Use these 12 easy, creative grocery shopping tips to buy food that's good for you without breaking the bank.
Shop Closeout Stores for Healthy Foods
Low-cost chains are a great source for healthy goods. Big Lots, for one, has organic and gluten-free grains from Bob's Red Mill for far less than what you'd find at supermarkets. A 26-ounce bag of the brand's quinoa was $11.50 (or 44 cents per ounce) at Big Lots, while a 16-ounce bag of the same went for $9 (56 cents per ounce) at ShopRite.
Hit Whole Foods Market
The upscale store is catering to cost-conscious customers. It is expected to roll out a rewards program nationally this year; it also offers more than 30 printable coupons for organic products online and at store checkouts. What's more, a 2014 price sweep by product-analysis site Cheapism found that Whole Foods beat Safeway's price on 25 everyday items including organic potatoes ($1.49 per pound compared with $2).
Save on Organic Foods at Commissaries
Although selections vary at the 241 military commissaries worldwide, organic eggs, milk, produce and frozen foods are widely available. Goods are priced 30 percent lower than at regular markets, according to the Defense Commissary Agency, which operates the stores. Check the Military Produce Group's site for weekly specials on fruits and vegetables. A recent circular advertised organic gala apples for $1.89 per pound, compared with the average supermarket price of $3 per pound.
Save on Eggs at Club Stores
The average club-store price for 24 organic eggs is $7 (29 cents per egg), while 12 organic eggs at the market ranges from $4.39 to $5.69 (37 cents to 47 cents per egg). Thank the buying power of BJ's, Costco and Sam's Club. They negotiate with vendors to get lower prices, which they pass on to you. One catch: When store-brand organic eggs are on sale at the grocery store, the price—which might drop to as low as $2.68 per dozen—can beat warehouse clubs.
Buy "Clean 15" Produce
Can't afford to go all-organic? You might not need to. According to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, these 15 fruits and veggies contain minimal levels of pesticides, so they are safe to eat when conventionally grown: asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, cauliflower, sweet corn, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangoes, onions, papaya, frozen sweet peas, pineapples and sweet potatoes.
Shop at Farmers' Markets
A 2011 study found that prices of 14 organic items were, on average, 39 percent less at farmers markets than at grocery stores. Even if a farm isn't certified organic (a long, expensive process), the grower might use non-chemical practices, so ask. Or buy a CSA (community-supported agriculture) share, which lets you split the price—and yield—of a farmer's harvest. Every week you get a box of produce. Prices and share sizes vary but, in general, you can net a portion that will feed two or three people a week for less than $20.