Living an organic, natural, mostly-from-scratch lifestyle is a goal we are always working toward. And that's just it - it takes work. It takes planning and forethought. Growing our own food, sourcing local ingredients whenever possible, and supporting family companies and local farms are all part of the process. It takes humility and self-forgiveness; You'll make mistakes; You will not always be perfect; You'll buy things packaged in plastic (GASP!). It's not a goal you ever reach but rather it's a constantly evolving process. I'm still learning, still working to improve and I always will be. And that's ok. Here are all the ways I save money on groceries and how I stock my pantry with organic, natural, whole foods.
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Save Money with Homegrown Food
This seems like a simple answer, but it really works. Growing your own food is not only an inexpensive way to get organic produce, but it saves trips to the store and therefore saves money on gas. My goal this gardening season is to grow as much as possible and preserve a ton. We plan to expand our gardening space by adding a market garden. This is a term for long rows used for efficiently growing large crops of corn, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, onions. Storage crops that I'll squirrel away in our root cellar. Way more than last year. I was able to preserve a lot last year. More than ever. I canned tomato sauce, peppers, jams, applesauce and apple butter. Greens and tomato sauces are preserved in the freezer. Fermented sauerkraut and pickled beets are stored in the fridge. I grew storage varieties of pumpkin and squash. I grew onions, garlic, potatoes.
2021 was like my test run for the big growing season I have planned for 2022. If you've wondered how to save money on groceries, growing and preserving your own food is one great way to do that - but it's not the only way.
Find local sources for meat, dairy, eggs, and produce
Our freezers are full of beef, pork, chicken, and lamb from Hayfield Farm. Our fridge holds their fresh, colorful, free-range eggs as well as raw milk from Creambrook Farm. Shopping locally for these otherwise high-dollar items saves money, supports our local economy, and it is better for our health and the environment. It's just a win on all levels.
And another way to save, although it is a big chunk of money all at once, is to purchase beef or pork at wholesale prices. We purchased a half beef from Hayfield about a year ago and we are still stocked. This has eliminated the need to buy over-priced, low-quality, commercially raised beef from the grocery store. Once I clear up some freezer space I fully intend to purchase another half beef and possibly a half or whole hog. You get to choose a lot of the cuts based on your preferences and it's just so comforting to know the freezers are full of such high quality meat.
Also, shopping at farmers markets, farm stands, local pick-your-own farms or orchards, and/or signing up for a local CSA are all great ways to eat seasonally and locally and to save money by avoiding the grocery store.
Azure Standard - Monthly Grocery Haul
As winter comes to an end and my homegrown and preserved foods dwindle, I've been keeping my pantry and root cellar stocked by shopping at Azure Standard. I am new to the Azure Standard world, and let me tell you - I am hooked. Azure Standard is a natural and organic online co-op that delivers nationwide in the U.S. They are based in the Pacific-Northwest and source from many local farms in that area as well as companies throughout the country that share their values. Read more about Azure's History here.
Another really cool thing about Azure Standard is that hands down they are the cheapest option when compared to amazon, walmart, and even places like Costco and BJ's. Occasionally there will be an item that is a tiny bit more expensive on Azure, but overall the savings are unbeatable.
I recently posted a video on my YouTube channel where I share the prices of each item and the total savings - Spoiler alert: I saved around $350 (40% of my total) compared to if I had purchased the same or equivalent items from amazon, walmart, or local grocery stores. That's nuts. Again, a great answer to "how to save money on groceries?" is bulk buying and Azure is truly the best value and quality in my opinion.
Another benefit of bulk buying and doing a big once-a-month haul is it forces you to plan ahead and helps to avoid unnecessary spending on overpriced grocery store items, impulse shopping, and gas.
How Does Azure Standard Work?
Shockingly, there is no membership fee. It's as easy as creating a log-in, browsing their website, adding items to your cart, and checking out. The part that makes it different is that your items will not immediately be shipped to you. You will sign up for the closest drop location and pick up your items there on a designated day.
Your items will be loaded onto a refrigerated 18-wheeler (along with the orders of anyone else in your drop.) Azure will send your shipping confirmation and you'll meet at your drop location on the date and time specified. Everyone helps unload the truck (it's actually really fun and very organized!), you take your items and head home. This happens once a month, but there is no requirement to order monthly. But trust me, once you start you might not be able to stop. Shopping this way has saved me so much money on groceries and also so much time.
Save Money on Groceries by Buying in Bulk
Yet another awesome benefit of Azure is that you can save tons by buying tons. Ok, not literally tons. But Azure offers many dried goods, grains, beans, flours, wheat berries, etc in bulk quantities. You can buy 5 lbs all the way up to 50 and more in many cases. The cost per ounce or pound is significantly less when buying this way. You can also bulk buy other items like fresh produce, honey, oils, jarred and canned goods, frozen fruits, vegetables, even meat, eggs, and dairy.
Where I Shop (mostly)
This is the process that works for me and for my family's needs. And it took me quite some time to land on this system. So wherever you are in your quest to save money and to stock your pantry, fridge, and freezer, just know that it takes some figuring out, some adjusting, and a good amount of planning.
For some specific meat items I can't source locally from Hayfield Farm, I order from Butcher Box. For example, seafood and boneless, skinless chicken breast (because, teenagers).
Thrive Market is a great place for condiments, toiletries, vitamins, and fun snacks. Thrive is also nice because they have great prices, price matching, and fast shipping. So if I need something in a pinch and my Azure order isn't coming for a month, I know I can count on Thrive to fill the gaps.
I do occasionally grab things from Aldi, Wegmans, Walmart, and BJ's, but since shopping at Azure Standard I very rarely find myself at these local grocery stores. Azure has really opened my eyes to the inflated prices of grocery store items.
This post contains affiliate links - Thanks for supporting my blog and the brands/companies I love!
I hope you enjoyed these tips and tricks I've gathered from my quest to save money on groceries and to stock my pantry, root cellar, fridge, and freezer. I'm sure in a year I'll have learned and evolved even more. I'm looking forward to sharing the progress. I'd love to hear your thoughts and questions. xo - Anita