Every time I go to the grocery store, I'm reminded of a fact that drives me crazy. The juices loaded down with extra sugar are much cheaper than the 100% juice options I prefer. I want to save money on groceries, but not at the expense of eating healthy.
Too often it feels like we have to choose between the two. A recent Harvard study confirmed that healthy diets cost an average of $1.50 more a day than less healthy ones.
If you want to eat healthy, sometimes you do have to splurge for the more expensive juice or organic veggies. But there are still opportunities to save money on food without foregoing healthier options.
1. Enjoy more home cooking.
Not only are meals made at home much cheaper, you have more control over the ingredients going into your food than when you eat out. If you really commit to cooking more of your own meals at home and find the right recipes, it's possible to stick with organic produce and still eat on less than $5 a day.
2. Get to know your local grocery stores.
There are certain foods I buy pretty regularly and I've gotten a feel for which grocery stores near me carry those foods and where they're cheaper. Whole Foods has a reputation for being costly, but certain items there are actually pretty well priced. Some things you buy regularly might be cheaper on Amazon if you buy them in a large quantity, especially if you have Amazon Prime and can duck shipping costs. For those regular grocery purchases, start making a mental note of the cost at different locations.
It's not always practical to drive from one place to the next to get all your groceries and if you're not careful you might lose money on gas in an attempt to save money on groceries. Even so, if you know where you can grab the best items to help you eat healthy for less, you can plan your trips to the store with that in mind and encounter some savings.
3. Buy local produce from farms and farmer's markets.
Buying directly from farmers cuts out the middleman, which means big savings on fruits and veggies – both a definite requirement if you aim to eat healthy. Even better, you know you'll be getting seasonal, fresh fruits and veggies that are probably organic as well.
If a trip to the farmer's market seems inconvenient, do some research to see if there's a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivery service in your community. A weekly box of new veggies both helps with your goal of cooking at home more often, and lets you enjoy added convenience along with those savings.
4. Take advantage of deals.
There are apps to help you keep track of the deals different grocery stores offer in your area. Couponing takes a little extra time, but can yield big savings as well.
You could end up spending more if you let the deals lead you to make purchases you don't really need or want. Specifically go for deals on the items you already know you like, or ingredients you know will help you eat healthy.
5. Don't fear frozen veggies.
Yes, fresh is often best (at least if it's seasonal), but frozen veggies maintain their nutrients and flavor pretty well. Well enough that a professional foodie like Mark Bittman can fail to notice the difference between fresh and frozen in a chef-prepared meal.
If professional chefs are willing to use frozen veggies, there's no reason for you to avoid them in your quest to eat healthy and save money on food.
6. Go vegan once a week.
Leave the meat, eggs and dairy out of your meals once a week. It's not as hard as it sounds. There are lots of vegan recipes that are extremely tasty, healthy, and still cheap. You do have to be careful here: $8 kale chips aren't a good choice for eating healthy on a budget, and there is vegan junk food out there that similarly defeats the purpose.
The goal is to get outside of your cooking comfort zone in a way that ups the health quotient without bringing the cost up. A smart foray into occasional veganism can help you do that.
7. Make more of your staples homemade.
Common snack items like salsa and hummus are easy to make on your own and much healthier for snacking than bags of potato chips. Homemade bread is extremely cheap (and store bought bread is never quite as tasty anyways).
If you buy pasta sauce at the store often, you can save money by making your own.
If you have vegetables you worry might go bad before you eat them, pickle them! Lots of vegetables make tasty pickles that are great for snacking, and healthy besides.
All this stuff takes time, but if you devote a couple of hours to making your favorite staples on the weekend, you'll save money on food and have an easier time staying healthy throughout the week. It can also double as an opportunity for family time, or a chance to catch up on your favorite podcast or audiobook.
What are your healthy eating tips?
You can eat healthy and be true to your budget at the same time. Do you have any recipe suggestions or cheap healthy eating tips you can share?
Blog Courtesy of Kasasa