When your cutting down on your budget, one of the easiest places to cut costs is your grocery budget. A common misconception is that you cannot eat healthy on a budget.
But this is so false! It is possible to buy foods that are good for you, taste delicious and fit in a tinier budget.
The number one thing you have to do is plan, plan, plan. And it’s not hard. It’s just a matter of doing it.
Having a plan and sticking to it can help you get lots of healthy foods to make nourishing, filling meals and still keep your wallet full.
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The Best Tips on Eating Healthy on a Tight Budget
1. Plan Healthy Meals Ahead of Time
Grab the sales ads for the grocery stores in your neighborhood. Find the best deals on fruits, vegtables and other whole foods.
Base your main meals around these foods. Either jot down your favorites or find new recipes to try using these ingredients.
By planning your meals around healthy sales items you’ll get more bang for your buck.
2. Make a List & Stick to It
Write all your meals down on a printable meal planner or calendar. Now write down all the ingredients you’ll need to buy for each meal.
“Shop” you pantry first to make sure not to buy items you already have plenty of.
Keep breakfasts simple and easy by opting for oatmeal each morning or boiled eggs and whole grain toast.
Also, make sure to include healthy snacks and drinks.
Opting for things like herbal tea bags for drinks instead of prepackaged juice or sweetened drinks will give you an alternative to water, without breaking your budget.
Make your grocery list and only shop whats on the list. Avoid the temptation to buy miscellaneous items that don’t fit into your meal plan.
Keeping to the list will keep your budget on track.
If you haven’t been a coupon user in the past, let me tell you, coupons have changed! I’ll admit the idea of couponing always made me roll my eyes.
It seemed so complicated and tedious. But now, coupons are so easy, there is no excuse.
A lot of grocery stores have downloadable apps that include digital coupons. One of my personal favorites is our local grocery store, Kroger.
They have tons of digital coupons on healthy foods. You don’t even have to “clip” them.
You just hop on to your digital app, click on the coupons you might want to use, and they’ll load up onto your rewards card. You don’t have to even remember them!
Every dollar adds up. So if your local grocer offers this, make sure to take advantage of it!
Just don’t buy items you normally wouldn’t just because you have a coupon though. Then you’ll just be wasting your money.
4. Don’t Go to the Grocery Store Hungry
This is a huge mistake. Never, ever let hungry you go grocery shopping.
My strong will goes right down the drain when I let my empty stomach do the shopping. Suddenly my cart fills up with tasty snacks that are neither healthy, nor cheap.
If you can’t go shopping right after eating, make sure to grab a quick snack before hand. Even a granola bar and curb the hunger beast.
Shop the perimeter first
All of the healthiest, whole food items are on the perimeter of the store. This is where you should be doing 80-90% of your grocery shopping.
The center of the grocery store, with all the ailes, are full of processed convenience foods. They are not healthy, and they are not cheap.
Reserve that are for oils, noodles and other items that will go perfectly with all your meats, fruits and veggies.
Another way to save lots of money while shopping for healthy foods, is to shop seasonally.
Get to know what fruits and vegetables are in season. This is when they are at their lowest prices.
For example, I LOVE asparagus. But it’s expensive. So I only buy it during the spring season when I know its half the price.
During the winter we make lots of cabbage and squash.
Also, make sure to check out the large bags of fruit and vegetables. They are often much cheaper than their individual counterparts.
If you know you won’t eat that much before it goes bad, consider pre-chopping and freezing them.
7. Buy the Store Brand
Name brand being “the best brand” is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Grocery stores have gotten smart, and are selling their own versions that taste just as good.
In fact, sometimes they are better quality.
For example, my local Kroger has an awesome and affordable selection of organic goods. They taste great, and usually run the same price as the non-organic name brand.
It’s a win-win.
Other Tips to Eat Healthy on a Budget
Make Your Own Snacks
Making healthy snacks is not only healthier but its so much cheaper than buying premade snacks!
Fresh veggies with homemade hummus is very affordable, delicious and healthy.
You can also make your own healthy popsicles by freezing smoothies. My kids LOVE banana, strawberry and spinach popsicles. (I just don’t tell them what’s in it.)
Eat at Home
Try to eat at home as often as possible. This is what always keeps our grocery budget low. Eating out just one meal can nearly double our budget for the week.
Plus, most affordable restaurants are lacking in healthy choices.
Watch what you drink
It is amazing at how much sugar is in premade drinks. Even “healthy” premade drinks are sometimes loaded with sugar.
The healthiest, cheapest option:
We drink water at our house, with the exception of a cup of herbal tea here and there.
We also pick up a carton of almond milk, but it’s rarely to drink. Usually, it’s for recipes or meals.
If you have to have other drinking options, just try to limit how much. Instead substitute a glass of water here and there and it will add up over time.
If you use some of these tips, you’ll soon discover the joys of eating healthy on a budget! It may take you some extra time, but it’s totally worth it.