Eating nutrient rich foods can get expensive if you shop solely at gourmet grocers and specialty stores. Although not everyone can afford to shop in places like these, no one can afford to skip out on healthy eating. So how do you eat healthy on a budget? Simple. You follow these 25 shopping suggestions to increase your purchasing power.
- Plan Your Meals – Plan out what it is you want to cook and eat for the next week. To save extra money you may want to think about choosing recipes with overlapping ingredients.
Take Stock of Your Stock – Look in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer and take stock of the ingredients for this weeks meals that you already have.
- Make A List – Once you know what you want to eat for the week, make a list of the ingredients that you’ll need to buy. Using your local grocery stores advertised specials to help is a great way to save even more money.
- Eat Before You Shop – If you go shopping while you’re hungry you will be more likely to have cravings and give in, to those temptations. If you eat before you shop you probably won’t feel the need to buy up the entire store.
- Buy In Season – Fruits and vegetables are more affordable when they are in season, so buy your favorites when they’re in season and then freeze them for later. If you run out of these fruits and vegetables before they’re back in season then buying them frozen is a great way to save.
- Limit Your Fruit Variety – Exotic fruits are expensive, so don’t make them a staple. Instead opt for bananas, apples, and oranges, as your everyday fruits and save the exotic options for special occasions.
- Practice Self Portioning – Buying individual serving sizes of things like yogurt, cottage cheese, and frozen vegetables costs much more than buying the larger bulk sizes and portioning them out into single servings yourself. Of course, before you buy the biggest container you can find just because the price per unit is lowest, make sure that you’ll actually eat all of it, so you don’t end up throwing your money away.
- Cut Down On Meats – Meat can quickly take up a large portion of your food budget so switch it out for beans, lentils, or tofu in your favorite recipes every once in a while, to cut down on costs.
- Buy Cheaper Cuts (of Meat) – Cheaper doesn’t always mean lower quality or less nutritious. In fact some of the cheaper cuts of meats (beef sirloin, bone in chicken thighs, ground turkey, and bone in pork chops) are actually healthier for you, and more flavorful than the more expensive cuts (like skinless, boneless chicken breasts or new york strip steaks).
Buy The Whole Bird – It can be cheaper to buy an entire chicken or turkey than buying individual prepackaged cuts. If you buy one that will fit in your slow cooker you don’t even have to worry about learning to cook it in the oven.
- Get The Customer Card – If your local grocery store offers a customer loyalty card for specialty discounts and rewards GET ONE! They can end up saving you hundreds of dollars per year on items you already buy and some will even send you extra coupons on frequently purchased items.
- Don’t Fear Coupons – Couponing can be overwhelming (if you allow it to), instead of becoming an extreme couponer (buying only items you have coupons for) just check out your local newspaper for coupons on items you’re already purchasing.
- Shop Store Brands – When you’re buying dairy, meats, frozen items, and non-perishables that are available in generic or store brand labels, always buy those. The ingredients are often identical to the big name brands and taste the same, so stop spending money on a label.
Shop Wholesale Stores – Places like Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s are great for purchasing non-perishable items in bulk. These are also great locations to buy your meat, frozen vegetables, and dairy in bulk sizes so that you can portion it out yourself and freeze whatever you don’t use right away.
- Shop at Your Local Farmer’s Market – These are hands down the best places to find the freshest in-season fruits and vegetables. Many markets even have meats you can choose from. Shopping here offers an added bonus since the prices are often much lower than the grocery store. (Pro Tip: Show up early to the market and you’ll have the best selection, show up late to the market and you’ll be able to haggle for the best price.)
- Shop at Your Local Ethnic Markets – Ethnic markets will have a variety of the foods you already buy and love plus a few new options that might become favorites. They are often much cheaper than grocery store chains because they don’t have to pay higher corporate salaries, higher real estate prices, or training costs.
- Shop Online – You can find great deals on food items by shopping online. Many online stores will ship your groceries straight to your door (saving you money AND time).
- Stock Up On Sales – If you see a non-perishable item, that you use often, for sale go ahead and stock up on some (even if you don’t need it right away). This will save you a few dollars down the road when you would have run out of it and needed to buy it at full price.
- Only Buy Necessities – If it’s not on your list (and it’s not an on sale non-perishable that you’ll eventually need) don’t buy it. It’s a waste of your money and chances are that since it’s not in your weekly meal plan, you won’t eat it before it goes bad and you’ll end up inevitably throwing your money away.
- Buy Canned Tuna – Buying fresh or sometimes even frozen fish can quickly add up. Buying canned tuna and incorporating it into at least one meal per week where you would have eaten fresh or frozen fish will save you big in the long run without sacrificing your Omega 3 intake or protein consumption.
Don’t Buy Junk Food – You know it’s bad for you and you know it’s a huge waste of money so just avoid it. If you need snacks it’s better to buy crunchy vegetables or sweet fruits and portion them out into snack sized plastic bags for quick on-the-go healthy snacking.
- Skip The Drinks – Good hydration is one of the most important factors in a good diet, but filling your cart and your stomach with juices, sodas, and coffee is not only bad for you but it’s also incredibly expensive. Stick to water. It’s the best hydration system available and it’s free. If you don’t like the taste of your tap water buy a brita faucet filtration system for as low as $19 and filter up to 100 gallons of water per filter.
- Grow It Yourself – If you have the space and time, growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs can be both financially and psychologically rewarding. When you grow it yourself you can also be sure that no added chemicals or harmful preservatives have been added to it. (Pro Tip: If you can grow your own ‘dirty dozen’ ie. apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, and potatoes, you will be able to avoid the majority of harmful pesticides without splurging on store bought organic produce.)
- Get Some Chickens – If you have the space and time to raise chickens, goats, or a cow you can save a ton of money on eggs, milk, and eventually even meat. (Pro Tip: Don’t invest financially in these animals if you don’t have the time and dedication to invest in them.)
- Meal Prep – This is the absolute most important step to saving money. Once your meal planning is done, and your food is purchased, make sure you meal prep ahead of timeso that:
- You use all of the foods you just bought
- You have ready to grab meals throughout the week
- You avoid spending money on meals out
- You don’t waste anything
Follow these steps for success and you’ll find that your diet can improve without having to take out another mortgage on your home.
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