You already know you want to eat better, but you’re also strapped for cash, so you must be looking for affordable ways to eat healthy – talk about a win-win! It’s time to bust the myth that you have to have a big grocery budget to eat well… there are so many affordable ways to eat healthy! So grab your canvas grocery bags, and let’s go!
1. Go Organic, Smart!
Organic produce is the healthiest, but is it one of the most affordable ways to eat healthy? Often times, sadly, it’s not, but I can help. There are some fruits and veggies you don’t have to buy organic (because they have thick peels or rinds we remove before we eat them). If you want to get the most bang for your organic-produce buck, purchase the Dirty Dozen organic, and save your grocery cash on the others. Here are the Dirty Dozen, the items you ought to buy organic to eat healthy: apples, celery, bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, imported nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, domestic blueberries, cucumbers, and potatoes.
2. Shop the Perimeter
Grab your receipt from last week’s groceries trip… and look at how much you spent on junk food, like chips, cookies, soda, and canned and boxed foods. Chances are, about half of your money was spent on this unhealthy, unnecessary food. One way to avoid this? Shop along the edges of the grocery store, where all the fresh produce, lean protein, dairy, and wholesome whole grains are, and avoid the inner aisles, which contain all the junk food.
3. Don’t Shop Hungry!
When you’re hungry, everything in the store will call your name – loudly – especially comfort food, high in fat and calories. So… don’t shop hungry! Eat something healthful before you leave, and if you start to feel hungry while you’re shopping, drink some water. Your body might be confusing thirst with hunger.
4. Buy in Bulk
When possible, buy certain healthful food staples in bulk, which saves time and gas (fewer trips to the store) and cash (bulk items are often cheaper). It’s important to make sure the bulk price is actually better per item, since sometimes, they’re not. Example? Juice boxes can be just as expensive per box, whether you’re buying 12 or 200.
5. Buy Local
Do you have a local farmer’s market? If so, try buying eggs, produce, and even baked goods there, rather than at the grocery store. You’ll be supporting your local economy, and you may even be getting organic goods at non-organic prices… some smaller farms can’t afford the USDA organic label, though they are in fact organic.
6. Coupon Smart
It’s great that you took all the time to clip all those coupons this weekend… but how many of them will you actually use? Why not take all the ones for products you won’t use, and trade them with friends for ones you can use for the healthy foods you want to buy? A coupon swap can be fun, especially when combined with a glass of wine.
7. Don’t Buy Items, Plan Meals!
Before you head out to the farmer’s market or grocery store, make a list of what you need to make all of the healthy meals and snacks you’ll want all week. It’s more efficient, and much more affordable, to buy just the items you need for meals, rather than buying bags full or groceries you can’t actually use to feed your family!
8. Go Vegetarian
Meat is pricey, and often times, not the healthiest way to get the protein you need. Why not save money and your arteries by going meatless one day a week… Meatless Mondays are a great way to try new recipes, discover new ingredients, and stay fit and healthy!
9. Look at the Long Run
If you think healthy foods are too pricey, so you’re leaning towards the cheaper, but less healthy fast or prepared foods, try and think more long-term about eating healthy. Diabetes is expensive. Hypertension and heart disease? Also expensive. Eating healthy is much more affordable, when you look at dollars and cents, and even quality of life.
See? Eating healthy can be done, even on the skimpiest of grocery budgets. I’m so glad I know about the Dirty Dozen - I’ve saved so much money only buying the items I know have to be organic! Which of these tips will you use to eat better and save money? Or do you have another budget-friendly healthy eating tip to share?