The more I learned about healthy foods, the higher my grocery bill went. When I first discovered how eating well could help me look better, feel better, and be more productive, I went a little crazy. I was throwing down big money at specialty food stores, and Whole Foods, and the local farmer’s market.
Yeah, that didn’t last long.
Whether you’ve resolved to lose 20 pounds or set a goal to eat healthier so you can have more energy and live longer, you don’t have to bust your budget at the grocery store.
Here are 10 ways you can eat better on a budget:
- Buy what’s on sale or in season. Don’t plan a strawberry salad for dinner in the middle of winter. Allow the availability and price of produce to help you decide on your menu.
- Buy in bulk. Check out the bulk bins at local health food stores. You’ll often find better prices on nuts, seeds, and grains there, and you can buy as much or as little as you need. And even if you couldn’t possibly use the 10-pound bag of spinach at Costco, teaming up with a friend to split the cost can save you money in the long run.
- Join a CSA. Once a week, a local farm delivers fresh produce to your house or a nearby drop-off station. It’s a great way to save money, eat seasonally, and discover fruits and vegetables you’ve never tried. A quick Internet search can help you find Community Supported Agriculture in your area.
- Commit to shopping at more than one store. In a perfect world, my full-time housekeeper would do all that running around for me. But I’m not there—yet! If you’re not either, plan a shopping day that allows you to hit one store after the other, buying based on price. You’ll give up a little time, but you’ll save money.
- Supplement with frozen fruits and veggies. You can often find store-brand frozen vegetables and fruits that are less expensive than fresh produce. Fortunately, these are usually frozen near the peak of freshness. Look for sales and stock up.
- Skip the precut vegetables you find in the produce section. Yes, they can save you time, but how long does it really take you to chop an onion? Watch a video on knife skills and save money by doing your own slicing and dicing.
- Check out ethnic markets. When I lived in Southern California I discovered an Asian market near my house that sold young Thai coconuts at half the price I could find them for anywhere else. So what if you can’t read the signs? If the price is right, it’s worth the extra stop.
- Skimp on organics. According to the Environmental Working Group, apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas, potatoes, hot peppers, and blueberries are most likely to be contaminated with pesticides and herbicides. When you can’t afford all organics, buy organic versions of those as much as possible. Otherwise, buy conventional, and wash well.
- Be careful at the farmer’s market. Yes, the produce is likely to be local, and you should do what you can to support local farmers, but make sure you compare those prices with the prices at your local stores and save where it makes sense.
- Minimize meat. You don’t have to become a full-fledged vegan to cut back on the meat in your weekly menu. Just limiting your animal products to every other day can save you money, and it may prove healthier for you in the long run.
BONUS TIP: Save money by not buying those processed foods that fill the middle aisles of the supermarket. Stop buying junk to please other people in your house. You’re not doing them any favors when you stock up on fake foods.
If you’re waiting for a sign that it’s time to make a change, consider this it. Money Therapy may be just what you need to break through your financial blocks and release your money guilt and shame.