While I was grocery shopping the other day, I reached for a five dollar box of my favorite quinoa pasta and noticed that a box of regular old white pasta was less than a dollar.
Then I pushed my cart along and sighed at the fact that my beloved Annie’s dressing was nearly four dollars a bottle while the unhealthy brands were half the price.
In my health-conscious dreams, Harris Teeter would have “buy one, get two free” specials on cases of coconut water rather than on diet soda and the juice that I make at home would be as cheap as buying a bottle of the sugary processed stuff that I can find in the stores.
Let’s face it, eating healthfully can be expensive.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg (or as much as Kim Kardashian’s engagement ring).
I’ve gone over my tips for eating healthy on a budget on the blog before, but since it continues to be a hot topic, I thought it would be worth doing another post containing all of my favorite tips.
Healthy Eating on a Budget
Plan out your meals and set a grocery budget.
Pack your own lunches.
Eating out everyday for lunch can really add up. I’ve packed Michael’s lunches for the past year or so, and we’ve really noticed the difference it has made in our spending. It is healthier too!
You don’t always have to buy organic.
I’m sure that some people will disagree with me on this, but I don’t feel as though you always have to buy organic if you cannot afford to do so. If you do want to make the investment, I’d recommend just buying organic versions of The Dirty Dozen or checking your local grocery stores for sales and markdowns on these items. Also, Trader Joe’s has pretty reasonable prices on organic produce- just another reason why I adore that place!
If you cannot afford fresh, buy canned or frozen.
Again, I am sure that there are some people who will disagree with me, but I personally believe that frozen broccoli is better than not having broccoli at all. Just be sure to read the labels carefully to make sure that there are no funky additives and buy the lower sodium version of these foods whenever possible.
Shop the markdown bins for produce.
We’ve all seen those random racks in the grocery store that are stocked with bagged produce, right? Those are goldmines! I love raiding them for discounted organic apples, pears, and cucumbers, which are all great for juicing. Usually, you can find giant bags of bananas for a dollar or less. Sometimes the bananas are quite ripe, so I usually freeze them for smoothies or take it as sign that I need to make banana bread!
Look our for coupons.
I’m a huge fan of coupons (though I’m definitely not fit to be on Extreme Couponing). There are usually coupons in the Sunday newspaper, but I like to hunt for coupons online.
Searching Google for coupons is also a great idea and so is signing up for mailers and alerts on your favorite brands. The manufacturers will often send out discount codes or printable coupons. If you’re worried about getting too much spam or junk email, set up a free email account to use just for receiving these notifications. That’s what I do!
Visit your local grocery store’s website often.
Many grocery stores release their weekly specials online (the stores near me do so on Wednesdays, but the stores in your area may be different). I usually take these sales into consideration when I am planning my menu for the week. If you sign up on their websites, stores, such as Harris Teeter, will actually email you sale alerts on products that you purchase often. Some stores (like Earth Fare) have printable coupons on their websites as well.
Eat meatless meals 1-2 per week.
Purchasing meat can be very expensive, so lately, I’ve been making pasta or grain based meals for dinner a few nights a week. Personally, I never eat animal protein at lunchtime either which saves some bucks.
Don’t do all of your shopping in one place.
This may be difficult to do at times, but I love shopping at multiple stores in order to find the best deals. Over time, I’ve learned which stores have the best prices on certain items. I’ll even go to clubs like Costco occasionally to stock up on bulk items that we use often (like popcorn and Larabars!).
Utilize your crock pot or slow cooker.
I’m really excited that the fall is quickly approaching for many reasons. One of those reasons is that I can use the slow cooker more often to make soups and chili. These are usually pretty inexpensive to make and they yield several servings. I’ll often freeze the leftovers and use them during a week when I am tight on my grocery budget.
Shop the bulk bins.
I’ve made no secret of my love for bulk bins. Choosing the amount of each item that you want to purchase also controls how much you’re going to spend. Check out my post called Bulk Bin Fanatic for more on this subject.
Utilize your local farmer’s market.
One of the many benefits of going to farmer’s markets is that they are super cheap. My dad called the other day to tell me about all of the produce that he and my mother purchased at the farm stand…for only seven dollars! Sometimes I’m even shocked myself at how low the totals are when they ring me up. You can check out my post on tips for going to the farmer’s market for more info.
I hope that you’ve found these tips to be useful. They’ve really worked wonders for our family!
What are your tips for eating healthfully on a budget? Do you plan your meals out each week? I’ll admit that it can be a nuisance from time to time, but it is totally worth the effort in the end.
Hi there! I'm Erin, the happy gal behind The Grass Skirt, which is named after my signature smoothie. Here I share how I maintain a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle, my favorite recipes, workouts and products, and my love for Lionel Richie. Hope you'll enjoy reading!
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