Thursday, March 11, 2010

Shopping at Natural Organic Food Markets

You might be thinking to yourself, "Natural Organic Food Markets are EXPENSIVE!"  That can be true.  Or you might be thinking, "Those stores rarely have coupons I can use on product."  That may be true too.  But let me put your mind at ease on some of these issues.

Shopping at organic food markets can be thrifty and frugal.  You need to have a plan, a budget and a little know-how.  

1.  The Plan.  If you are new to the organic scene, as I am, ask your friends if there are any good quality stores in the area.  My friend Carrie tries to stick to an all natural way of life and she suggested Sevananda.  The first time we went there, I was a little surprised at the size of the store.  It's not a huge supermarket, like Trader Joe's or Whole Foods.  It's a small store with a wide variety of products.  The prices were very reasonable on many pantry items, though I chose not to purchase any.  My plan was to scope out the bulk bins and see what kind of price I could get on bulk whole wheat pastry flour, bulk whole wheat flour, bulk dried beans, bulk honey, bulk spices and herbs.

2.  The Budget.  I know, don't groan!  Budgets are set in place for our own good.  Sort of like training our children, they need boundaries and we need boundaries to avoid over-spending.  Currently our budget is $50 a week on grocery and food purchases.  Since it was the first of the month and I hadn't been shopping for nearly two weeks, my envelope was full.  I know I need to buy milk, eggs and butter and a few other sale items at Publix, so I decided to only take $20 cash with me to Sevananda.  

3.  The Know-How.  Here are a few tips and tricks to help you save money on natural foods for your family.  
  • Buy from the Bulk Bins.  The bulk bins are a great way to stock up on organic products at reasonable prices.  Beans in bulk usually cost about $1.50 per pound whereas a bag of beans on the shelf in the same store are about $3.00 per pound.  Sometimes they offer sales and you can pick up the dried bean in the bulk bin for as little at $.99 per pound.
  • Buy from the Bulk Spice Jars.  The bulk spice jars are truly heaven-sent!  A regular size jar of dried spices can cost anywhere from $3.00 up to $5.00.  In the bulk spice jars, the price is per pound and since you are only buying barely an ounce or so of the spice or herb, you are paying less than a dollar for them.  For example, I purchased about 30 bay leaves at $23.49 per pound and spent only $.47!  Normally a jar of bay leaves at Walmart can cost around $3.28 and there might be 10 bay leaves in the jar. 
  • Buy the Sale Items.  Walk around the store and check out the sale tags.  Once while shopping at Sevananda, the Organic Soy Milk was on sale for $2.99 and there was a tearpad coupon on the shelf for $1.00.  I was so excited I bought two!  Check out the produce and see what's in season.  Seasonal produce will be less expensive.

You can watch the video blog of our shopping trip, but the first half of the video was recorded on the wrong setting and is a little fuzzy. 

Do you have any other saving tips for shopping at a natural organic food market?

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Susie said...

The organic shops around here are getting better but it is still way more expensive!

Janet said...

Great info. I've been planning to try out a local co-op. May give it a go this week.


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