MNN’s lifestyle blogger Starre Vartan has been singing the praises of thrift stores with her Thrifting 101 posts lately, and she has great advice for buying clothes and furniture. I’ve delved into the fabulousness of shopping at thrift store in the past when I interviewed Ms. Shopping Golightly.


I found myself in a local thrift store yesterday, replacing my olive oil bottle that had slipped out of my hand and smashed. That's my new-to-me $.99 bottle pictured at right. I also needed some drinking glasses; our collection was getting sparse. (Things tend to get broken in my kitchen.)


I walked out of the thrift store, happy, having spent only $6. What did I get for that $6? Six drinking glasses, a new bottle for my olive oil, and a shirt with the tags still on.


When I left the thrift store, I drove to the grocery store for my week’s shopping. As I was loading up my cart with fresh vegetables and fruit (many, but not all of them, organic), and organic chicken, peanut butter, milk, coffee and more, it occurred to me that the higher cost of those items doesn’t bother me like it used to when I first began to change the way my family eats.


Somewhere along the way, I’ve learned to think differently about what things are worth paying a lot of money for and what things aren’t worth it. It now seems absolutely unnecessary and wasteful to me to pay $15-$20 for a set of six new glasses when I can buy them used, but in excellent condition, from the thrift store for $2.99. Not only is it more environmentally friendly to buy used, it’s more budget-friendly.


I can buy many household items and a lot of my clothes second hand (I get compliments all the time on my $6 black wool winter coat from Goodwill), but I can’t buy food secondhand. I can buy on sale, use coupons, and not waste what I buy in an attempt to save some money on our groceries, but food will always be a significant part of our budget, and that used to sting a little bit.


When you’re trying to find the money in your budget to buy better food, think about thrift stores — not for food but to save money on other necessities and wants so you can have more money in your food budget.


I’d rather buy used drinking glasses to stay within my budget than buy the store brand milk with hormones and antibiotics in it. It’s absolutely worth it for my family’s health to pay $2-$3 more for a gallon of organic milk. It makes no difference whatsoever to my family if they’re drinking that milk out of glasses that cost $3 a piece or $.50 a piece.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Thrift stores are a healthy food lover's friend
Want to find room in your budget for better food? Hit the thrift store for household goods and clothes, and use the savings to buy organic, local and fresh.