At the beginning of the new year many people are trying to eat healthier and save money. After a long holiday season of indulgences and spending money on gifts for others, it’s understandable that so many of us are trying to cut back. There is a common misconception that eating healthy is expensive, and some people think it’s not a realistic option for their family given the price. I’m here to tell you that is simply not true, and there are many easy ways to eat healthy on a budget.
I love to live a healthy lifestyle, but I also am a thrifty shopper and I hate spending money unnecessarily. So over the years I’ve learned a bunch of tips that have helped me save A LOT of money on healthy foods, and in today’s post I’m going to share many of those easy tips with you.
Make a list before you go to the store.
That way you’ll buy exactly what you need and nothing you don’t. Impulse purchases add up! I swear by my list, and if I didn’t have it with me I’d likely forget so many items.
Meal plan around sale items.
I’ve touched on this before in this post, but I always check the sales flyer for our local grocery store while I meal plan and before I go to the store. Most grocery stores publish their weekly sales flyer on their website, so it’s easy to find. I browse the flyer for what sounds interesting to me that week and and meal plan around those ingredients. For example, if a whole chicken is on sale, I might buy one to roast that night for dinner and the following night I’d use the leftover chicken in a soup. Extra points if you can use one ingredient in two meals! The sales flyer can also be good inspiration if you’re not feeling very creative that week.
Buy in bulk.
I don’t want you to think that you need to buy all of your groceries at Costco or Sam’s Club because for some people that really is not practical. You may overbuy just because you think something is a good deal and end up wasting food. I’m just shopping for two people, so the only things I buy in bulk are foods that I know we’ll go through quickly or are non-perishable and will last a long time. Here are a few suggestions of where to buy in bulk:
Some of the foods we love to buy at Costco are: organic spinach, bananas, extra-virgin olive oil, ground cinnamon, and Dave’s Killer Bread (the package comes with 2 loaves, so I freeze the second one to use at a later time).
Sizzlefish ships individual portions of top-quality fish (mostly wild-caught) direct to consumer. The fish is flash-frozen and vacuum sealed within days of being caught, so once it’s defrosted it tastes just as fresh as non-frozen fish. The best part is that the fish is VERY reasonably priced, and shipping is free! If you’re a regular fish eater, I highly recommend this service. If you’ve never tried Sizzlefish before, you can use the code Take5 for 5% off your first order.
Did you know that for many items on Amazon you can set up a subscription for products you buy and use regularly? All you have to do is select the quantity and schedule that works for you (from monthly deliveries to a delivery every 6 months). Depending on the number of subscriptions you have, Amazon will apply a 5-15% discount on your subscribed items. We have subscriptions set up for some pantry staples that we eat a lot of, such as Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats and Justin’s Maple Almond Butter. By subscribing on Amazon, we save almost $4 per jar of almond butter!
Check the unit price.
This tip is SO important! In addition to the item price, most grocery stores will also list the unit price (or price per ounce) on the price tag. Always look at this. It will help you determine which of two different sized products is the better value.
Shop the bulk bins.
Many grocery stores have a bulk bin section where you can buy the exact amount of grains, nuts, dried beans, etc. that you need. This is a great way to try new health foods without committing to a big bag. For example, if your recipe only calls for 1/4 cup dried chickpeas and you don’t think you’d ever use an entire bag, you can instead buy the exact amount you need from the bulk bins to save money and avoid waste.
Buy the generic (store) brand.
If you’re not picky about a particular brand, buy the generic (i.e. store) brand whenever possible. So many store brand products are just as good as brand names, and they’re usually cheaper. Kirkland from Costco, 365 from Whole Foods, and even Gold Emblem from CVS are great brands who most often use good quality, healthy ingredients in their products. In many cases when you’re using canned foods such as crushed tomatoes or beans, you really can’t tell the difference.
Be creative about where you shop.
I always check the food aisle at CVS when I’m there to pick up cleaning supplies or prescriptions. Their sale prices on pantry items like nuts, protein bars, and dried fruit are fantastic! Don’t be afraid to shop around and price check at various stores.
Use an Herb Keeper.
It stinks to buy a bunch of fresh herbs only to find them going bad five days later. An herb keeper will make your fresh herbs last SO much longer in the fridge. I’ve had this one for five years and I’ve saved so much money by using it.
Buy frozen fruits and vegetables.
Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as healthy as fresh produce, but they’re often less expensive. They are “flash frozen” at peak ripeness when their nutrients are at an all-time high. Frozen berries can be defrosted quickly to use in cereal, yogurt, or pancakes and frozen vegetables are an easy, healthy side dish to any meal.
Use your freezer.
Wasted food is money down the toilet. Be smart about how you use your freezer. If you have leftovers that you can’t finish fast enough, freeze them to eat at a later date. When you come home starving one night, you’ll thank yourself that you did this. If you have very ripe fruit that’s on the verge of going bad, peel and chop it and put it in freezer-safe ziploc bags. You can use the frozen fruit in smoothies later on. The same goes for bread, pesto, cakes, and so much more. Don’t let good food go to waste — freeze it.
Pack your lunch.
Buying lunch every day can add up quickly. Just by packing your lunch for work or school you can save a lot of money. Either bring leftovers from dinner the night before, or pack something that’s easy to throw together in the morning like a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread. Try to pack healthy meals that you’re excited about eating so that you don’t feel inclined to buy lunch during the day.
Are you a coffee drinker? Make your coffee at home and bring it with you in a thermos rather than spend $3 per day on a Starbucks coffee or latte. Invest in a good coffee maker and coffee beans and you’ll save a lot of money going forward.
Keep your fridge, freezer, and pantry organized.
If you pile food on top of each other in the pantry and shove leftovers to the back of the fridge it will be easy to forget what you have. Keep everything organized and take inventory of what you have before you go to the store so that you’re not buying unnecessarily. Try to incorporate what you already have into a meal rather than buy something new.
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I hope you found this post helpful and hopefully you learned some easy ways to eat healthy on a budget! If you want to save this post to reference later, you can PIN IT for later.
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