When you're living a on a tight budget, grocery shopping can prove to be a little tricky. When you're on a tight budget and trying to make healthier choices it can feel even harder. But take heart, there's hope! There are ways to stick to a spending plan and not compromise healthy choices.
Here are my top 5 tips for eating healthy while sticking to a budget.
1. Have a budget.
This seems so simple, but it is the cornerstone. Without a spending plan, how will you know what you have to work with? A budget is simply telling your money what to do instead of wandering where it went. We have to know how much we have to spend, as this will help us know the shopping strategy we need to take. Every household is different in what they feel comfortable spending, so look back on the past 1-3 months of what you spent on food to get an idea of what your
2. Have a plan (meal plan, that is).
Yes, another super simple step, but also crucial. Planning out a week or two worth of meals allows you to maximize the use of any leftovers and reduce throwing away expired foods, thus saving you money. Buying a whole chicken, roasting it, and then using the meat for multiple meals saves you a ton of money on meat costs alone. Soups are another great frugal meal that can be packed with nutritious ingredients.
3. Cook at home as much as you can.
I love to eat ... there's no clean-up involved. 🙂 But that convenience costs our family of 5 at least $40-50 each time. I could make a handful of meals for that same cost. "But I hate to cook," you may say. Me, too. But it's a little more motivating to get in the kitchen when I know that it's helping us make the most of our money.
4. Eat more plants than meat.
I am not saying you have to give up meat entirely (unless you want to). But what I am highlighting is that meat can take up a hefty portion of the grocery budget. But also, most of the meat in a supermarket comes from animals raised on factory farms, in awful conditions, and pumped full of medications to keep them from catching diseases (due to the unclean environments). The less we can consume that type of meat, the better off we are. Think about it, would you want to eat meat from a sick and un-well animal or a healthy, stress-free one?
A few years ago my family made a shift from supermarket meats to pasture-raised meats and eggs from a local farm. In addition, we adopted the practice of eating less meat per meal, and to our surprise our budget wasn't really affected. The upside has been that we are getting a better quality meat which, in turn, is benefiting our health in more positive ways. Plus we are supporting a local farm. Win - win - win!
5. Shop strategically.
I don't mean doubling up coupons with sales here, although sometimes that can happen (coupons are usually for highly-processed foods anyway). What I mean by shopping strategically is knowing where to shop to get the best deals.
In a store this means shopping the outer edges of the store, where the freshest foods are. More times than not, the inside aisles of a store have processed foods that have low nutrient value, artificial ingredients and genetically modified ingredients which confuse our bodies and can make us feel yucky.
When it comes to knowing where to shop, here are places I typical shop in a month ...
our friends' farm, locally (Lamppost Farm, Columbinana, Ohio) // we purchase eggs, meats and organic produce
produce section in our local supermarket // what we don't get from the farm we grab at our local supermarket ... their produce is consistently fresh and good quality
our local Target's grocery section // I never thought I'd suggest shopping for produce in Target, but it's true ... some stores have a pretty nice produce selection and also various alternatives to dairy-based milk
Whole Foods // You'd be surprised at what you can get at Whole Foods on the cheap ... I use my Amazon Prime membership to get exclusive sales and an additional 10% off sale items.
Amazon Prime and Subscribe & Save // the subscribe and save feature allows me to save an additional 15% off purchase prices AND shipping comes in 2 days (and sometimes they have coupons you can apply at check-out)
Costco // I prefer Costco over Sam's Club/Walmart for a lot of reasons, but one is that Costco consistently has a great variety of organics that I can get a really good price. They value organic and food sensitivity/allergy needs as well. Shopping at Costco allows me to buy in bulk which helps stretch our grocery funds. For example, I can buy 3-pounds of fresh broccoli for $5.50 and then come home and freeze it for meals later in the month. One bag can stretch over 3-4 meals, depending on what I make. That's $1.30-$1.80 for a serving of veggies for our entire family of 5 (that's like 25-to-35-cents per person). We also have a membership option that allows us to earn 3% back on all of our purchases, which helps pay for our renewal each year (some years we even pocket extra $).
Vitacost // this is an online grocery store, offering much of the same products as Whole Foods, but at a cheaper price point. Thrive Market is similar but I have not had much success with it. Thrive's selection is much smaller and, while their prices on some things is a little lower than Vitacost, Vitacost usually wins after factoring in shipping.
Curious what types of foods do I typically buy and prepare? I'll be sharing that soon in my Facebook group, Live Well. Live Free, a community dedicated to practical, healthy living. Hop over and request to join if you're not a member yet. It's free.
BONUS TIP - WATCH YOUR PORTIONS
Not going back for seconds can save you up 50%! And any leftovers you have can be used for another meal, compounding the savings even more!
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