Let’s face it- eating healthy is expensive. Add eating organic on top of simply eating “healthy”, and the bill only continues to go up. Although it seems unfair that our society charges us more for the food that is good for us, until a food revolution takes the world by storm, we’re going to have to make do.
Which brings me to my first piece of advice for your food budget: change your mindset. Yes, this food is more expensive, but isn’t your health worth it? If you don’t have your health, what good is all the money in the world going to do for you? Once you’ve changed your perception to the money being spent as an “investment” in YOU, here are my tips to further get more bang for your buck:
- Know your prices: This is first and foremost, because grocery stores are constantly changing their prices- what used to be a great deal at Costco, may no longer be the same buy when you go back 2 weeks later. Additionally, know your prices “per ounce” (typically provided for you in the bottom left hand corner of the shelf label). If stores aren’t changing their prices, they’re changing their packaging to offer less volume for the same price. Growing up, my mom always kept a running list of prices at each store we went to of the items we bought most frequently. While you may not care to do this, it’s still important to make a mental note while shopping.
- Buy in season: In the winter, it’s absolutely silly to buy asparagus for $5-$6 a pound. But this time of year, asparagus is flourishing, bringing the price down to $.99-$1.99 a pound, making it a great buy! When produce is in season, not only is it cheaper, but it tastes better too (#winnerwinner). Also, during growing season, check out your local farmer’s market. Many local growers can’t afford the “organic certification”, but still may use organic farming practices. On a nice day, head to the market, chat with the farmers first hand, and you’ll likely end up saving big on extra fresh produce.
- Buy in bulk: When I was eating meat, I was always so frustrated that the lean varieties of ground turkey and beef were often twice the price of the fattier versions. So, if I happened to catch the meat on sale, I would literally buy every package, use what I needed for meal prep immediately, and freeze the rest. Sure, it’s more money up front, but you’ll save a lot of money in the long run. Also, if you notice a store has a huge stock of meat that has a nearing “Sell By” date, check back the day-of or day-before that date, as they’re likely to mark it down even further.
- Don’t go grocery-shopping hungry! Ok, I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of this at times, but not only does this tip help save your wallet, it helps save your waistline too. When you’re hungry, you’re going to think every item you pass looks good, and you’ll quickly rack up extra expenses from food you don’t really need. My advice is to make a list of everything you need before going in to the store, and then shop only for those items (this will save you time too!)
- Eat less meat: Meat is the most expensive item in the grocery store. Even though I follow a plant-based diet, I understand not everyone is willing to eliminate meat entirely. However, I believe everyone can do their part to cut back on consumption, leading to a reduced grocery bill, lowered cholesterol, reduced risk of disease, and a smaller carbon footprint!
- Shop Weekly Ads + Coupons: Each week, stores change what they have on ad- most stores change on Sundays, but some now come out on Wednesdays. If you have a couple stores local to you, scan each ad to see which stores are having the best deal this week. While I don’t recommend driving all across town to shop (because then you’re just spending the money you save on food on gas) but you can plan to combine trips if you are going to be in the area anyway.
- Minimize Supplements: Despite what the dieting industry wants you to believe, you can get all the nutrition you need from simply eating real food. However, some products can be beneficial and supplements may add convenience to your life, but none are a necessity. If you do choose to purchase supplements, I recommend really establishing what you need the most, and also checking for any promotions before purchasing! (For instance, as an MRM Ambassador, I offer the code ELLEN to my audience for 40% off their purchases). Products I have determined most value-added to my diet are:
- Digest-All- to improve digestion with meals while also eliminating gas and bloating
- Vitamin B12- since this is noted to be the only vitamin lacking in vegan diets.
- Protein Powder- simply for convenience around workouts and curbing a sweet tooth at night, my favorite is MRM’s Veggie Vanilla.
- Global Greens- again, for nutritional convenience when I’m on the go. It’s great to just add a scoop of this to some water and be confident I’m still getting my micronutrients in!
Do you have any tips or tricks you use to eat healthy on a budget? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!