Reducing food costs - 4 things we bought that cut our grocery bill

4 Things We Bought That Cut Our Grocery Bill


Small investments that help us save on food costs

Very slowly over the last 3 years we’ve added a few things that cost more than my preferred $0 in order to save money in the long run.  Here are the small investments we’ve made to reduce the cost of food in the long run.

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Vacuum Sealer

vacuum sealed
My bulk-buying game really went up once I was able to vacuum seal.   I now regularly seal and freeze sourdough bread, bulk raw meat, corn, squash and sauces.  Produce and block cheese gets sealed and can stay in the fridge for weeks.  I get really excited about it.  Check out my awesome vacuum-sealed melon selfie.
One of the coolest things you can do with this guy is quick-marinate.  I have no ability to “meal plan” and decide 2 days before that I’ll want ginger-lime chicken.  So instead I can throw a vacuum sealermarinade together at 4pm, vacuum seal it into the meat and have dinner at 6.
My amazing FoodSaver also has a jar attachment. My aunt vacuums the air out of EVERYTHING to keep chips, crackers and whatever else crisp. I was able to buy this baby used for half price.  HAPPY DANCE.
If you don’t need the extra features, the basic model is fantastic.

cost $75-225

Deep Freezer

deep freezer

The day our freezer arrived. We already had a lot of meat!

Our most recent purchase came courtesy of a birthday gift card (adult birthdays are a hoot). I’d been chasing deep freezers around craigslist, yard sales and even facebook sale pages for 6 months. Unfortunately, these guys hold their value pretty well and are in demand around here so you can get a really beat up old 5cu ft freezer for $120 or just buy a new, clean, perfect one for a bit more.

Organic, local grass-fed meat is a HUGE part of our diet and something we do not mess around with. We want to make certain our meat is clean, hormone, drug and chemical free and was healthy and fed it’s perfect diet. And that’s expensive.
Buying in bulk directly from farmers can seriously reduce food costs. But you need somewhere to store all of it!
Ground beef and lamb disappear rapidly around here so whenever they are on sale at our local butcher, whole foods or farmer’s market I buy several extra pounds knowing that I now have somewhere to put it!

Frozen organic produce is another big reason we went for the extra space. My daughter would bathe in berries if she had the chance. I love my healthy eater but man does she have expensive taste. Organic berry prices regularly make me want to pass out. Getting a 5-pound bag or bulk freezing fresh berries and storing for the winter brings down the cost.

I’m about to have another baby. In the next month I’ll be gathering supplies to make freezer meals so I won’t starve postpartum. I didn’t have the space to store much last time and it was no fun. Running out of the house with a 5 day-old mid-January doesn’t sound fun and trying to do it with a toddler as well because I have nothing to make for dinner sounds miserable. Now I have the space for crock-pot meals, baked pastas and frozen stew! Yippie!

cost $120-200

 

Dehydrator

I’ve had this basic guy for a while. I love it. I love it so much a made 2 YouTube videos about it. (Check them out)  Every veggie or fruit in the fridge that we made not get around to eating before it goes bad gets sliced up and easily made into chips. Zucchini chips from excess garden stock, apple chips, dried nectarines when it turns out Munchkin doesn’t like regular ones, beet chips because I really thought I’d make 2 pounds of roasted beets before going on vacation…
Toss the chips or dried fruits into a mason jar and you can store them for months (vacuum seal for long term storage)!

I have no issues with my $40 unit but for just a bit more the same company makes a digital version or you could get really fancy with an Excalibur (serious food-storage pros and cooks swear by it).

cost $40-250

Club Store Membership

Costco has an incredible selection of foods that are organic, whole30, paleo, non-GMO and more. I got a 2lb bag of sprouted pumpkin seeds recently. I can supplement a lot of my typical farmer’s market fair during the winter at Costco. It may not be the top-quality local foods I prefer, but I can still get grass-finished butter (we go through a lot), grass-fed ground beef, nuts and seeds and pretty much any kind of frozen organic produce. They even have pressed juice, kombucha and I saw recently some stores are starting to sell frozen organic free-range BONE BROTH (please come to my store!!).
However, it’s not cheap. Our membership is $60 a year. This is the first year we paid for it ourselves, before I was on my parent’s plan and then we had a year gifted to us. Cheaper gas is a huge factor in why we kept our membership. We save several dollars every time we fuel up at Costco. And there was a time in my life when cheaper wine made a difference to our budget. But I’ve been pregnant or nursing full time for nearly 3 years now. Sometime in 2019 that may matter again.
Think carefully about how much buying in bulk will really save you. If something is $2 cheaper and you buy 10 that you really need that’s great – buy only if you go back a couple times. If you’re going to go twice a year or have of the veggies you buy go bad before you eat them you may not be saving enough to justify the expense.

–  Thrive Market
This is the online all-natural version of Costco. Not going to lie, I only tried this because I got a coupon for half off my first year. I really do love how convenient it is, and I am not typically an online shopper. You can search for all the foods that fall under your desired diet – paleo, gluten-free, vegan, raw, ect. And it’s awesome that I already know everything is high-quality and healthy.
The biggest issue I have with a Thrive membership is that I’m still not convinced I buy enough packaged foods to make the price worth it. This may change completely after baby 2 gets here and I don’t want to run to the store as much. But they don’t have any fresh, refrigerated or frozen foods which is most of what we eat. I have bought lost of Pacific Foods broths and soups, pasta sauces, grains, snacks, applesauce and several supplements.
If you aren’t as crazy as I am and don’t make your own beauty products, this may be helpful though. They carry tons of bath, beauty and even baby products as well.

cost $60 a year each

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