The boys and I got a fun opportunity to get a sneak peak at the new Earth Fare store opening tomorrow, May 8, in Solon, Ohio. I’ll start by saying that, while I’m conscious of the things I feed my family and try to give them the best possible food, we’re by no means an all-organic/all-natural family. At this point, that’s out of reach for us both financially and convenience-wise. However, after yesterday’s tour, I can see ways that Earth Fare makes those food decisions easier, and helps make eating better more reachable for more families.
Earth Fare promotes eight principles in its Food Philosophy, which all foods sold in the store must follow: No high-fructose corn syrup, no artificial fats or trans fats, no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives, no bleached or bromated flour, and no antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones in meat & dairy. (Note that being organic isn’t necessarily one of them: they sell both organic and non-organic produce and other items, although many are indeed organic.) They also make it a priority to support local farmers (within 100 miles of the store), and what they call “family producers,” smaller family farms rather than large corporations.
All of that adds up to a simple approach to helping people find healthier options for their families, but I bet you’re wondering if it can be done on a “Shoestring” budget. Well…I think it all comes down to how you look at it. Regular prices on most items are comparable to or possibly a little higher than regular prices at other stores. But most of us try not to pay regular price no matter where we shop. If you’re willing to shop strategically at Earth Fare, I think you could get a lot of all-natural bang for your buck.
Six Ways to Save at Earth Fare:
1. Shop the sale ad and buy in season: Same as everywhere else, Earth Fare has a sale circular. If you can pick up things when they’re on sale, you can get some deals and not pay full-price. In-season produce will always be a better bargain than something that’s out of season locally and had to travel farther to get there.
2. Use coupons: Earth Fare has online coupons which you can print from home, and are also available near the front doors of the stores. For the best deals, combine the coupons with sale items! Sign up for their coupon emails and text coupons so you don’t miss any.
3. Look for the “Wall of Values”: These are bargain-priced items which will be conveniently placed in areas near the front of the store. For the Grand Opening this week, there was a “PB&J makeover” area, and a seasonal BBQ/grilling section, both full of reasonably-priced items.
4. Enroll in the Tomato Bank: The Tomato Bank is Earth Fare’s rewards program, and you can earn points with each purchase. These points can be redeemed for future savings in-store.
5. Buy in Bulk: The bulk foods section was pretty cool to me, for two reasons. As I start to get into more natural/whole cooking recipes, there are ingredients that I’d like to try, but that I’m not willing to purchase in huge quantities. That goes for unfamiliar Pinterest-y spices too! (Sara always mentions in her coupon and meal-planning classes how Pinterest can really bust your budget with some of the ingredients in those yummy-looking recipes!) In the Bulk Foods section, you can buy just what you need for a particular recipe, then get a larger quantity only when you know you like it.
6. Feed the kids dinner for FREE on Tuesdays: Tuesdays are Family Dinner Nights from 4-8 p.m. Up to six kids eat FREE with a $5+ adult purchase from the prepared foods department. Yep–up to SIX kids, which is awesome to me since I’m so used to being outnumbered by my kids at many of the “kids eat free” events! Available food includes hand made pizzas, sandwiches made on fresh-baked bread, and items from either the hot or cold prepared food bars.
Overall, it seems like a nice place to shop, and a place where Shopping on a Shoestring is definitely possible. I wish there was one nearer to my Stark county home, but it’s a place I feel like I could recommend to others.