Yes, healthy and organic food tends to cost a little more than junk food. Instead of focusing on why it is more expensive, I like to ask the question why is junk food so cheap? A few months ago I attend a talk by author Michael Pollan and he answered this question. Pollan is an author, activist and journalist who has devoted his life to educating the public about the food industry and its dirty secrets. His books will change your life and I highly recommend reading The Omnivore's Dilemna, Food Rules, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, and most recently Cooked. During his speech he explained the business model behind processed food - manufacturers find the cheapest ingredients possible and then add salt, fat, and sugar to make it attractive. Cheap and ubiquitous. There's a reason why junky, processed food doesn't cost much...
Eating organic and healthy is a serious priority for our family and we sacrifice in other categories (like eating out) to make our food budget happen. Every Monday morning I make my weekly trip to Trader Joe's, where I do about 70% of our grocery shopping. Occasionally I'll hit up Harris Teeter or Whole Foods for an item they don't carry. I also make a weekly trip to our Farmer's Market to stock up on local fruits, veggies and eggs - a perfect way to not only save some cash, but support local farmers as well. About twice a month I make a trip to Costco to load up on items we eat a lot of - buying in bulk really pays off! I'm a major sucker for a bargain Costco has some unreal deals on organic foods. Here are some of my favorites:
I am CRAZY about this organic olive oil and am convinced it may be the best-kept secret in all of Costco. In a recent comparison of 19 olive oils, The Olive Oil Center, a research group at the University of California-Davis, found that Kirkland Organic was one of only five in the study not mixed with cheaper refined olive oil that can spoil the taste. The other four at the top of the list were all high-end brands that cost as much as five times as Costco's. Priced at $14.99 for TWO WHOLE LITERS, it is roughly half the cost of well-known Bertolli. Be sure to buy the organic!
Brad's Organic Almond Butter, 24 oz for $13.65
Almond butter is a healthy alternative to regular peanut butter and is a great source of heart healthy monounsaturated fat. It is a slightly better source of fiber and has four times more Vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant. Plus, it tastes AWESOME! This is a great price for almond butter and a big bonus that it is organic!
Wild Sockeye Salmon, 3 pounds $34.89
Wild sockeye salmon is found in the North Pacific Ocean (Alaska) and is a great source of protein, antioxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids and a slew of other benefits. It usually costs about $19.99 a pound - that is unless you buy it at Costco and you can get 3 pounds for $34.89! I love that the salmon is individually packaged and frozen, so you only need to thaw out what you want to cook. Stay far far away from farm raised Atlantic salmon, which are raised on a wholly unnatural diet of genetically modified grains along with a concoction of antibiotics and other drugs. This diet turns the fish to a disgusting gray color so they're fed a synthetic astaxanthin made of petroleum to make them look appetizing - gross. I personally think a bowl of Ben & Jerry's ice cream would be a healthier meal option - at least they use natural, non-GMO ingredients!
Organic Coconut Oil, 54 oz $15.79
Look up coconut oil on Pinterest and you will find hundreds and hundreds of uses - it's awesome stuff and I find myself using it more and more. Most recently I use it instead of olive oil for sautéing vegetables because it has a higher smoke point and I like the flavor it gives. Every morning I cook an egg with spinach for Olivia in coconut oil to give her healthy fats. Many of my vegan cooking recipes call for coconut oil instead of butter or shortening - its crazy how an oil is solid at room temperature and will melt in your hands from the warmth of your skin. Ed had a skin rash from his medication and nothing but coconut oil would soothe it. I go thru one of these huge 54 oz about every 6 months and $15.79 is a STEAL (Nutiva brand is $55.99 for 54 oz tub). Carrington Farms is a great brand - read this review to learn more reasons to buy it!
$17.99 for 48oz of walnuts
$11.99 for 32 oz of pecan halves
$14.79 for 48oz of almonds
You just can't beat that!
Eat more Flax! (just like the box says…) Flax seed is a plant source of Omega-3 healthy fats, fiber and contains lignans (alter the way your body metabolizes estrogens into safer forms) which reduce the risk of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. I add a couple tablespoons to my smoothie or add it to my muffin mix. 48 ounces will last you a long time and $6.99 is an incredible price for a healthy heart!
Chia seeds, 32 oz $12.89
Chia seeds are the new big thing that everyone is raving about - they're everywhere and Dr. Oz can't stop talking about them. All with good reason - they boost energy, stabilize blood sugar, aid digestion and lower cholesterol. Learn more from this Huffington Post article that gives 10 reasons to add them to your diet. Nutiva sells 12 ounces for $11.99 OR you can get almost THREE TIMES that amount for only $1 more at Costco - NO BRAINER!!!
Organic wild frozen blueberries, 3 pounds $11.79
I LOVE frozen blueberries in my smoothie. Blueberries must be bought organic because their skin is very thin and easily absorbs nasty chemicals - they are always on the Dirty Dozen list. Frozen organic blueberries are expensive and I seemed to go thru bags almost weekly. Costco sells a 3 pound bag, which is pretty huge for only $11.79 - that's a lot of smoothies.
Organic maple syrup, 1 liter $13.49
Once you switch to REAL maple syrup you'll never go back to Mrs. Butterworth's. Mrs. Butterworth's doesn't even have maple syrup in it - check out these ingredients: High fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, salt, cellulose gum, molasses, potassium sorb ate, sodium hexametaphosphate, citric acid, caramel color, natural and artificial flavors. What a croc! Real maple syrup is expensive, but Costco makes a this purchase attainable for my family. It's high quality and delicious - $13.49 for a liter is worth every penny!
Organic baby spinach, 1 pound $4.29
My little family eats some serious amounts of spinach, so buying a huge 1 pound container makes sense for us - especially when it costs only $4.29! Sometimes I even buy two because we eat a lot of sautéed spinach and its always shocking how much it wilts down. Like blueberries, buying organic spinach is a must and it's always on the Dirty Dozen list. $4.29 is a great price considering 6oz at Trader Joe's if $1.99 (actually a pretty good price too, Whole Foods is WAY more).
$12.69 for FOUR POUNDS OF QUINOA!!! Quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse and must have staple for any healthy pantry. It is considered a complete perfect protein because it contains all 9 essential amino acids - a one-cup serving contains 18% the daily value for protein, which is more than any grain. It also has nearly twice as much dietary fiber as other grains and is a good source of phosphorous, magnesium and iron.
Arm and Hammer Baking Soda, 13.5 pounds, $5.75
13.5 POUNDS of baking soda for only $5.75?! Baking soda is an absolute must have for natural, non-toxic cleaning supplies and I use it up quickly - buying the small boxes for $1 each no longer made sense. I'm experimenting with DIY laundry detergent and dishwasher soap and everything calls for baking soda - hoping to have a few good recipes to share soon :)
Heinz white vinegar, 1.35 gallons $2.99
Just like baking soda, white vinegar is a staple in a natural, non-toxic cleaning arsenal. $2.99 for 1.35 gallons can't be beat! I use vinegar diluted with water to clean my floors, windows, and as a rinse aid in the dishwasher.
My Vitamix is one of my top five all time best purchases in my whole entire life. Everyone I know that has one loves it and could talk forever about how great they are. $375 is a lot of money for a blender but it will quickly pay for itself when you reap the benefits of good health that it can help provide! We use ours every single day and no other blender out there comes close to competing. Costco also sells the Magic Bullet for $34.99 and the Nutribullet for $89, but I guarantee they don't hold a candle to the Vitamix and will probably have to be replaced annually. Consider it an investment in your health!!!
All-Clad stainless steel frying pan set $189.99
Toss out all of your non-stick pans - they are made using a carcinogenic chemical called perfluoroocatanoic acid (PFOA), which starts emitting toxic fumes every time you cook. At high temperatures the coating will break down into a chemical warfare agent known as PFIB. Seriously bad stuff and it only takes 5 minutes for non-stick cookware to emit at least six toxic gases. Stainless steel, ceramic or cast iron are all great, safe alternatives. We have a set of All-Clad pans and they cook beautifully. $189.99 is an amazing price for the 10" and 12" set, especially considering that William Sonoma sells the 10" for $99.99 and the 12"for $119.95. Another great investment that will last for years. Costco also sells a Kirkland brand 13 piece stainless cookware set for only $169.99, but I can't vouch for it's quality.
Man I wish we would have bought this reverse osmosis filter years ago! Our water from our sink is seriously the best tasting water I've ever drank. We installed it about a month ago and I find myself drinking a lot more water than normally because it tastes so good and fresh! This filter removes fluoride, chlorine and a ton of other disgusting contaminants in our water. There is a large 3 gallon tank and the 4 filter bottles that fit under your sink and it is a chore to install. All very worthwhile though!
Pyrex Snapware 18 piece storage set $29.99
I was a little hesitant to get rid of my old plastic storage containers and worried that I wouldn't like a glass replacement. I don't like it, I LOVE IT!!!! Snapware by Pyrex is the best - no leaks, the sizes are just right and this 18 piece set gives us just the right amount for leftovers. $29.99 is a fabulous price - Amazon sells the same exact thing for $59.99!! I got rid of all of our plastic storage containers after I learned about plastic safety (or lack of…). They are saying that the BPA free plastic is just as dangerous and I don't want anything synthetic touching my food. You won't regret this purchase!
The Honest Company baby shampoo and body wash, (2) 11oz $11.99
This is the first time I have ever seen The Honest Company at Costco and I just about fell over! On their website they sell the exact same "sweet orange vanilla ultra-pure 2-in-1 hydrating and foaming body cleanser" for $9.95 for 8.5 ounces. This deal is TWO 11 ounce bottles for $11.99!!! UNBELIEVABLE!! I haven't tried any Honest products yet, but I have several friends that love them and they have a very good safety reputation. I hope they keep stocking this product!!