Ever since I shared my Healthy Eating Habits That Changed my Life post, I’ve been getting A LOT of requests to share how I eat healthy without breaking the bank. Especially since you know my husband and I try to stick to a budget to save money.
In our house, we eat almost all our meals at home. Michael works from home full time and I’m home 2-3 weekdays a week. So, breakfast is always at home, as is lunch (I get lunch out maybe once a week). We eat our dinners at home as well. And if we go out to dinner it’s almost always only once a week. So, we buy A LOT of groceries. And, on top of, that eating healthy is something that’s very important to us. We’re not willing to sacrifice healthy for discounts, and don’t buy a lot of premade, processed foods. (Although, some Ruffles Cream and Cheddar chips or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s never hurts). All that being said, we have to be smart about how we buy all this food, keep is healthy, and don’t break the bank.
So, today I’m breaking down the ways I save money on food while still eating well.
Plan Your Meals
Planning your meals out ahead of time is one of the best ways to avoid overspending on grocery shopping and prevent food waste. Before shopping, I plan out what my meals will be so I have the exact list of the items I need. I also make sure if I’m buying something for one meal I can incorporate it into another so I don’t waste any food. For example, if I’m buying spinach for one meal and know I won’t use the whole bag, then I’ll plan another meal with spinach so I can make sure I use up all the spinach and get my money’s worth.
Don’t Forget to Plan Snacks
When planning your meals, we often just focus on dinners but don’t forget to also plan for snacks and other meals. If I neglect to shop for breakfast/lunches/snacks that means I’ll end up getting something out or making a less healthy choice.
Eat Out Less Often
I feel like eating out multiples times a week has become the norm for so many, but it’s almost always going to be more expensive than cooking at home. Not to mention, restaurants usually don’t have as healthy cooking methods as we use at home think fried foods, unhealthy oils, too much salt, etc.) When I cook at home I can use healthier oils and cooking methods, incorporate more fresh veggies and fruit, and avoid the temptation of unhealthy restaurant foods (I’m looking at you french fries), So, opting for staying in saves you money and gives you much healthier options.
Read the Price Labels
You want to make sure you learn to read pricing labels when buying items. Something may look like a better deal but it could actually be a smaller quantity and so it doesn’t end up being the best price. You always want to divide the cost by the units to get the best price.
Use the Bulk Bins
The bulk bins at your grocery stores can be a great place to stock up and save. Very often these bins offer better prices than buying a prepackaged version of the same thing. I find that nuts, seeds, and dried fruits are almost always a better deal from bulk.
Keep in mind that certain things aren’t always better at the bins. So, always compare the unit price to the packaged prices.
Avoid Precut Produce
Precut fruits and veggies are never a better deal. Sure they save you 5 minutes of cutting, but they charge you a lot for this convenience. Buying whole fruits and veggies is always more affordable.
Not to mention, I find the precut produce doesn’t last as long either which means it may end up going bad before you can eat it. This leads to food waste which is a big waste of money.
Name Brand DOESN’T Always Mean Better
Sometimes when we’re eating healthier we can get drawn into name brands and things claiming to be “all natural” and “organic.” But, lots of times these are just marketing ploys and the generic brand is exactly the same. A quick look at the ingredients list will verify this. In most cases, the generic brands are just as good and will save you anywhere from 5%-25%.
Stock Up on Sales
When grocery stores run the stock up and save sales, they can be a great way to get healthy foods at a big discount. I used to avoid these because with just my husband and I in the house, we could never eat through it all. But, I’ve gotten smart about freezing and storing things so that I can take advantage of these sales.
Shop in Season
Obviously, fresh produce is always a good, healthy option. When shopping for produce, plan to shop in season for the best deals. Fruits/veggies are less costly when they are in season. Click here to download my free guide to what produce is in season when.
Shop the Outer Edges of Your Grocery Store
A simple healthy shopping trick is to avoid the inner rows of the grocery store and stick to the outer edges. The outer edges have the healthier choices like produce, dairy, meats, and seafood. I used to go down every aisle when I shopped, but now I don’t go down an aisle unless I know I need something down there. Not only does that help me fill my cart with healthier choices, but it also helps me avoid grabbing random items I didn’t really need, driving up my final bill. (Or grabbing unhealthy things because the marketing tactics worked on me).
Replace Expensive Meats With Other Proteins
Many types of meat can be pretty pricey. While you can opt for the cheaper cuts, another option is to opt for some meat-free meals that make use of other proteins. There are a lot of healthy protein alternatives out there that aren’t expensive like beans, legumes, oats, lentils, nuts/nut butters, and eggs.
I hope these healthy shopping on a budget tips help you out to not overspend but still shop for healthy items! Remember you can download my free guide to what produce is in season when here!