Healthy Eating on a Budget Part II

Originally posted on May 12, 2015

*Apologies for this being a couple of days late for Mother's Day, I had tried to post it on Sunday, but the server was down and I was unable to.*  

I would like to honour all hard working mothers on this Mother's day with some additional tips on how to save money, and eat a healthy diet.

All of this was prompted by an article I saw on Yahoo one day about Gwynneth Paltrow giving up on the food stamps budget after only 4 days. For sure, it is not easy to do on only $29US/$36CAD per week! And we don't have a food stamps programme here in Canada, so it's difficult to set up a comparison.

In my previous blog post on how to save some money, I made some suggestions on when to buy some items to stock up, to shop in the frozen section instead of "fresh", and how to price match in stores that participate, to save yourself an extra trip to get sale items at another store.

In this post, I will attempt to give you some tips on where to shop online, and how to use customer loyalty and points programs to save some bucks. Not all of these tips will work on both sides of the border or around the world, but a quick and easy Google search in your own country/state/province could turn up some online vendors where you can find some good deals.

First, in Canada, one of my favourite online shops is well.ca. If I go there via the aeroplan.ca/estore I can collect Aeroplan points, which I am saving up for a trip to Nunavut.  You can also use Aeroplan points to redeem for other products. Hey, free airfare (well...the airfare is free, you still have to pay the taxes :p ) for a vacation, I'm in! It'll take me a while to get enough points, but I don't travel often enough anymore to earn points that way, so I shop online with partner programs and get points that way. My go-to online store to get Aeroplan points and buy some high quality supplements is well.ca. They also have snack foods, baking ingredients, and all natural toiletries products, sometimes at reduced prices from brich n mortor stores, so even if you don't have aeroplan, it's a good option for saving some money.

For online stores that are not partnerned with Aeroplan, I shop through the Air Miles Shops (<- links to the Canadian site). Info From Wiki - Air Miles is the name of separately operated loyalty programs in Canada, the Netherlands and the Middle East. Points are earned on purchases at participating merchants and can be redeemed against flights with specific airlines. The scheme was also operated in the United Kingdom and Spain until it was combined and rebranded as Avios in November 2011.

I can shop at amazon.ca via Air Miles, save points, and save money on pretty much anything! Whether you buy food or books, you get points. Air Miles Cash points can be redeemed at several grocery store and drug store chains for food and other items. When you're low on cash, or would like to go see a movie and need an extra $10 for the week, this is a dang good deal! The same stores also let you collect points, so whenever you shop there, use your Air Miles card!  Again, if you don't have Air Miles, amazon shopping is often less $$ than buying in bricks n mortor stores.  And if you go through My Associate Store, you save money, and I make a small commission ;)  (**edit Aug. 22, 2015 - my associate store was closed down by amazon because nobody ever used it**)

I also have a customer loyalty card PCPlus for Loblaw's chain of stores, I use this one most often because it is an amazing program, the points add up so much faster than Air Miles or Aeroplan points. Faster accumulation means faster to be able to redeem and more free stuff! I am able to get 3 or 4 carts full of free groceries per year with PCPlus points! I save them up for special occasions when I need a lot of food, like holidays and backyard BBQ parties. Or when I'm just short on cash because something else has come up, like the dog has to go to the vet, or we need a new garden hose.

I know customer loyalty programs work a lot differently in the US than here, from when I used to live in North Carolina. Most stores there from what I remember have special pricing for people who carry their loyalty card. Which is great too, any way that you can save money, Do It! And if the food is on sale, but it doesn't freeze well, or doesn't have a long shelf life, DON'T BOTHER! If you just end up throwing it out because it has spoiled, or you get it home and decide you really don't like canned artichoke hearts so you give them to somebody else, it doesn't matter how good the deal was, how is that saving you money? It isn't, you might as well just go throw your money out the window, it's the same effect!

Couponing can save you a lot of money, but they don't often offer coupons for whole foods, rather only for manufactured foods.  Use coupons for toiletries whenever possible.  Price matching at participating stores, works for whole foods as well as packaged foods.

All the shopping tips follow no matter where you live. Stock up on items that store/freeze well when they're on sale, buy frozen veg and fruits rather than "fresh", and batch cook for the week, making sure you only buy what you need so you don't waste food or money.

Costco is a good option for saving money on bulk items as well. Products will be different depending what area of the world you're in, and be careful, not all pricing is better in bulk than in regular sizes! But if you're looking for organic meats, they are pretty good! I also quite like their availability of organic shampoos and conditioners, which are generally about the same price for 2 zompocalypse size bottles as for 1 small bottle in other stores. (ooops, somehow the zombies snuck in here, I really was trying to avoid that ;) ).

There are a lot more options in the US for shopping online I think than in other countries, though Canadian options are getting better and better. In the US, amazon is a really good option for saving money on healthy foods. There's also Thrive Market "Thrive Market is an online shopping club on a mission to make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone. Thrive Market members can buy the best-selling healthy foods and natural, wholesome products in everyday sizes, always 25-50% retail prices, delivered right to their door. And for every paid membership, Thrive Market donates a free membership to a family in need." (they're working on shipping to Canada).

For Canada, I have found U-Raaw is a really good source for raw nuts and other healthy snack foods. You can custom make your own protein drink mixes, trail mix and granola type snacks, or just get a big ol' bag of macadamia nuts, because they're awesome and good for you too! Comparable in the States is Nuts.com, they do ship to Canada, but the dollar conversion lately is a bit crazy, so going with a Canadian source is better for the budget, and the prices were about the same anyway.

Please, don't forget your local Farmers! Most will have an on the farm store, or end of the driveway veggie stand! Often buying direct from the farmer will save you oodles of money, and you always know it's fresh, because it's still got dirt on it :) Most from the farm goods can be preserved or frozen for future use. Learn how to can! It's fun and then you have nutritious foods all year long, right out of your own cupboard. A lot less expensive than buying from the grocery store, and no toxic preservatives! Sauerkraut and pickles are so so easy.

I do hope these 2 blog posts have been helpful to you, if you have any tips for saving money that you'd like to share, please comment below and help us all out! I'd like to hear from people outside of the US or Canada as well if you're reading. How do you save money on groceries where you live?

Coming soon...save money on personal care and home care products AND go green at the same time!

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