I’m constantly asked the same question: Isn’t it expensive to eat organic, buy real food, or go green? And the answer is absolutely not. But how is this possible? Organic foods and green cleaning products in the stores are typically more expensive than conventional foods and cleaning products.
It is possible to find ways to save on food, cleaners and other kitchen staples. It’s basically been how my family has been living for a few years now. Here are a few tips.
7 Ways to Save on Food and Kitchen Staples
1. Make your own as much as possible.
We make everything from our own salad dressings and marinades to cookies and bread to household cleaning products. Part of going green is learning how to make things yourself. I’ve saved a lot of money by making many of our own staples, such as gluten free white bread
I’ve discovered that cleaning products, in particular, are way overpriced in stores – especially many green brands. I find it much cheaper to use vinegar or essential oils as a base to most of my cleaners. For just a few pennies per bottle I can create my own basic cleaner vs. shelling out $4-5 for a conventional cleaner. Try this DIY carpet freshener, DIY laundry detergent, DIY air freshener and other DIY non-toxic cleaning recipes.
And those pricey bottles of vegetable washes in the stores? You don’t need them. Just soak produce in a sink full of water and 5 drops of Lemon essential oil for 10-15 minutes.
2. Grow your own.
Even if you don’t have a green thumb (like me) you can grow some produce. I find herbs to be the easiest. You can grow them on a window sill or in a small pot to start. I’ve got three huge rosemary bushes growing in my front yard that require no maintenance at all. Try berries, lettuce, squash and other produce to see how they grow in your yard. You can even regrow food scraps in your garden or reuse food scraps for cooking.
I also like to grow aloe (not for eating) to have on on hand in case we need it for first aid or sunburn relief. Back in Hawaii, we always had aloe just for this reason.
And there are those who raise their own farm animals and can provide for their family that way – and get fresh, raw milk to boot. Find out if any of your friends grow or raise their own food and find out if you can swap (see #3 below).
3. Swap with a friend or neighbor.
I have a friend who has tons of mint, bay leaves and lemons growing in her yard. She regularly leaves them out for me on her doorstep so I can pick up at my convenience. I usually give her rosemary or other herbs growing in my garden.
Find other neighbors with fruit or vegetables growing in your neighborhood and don’t be shy. Offer to swap food with them. It doesn’t hurt to ask – and the worst thing that can happen is they say no. Or ask friends if they have connections.
Recently, a friend told me that she knew an organic chef who had extra chicken parts (feet, neck, bones) to make bone broth and asked if I wanted any. I picked up 5 quart-sized bags for nothing out of my pocket and was able to make delicious and bone broth for me and my family.
This works for toys and clothes for kids too. I have a network of friends with kids and we often donate items to each other once our kids outgrow them.
4. Shop at consignments stores, eBay or Craigslist.
Before you buy new, consider whether you can get something at a consignment store. It’s a great way to go green and reuse things. I’ve picked up great kitchen essentials like classic, real food cookbooks, mugs, and dishes, as well as kids books.
I typically find great deals on baby and kids gear on eBay and Craiglist. I’ve bought everything from used strollers to baby clothes to bikes for my older kids. Believe it or not, some Craigslist communities have exchanged kombucha and kefir grains too. Not sure if I recommend that but just goes to show that you can basically get anything on eBay and Craigslist.
5. Shop local.
I make it a weekly outing with my kids to visit the farmer’s market. It’s a great way to introduce them to new fruits and vegetables (I literally have to tear my middle son away from the citrus tent because he’ll eat all of their samples), and teach kids about where food comes from. It’s also a great way to find new vendors and products.
I like to buy farm-fresh eggs as well as some produce like citrus, tomatoes, artichokes, and other vegetables.
Another option is to sign up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) through a local farm. It’s an inexpensive way to get organic, seasonal produce while supporting local farms. It’s also great for trying new foods like rhubarb. Some CSAs also offer grass-fed poultry and meat from local partners too.
6. Buy in bulk.
Vinegar is staple in my house for cleaning, as a base in salad dressings and even as a facial toner. I buy different kinds of vinegar depending on the use, and I find that buying in bulk makes a huge difference. The same goes for toilet paper and other household staples. I typically buy these items from Amazon. If you aren’t signed up with Amazon Prime yet, you are definitely missing out. It’s just $79 a year for free 2-day shipping (in the continental U.S.) with other perks like free Kindle book borrowing and free video streaming.
7. Sign up for membership discounts to save big.
Feature image credit: Bigstockphotos.com / oksun70
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