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7 Ways to Save on Natural Food, Supplements and Products

7 Ways to Save on Natural Foods, Supplements and Products

In my family we are freaks about the healthfulness of all our food and household products. We’re also always looking to save on the bills. That’s a fine line to walk. It’s not easy for us to shop at local stores for all the more natural products we want, even in our suburban location. In rural areas it would be impossible.

Site

Selection

Prices

Shipping

Membership Fee

Private Label Items

Free > $49

$60/year

Yes

Free > $49

No

Yes

Melaleuca

Paid

$19/year

Yes

Free > $20

No

Yes

Live Superfoods

Free > $49

No

Yes

Free > $49

No

Yes

Free > $49

No

No

So we’ve done a lot of online shopping for more natural and healthy products, and can make some recommendations. Below you’ll find my scores for pricing and selection, notes on the differences between sites, and whether they carry private label items.

Private Label Items

Private label used to mean generic. It meant products that were just like the brand name versions except cheaper and a bit lower in quality. That’s not what we’re talking about here.

Private label now typically means that they are filling a hole in the market or trying to make a just-as-good-or-better version for less money. You might find a product that is gluten-free and non-GMO but it’s not organic. So they make a private label version that is also organic, and it’s also attractively priced. I actively seek out products like that, so it’s a benefit in my book.

The Contenders

The sites below have some significant differences. Some are membership clubs like Costco and others aren’t. Some are primarily grocery stores and others are primarily health product stores that sell some groceries.

If you want a healthier household, I would examine every single food and product that you use. The major areas are usually food, cleaning products and personal care items. Any substance your family comes in contact with basically. Since I don’t know which site is right for you, I’ll describe them as accurately as I can and you can decide. Here are the contenders.

Selection

Prices

Shipping

Free > $49

Membership Fee

$60/year

Private Label Items

Yes

Thrive Market

Thrive Market is primarily a grocery store but is expanding quickly to other product categories. They already have a lot of options in household cleaning and personal care.

Thrive Market is one of two options listed here that has a membership fee. I’ve gone into depth in another article about why I think this is really a wash but here are the highlights:

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    They guarantee you’ll save more than the fee
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    Access to excellent private label items
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    All items screened for GMO ingredients
Products from Thrive Market

I went a little overboard on my first order...

Thrive Market doesn’t carry every item on the market, but that’s quite intentional because they are screening them. You can find a version of virtually anything you’d need here though, and what you do find will be non-GMO if that matters to you. They also have a large and growing collection of high-quality private label items, some of which are substantially cheaper than the competing options.

The sites with a membership fee are structured that way partially to get you to do a lot of your shopping in one stop, maybe once per month. It’s very much the same model that Costco and BJ’s have. This allows them to reduce the carbon footprint due to shipping and packaging, as opposed to the Amazon model of shipping items one at a time as you order them.

Thrive Market also donates one membership to a low income family for each one purchased and they make it easy to give your savings to families in need if you want to do that. They definitely have a social mission, which is refreshing.

Thrive Market brand ghee

The private label ghee is a great deal.

Thrive Market is a venture-funded startup that was designed by professionals from the ground up and you can tell. The shopping experience is the slickest one you’ll find. It’s also easy to shop by lifestyle, such as a section just for people on the Ketogenic diet.

Thrive Market is currently running the best promo I’ve seen them run, which is 20% off your first three orders.


Selection

Prices

Shipping

Free > $49

Membership Fee

No

Private Label Items

Yes

Vitacost

Vitacost is a stalwart retailer in the health and wellness space, they’ve been around for a long time and I’ve personally been using them for a long time.

Shopping at Vitacost is a lot like shopping at a traditional grocery store. To get the very best prices you have to monitor what’s on sale, where the special deals are, and shop accordingly. Their prices are generally very good though.

Their selection is massive and they’ve branched out into creating their own private label items as well. Their site isn’t sleek but it moves quickly and makes it easy enough to get your shopping done.

Vitacost order packing

Eco-friendly packing.

Their smartphone app is an atrocity though. If you have a laptop or desktop to use for shopping, this isn’t really an issue but if you only have a smartphone it’s a pain. We’ve had a lot of problems with checking out and getting the app to remember anything about us from one session to the next.


Melaleuca

Selection

Prices

Shipping

Paid

Membership Fee

$19/year

Private Label Items

Yes

Melaleuca

This is the other “shopping club” option on the list and it’s different from other options in some key ways. The site is more like a drug store, with a lot of household, personal care and supplement options as well as some food. All products are focused on natural wellness.

Melaleuca unboxing

First thing you see when opening the box? Some pretty impressive marketing. 

Natural wellness is a spectrum that ranges from people who don’t care at all (and probably shorten their life span) to people who wear tin foil hats and worry about the sourcing of every ingredient. I’m admittedly closer to the latter than the former. If you’re in the middle of the road and want to go more natural without going crazy—and while saving money—Melaleuca is probably the option for you.

Melaleuca products

I'd like less plastic and reading material, but the box is compact.

It does have a membership fee but it’s low and is sometimes reduced to $1 through promotions, so it’s not a big deal.

The difference from Thrive Market is that you’re effectively committing to shop at least once per month while you’re a member. That’s the downside, but there are upsides you won’t find elsewhere, period.

ALL of Melaleuca’s items are private label. They don’t sell anything else. They own the whole supply chain on every product from the farm to your table. That’s how they ensure that you save money, that the products are high quality, and that they know exactly what is in everything.

Here are a few bullets about how Melaleuca is different:

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    They conduct human clinical trials on certain products to prove their effectiveness
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    They hold patents on some products
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    They are a licensed pharmacy in the U.S., which means they can offer discounts on prescriptions but it also means they are held to higher standards when it comes to the contents of their own products
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    They give you rebates for shopping on other sites

Melaleuca sells packages of items to new customers at a large discount to get people to try their different products. They are also running a deal that gives you $100 worth of free products of your choosing over the first few months of membership. It is a completely different model and option for healthy discount shopping, but it turns many customers into raving fans.


Selection

Prices

Shipping

Free > $20

Membership Fee

No

Private Label Items

No

iHerb

Despite the name, iHerb actually has a very large selection of items beyond herbs and supplements. They have well over 5,000 grocery items and cover all the drug store bases as well.

iHerb has free shipping over $20, which is a low threshold and their prices are generally good. They don’t carry any of their own private label items. Instead, they seem to have featured deals on items where they have a special relationship with the manufacturer.

The big drawback with iHerb in my experience is that the site itself is clunky to use. Even on a very fast computer I find it hard to scroll through the items quickly and get my shopping done without a lot of frustration. Their large selection makes that situation worse.


Selection

Prices

Shipping

Free > $49

Membership Fee

No

Private Label Items

Yes

Sunfood

Sunfood is a private label brand that you’ll see sold at other retailers and they also have their own site where you can buy everything they have directly. There’s no membership fee, there’s free shipping above $49 as usual, but it’s otherwise a little hard to compare Sunfood to other sites.

Sunfood is all about organic, non-GMO—and whenever possible, raw—food. Raw means the food isn’t subjected to temperatures higher than 118 degrees in processing.

The selection at Sunfood is all about esoteric superfoods, which is why it’s a little hard to cross-shop prices. Everything is private labeled and they just carry a really wide variety of foods that are hard to find elsewhere.

As the name implies, Sunfood is mostly grocery items so the selection of drugstore-type items is relatively small. This isn’t a one-stop shop for all your needs, but it’s a fantastic addition to other sites for high-quality specialty items.


Live Superfoods

Selection

Prices

Shipping

Free > $49

Membership Fee

No

Private Label Items

Yes

Live Superfoods site

Live Superfoods is most similar to Sunfood in terms of their overall focus. Unlike Sunfood, they carry a lot of brands other than their own and their selection tilts more toward supplements than foods but they have a lot of both.

Also like Sunfood, they have a lot of specialty items that are hard to find elsewhere. Even the brands they carry are ones you don’t see at a typical grocery store. It’s a health nut’s paradise and is worthy of a look, especially if you use a lot of specialty supplements.


Selection

Prices

Shipping

Free > $49

Membership Fee

No

Private Label Items

No

Boxed.com

Boxed is a relatively new service that is exactly like Costco or BJ’s, only without the membership fee and delivered to your door. And like those competitors, they carry mainstream health foods like Newman’s Own Organics, Annie’s, Bob’s Red Mill and Honest.

Everything is in bulk, but because of that the prices are all legitimately good. True health nuts like me will have to go elsewhere for many of the more esoteric products and supplements we use, but Boxed is a great addition to other sites listed above. You can get great prices on the staples that your kids eat constantly.

Because there’s no membership fee, it’s easy to use Boxed in addition to other sites and lower your total bill. Boxed is also a very well-designed shopping site and they have a great smartphone app as well. They have a promo going on now for free shipping on your first order


Final Thoughts

Our family's strategy has long been to use a variety of these sites to get the best total discounts on all our natural health and food shopping. You can see from the pictures above that we use these sites and we also use Amazon; though I often find that Amazon isn't that competitive on these products. We use Amazon mostly for products that don't have to be natural, like books or computer equipment. 

Making an assessment of how exteme you are with being all-natural and an assessment of how you actually buy and use products should allow you to make the right decisions for your family. Like our family, there's probably some combination of the sites above that will work best for you.

Want to buy healthier foods without breaking the bank? Quick reviews of 7 different sites that can save you money on natural food, supplements & products.
About the author

Sabrina Wilson

Sabrina Wilson is a staff writer for the Organic Daily Post.

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