Today, I’m tackling buying real foods pantry staples on-line (including the links to the actual products I order, along with a price break-down on each item!) and later we’ll work on finding affordable real foods in your area. We’ll also be taking a look at where the money goes in a real foods budget and how to prioritize in a future post.
I confess, I was spoiled rotten when we lived in Ohio because I could shop every week at a wonderful local grocery store that carried pretty much any real foods I could possibly want. We also had a huge health food store that had unbelievable sales on herbs, coconut oil and tons of other treasures. I’m talking 40% off, often! Since we moved to South Dakota in December, I’ve been choosing to be thankful for each thing I discover… because I’m not finding much. 😉
Enter, the internet. Yes, I’ve ordered food on-line before, but it was just a small percentage of our regular groceries. Now, most of our pantry staples are being delivered to our doorstep. There has been a lot of price comparison and shipping cost calculations. I have hunted for good quality foods that I can make affordable by using sales, coupon codes and free shipping.
Keep in mind that the very best savings will usually come when you buy in bulk, too. A gallon of coconut oil that is 45% off is so much better in the long run than full price on a tiny jar from the grocery store. It’s so important to figure out what you are paying per ounce (or per pound). We’ll talk more about buying in bulk (both locally and on-line) in a future post. In this post, I’ve done the work for you by figuring out the regular price per ounce or pound. Remember that this does not include the amazing sales that are often happening!
When I asked on Facebook, the single biggest
complaint… concern about eating real foods was the cost. Yes, it can get expensive. To be honest, though, processed food, eating out and delivery are often a lot more expensive than people realize. We’ll cover food budgeting in the near future, but for now just pretend that you *can* afford real foods.
If you are already eating real foods, or if you’re considering starting to make the switch, this list is a tool to help you find the best deals that I’ve found. These are either foods we regularly buy and love, or foods that I’ve found to buy on-line once we are running low on the store-bought packages. I’ve broken it down into categories to make it easier to follow. My goal is to make this as painless as possible!
Coconut products are a big part of a real food diet for many people. Coconut is gluten-free and is full of good, stable fats and more health benefits than I can list here. It’s anti-viral, antibacterial, anti-fungal and it can really boost energy levels.I have something with coconut every single day. Often, it’s shredded coconut in a smoothie, but I also bake and cook with coconut oil and there is some coconut cream that just arrived in the mail!
- Coconut Flour: Excellent for grain-free, GAPS and gluten-free diets. Regular price is $6.81 per pound (often on sale for at least 30% off!), but this isn’t like baking with grains. Only a very small amount of coconut flour is called for in a recipe. For example, I have two similar bread recipes. The one made with coconut flour uses less than a quarter the amount of flour than the one made with grains!
- Coconut Oil: For baking, cooking and even using on the skin, like in my calendula salve! This one is often on sale- even for “buy one get one free” and it’s my favorite coconut oil. The larger the amount you buy, the more you save. For just a small 1 pint jar the regular price is $25 ($1.56/ounce), but if you buy 1 quart for $40, it’s just $1.25/ounce. You can even buy a five gallon bucket for $370, which is less than 58cents an ounce. You can see how saving up, waiting for a sale and free shipping and buying a larger amount will save you a bundle in the long run, right?
- Shredded Coconut: One pound is $6, but I just ordered the 2.2lb bag on sale for $8.50 ($3.86 per pound!!). This stuff is delicious in oatmeal, cookies, smoothies and chewy chocolate coconut balls!
- Coconut Cream Concentrate: My new favorite coconut product!!! I just got my order from Tropical Traditions with my very first jar of coconut cream concentrate. Yum! I’ve put a spoonful in coffee, I’ve added it to smoothies, I’ve even stirred it up with some peanut butter, cocoa powder and honey for an indulgent treat. It’s amazing!
- Olive Oil: Organic, extra virgin olive oil is good to have on hand, though I haven’t ordered this one, yet. You can get either a 17-ounce bottle for $13.99 (82 cents/ounce) or a 3-liter can for $55.44 (less than 55 cents/ounce). I wouldn’t recommend the large can unless you go through it very quickly or can split it with another family. Olive oil doesn’t keep nearly as long and as well as coconut oil.
- Unrefined Sugar (aka “rapadura” or “sucanat”): This is dehydrated cane juice, which retains all of the minerals. The minerals help the body to handle digesting the sugar without depleting minerals from the body. Not only is this healthier that white sugar, it tastes even better! It can also be easily substituted in a one-for-one ratio in any recipe calling for sugar. Regular price is $6.99 for 1.5 pounds ($4.66/pound), but I’ve seen it on sale quite a few times.
- Raw Honey: Raw honey is full of so many good things! If you suffer from allergies, I’d recommend finding a local raw honey supplier to help you with that, but if not, this is a wonderful product! At regular price, it’s $19.99 for 17.6 ounces (less than $1.14 per ounce) or $180 for a 15-pound container (that’s a lot of honey! It comes to 75 cents per ounce).
- Grade B Maple Syrup: Full of minerals that are low in grade A and completely lacking in “maple-flavored pancake syrup”, which is almost completely high fructose corn syrup. I use organic grade b maple syrup in my coffee, oatmeal, smoothies and lots of other recipes!
Grains, Flours and Beans
- Wheat Flour: If you cannot grind your own flour, a good quality stone-ground organic flour is the next best thing. I have not tried this one, but it comes from a good company (5 pounds for $11.79 comes to just under $2.36 per pound).
- Whole Grains: If you are able to grind your own grain, I’d recommend trying spelt. It is delicious and makes nice soft breads. Some people find it easier to digest that other types of wheat. Here is a ten-pound bag of organic spelt for $20.41 ($2.04/pound).
- Rice Flour: Although I don’t use rice flour, I know that many families that can’t eat gluten use it often. Again, I haven’t personally tried this one, so let me know in the comments if you have! It’s five pounds of organic, stone-ground brown rice flour for $22.50 ($4.50/pound).
- Oats: Either to be eaten as oatmeal (try baked oatmeal– yum!!) or ground and used as flour, oats are delicious. These are organic, thick-rolled oats- 5 pounds for just $11.75, which is $2.35/pound.
- Pasta: Organic pasta can be hard to find in local stores. You can order spaghetti (16 ounces for $3.50 or 11 pounds for $26.33, which is $2.39/pound), or go more exotic for the same prices with penne (16 ounce or 11 pounds) or fusilli (the twists, 16 ounces or 11 pounds).
- Rice: Lundburg is my favorite brand of rice. It can be found in quite a few stores, but if you are able to get free shipping it is cheaper to order on-line. We use the organic white long grain rice, which is currently 6 32-ounce packages (that’s 12 pounds) for $24 ($2/pound). You can also get 12 pounds of their brown rice for $20.94, at this time.
- Beans: Dried beans are much cheaper and healthier than canned. I haven’t ordered dried bean on-line, yet, but here are the best prices I’ve found. Organic dried black beans (6 pounds for $17.45, which is less than $2.91/pound), organic dried navy beans (6 pounds for $16.98, which is $2.83/pound), organic dried kidney beans (6 pounds for $20.03, which is about $3.34/pound) and organic dried garbanzo beans (aka “chickpeas”) (6 pounds for $19.20, which is $3.20/pound).
- Lentils: Another good choice would be organic green lentils (6 pounds for $16.52, which is $2.75/pound).
Unless you have a big tomato garden every year and you can enough to last until the next year, you probably need to buy some tomato products. The problem is that even organic ones are usually in metal cans, which just aren’t a good thing. I was thrilled to find these in glass jars, and they taste fantastic!!
- Tomato Paste: This is about half the price of what I was paying at our local health food store! This organic tomato paste comes in a 7-ounce jar for $2.25 (32 cents an ounce).
- Strained Tomatoes: I use these anywhere “tomato sauce” is called for. It’s perfect for flavoring your own and making it into pizza or pasta sauce, too! A 24-ounce jar is $3.10 (13 cents per ounce!!).
- Applesauce: When we don’t have the time to make our own applesauce, I really appreciate being able to buy it. My next order to Tropical Traditions will include this organic, unsweetened applesauce. It’s 25 ounces for $3.90 (15.6 cents per ounce) regular price.
- Popcorn: Two pounds of organic popcorn for $13 would last a long time and keep those toxic microwave popcorn bags out of the house!
- Chocolate: Delicious dark chocolate that is organic and fair trade- what’s not to love?! It is spendy, though, so it’s a rare treat (3.5 ounces for $4.25).
- Cocoa Powder: A must-have in this house. I really like the depth of flavor in this brand (7.1 ounces for $6.99).
- Nut butters: Okay, these aren’t cheap, but they pack a big punch of nutrients per serving, so we feel that the price is worth it. You can find pretty much any nut butter your heart desires, from coconut, almond, cashew, peanut, macadamia, pecan, walnut… shall I continue??
- Dried Fruit: Dried fruit can be a fantastic was to satisfy a sweet tooth with nutrient-dense food! If your kiddos are used to snacking on “fruit gummy snacks”, this is the perfect replacement. I have recently discovered the Made in Nature brand and we’re very impressed. I ordered their organic raisins (3 48-ounce packs for $22.40, which comes to less than $2.50/pound!!) and they are moist, sweet and soft. I’m not usually crazy about raisins, but these have such great flavor, texture and scent that I have been eating them. I can’t wait to try some of their other fruit, like prunes, pineapple, apricots, apples and figs. As it is, 9 pounds of raisins will last us quite a long time.
- Coffee: This is the coffee that my husband drinks every day- Equal Exchange organic coffee. When I can’t find it at the store, I order it for him. 🙂
- Choffy: My newest love! It’s not cheap, but it is so amazing that I try to find a little room in my grocery budget for a bit. What is chaffy? It’s cocoa beans that have been roasted and ground, then you brew it just like coffee. Yum!! My favorite flavor is the Cavalla. I’m loving a cup of it with a spoonful of the coconut cream and a splash of maple syrup.
- Tea: Black, red, herbal, green and white teas are all cram-packed full of flavor, antioxidants, minerals and more! Again, this is probably not the cheapest source for tea, but the quality is worth the extra money to us. Especially when it comes to herbal teas that we use to treat illnesses, it’s important to us to get the best we can afford.
- Culinary Herbs & Spices: When you’re cooking real food, the quality of herbs and spices makes a huge difference in the final dish. With processed food, there is MSG and other “flavor enhancers” that trick the body and brain into thinking that you’re really getting a great meal. When you quit using those, food may seem bland if you don’t splurge a bit on the main sources of flavor: herbs and spices. Some I do still buy at the grocery store, but our most used ones (like cinnamon and cumin) come from here and they are unbeatable!!