Eating healthy isn’t always affordable, as mass-produced snacks and products are often cheaper than fresh vegetables, fruit and meat. In fact, studies show eating fresh foods can cost an additional $1.50 per day, per person than those eating processed foods. This adds up! However, by using the tips below you can save money and eat healthy meals.
Often people believe the name brand is the healthiest option, with the best processes, however, that is not always the case. In fact, the store brand is often made by the same manufacturer, in the same factory as the name brands. As store brands can be anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars cheaper, this can reduce your grocery bill immediately. Many dieticians recommend purchasing store brands for pantry staples in particular. This includes flour, brown rice, whole-grain crackers, and dairy products.
Every week, your local grocery stores will have promotions and sales on various items. Pay attention to these sales, and ensure you regularly check the flyers or grocery store website. Ensure you do this when creating your meal plan for the week, to incorporate sale items wherever possible. For example, if lettuce and green onion are on sale, you may want to eat more salads. Plan your meals around pantry staples, and any produce and meat that is on sale. If your budget allows, consider buying extra meats, fruit, and vegetables on sale to freeze for later.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean buying huge packets of everything. However, you should look at the bulk bin section of the grocery store. This section is completely priced by weight, which allows you to buy exactly what you need. Typically, you can find all your dry goods in this section, including nuts, seeds, rice, oats, baking essentials, pasta, and more. By only buying what you need, you save money and cut down on food waste. Plus, bulk bins are usually refilled several times a week, so the contents are fresh.
Some foods are much cheaper in the frozen section than buying fresh. Plus, the items have the same nutritional value. One of the best examples of this is fish and seafood. Frozen salmon for example can cost as little as $4.50 a pound, whereas fresh salmon is typically around $10 per pound. As most fish is frozen only hours after catching it, often frozen fish is of higher quality than fresh. The frozen section is also a great place to find out-of-season produce for a much cheaper price.
Many people think that to eat a healthy meal, you have to shop only the perimeter of the store. However, this means you are missing out on some big savings. Canned vegetables are a healthy option for someone on a tight budget, and canned tomatoes are extremely versatile. Many staple foods are also located in these aisles, so it’s important to do a thorough walk-through. Additionally, having a pantry stocked with canned goods ensures you always have options for a healthy dinner. For example, you could mix a tin of beans with a tin of tomatoes and some spices for a quick and healthy chili.
Shopping at the same store every week may save you time, but it likely isn’t saving you money. Instead, consider shopping at different stores for different products, to make the most of your money. Use a combination of farmers' markets, warehouse clubs, and traditional stores to save big. Farmers' markets will typically have much better pricing on in-season produce, and it is often better quality. Warehouse clubs are great for staple ingredients that you use a lot, frozen foods, and organic produce. Traditional stores have everything else and offer bulk bins so you can just buy what you need.
By using the tips above you can save money and eat healthy without struggling. Simply create your meal plan, and shop smart. You can also get a bit creative with any leftovers, making your groceries go even further.