As if the decision to eat healthy isn’t hard enough, there is always the unpleasant experience of handing over your hard earned cash for groceries that don’t seem to last very long. Organic foods take more resources to grow, which means that giving up the cheap stuff will cost you. But eating healthy is most certainly attainable on any budget. Here are some tips to help you keep some green in your wallet and on your plate.1) Track your spending.
It’s easier to swipe a credit card than it is to hand over cash. So when you budget out the amount of money you’re comfortable spending on groceries each week, keep that money in a safe place in the form of cash. When the money is gone for the week, do not spend more (unless, of course, absolutely necessary).
2) Portion out food.
It helps to portion out the food you just brought home from the grocery store into meals for the week. This will help make your food last longer than a few days. Store excess portioned out meals in the freezer to keep them from going bad and ensure that you’ll have food later in the week.
3) Run a kitchen sweep.
Most of us have routines when we go to the grocery store. We pick up the same groceries purely out of habit. Do a head count of remaining food in your kitchen before going to the store. Write down what you really need and make a note not to unconsciously pick up groceries that you may be able to wait another week on.
4) Shop locally.
Although it can be inconvenient to make several trips, it’s often a good way to get the most for your money rather than shopping at one place only. Organic produce is usually cheaper at farmers markets. Plus it’s good for the economy to support your local food growers. It helps to keep a list or excel sheet of what food is cheapest where.
5) Limit your meat intake.
Over-consumption of animal products has been linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Most people forget that a proper portion size of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. Eating less meat means saving money. And saving money means you will have the finances necessary to buy the good stuff (organic meat, raised without antibiotics, and grass fed), which have increased health benefits.
6) Buy in bulk.
Stores that offer bulk groceries are usually cheaper. Costco is a great example of a store that sells bulk at a great price. They have a rule of not making a more than a 15 percent profit margin on any product it sells. Stocking up on pantry items that won’t spoil is a smart way to shop. It’s also helpful to buy paper and cleaning products in bulk, which means you’ll have more money for healthy foods.
7) Shop the sales.
Certain stores have membership benefits, which are often free to sign up for, including coupons and vouchers via your preferred method. Stores will often text, email, or mail coupons to customers in hopes of attracting your business. Ask around to some of your favorite stores and see if they offer any savings programs. Some stores will even tell you which day of the week prices are going to be the cheapest. It never hurts to ask.
8) Get creative with leftovers.
Frittatas are a great way to use up whatever is leftover in your refrigerator. Or, take last night’s dinner into work with you the next day. As stated before, portioning out your meals will help alleviate the leftover problem. But if you find that you haven’t finished your meal, even if it’s just a little bit, save it! A collection of a few small leftover bites can turn into another meal.
9) Buy frozen.
Contrary to what many think, the freezing process does not affect a food’s nutrients. Frozen fruits and vegetables go great in smoothies. They are also easy to steam and serve for dinner. Frozen foods tend to be cheaper than fresh and are easier to buy in bulk. Even better: they don’t spoil as quickly. Look out for frozen organic vegetables and fruits too as these can often be cheaper from places like Wholefoods Market vs. fresh and organic from your local supermarket.
10) Eat at home.
Cooking can be a fun and rewarding way to celebrate the healthy choices you are making. It also means you save money on going out to eat or ordering in. Restaurant foods tend to use cheaper ingredients, such as the oils they cook in. Eating in ensures that you know exactly what goes into your food. It’s also a good way to bring your family together. Encourage all family members to help prepare the meal. It saves on time and promotes healthy relationships. Plus, you’ll have helpers to clean up afterwards!