People always think that eating healthy is expensive. It doesn’t have to be.
1. Shop in Season
Buying produce while in season will not only save you money, but the produce will be higher in nutrients and taste a lot better. Buying in season also saves you time because fresh produce has more flavor, so it needs less preparation and ingredients to taste amazing.
2. Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk is number one for saving money. After you have tried a grain or sweetener once, and you like it, don’t ever buy it in a consumer bottle again. You end up paying a fortune for the packaging. For example, one 11.75 oz. bottle of agave at my local health food store is $5.40. A gallon of agave at Azure Standard is $33.15. There are eleven smaller bottles in a gallon, which means you pay $24.00 more buying it in smaller quantities. Bottom line: buying pantry staples like agave, coconut oil, and grains in bulk will save you oodles of cash. Pantry staples like agave, coconut oil, grains, etc., generally have a long shelf life as well.
Click here to see where I have found the best deals on pantry staples.
3. Buy in Group Buys
Buying in group buys is an excellent option for saving money. Group buys are a good time to stock up on items you will use throughout the year. It not only saves you money, but time by having your items on hand you will save a trip to the grocery store. Green Smoothie Girl does an excellent group buy with a bunch of different products.
The downside to group buys is that you have to buy a LARGE amount of one item. For example, you might find yourself buying four gallons of agave. If you won’t use four gallons of agave, get a few friends to go in on the group buy with you saving you all a lot of money.
4. Cut Down on Meat
Meat and dairy are big ticket price items at the grocery store. Rice and beans—a complete protein—cost next to nothing. In fact a serving of brown rice only costs ten cents. Make a few meals in your week meatless, and on the other nights cut the amount of meat called for in half. Replace the meat you take out with more veggies, which are a fraction of the cost and better for your health. Try using half quinoa or millet in place of meat in meat loaves, spaghetti sauces, etc. By preparing more meatless meals you will stretch your dollars, cut back on calories, and get more nutrition in your diet.
5. Drink More Water
Drinking pure water is pretty obvious, but most people don’t get enough water in their diet. Soda doesn’t count for drinking water. Being conscious of your water intake, and adjusting to get MUCH more water in your diet will give you noticeably more energy and help you lose weight. Your waist and wallet will thank you.
6. Shop at Farmers Markets
I love to go to the farmers market in the summertime. Not only is the produce top quality, but I love seeing directly where it came from by meeting the farmers. Produce at farmers markets is much cheaper than the grocery store, and you can be ensured it is fresher. The produce hasn’t been shipped from Chili or picked early when it is not ripe to get to the grocery store in time. Also, commercial growers don’t typically grow the best tasting variety of tomatoes and other produce because they are more concerned how well a variety ships. By buying locally at farmers markets you not only get much more nutrient dense produce, but you can feel good about supporting your local farmer.
7. Make a Meal Plan
Plan out what dishes you will prepare throughout the week. This is how to make a meal plan from the grocery store:
- Look in the ads to see what is on sale. The produce on sale is usually produce in season. I plan my menu around produce on sale. For example, if asparagus is on sale, I find a good recipe with asparagus and plan that into a dinner. If you see what is on sale first, then plan your meals you will save, save, save. Creating your menus around what is on sale also helps you branch out and try new foods you may fall in love with. Because produce doesn’t really store well, it makes up the majority of my purchases at the grocery store. Most other food is bought in bulk.
- Make out a list of everything you will need
- Don’t stray from the list while shopping. Unless, of course, something is on sale for a great deal. Stock up if it’s a pantry item.
- Go at least once a week. This one I am not perfect at, but when I am good about it, I save a lot of money. Random one-item trips to the grocery store usually end up being five-item trips.
8. Shop the Outside Walls of the Grocery Store First
Shopping the outside walls of the grocery store is easier on the wallet and on the waistline. The middle aisles of grocery stores are usually the more processed, pre-packaged goods that are expensive and hard on your health. A lot of the packaged goods are very quick and simple to make from scratch, and homemade is much better for you. For example, cakes from scratch take two minutes longer to mix your own dry goods and they are free from additives and chemical preservatives. Go to my website for easy make-from-scratch foods.
9. Get the Right Kitchen Tools
Purchasing the right tools in the kitchen can save you a lot of money. My money saver tools are my Blendtec blender and pressure cooker. You might be thinking, ”Wait a minute, a $300 blender is going to save me money?” Yes, a $300-$400 dollar blender will save you money and give you more nutrition in your food. In my Blendtec blender, I make my own baby food, almond butter, almond milk, lara bars, salad dressings, and much more, and for a fraction of the price. Those things add up over time. A home-made Lara bar costs 65 cents compared to $1.65 at the grocery store—you save a dollar every time you eat one.
My pressure cooker is my next money saver. Making black beans from scratch takes me nine minutes. I soak my beans overnight, pop them in the pressure cooker, and they are done in less than ten minutes. If you don’t soak them overnight they cook in 30 minutes. Four cans of beans costs roughly $3.16. The equivalent of four “dried cans” costs 50 cents. Not only are dry beans WAY cheaper, but the beans have much more flavor and nutrition content.
After I have cooked my beans I measure them out into two cup portions, (the portion of a can of beans) and freeze them. Pressure cookers save you time and a bunch of money.
10. Eat Out Less
Every time you substitute the drive through for a home cooked meal, you end up eating on average 50% more calories, fat, and sodium. This is where a menu plan comes in handy. Knowing what you are going to make for dinner and having all of the ingredients on hand makes a big difference will ensure the golden arches don’t get the best of you. And when you make a home cooked meal you usually have leftovers for lunch the next day, thus getting two meals out of one. I am not saying that you should never go out, but choose quality places and be conscious of how often you dine out.
Four Examples of Nutrient Dense Foods that are Easy on the Wallet.
1. Brown Rice
Great for: Side dishes, rice salads, fried rice, casseroles, soups, and stews.
What’s a serving? 1/4cup dry rice.
Price per serving? 10 cents. A 2-pound bag costs about $1.99 (on sale) and contains 20 servings.
Nutrition info per serving: 170 calories, 2 grams fiber, and 4 grams protein.
2. Whole Wheat or Multigrain Pasta
Great for: Hot and cold pasta dishes.
What’s a serving? 2 ounces of dried pasta. A serving for most people translates into about 2 ounces of dried pasta, which means you get about 7 servings in one of these boxes or bags.
Price per serving? About 28 cents. You can get a 13-16 ounce box or bag of dried pasta for about $1.79 to $1.99 (on sale).
Nutrition info per serving: About 190 calories, 9 grams protein, and 4 grams fiber.
3. 100% Whole Wheat Bread
Great for: Hot and cold sandwiches, bread stuffing, bread pudding, and breakfast strata.
What’s a serving? 2 slices. Labels usually list a serving as 1 slice of bread (about 40 grams per slice), but for our purposes, we’ll use the amount you’d use to make a sandwich: 2 slices.
Price per serving: About 31 cents. You can get a 24-ounce loaf of whole wheat bread for about $1.99 (on sale). Each loaf has about 17 slices, or 8 servings of 2 slices each.
Nutrition info per serving (2 slices): About 180 calories, 8 grams protein, and 6 grams fiber.
4. Whole Wheat Flour (stone-ground)
Great for: Breakfast recipes like pancakes and waffles, plus all baking recipes (use half whole wheat flour and half white flour), including breads, muffins, cakes, and cookies.
What’s a serving? 1/2 cup.
Price per serving: About 6 cents. A 5-pound bag of whole-wheat flour, which sells for about $1.99 to $2.50, contains about 37 servings (1/2 cup each) of flour.
Nutrition info per serving: 180 calories, 8 grams protein, and 7 grams fiber (1.2 of which is soluble fiber).
Cited from: WebMD Recipes