9 Tips To Shop On A Budget & Still Eat Healthy
By Kat Gal
I bet that at times, you find yourself looking at your weekly grocery bill feeling stunned and unsure about where all the money went. You may blame it on eating healthy. Eating healthy is too expensive, you might think. And you wish you could just spend less without sacrificing health.
What if I told you that eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive? With proper planning and a few simple tricks, you can keep your grocery bill low without sacrificing your health.
Here are 9 tips to keep your grocery bill low and still eat healthy:
1. Write Down What You Buy
For a week or two, write down everything you spend on food and beverages. And be honest. Write down every food and drink item you by at the grocery store, corner store, market, cafe and restaurant. Yes, include those trips to the vending machine, too.
Once you have the list, examine. Were all the items necessary? Did you have any impulsive buys? Did you eat out, choose junk food or shop at the expensive 24-hour-store, because you didn’t plan ahead or buy enough during your grocery-haul? Think about how you could make more economical, yet healthier choices.
2. Write A Better List
After going through your list of a ‘usual week,’ consider modifications and write a grocery list. Decide on all of your meals for the week. Create a cooking calendar. Think about the “cook once, eat twice” principle – such as cooking a batch of quinoa to be used as a side dish for more than 1 meal. Or cooking 4 chicken breasts instead of 2 to use throughout the week.
3. Shop Weekly
Don’t buy more food than you need. If there is a sale, you may want to stock up on bulk, like rice, beans, nuts and seeds, to stay a few weeks ahead. But don’t stock up too far ahead. Chances are your menu will change, which leaves room for excess spending and wasting food – and money!
4. Look For Deals
You don’t have to obsess over clipping coupons day and night to find deals. Just look at your local grocery store’s weekly sales. Ask your farmer at the farmer’s market for any specials. In fact, if you get to know your farmer, he or she will likely give you discounts after a while. If you arrive to the market near closing hours, you will likely score some discounts too.
Check out the discount shelves – sometimes you can find great deals on items nearing expiration or fruits and vegetables that are a little too soft. Brown bananas are perfect for smoothies!
5. Use Cash
This may sound strange, but using cash can actually limit your spending. If you have a detailed list and have considered all deals, you should have a fairly good idea of how much you should be spending.
Once you have this number, you can decide if you want to leave a little ‘wiggle room’ in case you see something you ‘must have.’ Take out enough cash and go shopping. You can also decide your weekly budget for food. This way the “I can just use my card” lattes won’t sneak up on you.
6. Buy Produce, Buy Bulk, Buy Frozen
Sure, all the 99 cent boxed food items seem cheap, but the problem is that they are not really food. They are processed items with a shelf life of your life-time, full of chemicals and artificial ingredients that will only lead to disease and weight gain.
You can look for healthier, organic alternatives of the same boxed items. They may be a little better for you, but they are still processed and are usually very expensive. However, if you mostly shop at the produce aisle for fresh vegetables and fruits, add in some organic frozen fruits and veggies and buy bulk of the dry food items like rice, beans, nuts and seeds, you can actually make your own version of all these ‘boxed foods.’ It will be healthier, more delicious and you can create more fun in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes on your own.
7. Buy In Season
Produce in season will be fresher and therefore, more delicious. They will be easier on your wallet, too. It’s fall now – carrots, squash, zucchini, beets, apples, pears and grapes are in. Watermelon and strawberries are unfortunately out; you will have to wait until next summer.
Of course, if you live in a climate without 4 seasons, the case is different. Still, there will always be seasonal foods according to your location. You can check out this chart for a good idea of what to look for and when.
8. Don’t Shop When You Are Hungry
This is a biggy. When you are hungry, you will buy more. Your body is physiologically designed to search for food when it senses hunger and you will likely want to buy everything. Even if it is the end of your week and your fridge is literally empty, first, plan to grab a smoothie, a fresh juice, a healthy meal or a salad somewhere before hitting the grocery store to prevent overbuying – and buying the stuff you know don’t support your health goals.
9. Don’t Buy Anything Near The Register
I know it is tempting, standing in line and looking at all the last minute goodies. But, even if you are at a health food store and it is raw chocolate or gluten-free cookies, these items near the cashier are usually higher-priced. They are also designed to tempt you at the last minute. Prove them wrong: you don’t need it.
Do you have any other tips on how to save money on your groceries while eating healthy? Share below, I would love to hear from you.
Kat Gál is a multi-passionate writer, world traveler, nomad, runner, and cat-person. She is a lifelong learner who lives outside of her comfort zones stretching her boundaries and discovering beauty around the world. She is a full-time freelance health & wellness writer, content creator, and also a Certified Holistic Health & Life Coach.
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