Knowing how to save money at the grocery store is key, since one of the biggest complaints about healthy eating is that it costs so much! Although I would argue that if you do it correctly (as you’ll read about today) it isn’t any more “spendy” than a typical grocery bill. Furthermore, if you eat healthy, you save yourself from many lifestyle related diseases, like heart disease or diabetes, down the road. A healthy diet is actually cheaper in the long run! Think of it as a delicious investment that is going to pay off for the rest of your life. The issue people face when desiring to eat healthier is they begin forking over loads of money for healthy snacks, expensive meats, or anything with a “healthy-looking” package or label and end up quitting once they see the bill add up at the register. If you have a goal to eat healthy while trying to cut back on your grocery bill, there are a few tips and tricks you need to know about!
There are many ways to ease the burden on your grocery budget, starting with the biggest expenses. If you’re like most people, a large portion of your weekly grocery bill goes towards meat (especially if you are investing in naturally raised, organic varieties like grass fed beef) dairy products, convenience items (healthy snack bars, granola, portable items) and out-of-season produce. Cutting back on some of these items will make a huge difference in your budget! What should you do instead? Here are 5 tips and tricks to save you some cash!
1. Buy dairy in bulk
Dairy products like natural cheeses, whole milk, and plain yogurt can be expensive, but you’ll find that the price per ounce goes down when you buy in bulk. Purchase yogurt in large containers, quart size or bigger. Avoid buying small one-portion cups, especially because they tend to be higher in sugar, artificial colors, flavors, and other additives. Add your own fruit or flavors (stir in some cinnamon, nut butter, no-sugar jam). Buy large portions of cheese, take out a portion you will realistically be able to eat before it going bad, and freeze the rest.
2. Quit buying cold cereal
Aside from the fact that most cereals, even “healthy” varieties, tend to contain heavily processed ingredients and sugar, they zap your grocery bill! Most boxes are anywhere from $3-5 a box which only end up providing around 8 realistic sized bowls. If you buy a large sack of rolled oats, you end up paying pennies per serving! Making your own oatmeal, muesli, or granola with your oats and be in control of what ingredients you add. Flax, pumpkin seeds, almond butter, dried fruits, coconut flakes, and other ingredients help your oatmeal be a little more filling and nutritious! Check out the overnight oatmeal recipe for a cold cereal alternative you will love!
3. Eat more beans
Naturally raised meats are so expensive, whether you buy them at the grocery store, from a butcher, or raise your own. The easiest way to reduce this part of your budget is to add more beans in place of meat. Legumes are cheap, easy to prepare (unlike many cuts of meat) and are full of beneficial nutrients and fiber. Beans aren’t just good in burritos, and can be added to salads, soups, Buddha bowls, or in curry as in the recipe below! If your family isn’t a fan of meatless meals, try substituting at least half of the meat in tacos or sloppy joes with some beans or lentils. Since beans easily hide among all the sauce and flavor of the meat, they probably won’t even notice!
4. Buy frozen berries
A huge portion of a healthy budget is allotted to fresh produce. The easiest way to incur unneeded expense is to buy fruits and vegetables that are out of season. Print out a sheet of “in-season produce” for your fridge and review it when making your grocery/recipe lists for the week. If there is something that you’re craving that is out of season, check the freezer! Most people are unaware that frozen produce can actually be healthier than fresh in some cases. Fruits and vegetables that are headed for the freezer department are picked when ripe, flash frozen at their peak nutritional content, and shipped out to stores retaining their nutrients. Most other produce is picked early to avoid over-ripening, are transported in trucks for long periods of time, sit on grocery shelves, and then eventually get eaten. Many nutrients are lost in the process, making frozen produce a great choice! Since berries tend to be one of the most expensive fruits, opt for the frozen variety unless it’s the summer and they’re on sale!
5. Reduce food waste
If there is one tip that is most important, it’s this one! Stocking your fridge with fresh vegetables, meats, and fruit won’t do you a lot of good if you let it go bad, and throw most of it out! Plan ahead and be organized. Make a list of things you know you’ll need for the week and then use them! Another way to reduce waste is to be smart with how you use them. Don’t throw away perfectly usable food! For instance, save the bones from your meat and make stocks. Use the entire green onion, not just the white part! Celery leaves are delicious in salads and beet greens and stalks are delicious sautéed with garlic. Even the stalks of broccoli can be sliced thin and eaten in stir fries! If you roast a squash, save the seeds and roast them afterwards in a little avocado oil and salt. Try to use up the entire plant, skins, seeds, and leaves! You might be surprised with the new tastes and textures they provide!
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive, and will save you a lot of money and health in the long run! Avoid buying convenience foods that are processed and be smart about what goes into your cart. It’s pretty simple really, stick to buying whole foods that you can turn into meals like vegetables, beans, whole grains, eggs…it’s cheaper and healthier to do the “processing” yourself. For some recipes using whole food ingredients, check out the dishes below!