Buying Local, Saving Money

Being college students and living on a budget can really restrict the quality of produce we want to buy. As you might know, I am a huge fan of buying organic (only for certain items) and local. My family lived on a farm for most of my life, so eating local produce was part of the routine. We grew most of our fruits and vegetables in our garden, canned and froze the leftovers, and we also had chickens, pigs, and goats for our meat and dairy. Any fruits and vegetables we didn't grow we could get from our neighbors or from local produce stands. Now that I'm living in the middle of a college town, I'm finding it hard to eat the same way. Even when I do find a local 'farmers' market the food is waaaay overpriced and out of our food budget. Especially since I'm trying to feed a hungry man--I still can't believe how much a man can eat. It blows my mind, three times a day.

My reasons for buying local and *occasionally* organic are:
  1. Healthier for you body.
  2. Foods that are grown locally, and in season, are full of nutrients that your body actually needs at that time, as compared to food grown in a different state (or even country) and grown during the off-season.
  3. Encourages local farmers to continue growing produce year-after-year, which creates a more sustainable and self-reliant community.
Sounds pretty hippy, right? It also makes a lot of sense.

How can you buy local, organic produce without breaking the bank? Here are some helpful hints to help in your endeavors, and it might actually save you more money than buying from the grocery stores.

  1. If you can't decide whether or not you want to commit to organic or not, you don't have to! Some foods aren't contaminated with pesticides. Check out the list of fruits and vegetables that are most contaminated and go from there.

  2. Buy in season. Although it is tempting to make homemade salsa in December, sometimes it pays to wait. Tomatoes are cheaper, tastier, and healthier when bought in season. 
  3. Shop in bulk. If you don't have room, or won't eat it before it goes bad, split it with a friend. Here are some amazing places to buy organic staples such as coconut oil, vinegar, flour, baking essentials, etc. However, it is important to compare prices, some stores have surprisingly low prices on some items, and super high prices for others.
    1. Azure Standard
    2. Zaycon Foods (Cheapest place I have found wild Alaskan salmon, $7.50 lb)
    3. Amazon (I get coconut oil and cocao powder from here, they have an amazing grocery section)
    4. Bountiful Baskets
  4. Look on Craigslist and your local classifieds. Aaron and I get our eggs from a local farmer for $2/dozen. Eggs of the same quality (free-range, organic, extra large) are around $4/dozen at the grocery store. We also get raw honey from a local bee keeper for $2.30/lb, raw honey bought in bulk is around $3/lb (and that is considered 'cheap' compared to honey sold at Costco and other stores). The nice thing about buying local is that you can talk to the farmer and you know exactly where your food is coming from and how it's produced. Not to mention it's usually cheaper than a grocery store... You can also buy grass-fed beef from craigslist and local classifieds. My parents bought a quarter of a cow for $2/lb. This included sirloin steak, ground beef, and roasts. You can rarely find cheap hamburger from Wal-Mart for $2/lb. Go on an adventure and see what kind of produce you can find in your local classifieds. I've found everything from pumpkins, eggs, beef, chicken, and heirloom tomatoes.
  5. Check out "pick yourself" orchards and berry fields. You can usually find a plethora on the internet, and it will save you a lot of $$$. Last fall, Aaron and I took a couple of hours and picked 16 lbs of berries and paid $35. It sounds like a lot, but it's still cheaper than buying from grocery stores, or even bulk. 
  6. Another way to eat organic for super cheap is to make your own food. I make my own bread, and have found that it saves us LOADS of money each month. At Costco (which is the cheapest place to buy bread) it is $2.33 a loaf. Aaron and I calculated that each loaf of homemade bread only costs (drumroll)... $0.45! We eat about 2 loaves a week, so all in all we save a little more than $15 a month, just on bread. 
That's all I have for now. I hope you have learned something new and have some new resources to use in your food purchasing.


  1. Fabulous article! I LOVE buying organic, but it is very costly. I would never have thought to look on craigslist!

    1. Thanks Jennie! Craigslist is the bomb, we find all kinds of things on there.