How Not to Spend Your Whole Paycheck on Organic Grocery

by Jett Murdock

Shopping cart groceries

“Oh, I can’t shop at Whole Paycheck. That’s way too expensive.” I’m sure you’ve heard this plenty of times. Heck, you might even be the one that’s saying it. I know I’ve been there. Everyone in my family says it. That’s just common knowledge, right?

Shopping at organic and health food stores is like taking your wallet out and shredding your money into a salad topped with grass fed sheep’s feta cheese, made by golden haired maidens, from a local farm to table store, right?

Or so I thought. Especially since I hadn’t set foot in a Vons or a Walmart in a couple of years. I went on with my little “woe is me, spending my hard earned money” story, recounting my valiant tales of regretfully forking over fistfuls of cash for my grass-fed meats and imported Himalayan sheep’s butter.

I always felt a little like I was getting the short end of the stick. I want to be healthy, so I have to pay more? That just doesn’t seem right, I thought. At least, until I ended up making a trip to a conventional grocery store the other day, to pick up some ingredients for my brother. Suddenly, my whole world was changed.

It was the strangest thing. I went in, expecting rock bottom prices that blew away my local health food chains, or even Trader Joe’s. What I got was a total wake up call. I wandered through the aisles and saw prices like thirteen dollars for a bag of candy, five dollars for a TV dinner, and eight dollars for a pizza. Product after product had outrageous prices. My jaw was literally dropped the entire time.

I was doing a mental tally of a typical shopping trip, if I were to be picking up some of my basic staples from the conventional store. Super simple stuff like butters, nuts, salads, etc… The grand total was pushing double what I would have spent at Trader Joe’s. I couldn’t believe it.

And yet, people still go around believing that they have to shop at the cheapest bargain stores they can find because they don’t make a six-figure income to buy rare imported Amazonian superfoods.

For one thing, plenty of health food stores sell pre-made staples like frozen dinners, boxed and canned meals, and snacks for the same exact price as supermarkets. What you don’t get is preservatives, MSGs, refined sugar, or chemicals.

For example, one of my favorite snacks, Larabars, are about a dollar cheaper at a health food store than at a big chain supermarket.

You can get the costs down even further if you buy cheap, whole foods like sweet potatoes, potatoes, fruit, and veggies from a local farmer’s market. I’ve personally gotten my grocery costs down to about $125 dollars a week by shopping at a health food store and buying real foods in bulk.

But, you might be asking, what if you don’t even live near a health food store, like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods? Luckily, some really cool people got together and made a revolutionary new website called Thrive Market. Thrive Market is what a love child between Costco and Whole Foods would look like.

You sign up with a once yearly membership of about $60, and you can order just about any paleo, vegan and/or organic staple for about two-thirds of the price. You’re gonna end up saving anywhere from $200 to $500 dollars on your grocery bill every year. Plus, you get to avoid all those scary, cancer causing chemicals.

Not only is it better for you and your wallet to start shopping at stores that sell real food, it’s gonna end up being better for the environment as well. You really don’t know what goes into supermarket food. It’s basically nutritional Russian Roulette. You could end up with neurotoxins, CAFO meats, foaming agents, anti-caking agents, and food made with child slave labor, all of which contribute to the slow, painful demise of our planet.

Fresh produceIf you want to make the transition to a healthier choice of stores to shop at, but aren’t sure where to start, the Farmer’s Market could be a great place. You can check Local Harvest to find Farmer’s Markets in your area.

If there’s one in your area, I highly recommend finding a Trader Joe’s near you. By far, they have the cheapest organic and natural foods anywhere. Period.

To stretch your dollar even further, you can buy food from the bulk bins, buy cheaper cuts of meat (sorry, if you love boneless, skinless chicken breasts), chop your own salads, and eats lots of inexpensive, bulky foods like sweet potatoes, eggs, potatoes, and salads.

Eat filling foods like nuts, butter, and baked veggies. And never, ever, ever waste food.

It can feel like a treadmill, working just to spend all your money on unsatisfying, unhealthy, unfilling foods. I know exactly what it’s like to spend most of your paycheck on grocery. If you start eating real, healthy food from good sources, you don’t have to let it happen to you.

(Jett Murdock is a former junk food addict turned fitness buff, adventurer, and master of cooking. When he’s not pushing himself and others to be their best selves, he freelance writes over at culturedwriting.com.)

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