How to Save Money Without Thinking

Part 3: Healthy Food

At Gathering, one of our goals is to help you save money while still enjoying the things you love.

In this series, you’ll find the best resources to easily save in your day to day life — for things like traveling, eating out, and shopping. You can see Part 1 on Utilities and Part 2 on Flights, or follow the entire series here on Medium.

This week we’ll show you how to save on a frustrating expense for many of us: healthy food.

There’s a higher interest in eating and living healthy than ever before. Health food companies are thriving and fast food restaurants like McDonald’s are scrambling to make up for lost sales.

As much as we’d like to, most of us still don’t eat as healthy. For one, it’s hard. Everything sounds easy until those donuts your coworker bought are staring you in the face. But it can also get expensive, because all that healthy, organic food isn’t cheap.

We can’t make donuts any less appetizing, but we can help you out with the expensive part. By shopping at the right places and taking advantage of certain discounts, you can eat healthy without spending your whole paycheck. Let’s take a look at how you can get healthy food without breaking the bank.

Buy organic where it counts

Not all organic foods are created equal. Some organic foods just aren’t that much different than their standard counterparts. Certain produce has minimal exposure to pesticides and the like and even some meats are less affected by conventional raising than others.

You can save cash by only buying organic on the foods where it makes the biggest difference.

Not all organic foods are created equal.

The Environmental Working Group has a “Dirty Dozen” list of the worst offenders and “Clean 15” for the fruits and vegetables minimally affected. If you’re looking to save, stick to conventional options for the Clean 15 list rather than their organic counterparts.

Meats are generally much healthier in organic form, but if you want to pick one to save on, make it chicken. Conventionally raised chicken has the fewest drawbacks compared to red meats, fish, or eggs.

Also, if you’re forking over the extra money, make sure you’re buying legitimate organic products. They should have the USDA’s organic seal of approval, which are a minimum of 95% organic. If they don’t have that seal or are vaguely labeled “natural,” don’t waste your money.

Go to your farmer’s market or an ethnic food store instead of big chains

If you’re leaving the house to pick up groceries at the store anyway, make the trip to a farmer’s market instead of a typical grocery store. Not only will you get fresher food, but you’ll often see significant savings buying directly from the vendors rather than the stores.

Not sure where the closest farmer’s market is? Use these resources to find one:

You can optimize your timing for the best deals, too. Visit at the end of the market’s hours and many farmers will be cutting prices to reduce the inventory they have to take back to the farm.

Don’t have the extra time to make it this week? You can skip visiting the market by signing up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group, too. Sign up and the farm will send you boxes of fresh produce at a regular schedule. You can split this with friends or neighbors, as well. Local Harvest is a good resource for finding CSA’s.

You can find similar savings by shopping at ethnic grocery stores, too. They’ll have great prices on many things you’re buying anyway, as well a wide and unique selection of other foods and spices.

Join membership stores and save

Costco and Sam’s Club sell a lot of stuff, including tons of healthy food in bulk at a great discount. The key here is to only purchase what you will use. Make sure you have a freezer to stock with the extras you won’t use right away.

There are also several new online retailers offering similar discounts if you like to skip the whole “shopping at the store” thing.

Thrive Market is a new company that’s basically “Whole Foods meets Costco online.” They stock over 4,000 of healthy products at 25% to 50% off retail for an annual membership cost.

Green PolkaDot Box is another membership service that delivers discounted organic and non-GMO food directly to your door step.

Use coupons for what you’re already buying

We don’t recommend being an extreme couponer or anything, but there are some dead simple ways to find and use deals for the items on your grocery list.

Check your grocery store’s website from before you shop. They usually have deals listed there, so check for specials or if there are easy replacements you can get on the cheap.

You can also join your favorite companies’ social media pages where they’ll regularly post deals and discounts. Some will give some kind of special just for “liking” or following a page.

There are also many coupon sites specializing in health foods. Check out Mambo Sprouts, Organic Deals, Organic Food Coupons, and Organic Deals and Steals for health food and supplement coupons. Traditional coupon site Retail Me Not has deals for health food stores and products as well.

Happy eating!

It doesn’t take too much work to save on one of your biggest monthly expenses and still eat healthy. You — and your wallet — will look and feel better for it.

Looking to save even more money without thinking? Sign up at Gathering to be one of the first to try our new product that helps you automatically save for goals you care about.