I don’t know about you, but I feel like groceries are getting more and more expensive each day. Then try throwing in actually buying healthy groceries and it gets even more difficult to save a buck. Food and groceries take a large chunk out of many people’s budgets (including mine), but it hopefully doesn’t have to be as pocket draining as it seems. With a few simple tweaks and a little planning, I think it is entirely possible to eat healthy on the cheap and stay within a tight budget.
Eat Healthy on the Cheap
Plan Your Meals for the Week
I know, I know, none of us have the time to add another item to our to-do lists, but planning your meals out for the week before heading to the grocery store really does help. It prevents impulse buys and you know what you are there for before you even step foot in the store. You can also prepare by finding relevant coupons and store deals to double up to save even more (see the last tip below for resources).
Buy in Bulk
If you are efficiently planning your meals, it becomes easier to also buy in bulk. Getting a membership to Sam’s Club, Costco, or the like can help tremendously, especially if you are buying for a family. These membership stores are also carrying more and more organic options so you don’t have to sacrifice quality for price. Most natural food stores and large food retailers also have bulk sections for grains, nuts, etc… It may not have pretty packaging, but you are getting clean food without paying for the extras.
Grow Your Own
This tip kind of depends on the weather, time of year and location, but gardening and farming are more popular than ever, and can also end up saving you a lot of money. Organic potting mix is cheap and building a small wooden raised bed is also extremely affordable. No yard to speak of? A couple of pots on a patio or terrace can supply a bountiful array of lettuces and tomatoes for a whole season. Growing your own food also enables you to know how your food was grown and what was put on it.
Shop Local and In-Season
Speaking of knowing where your food comes from, shop your local farmer’s market or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and talk to the farmers about their growing practices. If you hit the farmer’s market towards the end of the day, you can usually score some pretty good deals on the produce that is left. The farmer usually doesn’t want to have to pack everything up to bring it home, they would usually like to sell to you for a cheaper price. By shopping at farmer’s markets and CSA’s, you are also getting seasonal crops, which are cheaper than the ones flown in from half way around the globe where they are in season.
Couponing and Stocking Up
Couponing can be time consuming, but it can work, especially if you get multiples of the same coupon and stock up. I have had limited success with this, but it is getting easier to match store promotions with manufacturer’s coupons, especially since organic and natural brands are starting to get in the game. Smartphone apps are also becoming super money savers for healthy food shoppers. Check out Mambo Sprouts for a sampling of different natural food brand coupons, or check out individual company websites for the natural and/or organic products you like to buy, such as Whole Foods, Organic Valley, Stoneyfield, etc… If you are looking for apps, check out Savingstar, Ibotta, Checkout51 or Mobisave.
In the end, none of these ideas are earth shattering, but they do make it easier to eat healthy on a budget. By just making out a list every once in a while or checking out your local options, it starts to become easier and easier to find ways to eat healthy on the cheap. Eating healthy is hard enough as it is, so making it easier on your wallet can do nothing but inspire you to keep going.
Let me know in the comments if you have any ingenious tips that I might have missed!
Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I recommend these products because they are products that I personally use or companies that I have found trustworthy.