Eating Healthy on a Budget. It CAN Be Done!

"Eating healthy is too expensive"

I hear this all the time. 

But it is NOT true! 

One common misconception is that you have to buy all organic. 
False.
While some produce is better for you if it is organic, it is not a necessity. I personally think "organic" is a marketing scheme in many ways, much like "fat free" and "low calorie." Buy organic if you can afford it, or if it is on sale. 

The other misconception is that you have to buy expensive ingredients or cook a lot to eat healthy. 
False and Not Completely True.

You do not HAVE to buy expensive ingredients. You can eat good and eat healthy with  things that are cost effective. 
As far as cooking- you will need to cook since 99% of fast food is not healthy in any way, and most restaurants do not serve super healthy dishes. But I have tips on how to cook efficiently here.

Here are my money saving tips for eating healthy.

First- get to know the prices of the foods you like in your favorite store. Keep your receipts for reference, or make a chart. Whatever works for you.
Second- scan the sale adds and look for meats and produce on sale. These will be the basis for your meals for the week (or 2). If meat is on sale at a really good price and you have a freezer, consider stocking up while it is on sale. When chicken breasts are 1.79/lb, I buy around 25.00 worth, portion and freeze. That is a lot of chicken and much better than 3.99/lb!
The same goes with produce. If spinach is on sale, buy several bags and chuck them in the freezer. While frozen spinach won't make a good salad when it is thawed, it will work beautifully in smoothies and soups. Berries and fruit freeze well, too! I once bought 20 mangoes when they were 0.25 each- peeled them, but them and froze them for smoothies. Blueberries and blackberries are often on sale for 50 or 99 cents a package. Into the freezer they go! 

If you have an Aldi near you- check it out. They have recently started refurbishing their stores and they have excellent low prices there. I get my olive oil for 3.50 a bottle. It is the best I have ever tasted and the cheapest. I also get organic coconut oil for 5.00 a jar. Their spices are cheap, produce is great. I will buy several bottles and jars of oil at a time, so I don't have to take time to go every week. Time saver!

Check sale ads at other stores. I have a Publix, Kroger, Target, Foodland, Sprouts, WalMart all near me. I will quickly scan their ads each week to see what is on sale in the produce section. The store that has the best sales and biggest bang for my buck gets my business that week. I try not to go to more than 2 stores per week and use grocery pick up when I can. 
Knowing the regular prices of foods really helps you know if a sale is a good deal or not. Saving 10 cents on chicken at a store is not a good deal if that is the only thing you are buying there. 
Use rewards programs if offered. Kroger has fuel points. Target has 5% off with their RedCard (even the debit card option) and Cartwheel that offers extra savings on foods. WalMart has Savings Catcher, so if you upload your receipt and another local store advertises the same product at a lower price, they give you the difference. That can add up! 

Check online coupons and Sunday Paper coupons. While most coupons won't be for meat or produce, if you can save on your shampoo or laundry soap, why not? You can print coupons from www.coupons.com right from home. Kroger sends me coupons for things I use frequently. They also have digital coupons so I don't have to print anything. Publix also has digital coupons. 

Shop online and use Google to check prices for specialty items. I use xylitol to bake with and have Googled the best prices. I found that Swanson Vitamins (use this link to save 10.00 on your first order) has the best price and they send me emails with sales and offers to save even more! They have a wide array of supplements, foods, spices, nuts. Don't assume Amazon has the best prices, even with Prime. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. If you are on a budget, Google is your friend. 

Some other money savings tips:

Use dry beans. Using beans as a replacement for meat in some meals is a money saver! Buying the beans dry is cheaper than canned. One pound of dry beans for 1.49 will yield at least 4-5 cans of beans than can cost 1.00-1.49 each! Black bean burgers are yummy, beans in taco filling, in soups, chili- all economic! Cook your beans in the crock pot over night for a no fuss, no worry, time saver in the kitchen. They keep for a while in the fridge once they are cooked. 

Check your produce dept for a markdown section. My Kroger has one that often has bell peppers, apples, oranges, onions, lemons, limes- each bag is 0.99 and the produce is always in great shape!

Buy the biggest hunk of meat you can. When you buy chops or patties, you are paying higher prices per pound for the work of cutting and packaging. Buying a whole pork loin for 1.99/lb is way cheaper than 3.99/lb for chops. You can easily slice it at home into portions, or ask the meat guy if he can do it for you. 

Skip the lunch meat and bacon. These are convenient but pricey. Lunch meat can be 6.99/lb or more. You can buy a turkey breast and roast it, slice it and you will not pay those prices! Plus buying and cooking meat means there are no additives to it. And you can season how you like. 

Make as many things from scratch as you can. I make our bread and buns because not only do I love to bake but they taste better and are way cheaper than store bought. Ezekiel bread is 5.00 a loaf and I can make my bread for under 2.00 a loaf. And before you say you can't bake- my bread recipe is stir, pour, rise and bake. If you can measure, you can make this. Here is the recipe
Homemade mayo is easy and cheap, making cashew butter is cheaper than store bought. I make salsa, marinara, almond milk, and almond flour... and more. When you are on a budget, use your time to make things, rather than the convenience of store bought. 

Soups. These can be super (souper) cheap to make. With a couple carrots, some leftover veggies, a protein and a stock, you can have a pot of healthy soup. 

Speaking of soup- make your own stock. Buy a whole chicken to roast for dinner. Use the leftover meat for a nice chicken salad, or a soup and throw the bones into your crock pot. Add a couple carrots, those limp celery stalks in the back of the fridge, half an onion or so, a garlic clove. Fill with water and cook on high over night. BAM! Cheap stock. So the same with beef bones or pork bones. Never throw those bones away! 

Use frozen veggies if you have to. If fresh veggies are not on sale, often times frozen is cheaper. Fresh is best but frozen is just fine. Just check for extra unwanted ingredients. 

Don't buy specialty ingredients unless you are going to use them frequently. If you find a new recipe that calls for an exotic spice, see if you can buy it in "bulk." Sprouts has a spice section that you can pour out just what you need for a wide variety of spices. Or ask a friend to see if they have some you can have. Paying 4 or 5.00 on a can of spice that you may use one time is not economical. 

Overall, my grocery budget has not changed since I started eating healthy and following FMD. I exchanged the soda and coffee for xylitol and coconut oil. Instead of dairy, I buy almonds for almond milk, and canned coconut milk. My overall amount is the same as before, I am just buying different foods. 

Do you have other money saving tips??




2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for the tips. One of my many resolutions is to get my life in order. One of those is to start eating better. Things got out of control this past summer, which lead to fall, and the holidays.

    I do not know the situation in the US, but in Canada we have a store called Bulk Barn - where you buy your dry goods in bulk! I head there for my brown rice pasta, rice, quinoa, etc. Plus, they often have sales and coupons. It is a time saver!

    As well, in the fall there are some local(ish) farms to my parent's place. I stock up on different types of squash, apples, etc. Come November, I am peeling and freezing the food for use over the winter (apples are done into a compote and frozen). I do the same with my small patch of rhubarb all summer - pick, clean and freeze.

    I tend to buy most of my groceries at Walmart. I find that they discount their meat on Thursdays. So Thursdays are my grocery day. I stock up on a lot of those items.

    What I need to do is to start making my own bread (bought the bun rings!) and stock. Not a huge fan of soup, but with it being this cold (-27C) it is nice to have warm broth to drink.

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  2. What about the safflower mayo. No one sells it in large jars around here and have told me hey cannot order it?

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