**This is the first of a 3 or 4 part series, as Nola has much so much to share that I think will really be valuable for many of you! Even if you don’t live in a small town, many of her suggestions are useful and practical for you, too!**
Guest Post by Nola
Before we start, I’d like to say that although this post applies to people living in small communities with limited shopping opportunities, some of these tips will also apply to those of you who live in big cities or areas with lots of options and want to find a better deal or find something that is a little more difficult to find. Or maybe you, too, will live away from the big city someday!
Stephanie asked me if I would write a post on saving and tips for whole food diets in small towns or more isolated communities due to my experience with living in them. Please note though that although I’ve lived in a few different places with varying degrees of small community and isolation (and I have also lived in a few big cities) not all these tips will apply to every small town or isolated area, and I’m sure there are other ways of finding and saving money I haven’t thought of!
Hopefully some of my ideas will help you, or at least get you thinking “outside the box”! This post focuses a lot on finding the sources for whole foods in a small town, since that is the primary difficulty of smaller communities. From those options, I’ve tried to also give you ways to save, and hopefully if you are able to find a few different sources from the options I give you, you can find the best deal in your area.
Keep in mind that many of the more general ways to save money on groceries (stock up to take advantage of sales, buy in bulk, use coupons when you can) do also apply to small community living. This post doesn’t really touch those, since they are the tips that are often talked about since most people who want to save money use them.
If you’re just getting started with saving, there are many books and articles on the subject, so search around. Stephanie’s book “Real Food, Real Budget How to Eat Healthy for Less” also has some great ideas, many which can be applied to small community living.
Some of the typical ways to save that you might read about on the internet or in books or hear about from others aren’t as applicable to small towns, but do what you can and don’t compare yourself to what others are doing in the city where they have more options.
Here are some things to consider:
First and foremost, realize that you are NOT going to have it as easy as someone with lots of options, but you still CAN make a difference! It is easy to drool over the thought of having the same options as someone living in the big city.
Maybe you’re like me, and you’re currently living in a place where they do have some options for natural foods and organics, but the prices are often higher due to living in a small town. You might want to know what your options are for finding other ways to save without paying those high prices.
Or maybe you live in a place like I’ve lived before, where there simply aren’t many, or even any, options at your local store, and you want to find out what other choices you have, and then work to find the best deals. It’s easy to think how nice it would be to have a CSA to join, or a farmer’s market with more than a few stalls (or even a farmer’s market at all) or things like that…but we’re talking reality.
You might not be able to find or access absolutely everything you want in a small or isolated town (you probably won’t). Even if you have the same grocery chain as they do in the big city, small towns simply won’t carry the same selection.
You might have to pay more than someone living with lots of options (you probably will). You might not have as much access to what I consider the best- local food. It does take a lot of time and energy (something limited to mothers and in certain seasons of pregnancy/new baby/illness…I know).
So…what are you to do then? Start small. Take baby steps. Don’t worry about what you can’t do…do what you can!
Hopefully I will have some ideas for you for what you CAN do. You might be surprised!
Remember, any and every step towards better healthy lifestyles is a wonderful step to take. I find that because of the limited options of smaller areas, it may take longer to find what you’re looking for and then try to get a good deal. So the idea behind baby steps applies even more so to the person who lives in an area where there aren’t as many options.
But take heart…there are options for finding and then saving on a whole foods diet if you think a bit outside the box!
Are any of you living in a small town? What has been your experience with trying to find whole, healthy foods and for reasonable prices?
Nola is a homemaker and mother to two girls: 18 months and 4 years, and is always looking for creative ways to do the best she can while living in a small, northern community. She enjoys finding healthy ways to serve her family better.