One of the most common questions I get these days is about the cost of eating healthy and organic. Many people go to the grocery store and suffer from sticker shock. You pay HOW MUCH for a dozen eggs? I will admit that initially, I didn't think that I could afford to eat organic or healthy food. However, over time, I have learned otherwise. Yes, I pay $3 or more for a dozen eggs. I have many other cost saving things that make up for it.
I will start by being completely honest. I do not buy 100% organic. I have some co-ops that I am part of to get much of my organic fruits and vegetables. I have a friend who raises chickens where I get my farm fresh eggs. I buy the best I can with the resources that I have. I do try to buy everything fresh to make all my food from scratch. Here are some of the ways I save.
1. Buy in bulk. I get all my grains in bulk from online sources or co-ops. I buy whole wheat berries to grind into flour myself. Instead of buying loaves of bread at the store for $1-$3 per loaf, I make it myself at home for about 75 cents.
2. Make my own broth/stock. I am not sure exactly how much cans of chicken broth go for these days, but let's say they are $1 for easy math. I don't know about you, but I don't always get to eat all my vegetables before they start to wilt or go soft. I don't throw those vegetables in the trash. Instead, I throw them in the crock pot with some water. Cook them all day, or start in the evening and cook them all night. I will usually put in onions, bell pepper, carrots, celery, and sometimes spinach. I've even been known to throw in some jalapenos. Add in some sea salt, pepper, a couple cloves of garlic, and any other spices you like. I can't really give a cost on this, but does it really matter. I've used up stuff that would've otherwise gone to waste. I can give you a better idea of cost on making chicken broth, which I just did yesterday. Instead of buying boneless, skinless chicken breasts which can be kind of pricey and sometimes have extra stuff added into them, I buy a whole chicken. Yesterday, I cooked the chicken in the crock pot with a couple of carrots, some celery, sea salt, pepper, and oregano. Cover with water. For dinner, we had chicken breast with salad and homemade biscuits. Put the leftovers through a colander. You have chicken broth. Pull the remaining chicken off the bones and save for another meal. Take all the bones, skin, and even the packet of giblets and put back in the crock pot. Add in whatever vegetables you've got on hand just like you would for the vegetable broth. I also add in about a tablespoon of vinegar to draw the flavor out of the bones. I use apple cider vinegar, but any other vinegar would also work. This I let cook overnight. Between the broth I got from originally cooking the chicken, and the second cooking of the bones I got the equivalent of 10 cans of chicken broth. Assuming a can costs $1, that would've cost me $10. I paid $6 for the chicken. We also will get two whole meals from the chicken. The easiest way to store the broth is to freeze it in ice cube trays. I like to use ice cube trays for simplicity when it is time to use it. One ice cube equals about two tablespoons. It saves me from trying to measure a big frozen blob of broth for a recipe. You could also measure two cups into a small freezer bag. Two cups is about equal to one can of broth.
3. Make the meat stretch. Meat is one of the more expensive parts of a meal. Rather than putting a big piece of meat on your plate, use the meat as an add in to a dish. Rice or beans are inexpensive ways to make a meal stretch. I make dishes like fried rice, rice and beans, chili, soups, stews.
4. Homemade laundry soap and cleaning agents. A box of "good" laundry detergent can cost $30 for the big bulk size box. I can make an equivalent amount of laundry soap at home for under $4. Not only that, but there are less chemicals in it. White vinegar makes a great fabric softener. I can get a gallon for $1.99. I know a small bottle of fabric softener is much more than that. Vinegar and baking soda can be used to clean many things around the house. I am researching more homemade cleaners also.
These are just a few of the things that I do to save money. As I think of more, I will create another post.