Now that you're eating more veggies (and organic at that) here are some tips to save some mula. Healthy does not equal expensive. As a matter of fact, after your initial pantry stocking, you'll probably find yourself saving money on a weekly basis!
1. Find a CSA. Community Sponsored Agriculture is THE way to go for local organic veggies. For about $15, you'll get a HUGE box of veggies that I dare you to finish in a week. Unless you have a big family, you might wanna split it with a friend or two. We still end up buying things like cucumbers and tomatoes if they're not in the box, but it saves us about $25 a week on groceries! Plus it's like your birthday every week because you never know exactly what's in the box! Go to Localharvest.org to find the CSA closest to you. You could even join a co-op and volunteer your time instead of shelling out cash.
2. Buy in bulk. Pay for the food- not the packaging!
3. Make a little more. If the recipe calls for 3⁄4 of an onion, use the whole damn onion and just add a little extra of everything else. You'll waste less food and you'll have leftovers for lunch the next day instead of buying or ordering. I usually double the recipe anyway. First of all, when it says "serves 4" it usually only serves 2 or 3, and I love having a fancy leftover meal for lunch without having to cook it or buy it!
4. Go food shopping a couple times a week and make a list. This might be difficult depending on your schedule, but buying produce a couple or a few times a week will reduce spoilage. On Saturday or Sunday, I'll get my meals and grocery list ready for the week. Then I'll divide my list into a couple shopping trips so mid-week grocery runs are quick. Ok I'm not always that diligent, but when I am, it works. Don't forget your list. Meal planning and list making will save time and money. You won't be wandering aimlessly around the store hoping for inspiration to strike, and you won't buy more than you need or can use. I split my list into "produce" and "other" categories to make my trip even faster.
5. Store veggies properly. We store our veggies in the refrigerator in Debbie Meyer's greenbags. It keeps them fresh a lot longer.
6. Freeze! If your fruit starts to go bad, don't toss it! Wrap it up and store in the freezer to use in a smoothie.
7. Make your own snacks. I'm a snack LOVER. I love crackers, fruit strips, cookies, chips, granola, larabars, dips, hummus, etc. For me, this is the most expensive portion of my grocery bill. So I've started making my own. For example, to buy a container of organic hummus it will cost me around $5 or $6. To make the same amount of my own, it will cost about $1.50 or $2. No brainer! Stay tuned for lots more snack recipes...
8. Cut back on or stay away from fake meat products. Processed fake meats are SO expensive. And really not good for you. Some have just as many harmful chemicals as their non-vegan counterpart. There are plenty of whole food alternatives - try a cashew based cheese or the tostada recipe for your taco meete fix.
9. Stay stocked. This is the key to my culinary happiness. When I'm armed with a stocked kitchen, a plethora of appealing recipes, and the tools to execute an awesome meal, magic happens. This is especially important if you (like me) are the type of person who finds any and every excuse to eat out. It may take you a couple weeks and a couple extra dollars to stock your kitchen with staples, spices, and equipment, but when that foundation is laid, you're gonna be the money saving culinary rock star of the family. Some argue that it's cheaper to eat out and in some cases it is - but when you count a McDon....I can't even say it....burger as a meal, you'll be paying 100 fold to keep your body functioning properly in the future. Not to mention your tax dollars that go into keeping that food so "cheap." If you can't seem to find the time to look through recipes, start with one cookbook and your favorite TV show and find recipes during the commercials. Works for me :) Cookbooks I recommend if you're just getting started: The Kind Diet, Crazy Sexy Diet, Veganomicon.
10. Grow your own! If you have the space for it, grow your own produce. Take a trip to your local garden store, find a knowledgeable employee and learn how to create a vegetable garden. We have a small balcony, and starting in March, we're going to grow our own cucumbers. I'm so excited!
I hope some of these help! Happy Healthy Eating!