Eating Healthy Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive
It is really unfortunate that eating healthy, fresh foods can cost more than eating processed, unhealthy food. I try to feed my family a balanced healthy diet and have found ways to incorporate low-cost healthy foods into our diet to lower our grocery budget.
Cheap, Healthy Foods
Frozen Fruits and Vegetables: While I’m not a huge fan of frozen fruit and vegetables, they definitely have their place in cheap healthy eating. You can use in breakfast foods such as frozen fruit in smoothies, yogurt parfaits or in pancakes. Frozen spinach can be snuck into pasta sauce and vegetable mixes can be used in pot pies or stir fry. You’ll up your veggie intake without spending a fortune on produce that may get bad before you get to it.
In-Season Produce: Shopping in-season can save you a lot of money on produce. I have seen everything from buy one, get one free deals to really low prices per pound. If you check your store flyer, you can figure out what produce is on sale and work your meals around that.
Dried Beans and Rice: While it is way quicker, easier and tastier to buy the flavored rice mixes, it is cheaper and healthy to buy a bag of rice and prepare it yourself. Dried beans are also cheaper, however, you can sometimes find canned beans on sale and stock up. A vegetarian burrito bowl is a really easy way to eat cheaply, and it’s healthy. Just layer brown rice, black beans, a bit of cheese and whatever veggies you like with salsa and you are set.
Sale and Clearance Items: I am a sale junkie so I always check the flyers and stock up on our favorites when they go on sale. However, recently, I started shopping the end caps when I grocery shop at Target. A lot of times they’ll clearance out perfectly good food that had a holiday theme or seasonal theme. For instance, I bought granola bars that had wrappers featuring a movie that has been out for a while. The expiration date is still far into the future, but they aren’t promoting the movie anymore. I normally pay $2.50 for those granola bars when they are on sale. I got the clearance boxes for $1.80 each. Before you buy the sale or clearance items, be sure you can eat or freeze it before it goes bad. If you can, go to town and stock up on what you can afford.
Generic or Bulk Shop: There are many times when the generic option is just as good, if not better, than the name brand and it is usually quite a bit cheaper. You may need to go through a bit of trial and error, but it is worth it in the long term if the item is cheaper and just as good. You’ll also save money buying single serve items in bulk and dividing them into individual servings yourself. My husband and I buy a quart of yogurt for smoothies and yogurt parfaits rather than buying individual yogurt.
Go Meatless or Fill Up on Produce First: Pick at least one day a week to go meatless and have beans, vegetable dishes or even breakfast food for dinner to cut costs. If you can’t bear to go meatless, fill up on a salad before dinner so that you’ll eat less protein.
Cost-Cutting Grocery Tips
Shop the Flyer: Before going to the grocery store, check the weekly flyer for deals and plan your menu around it. It can be hard to go from buying what you feel like eating to buying what is on sale and working your menu around it, but it can definitely save money. You can also stock up on favorites when they are cheap so you can eat chicken on the week where pork is on sale.
Know the Prices: You don’t need to keep a fancy price book or formal tracking method, but if there are items you regularly buy, know the pricing so you can shop for them where it is cheapest. For example, my son eats a peanut butter sandwich on raisin bread five days a week. That bread is regularly priced at $4.99 at our local grocery store, but it is $2.99 at Target (before our Red Card savings). It only makes sense to buy it at Target and given how much we go through, if I know I won’t be able to get back to Target the following week, I buy two loaves and freeze one.
Meal Plan: I’m not the best at meal planning, but I find when I have a vague idea of what we will be eating during the week it saves extra trips to the grocery store, which usually cost more money and time. If you meal plan around what is on sale, you can really impact your budget.
Do you have grocery shopping secrets that save your family money?