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How to Buy Healthy Groceries on a Budget – #HEBC 3

Posted Feb 07 2012 10:06pm

Posted in , | February 7, 2012 |

  

By Anastasiya Goers

Healthy eating starts with healthy grocery shopping.

Saving money starts with cheap grocery shopping.

Can they be combined into one list without sacrifices to your health or the health of your bank account?

Healthy grocery shopping on a budget starts with a thought-out , timely and organized grocery list. Do you make lists when you go shopping? What do they look like?

I was browsing the Internet the other day and found the funniest website – The Grocery List Collection .

The author collects lost groceries lists and then puts them on his website. Some look pretty normal (diced tomatoes, spaghetti, soap etc.) while others just make you wonder what food that person was planning to fix.

My personal favorite from the website (written on a Disney Princesses sticky note):

Candy
Candy
Candy
Candy
Candy
Candy
Candy

I think they forgot gingerbread to finish their house.

But seriously, how do you make a grocery list that is healthy and budget friendly at the same time?

While I always tried to buy healthy food I didn’t put much thought into budgeting my family’s meals until recently. In August 2011 my husband and I ran an experiment and tracked every expense of our household. The results were shocking to us; they made us realize how unbalanced our finances were. About 45% of our monthly expenses were spent on food (grocery shopping and eating out) which is more than we ever wanted.

In January we ran the experiment again and we managed to cut our food expenses by 56%. While the financial change was drastic we didn’t really see any change in the quality of food that we were eating.

Make your grocery list healthy for your body and your bank account – Tweet this

1. Create your personal plan

We talked about personal healthy eating earlier but let’s freshen it up in our memory. What is your personal ideal grocery budget? What is your current budget? (You should know it by now if you were using the Grocery Budget template .) Now calculate the difference and let’s see where you can cut back.

Let’s leave the budget alone for a minute. What are your personal grocery favorites that you would like to keep no matter what?

My husband and I have a tradition of buying sushi for Sunday lunch. It’s not a necessity but that’s a little ritual that our family whole-heartedly enjoys (even our girls are crazy about sushi rolls.) When we were considering our grocery budget we decided to keep this little treat because, thankfully, we can afford it right now.
Do you have little treats/ traditions that you would like to keep (even though they might not be the most budget friendly decisions)?

Take a look at your Grocery Budget template and answer the following questions:

2. Read labels

Healthy and cheap eating is not rocket science. It’s just a lesson in reading. – Tweet this

Labels are your best friends when looking for healthy budget-friendly foods. Don’t pay too much attention to the front label because that’s usually the place where manufacturers try to deceive consumers with wishy-washy claims. Go straight to the Nutrition Information and Ingredients. Here is what you need to pay attention to:

3. Be organic-smart

Please consider the Pros and Cons of going organic that I wrote about earlier and check out my simple guide to frugal organic eating . Right now I buy organic lettuce and meat all the time but I am not so strict with the rest of the ingredients. If I buy non-organic veggies or fruit then I try to peel them (since most pesticides “live” on the skin of produce) and wash them thoroughly. A good trick to buy organic without spending too much money is buying frozen produce. Like I mentioned before (http://balanceinme.com/balanced-nutrition/healthy-breakfast-on-a-budget/) frozen produce can have more nutrients and vitamins then fresh one that took weeks to ship and store before it got to your fridge.

4. Don’t get crazy with coupons

I once watched an Extreme Couponing episode and was shocked. First of all, women on the show had way more time to look for coupons than I do (they said it took them about 20 hours a week) and most of their savings were on foods that I wouldn’t feed to my family even for free (soda, candy, cookies etc.) I am not against using coupons when I see a good deal but at the same time I won’t be buying something unhealthy just because it is on sale.

5. Create meals around store specials

A lot of women swear by meal planning to cut back on their food bill but this strategy doesn’t work for me. Every time that I go to the grocery store I first check what produce is on sale that day. Most grocery stores have at least one green item on sale every week (broccoli, zucchini, cabbage, spinach, asparagus etc.) and I create my weekly meal plan around this item. The same goes for fruit and meat.

Next week we will talk about creating dinners from simple and cheap ingredients and having your own weekly meal template.

If you are still wondering what you should buy when you go grocery shopping then check out these articles that I wrote earlier:

Keep it balanced!

photo credit: Bruce A Stockwell

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