When I can, I grow my own herbs, dehydrate them in my Excalibur Dehydrator (see how to here), and seal them in canning jars using my Food Saver Vacuum Sealer with the Jar attachment. I know these have been grown organically, they're extremely fresh, and it's the cheapest option for herbs.
I've also found I can save a lot of cash by buying herbs and spices in bulk quantities. And I don't have to compromise on quality either. This is ideal for unusual herbs that are difficult to grow or impossible in some areas.
One of my favorite companies is Frontier. Their products are top notch, consistent, and many are organic. You can purchase most of their items in a small pouch (most expenseive), a regular spice bottle, or in a one pound bulk mylar bag (least expensive).
I really like their lids. I can just pop the top open to sprinkle...
Or unscrew the same one piece lid to access the bottle for a measuring spoon. Most companies you must unscrew the lid and remove a second plastic sprinkle lid (and often bend back a finger nail in the process!) in order to get your measuring spoon in there. And often it has a smaller opening.
You can call Frontier at 1-800-786-1388 and request a catalog or click here to access their website.
Inside you'll find every imaginable herb, spice, and seasoning, as well as essential oils, baking ingredients, teas, dried fruits and vegetables, extracts, and so on...
Let me give you an example of what you might save...
I'll take Garlic Powder and use it as our example. In the grocery store, you might pay as much as $6 for a good, organic garlic powder in a bottle. Sure you can buy some cheap garlic powder, but I'm talking about saving money and enjoying great quality!
At Frontier, you will pay $5.69 for a 2.33 oz. bottle, but only $14.70 for a one pound bag! Because it would take over 6 bottles to fill that one bag, you would end up paying over $39 to purchase that much garlic powder the traditional way. However, with your bulk purchase you would save over $20!
To make the deal even sweeter, through my co-op, I can get that same $14.70 bag for $7.92 for a savings of over $30! This isn't just coupon shopping! It's better!
Now let your imagination run wild and consider what you would save if you bought all your herbs in bulk! The savings alone makes it worth being a part of a co-op even if you didn't buy another thing from them!
Here's another company you might consider...
Mountain Rose Herbs. I need to tell you right up front, I've not purchased from this company as of yet, but I have received their catalog and I know a lot of bloggers that do use this company regularly and they seem pleased. I would need to order from them to compare their product to Frontier and determine if Mountain Rose's lower prices would be worth the switch, but their one pound bag is only $5! So, I would recommend giving them a try if you don't have access to a co-op in your area.
A couple of other tips that might help...
• Keep a running list of herbs or spices you are running low on and order 4 times a year to save money on shipping or to order when your co-op places orders.
• Store extra bulk herbs and spices in the freezer if you are concerned they will loose their potency before you would normally use them.
• Use a vacuum sealer for herbs you use faster, but still want to keep super fresh.
• For herbs/spices you use in very small portions, consider splitting a one pound bag with a few friends.
• If you haven't grown your own herbs before, try starting with parsley or another easy to grow herb and just see how it works for you. Most likely you'll find it's very easy and after one success, you'll be anxious to try more (and wonder why the store charges so much)!
• You might be able to ask a friend to harvest some of their excess. My aunt has a bay tree that thrives and when I visit her, she is always gracious and eager to share a few branches for me to bring home and dry the leaves.
So there you have an option to save some money this month on your grocery bill. What will you do with all that money you save?