If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the phrase “eating healthy is expensive” I would have been a millionaire by now. But I’m not, I’m a post-grad student trying to show you that eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. The truth is, the things that are costing you the most money are more than likely the items that are most unhealthy for you like chips, cookies, or frozen dinners. Down below I’ve included my top 6 tips for eating healthy on a budget. These are things I do every time I go grocery shopping that have helped me to lower my food expenses and waste.
1.Plan Out Your Meals
One of the most common mistakes people make when heading to the grocery store is walking in empty-handed. When you go to the grocery store without an action plan you end up buying more than you need. Instead of grazing through the aisles until you find something that sounds good, plan your meals in advance. Typically I will scroll through the recipes I’ve saved on Pinterest and pick some that have similar ingredients. By choosing recipes that have repeating ingredients you are able to make more meals with fewer ingredients. This will help you to avoid spending more and wasting food.
2. Shop the Weekly Ad
Every grocery store offers a weekly ad that highlights the most current products on sale. Get in the habit of gathering the weekly ads and looking through the deals. I only ever buy something if it’s on sale and I keep track of which store is offering the better deal on the items on my grocery list. Eventually, you’ll learn that some stores offer better prices on pantry items (ex. canned beans, sauces, grains) while others offer better prices on produce. By shopping the weekly ads, you can save yourself more money and get the items you need.
3. Clip coupons
You already knew this one was coming but let me just say that of all my tips, this one has saved me the most money. On my last trip to Ralphs, I ended up saving an additional $20 apart from the weekly ad sales because of my digital coupons. Before you head out to the store, check your local grocery store’s website for digital coupons. These coupons are usually linked to a phone number that you enter at checkout or 6through an app. Familiarize yourself with your local grocery store’s coupon system and take advantage of it to the fullest extent, it’s basically free money.
4. Buy Frozen Veggies & Fresh Fruit
Another great way to save money is to turn to the frozen aisle. Frozen vegetables are a great way to expand your vegetable options without worrying about anything going bad before you get a chance to use it. Not only are frozen vegetables picked at their peak ripeness (which means better tasting veggies), but they are usually cheaper than fresh. Compare prices to be sure, but if there’s a sale on veggies, stock up and freeze them yourself.On the contrary, buying fresh fruit and freezing it yourself is cheaper than frozen fruit. Whenever I see a good sale on fruit I stock up and freeze it myself to use in smoothies. I also like to buy fresh fruit because I can freeze half and add the rest to parfaits, oatmeal, or chia pudding.
5. Choose Organic When You Can
This may be surprising to you, but choosing organic products can actually help save you money in the long run. If you do decide to buy organic, you have the ability to grow the items in your own home. Only organic produce will reproduce because the seeds are not genetically modified to prevent cloning. As an example, if you find a deal on organic tomatoes, save the pieces containing seeds and plant in an area that receives full sunlight and watch it grow. Any vegetables that have established roots (ex. green onions, butter lettuce, potatoes ) or seeds can be planted as long as they are organic. I recently started doing this with any of the organic items I bought and I now have green onions, three tomato plants, and rosemary growing on my balcony. After a while, it really starts to pay for itself and since doing this I haven’t had to buy any of those items.
6. Avoid Brand Names
Foods that are associated with a we’ll known brand tend to be double the price of generic brands of the same exact item. Ditch the brand names and go with the generic, the only difference is the name.
I hope this helps to give you ideas on ways to incorporate more wholesome foods into your diet without breaking the bank. If you have any questions, comments or concerns you can reach me @lifeatthemesa on Instagram or through my email firstname.lastname@example.org.