Basically, stores fall into 3 separate categories. One thing you should note: for your best savings, you CAN’T just shop at 1 or 2 stores. You’ll need to look around, keep an eye out and keep focused. For this post, I’m not just focusing on organic, but gluten-free as well – and you’ll see why.
The good news is that by now, most grocery markets have a gluten-free section, which tends to contain all the organic, non-GMO and allergen-free options. The bad news is that supermarkets do not tend to offer coupons for these products, and not every store will have the products you want or use. Some markets will have their own brand, but if you’re child is on a restrictive diet, I would stay away from that. Many of them use corn or are cross-contaminated.
Now, if and when I get the chance, I do go to Whole Foods, but there is none nearby. For a great how-to for this shop, check out “Possible? Whole Foods on a Budget.” Whole Foods also has it’s own online coupons and is available through Ibotta.
I also don’t grocery shop at Target, but if you do, you should know that they also accept the Ibotta app and have some clean brands. Check out “How to Shop at Target (on a $64 a Week Budget)” for tips on how to pull off frugal groceries there.
HEALTH FOOD STORES
If you’re like me, you *assume* that the local health food store is going to cost you an arm and a leg more than the local grocers. That is often the case, but what’s not known is that some do run special and coupons. For example, our local shop, Healthy Alternatives in Trexlertown, PA, sends email coupons and has a monthly book of specials – some of which are even better than Giant’s or Wegman’s prices. The upside to health food stores is that you can ask a lot of questions, get guidance on supplements and how to treat conditions or problems and get organic produce – sometimes at reasonable rates, like my shop. This is definitely a necessary part of frugal organic grocery shopping.
FARMER’S MARKETS AND CSAs
About two years ago, I wondered, “What on earth is a CSA?” Now I don’t know how to live without mine! You need to be shopping at these if you have any available where you live. Here’s the skinny:
These are local events that tend to happen once week, and only in seasonal weather. They consist of local farmers, gardeners and often other local vendors putting out their wares for you to buy. Now this does not necessarily mean they are organic, but you can look at the labels and get an idea. We have 2 nearby and we regularly buy produce and meat there, as well as cupcakes, soaps, wine, pizza, plants, and more! Each market has its own vibe, as well, and they will do fun things, like give out candy at Halloween or set up a mini-petting zoo. You totally need to check these out if they are available near you! AND here’s a bonus: if you go at end of day or just before the market closes for the winter season, you will get less selection but you are more likely to get a better deal as they want to get rid of produce they can’t sell. Check out your markets just before they close if you’re not looking for something specific!
CSA = “Community Supported Agriculture” and they are wonderful! They often offer mostly or all organic products and produce, but do check. You order online and they ship to your door. BOOM! Doesn’t get easier than that. Here are two in PA:
- I have not yet tried Door To Door Organics, but it’s on my radar soon because I know they sell brands I love and use. They told me they deliver to my area (south Lehigh Valley) but since I met them at the Philly Food & Farm Fest, I’m sure they are a better option for Philly folks.
Learn more about what a CSA is and what you need to know to choose one from Mindfully Frugal Mom!
SHOPPING CLUB STORES
Shopping clubs, like Sam’s Club or BJ’s, unfortunately are not great in this area. We signed up for a free BJ’s pass and the only bargains I found were Applegate Hot Dogs 2 pack for $8 and change (not organic), 15 lunch sized Silk Almondmilk case for $18 (found them cheaper at Health Alternatives), reasonable prices on Method cleaners and some organic fruit -but that was it. I checked out brands for Sam’s and BJ’s online and it was the same story. At a cost of $50 per year, you are not saving enough. Next week, I will show you a much better solution for a shopping club when I cover online organic shopping.
NOT A STORE BUT USEFUL: LOCAL BUTCHER
This option requires that you have a lot of room to store about two months’ worth of meat and can go through it all. There are SO many options, from buying a cow share to ordering meat that’s already pre-packaged.
SOME RESOURCES ON STANDARD COUPONING
Now, for those of you who want to know how real couponing is done, I’m not your gal, but you can get helpful hints here:
- Fun Finds for Families shares tips on how to Know Your Price Points and Compare Unit Prices.
- A while back, I reviewed a book that showed you how to do couponing for special diets. It was re-released in November, 2013. It’s available for $2.99 at Amazon. Here is my affiliate link: With or Without Coupons: How to Save 50% or More at the Grocery Store.
- O’Boy Organic has a few extra tips on her article, How to Save Money on Organics.
- Fabulously Frugal has a post on Understanding Sales Cycles for generic products, with a list of popular sales cycles and a downloadable sheet. Organic, green and allergen-free sales cycles are going to run differently. For example, May was Celiac Awareness month, so you can expect gluten-free products to go on sale that month. But almost every brand has a sales cycle, I just have not found an organic one.
- Southern Savers has a little more insight into Sales Cycles in her article.
- Girlfriends with Goals shares tips on how to get your fruits & vegetables on a budget.
That covers most of what I know about getting good clean, groceries. It boils down to a lot of time and work, but it pays off with big savings. If there’s any question you have that I have not covered, please ask and I will get you an answer!