I often hear, “So, I guess you have to shop at natural food stores all the time.”
My reply, “No, actually, I don’t as often as you would think.”
I am fortunate to live in a bigger city where I have many resources, like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Costco, etc, but I actually don’t shop at those stores very often. Rather, within a 1 mile radius, I have what I consider my three best options: Kroger, Meijer and Aldi (A little fyi: did you know that Aldi actually owns Trader Joe’s?). That is not to say that there is anything wrong with the aforementioned stores. My frequented stores are just more convenient, and honestly, more budget-friendly. (Note: I do adore Trader Joe’s and Costco and go there when I am in that area of town but I only stock up on a few choice items. I try to keep the shopping at Trader Joe’s and Costco to every 4-6 weeks in an attempt to not blow the budget. The same goes for my growing interest in Whole Foods.) You don’t have to live in a big city though, in order to find allergy-friendly items at your local grocery store.
There are 5 ways that I shop in order to keep the cost down and choices up:
- I try not to buy too much processed or pre-packaged food. There are exceptions, of course, but I try to make up the majority of the grocery bill with fresh meat and produce.
- I shop only from the weekly grocery ad. I rarely throw anything in my cart that is not on sale. There are some exceptions to this, one being soy yogurt for my son.
- You can not be brand loyal if you want to reduce the grocery bill. Now, this can be tricky with allergy-friendly foods, but on the “non-essentials” you have more room to wiggle. This does not mean that you have to forgo quality, but just be smart and resourceful.
- I use coupons as often as possible. Allergy-friendly foods do not have an overabundance of coupons like other foods, but you can find them sometimes. You can certainly use coupons for household or personal care products and some other “general” foods. When I do find the rare allergy-friendly food coupons, I ask friends for their coupons that they do not use. In my book, if I can save a few dollars on each grocery shopping trip, I am thrilled…it adds up.
- I shop the “manager special.” This is a great resource because natural foods are often in the discount bin. For example, I recently scored a box of gluten-free Bisquick for $1.99 (regularly priced 5.39!). My husband loved the few things that I made with the Bisquick, but I told him not to get used to it (I’m not paying $5.39 for a 16oz box!). Check with your store to see when they put out the discount produce and meat. Most grocery stores have specific times throughout the day when they put out those discounted items. You can also ask the store manager where they have those discounted items (including non-perishable items, like dented cans or boxes, almost outdated items, etc.) as they tend to be in out-of-the-way places. If I find a really good deal on meat or produce, I can typically freeze it if I’m not going to use it right away or I will just plan it into the current or next day menu (I recently posted on my great stew beef find.) .
As usual, think outside the box on how you can use the local grocery store that is more convenient and more budget-friendly to stock your kitchen.
See next Tuesday’s post for a list of specific items that I am able to purchase from local grocery stores. In a couple of weeks, I will discuss what specialty foods I am “forced” to buy at certain stores.
Where do you typically shop for your allergy-friendly foods?
Links to subsequent posts on allergy free shopping at specific stores:
This post shared at Pennywise Platter.