Shopping for healthy food on a budget is always a challenge.
Have you ever just gone about your groceries, and then ended up with a huge bill with no idea where the money went? I certainly have, and I’d often wonder why I’d sometimes end up with a huge bill, and sometimes with a budget-friendly bill. So I started taking a look at what types of purchases drove up the cost of my groceries and which ones didn’t.
What I realized was that it wasn’t about whether I was buying “healthier” foods or “junkier” foods, it was all about the types of purchases I was making and taking more of a budget-conscious approach to my shopping.
Healthy food doesn’t have to be out of reach with your grocery budget. You can adopt certain strategies that will make the healthier options seem totally affordable! These 10 tips will help you on your way towards budget-friendly healthy grocery shopping
Tip #1 | Shop the Sales: Most grocery stores have all kinds of sales going on at any given point in time. Look for the weekly specials, the produce that’s on sale, and any deals (like buy 2 get one free) throughout the store.
Tip #2 | Buy in-season: In-season produce is always cheaper. Produce that is not in season has to be shipped from across the world and that shoots up the price pretty quick. This site is a great resource to figure out what’s in season in your town (so you can get the best bang for your produce buck!) And for those of you in the Bay Area – this site is a wonderful resource as well.
Tip #3 | Try coupons: Individual stores have catalogs (usually located in the front of the store) with coupons you can use that same day! You can also find great online coupons here — which you can even search for by your area (so you get the best grocery deals near you!)
Tip #4 | Buy generic: Brand names cost way more. That’s just a rule of thumb. And most in-store/generic brands are just as good! Case in point: Whole Foods’ 365 brand which, especially when on sale, is extremely affordable.
Tip #5 | Buy frozen: Frozen produce is just as good as fresh produce, and it works perfectly if you’re looking to spend a little less, especially on out-of-season items.
Tip #6 | Buy bulk: The bulk section has become my best friend. Many grocery stores now have a bulk section where you can get everything: spices, nut butters, oils, honey, maple syrup, grains (like oatmeal and quinoa), pasta, beans, cereals, dried fruits, the list goes on. And you save a ton because you don’t pay for the “packaging” at all.
Tip #7 | Avoid the middle of the store: Most packaged foods don’t have nearly the same nutritional value as whole unprocessed foods like produce, fresh dairy, fresh meats, and whole grains. You end up paying a lot more for a lot less nutrition – so my suggestion would be to stick to the perimeter of the store and cook meals at home using tons of spices for flavor!
Tip #8 | Make a list: And stick to it! That way you aren’t distracted by any of the enticing goodies you might come across during your shopping (but that you don’t need!)
Tip #9 | Don’t shop hungry: This relates to Tip #8 above, but basically, if you end up going to the grocery store hungry, you will buy a lot more of those “impulse” purchases, again, that you probably don’t need. Eat first, then shop.
Tip #10 | Choose meatless protein sources: Foods like beans, lentils, etc. are wonderful protein sources and are also extremely good for you! They’re also insanely cheap – especially if you buy them dry and in bulk (although canned is pretty cheap also) Switch to meatless a couple of nights a week and your health and wallet will thank you!