Healthy eating can be super-expensive if you let it. One way I save money is by buying my shelf-stable goods from Vitacost.com, limiting how much meat we buy, and basically buying only fresh produce each week at the grocery store.
I have been shopping on Vitacost for 6+ years. Ever since I moved back to Philly from NYC. In NYC is where I learned about whole foods and eating better, started making smoothies, etc - but I spent a TON of money because I didn’t know where to shop. I was going to a specialty natural foods store in downtown Hoboken, and otherwise getting prepared foods from places like Juice Press and Juice Generation.
Fast-forward, Vitacost saw that I was shopping on their site every month and had also started my health coaching business, and asked me to be one of their ambassadors! *aka best job ever because I just love them* I’m helping them celebrate their 25th Birthday this month with a blog post showing you my 25 favorite products, why, and what I do with them.
Before the products - here is why you should test out Vitacost. Trust me when I tell you that all of my friends who use this site now are obsessed.⠀
→ shipping is FREE over $49⠀
→ I get all of my pantry stuff for WAY cheaper than the grocery store⠀
→ not only do I get pantry food here, but I get the kids’ pouches, snack bars, fruit snacks, and their bath stuff too (lotion, cream, body wash), and all of their vitamins
→ the quality is on-point⠀
→ the team is SUPER NICE⠀
→ and there is NO MONTHLY FEE
Ok, here are my 25 fav products and what I reorder throughout the year:
Vitacost Almond Flour - $8.45
I use almond flour for so much - baking, of course, but also for coating everything. When seasoned the right way, almond flour can act just like bread crumbs, so I use it for chicken fingers, battering vegetables eggplant parm, and in quinoa meatballs.
Every weekend, we make pancakes or waffles from The Minimalist Baker. Having an all-purpose flour on hand is helpful for these, and if I can cut out gluten, I will (though I’m not allergic to it). A flour like this makes it easy to swap 1-1.
Vitacost Almond Butter - $7.99
A pure almond butter, made only with almonds, at a decent price to keep for baked goods, topping apples and my favorite way - in a smoothie with almond milk, frozen blueberries and a banana.
Vitacost Tahini - $7.91
Tahini is (or, should be) sesame seeds only. Now, the taste of your tahini is completely dependent on the source of the seeds and how they are processed. If you are really depending on the taste of the tahini (ie if it is the star of a recipe, in a dressing or hummus) - I would pick a brand that is focused on tahini. If you need something on hand for baking - this vitacost tahini is perfect. I like to use it in place of oil when making brownies.
There is nothing special to report here other than a simple, dairy-free version of a dark chocolate almond. Most brands will add milk powder to their formula which just seems unnecessary to me. When I like a sweet treat, I grab a few of these.
There are a ton of coconut oil options on Vitacost, but I buy this one because it has 500 5-star positive reviews. AND the raw organic coconuts are cold-pressed (not bleached, refined, deodorized or hydrogenated) to lock in all of the flavor and nutritional value. I use this for baking, pancakes, waffles, and as a natural version of neosporin.
La Tourangelle Grapeseed Oil - $7.46
La Tourangelle Avocado Oil - $12.39
I use grapeseed and avocado oil interchangeably for high-heat cooking. I also use grapeseed oil (or coconut oil) when making baked goods that call for vegetable oil. This brand has every kind of oil (pistachio, walnut, pumpkin seed and more).
Make sure your olive oil says “100%” olive. Many brands will filter in other low-quality oils to produce more volume. Also, I love that this brand has all tin containers, which helps to prevent light from leaking in and causing oxidation of these delicate oils.
Crofter’s Organic Fruit Spread - Blueberry - $4.49
As I am sure you know, most jams and jellies have a ton of added sugar (I was recently using an organic brand from the grocery store that had 8g of added sugar in ONE tablespoon). I use this brand because they sweeten the mixture with grape juice. This jelly plus some almond butter on an english muffin or toast is great for the kids (or pregnant Jess).
Rawmio Hazelnut Butter Spread - $11.69
Do you like Nutella? If so, you need to either make your own (actually not a terrible process with some cocoa, maple and soaked hazlenuts) -OR- buy this! I like to use this on sliced apples pretty much exclusively, and it is so much simpler and healthier than the alternative! (also more expensive BUT worth it if you have a sweet tooth or need to bribe your children to eat more fruit)
Rainbow Baby Body Lotion - $7.96
A simple body lotion for the kids. Both of my kids have fair, sensitive skin and this does not irritate them. I definitely recommend testing a small patch of skin first to be sure! (I even love to use it on my hands after I lather them down)
Vitacost glo-baby Castile Soap - $6.99
Another simple product for my sensitive-skinned kids! I use this for both of them in the bath.
Fridababy NoseFrida Snotsucker - $19.99
I have not had a child where a snotsucker was not a God-send. This is just an example of things I would NOT expect to find on Vitacost and yet, there they are, making my life convenient!
Vitacost Dark Chocolate Chunks - $4.99
Trail mix, duh. :) My famous trail mix is just four ingredients: cashews, almonds, unsweetened cranberries and dark chocolate. I specifically recommend eating the almond with the chocolate (chocolate covered almond) and the cashew with the cranberry. I also choose unsweetened (or sweetened with apple juice) cranberries because I am getting some added sugar in the chocolate.
Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap - $16.19
This container is humongous and lasts for months. I get the hemp almond version because I like to smell like almond extract (aka cookies). Dr. Bronner’s makes a pure, quality product.
I use this deactivated yeast for making vegan dishes taste cheesy. It’s also usually fortified with B12 if you are vegan and are missing that vitamin in your life. It’s actually completely different from the yeasts you are used to: brewer’s yeast, baking yeast, dry-active yeast. It is deactivated yeast that was once a living microorganism cultured and grown on sugar cane and molasses. When the yeast is ready, it’s heated (deactivated), washed, dried and packaged up. It is yellowish in color and comes in powder and flake form. Mix it with almond milk and some spices and you have a very, very simple cheese sauce (you can also get more fancy with nuts and seeds and thickeners).
Simply Organic Pure Vanilla Extract - $27.59
This is another place where it’s important for the word “pure” to be located in the title, otherwise you are just paying for vanilla flavored alcohol. Vanilla extract is expensive, there is no getting around that. But I use it so much (in smoothies, baked goods, waffles, pancakes, etc) that I buy this massive container of it.
NOW Foods Maple Syrup - $20.67
Another big container for something I use OFTEN to sweeten things. I’m a big believer in proper flavor balance (even if simple) and often that means adding a sweet component to something savory (even if just a tsp or so). Remember: sweet, salt, fat and acid.
Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos - $5.19
This is a soy-free ...soy sauce. When the coconut tree is tapped it produces a highly nutrient-rich "sap" that exudes from the coconut blossoms. This sap is very low glycemic, an abundant source of 17 amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and has a nearly neutral pH. A comparison between coconut tree sap and soy, shows that coconut sap contains 2-14 times the amino acid content of soy. This product is pure sap, naturally aged with sea salt. I use it whenever I make a stirfry or eat sushi.
Have you been cleaning your tongue? Do you just use your toothbrush? Your toothbrush will only move the bacteria and dirt around, the scraper will remove it. I’m telling you, once you start, you will be addicted. I do this after brushing my teeth morning and night. Join the cult.
HappyBaby Pouches (any variety) - $1.95
I used to puree my own baby food, when I had one kid and not a lot of work. I eventually gave in to pouches and really like that these are see-through, and in addition to fruits and vegetables - there are foods like granola and oats in them for a more filling snack (or meal replacement, if needed).
Halo Cat Food - $46.22
I initially bought this because I loved my Persian cat Puff and wanted him to have really good quality food. I now hate all 3 of our cats because I have children and the cats annoy me, throw up, poop in tubs, and whine. Anyway, my husband still loves the cats dearly so they all get this high-quality cat food to make them live longer, unfortunately, lol.
Twist Naked Sponges (2) - $2.74
I keep a stock of these under the sink because they are cheap and work really well. I’ll even run them through the dishwasher occasionally to clean them and they stand up pretty well for a significant amount of time.
This works like actual magic to remove cat throw up and baby food from our rugs and couches. Have I mentioned that I hate our cats now that I have kids?!
I keep a stash of nuts in my refrigerator (to prevent them from spoiling). I use almonds mostly in trail mix (see above) and cashews more frequently when making creamy sauces, dressings and non-dairy cheese.
I get all of this PLUS all of my dried fruit, and anything else needed to fill my pantry!
What are your top pantry things?! Tell me below!