This week I have been posting a mini-series of tips about eating allergen free (and healthy) on a budget. So far We have #1: Plan Ahead and #2: Eat Naturally “FREE”. Today I have some tips on finding the best deals around!
Tip #3: Shop sales, in-season and online!
Buying food more afford-ably has a lot to do with planning ahead. Usually, the cheapest way isn’t always the quickest way. But with some simple for-sight and planning ahead, you can make your money go a whole lot further!
Sales and Stores:
First, let’s talk about shopping sales. Check your local ads for products you regularly buy or for produce, meat, etc that is on special. Don’t shy away from looking at several ads, some stores may surprise you with certain brands on-sale!Even mainstream grocery stores are starting to have decent gluten free/allergen free selections, and you never know when they may go on special.
Some grocery stores do “Double Ad Days” where their weekly ads overlap for one day each week. This can be a great day to shop, and you have access to twice as many sales! Also pay attention to month-long specials. I mentioned Sprouts’ Gluten Free Jubilee yesterday; this is a two-week to month-long sale a few times a year where ALL of their gluten free products are 25% off. This is a fantastic time to stock up on some gluten free staples that may cost a little more than you would usually like to spend. Combine this sale with some brand name coupons and you are really in the green! I always fill my cart with GF flours, mixes, noodles and baking ingredients like guar gum, egg replacer, etc.
Surplus markets can be another great place to find unusual foods. I often check the aisles at Big Lots and Esh’s Market (Northern CO) and find some exciting treats! Stores often overstock specialty items, so they get sent to these stores when they aren’t moving off the shelves fast enough. I recently found Enjoy Life snack bars for $1.90/box at Big Lots, when they are over $3/box anywhere else!
If you find a product that you have never tried before, you can often ask the store manager for a sample before you spend your money. You never know what you are going to get with some of these products, and it sucks to buy something that ends up tasting like cardboard!!
I touched on this yesterday when we talked about buying lots of fresh produce. Eating a variety of produce is great for your health, and an easy way to do this is to eat what is in season. Even better if you can, eat what is local! Shop your local farmers markets for the freshest produce you can buy. Even in chain grocery stores, in-season produce will be much cheaper than what’s not. That is because food has to travel further, or there is less availability of fruits and veggies that are out of season. They usually don’t have much flavor either. You can find a list of in-season foods at Fruits and Veggies More Matters or Google your state and find out what is locally in season too!
Shopping online can be very economical if you do your price checking. Especially if you need very specialized products, there are websites that you can buy wholesale for much cheaper than you will find in stores. I have heard great things about Nuts.com – where you can buy nuts, dried fruits and baking ingredients in bulk. They are also very good about cross-contamination issues if you are worried about that. I love to shop at Vitacost.com for my supplements and some cooking essentials. If you spend enough (order with a friend!) you get free shipping, and they have some great sales. You can find all kinds of products online that you won’t necessarily find in stores. They aren’t always cheap – but if you educate yourself about common pricing, you will be able to spot the deals in cyberspace when you find them.
Let’s go shopping and find some great allergy free deals!
Please Note: I have not been compensated by any of the stores or websites mentioned above. They are simply places that I shop at and support!