I wish I could say that I’m a bargainista, but I’ve always valued convenience more than price. When I first lived on my own, I bragged about my “good buys” purchasing generic macaroni and cheese boxes for $0.29 each and ramen noodles by the carton at the local drugstore. However, that was nearly two decades ago when we all believed that eating non-fat was healthy. Now that I try to consume most of my meals organic and plant-based, wholesome food shopping is a priority. While I spend much of my living clean adventure time in Whole Foods or health food markets, I enjoy spending time visiting other places to purchase food.
Local Farmer’s Markets
Why didn’t I realize the benefits of local farmer’s markets earlier in life? They are fun, fast and cheap. Last week, I bought eight bags of produce, which cost me less than $30. This is the biggest bargain yet. Because I’m organic conscious, I try to purchase products with no pesticides or added toxins. However, there are some items that don’t need to be purchased organic. The Environmental Working Group titles these “The Clean 15.” These food items are relatively “clean” and carry the least pesticide residue. I hold this list handy when shopping for produce. I’ve found that every few towns on the Connecticut shoreline host farmer’s markets at least throughout the summer. I also remember seeing downtown farmer’s markets when I lived in the midwest. Check the Department of Agriculture in your local state for more information.
Farm Share Programs
For a minimal membership fee, local farms offer weekly baskets of fresh produce to pick-up. The benefits include lower priced fruits and vegetables, oftentimes more fresh than grocery store produce because it’s handpicked hours prior to pickup. The local farm by my house doesn’t sell organic produce. However, they claim to “believe in a sustainable way of life…and spray only when necessary.” I’m excited to join.
Traditional Grocery Stores
More and more traditional grocery stores carry organic lines. In Connecticut, Stop & Shop carries produce, cheese, meats, dairy and packaged goods under the Nature’s Promise brand. Depending on the store, there can be a lot of options. I’m also a fan of their delivery service, Peapod. The produce is almost ripe and lasts several days.
Whole Foods Market
I’ve said it once and I will say it again, I love Whole Foods. But then again, I take it for what it’s worth: a wholesome food market. I don’t assume that every product in stock is worthy to buy. I still read labels. But they make it a lot easier there. The NON-GMO (non-genetically modified) brands are highly visible. The organic and local produce is well-marked. And the personnel is largely well-informed and helpful, making my shopping experience easy.
While the organic selection is somewhat limited, the pricing on what exists is phenomenal. At a Boston BJ’s, a big box of organic baby kale was just $2.49 and blueberries less than $3. They also sell some traditional organic brands like Stonyfield Organic dairy products. More of these big-box wholesale clubs are buying organic brands, so check out the ones nearest you. I’ve found good carrots, salads and some fruits at our Connecticut BJ’s.
Do you tend to shop for more for convenience or price? What are your priorities when grocery shopping?