The price of eating healthy can be overwhelming at times. With the right tools in hand, you can peruse the market with confidence, knowing your healthy food choices aren’t going to empty your pocketbook.
Go in prepared. Sit down and write out a full list of everything you plan to buy. Then don’t veer from it. Keep a running list throughout the week of items you need or are running low on. Stick this on the side of the fridge and add to it as your week goes on.
Follow the sales. Each week your local markets and grocers will send you ads detailing weekly sale items. Track these sales and map out your meal plan accordingly. Sometimes you may have to stop at more than one place to get the best deals, but saving money on your grocery bill may be worth the extra drive time.
Buy store brand. Big name brands come with bigger price tags. If your store has it’s own brand of a given item, compare the price and see how much you will save. Many times the store brand or generic brands will cost less. On occasion you may find the name brands on sale for less, so always compare prices.
Ditch the organic (most of the time). A lot of products are labeled organic or all natural, and come with a hefty price tag. Not all things labeled organic are better. Check out this list of the Dirty Dozen to see what’s best to buy organic and what you can buy conventionally.
Buy seasonal. Produce taste best, are freshest, and cost less when they are in season in your local area. The less time they spend in shipping, the healthier and cheaper they are.
Check out these awesome charts from Chasing Delicious (seasons may vary depending on location:
Buy in bulk. It’s a good idea to bring a calculator with you when shopping so you can determine the true savings when buying in bulk. Most of the time bulk is the way to go. But, on a few occasions it won’t work out to your advantage. Meats, fish, poulty, bread, and items that can be stored in the freezer are perfect for buying in bulk.
Buy frozen. Frozen fruits and vegetables are another great option when it comes to purchasing produce. You can also purchase produce that is on sale in bulk and freeze it. Prep the produce as you would if you were going to cook it or eat it raw, and store it in freezer bags that are label with the food item and date.
Buy larger portions of protein sources. You can order sides of beef, whole pigs, whole chickens, and whole fish when you shop at the local butcher, ranches, or farmer’s market. This is a great option when you have a deep freezer for storage. Because of the large size of sides of beef or whole pigs, you may want to consider pairing up with neighbors or friends and going in on the purchase together. This will break up the cost, and help you save room in your freezer.
Canned goods. Canned tomatoes, potatoes, tuna, chicken, and beans are a great way to cut down on costs when you are eating for one or two. Check out this blog post for your BPA-free canned food options.
Go Co-op. CSA and food co-ops are excellent options when you are on a budget. You buy a membership and get weekly bundles of locally grown fresh produce, homemade jams, grains, breads, and more. We did a write up on CSAs in case you missed it. A lot of co-op frequenters will plan their weekly meals around what they get in their baskets, which makes cooking all the more exciting.
Don’t get exotic. Dragon fruits are beautiful, but they are also very pricey. If something is shipped from a far away land, it’s going to come with a price tag. It will also be picked far too early, leaving it lacking in the flavor and nutrient departments.
Grow your own food. Even small potted plants will make a difference in your weekly budget. Herbs, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, and lettuces all grow well in pots. If you have enough space, a whole garden may be in order.
Hopefully we found some ways to help you eat well on a budget. With a little time and some investigating, you can change the way you think about healthy foods.
What are some ways that you save on food shopping?