.
Okay. I just have two more points left and then I promise that I’m done. But the one thing that I wanted to mention was talk to your family about nothing going to waste in your household. So I know that there’s different statistics out there that we waste like 30 to 40% of the food we buy. And that’s just crazy. That is using up so much of your grocery budget that you don’t need to be throwing in the trash can or giving to your chickens. So find ways to make those foods that are kind of at the end of their life, not go to waste, use them in a soup, use them in a skillet peel, make a broth out of them. There’s so many different things you can do, but just try to incorporate those extra scraps or those extra little things that are going bad in your fridge.
So they, so you’re not tossing them out because that can be a big way to save money on your grocery budget. And you’ve, if you find that you’re doing that, you’re going to find that you have to go to the store less often because you’re actually using the things that you bought last but not least. I just want you to remember that you do not need to fancy expensive meals all the time. It is totally fine to reward yourself with an occasional steak or a fancy dessert or something like that. But you don’t need to stress out over having an expensive and difficult to put together meal for your family. So even if it’s someone’s birthday or something like that, unless they specifically ask for something expensive, like, you know, you can make healthy foods that don’t cost that much money and don’t need to be overly extravagant.
You can always add something to your meal to make it seem fancier like a sparkling Apple cider or something like that. But you don’t have to make expensive meals. You don’t have to make the things that you find on Pinterest. You can just make the simple, basic meals that your family already loves, and that are not going to cost you an arm and a leg when you go to the store. So I just wanted to encourage you with that last bit, because I know that there can be so much pressure on us to make this, these perfect meals all the time and they need to look good and they need to have all the everything in them, but you just don’t have to do that. And it can be a great way to save money on foods of great rate, to save money on healthy foods by just not stressing out about meals and having simple meals.
So I have gone totally over the normal time that I usually do for these podcasts, but there was just so many tips that I had to share them all with you today. I hope that there’s things here that you can use. Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with in regards to saving money on groceries. This is a topic that I really love and I’m really passionate about because I definitely believe that you can still eat really well and eat really healthy, but stick to a budget.

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  1. Loved all the tips. In the UK I haven’t come across many surplus stores, but if anything is dented I ask the supermarket for a reduced price, you don’t get if you don’t ask, as the saying goes!!

  2. We always let each one choose their favorite dessert for their birthday. If they have a meal that they like best I would cook that. There were request for meatloaf, tacos, chili, chicken and dumplings. I don’t remember anyone asking for steak.

  3. I love it! I’m curious how you store winter squash and root veggies. You mentioned that you bought a case of sweet potatoes. Do you keep them in a pantry, a cold garage, in straw, etc?

    Thank you!!! 🙂 I love your book, the Faux Buillion recipe is my favorite.

  4. GREAT tips and ideas! Thanks for taking the time to do these shows Merissa!

    I was wondering if you have any experience with misfits market? Someone I know said she loves it. I haven’t tried it yet.

    1. I did try them for a few months when it was available to me. I liked the first box a lot and then wasn’t as impressed with subsequent boxes. However, at the time I was living near stores that had great bargains so it wasn’t really a good deal for me.