When I hear people comment that they would ‘love to eat healthier, but it’s too expensive’, I often roll my eyes and shake my head. I guess that may be true if you choose to do your “healthy” shopping at places like Whole Foods, but you can find healthy foods at any grocery store. The other excuse I often hear is that they don’t have the time to devote to healthy eating. Well, I beg to differ! I believe that you can spend less, eat healthy, and it won’t take any more time than your usual routine.
Cook at home!
Cooking at home is one of the biggest ways to save money on your food budget. When you buy the ingredients yourself, and put in a little bit of effort, you can save yourself some big bucks.
Although many people say “I can’t cook”, it’s not as difficult as you might think. You don’t have to pull out your mom’s 300 page cookbook with 20 ingredients and a multitude of instructions for every recipe! There are plenty of easy, quick recipes for beginners and once you start finding the foods that you enjoy, creating a few go-to meals for when you’re crunched for time becomes really easy.
Plan your meals!
… and cook larger meals! If you are struggling to figure out what to make for dinner on a regular basis. Check out my post on planning your meals on a budget to help get you started on the meal planning basics. Planning your meals for the next few days, for the week, or even for the month, can take a lot of the stress out of the day to day preparation.
If you buy a lot of healthy food staples to store in your pantry and freezer, you will always have something on hand to whip up a quick, healthy meal. And the best part? You avoid making a last minute decision to eat out – expensive and, often times, unhealthy.
Make a list!
Walking into a grocery store armed with a list provides you an easy way to avoid impulse purchases. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to break the habit of straying from your list, but once you get the routine down and know where to go for certain items, rather than wandering through the store buying random stuff “on sale” you can keep your budget in check every single time.
Don’t shop hungry! – Heading to the store when you are starving will lead you down a dark path, a dark spending path that is. You will want to buy everything in sight that sounds good whether it’s on sale or not. ‘Make a list’ and don’t go hungry or it could quickly break your budget for the month.
Buy the store brand!
The store or generic branded products are often made by the same company that sells the name brand products. When I worked for a consumer products company, we manufactured products using the same ingredients but instead of putting the product in a branded labeled bottle, it went into the store brand. Same ingredients, different packaging!
The higher mark-up for the brand name product is due to all the advertising that goes into promoting it. Don’t be fooled into thinking store brands are inferior, they just look different. (Disclaimer – This doesn’t hold true for every generic product out there, but it covers a lot of them.) There is almost always a store brand product for any item you want to buy, and you can save an average of 33 percent of your grocery bill by buying generic. Savings are out there, you just need to explore different options.
Eliminate junk food!
Not only is junk food unhealthy for you, but it is often more expensive than buying whole foods. Eliminating, or reducing, the amount of junk food (processed foods like chips, cookies, and soda) in your diet will cut your costs AND your calories (and sodium and fat and carbs). Be healthier, and spend less on junk, processed crap.
Buy a Crockpot!
When you use a crockpot, you can use cheaper ingredients and the food will still taste fantastic. The biggest money saver is using less expensive cuts of meat. Experiment with using cheaper types of meat – chicken legs and thighs, beef, pork, and with the right seasonings and sauces the meat will be fall off the bone tender and very flavorful.
Buy closeouts! When food is approaching its sell-by or best before date, stores will typically mark these products down. Find your stores closeout section and keep an eye on when they tend to mark down food. You can find great deals on meat, bread, dairy, and even produce. Check out my post on cooking with a crockpot to get more ideas on using a crockpot to save money.
Less is More!
There are a lot of ways you can eat healthy and save money at the same time. Not all healthy eating has to be expensive, especially if you invest a little time up front, are willing to eat at home more, and can be a little creative. If you can commit to cooking at home just a couple days more a week, you will quickly discover how easy it is to eat healthy without impacting your wallet. Be creative, have fun, spend less and you will find more health and wealth at your fingertips!