Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Saving Money

So I was watching Oprah today and she had the alleged "thriftiest family in America" on. This family was insane - they were saving money at every turn, only using one cell phone for emergencies, cutting each other's hair, eating at only restaurants where the kids eat free, etc. And then another woman, the "coupon mom," bought $127 worth of groceries, and got $88 off from coupons and ended up spending only $39 for a week's worth of food for her entire family. She said she plans her entire week's worth of of meals based on what's on sale at that store. That week they had a whole chicken and free carrots. 

So here's the deal, I'm all for saving, and this is something I've been trying to do since we got back from Singapore. I've been using coupons where I see them, buying things on sale, that sort of thing. Here's my question though, and I know it's not a new question, but how do you reconcile eating healthy with saving money? 

For me, it's important to buy organic dairy and meat, and buy local if I can. I also like to buy organic produce whenever possible, although I'm not very militant about it. I feel those things are important to mine and my husband's health, and I guess I'm willing to pay a little bit extra for that. I also try to buy things with a low number of ingredients, no high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, those kinds of things. And I think we all know that sadly, the cheapest foods are often the ones with ingredients you can hardly pronounce and little to no nutritional value. Can we say Twinkies? 

So how does this work? How do I save money, yet still buy quality foods that will help me stay healthy? Americans spend less than ten percent of their income on food, while Europeans spend almost 30 percent. What's up with that? What are we spending our money on? What am I spending my money on? Makeup? Snowboarding? The gym? Cable Internet and HBO and clothes? I'm trying to save where I can, but I'm not going to skimp on quality food. And I love Big Love and Flight of the Conchords way too much to get rid of HBO. ;) So what's a girl to do? 


Hilly said...

Good question because, call me jaded, but I don't think we can. I think eating healthy means spending more money no matter how you look at it.

It used to be that Trader Joe's was cheaper than anywhere else so at least we had that but these days, even that store is pricey.

I'm going to subscribe to your comments because maybe someone ELSE CAN ACTUALLY BE A HELPER!


K said...

I don't know! We are pretty thrifty, partly because J actually enjoys price-comparisons (and has it all in his head) and partly because... well, we don't need to spend much. There's only two of us and we have simple tastes and no car.

I don't eat meat, and J doesn't eat much of it, which helps keep the bills down. We do buy free-range eggs and buy quality meat when we do get it, but mostly we do veggies, and cook from raw ingredients. All our vegetable waste is composted or fed to the piggies (they love the outsides of brussels sprouts), and I grow what salads and veg I can in summer. I love doing that because I know exactly where they came from. New potatoes were last summer's big hit - so easy: we got a big container and a bag of seed potatoes and had all the new potatoes we wanted.

Our nearest supermarket is a lower-end one and I know the food miles aren't the best (a lot of the veg comes from the Netherlands, or further away in winter) but in winter, nowhere is going to be exactly carbon-neutral. And we bike or walk there, which helps a little.

SavyArt said...

I would say you're pretty limited. Where we live, we have horribly high food prices. With the dairy, I go to the local dairy and the cost is HALF what it is in the store. Look at buying a farmshare, so you can have fresh veggies and fruits and so on all through the season, that will save you money, and then buy in season and on sale. Give up on coupons for the right stuff, it doesn't exist.

Bake in bulk, too. Look for a Co-op as well, bulk grains and such are way cheaper there.

We probably DO spend about 30% of our income on food here, but then everything is so expensive I'm not positive about that.

Iasa said...

I find I don't spend that much more on food when I buy organic, because I don't eat as much of it as I would if i was eating processed food. And when I eat healthier, I don't spend as much money on things such as doctor's visits.

Erika and Blake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ThickChick said...

You know what - I saw that Oprah and thought "good for them, but with our style of eating, this wouldn't work".

We do the local/organic/all natural thing too.
I never see coupons for whole-wheat organic couscous or local organic vegetables! Haha!

Unfortunately, I do see coupons for all kinds of prcessed crapola and I'm just not willing to save money that way!