Eating a nutritious diet can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! With a little planning and some mindful shopping, you can easily save money while enjoying your favorite nourishing foods.
Use the following tips to be a savvy shopper and eat well on a budget.
PLANNING - Have a plan.
Know how many meals you need to prep for, what you plan to cook during the week, and how much food you’ll need. Consider any lunches and dinners out, as well as any travel plans. This will likely vary week to week, so it’s helpful to plan it out. Otherwise, unused food can end up spoiling and getting thrown out – which is not only a waste of money, but a waste of food, too.
Make a list - After you’ve come up with your plan, make a list! Know what you’re going to purchase before you get to the store. Grocery stores are designed to entice you to purchase more. Appealing displays make it more likely that shoppers will notice and add products they didn’t plan on buying to their carts. These foods can add significant costs to your grocery bill, and you’re much more likely to pick them up if you don’t have a specific list to work from.
Look for Seasonal Produce - Many times seasonal produce will be more affordable, even organic vs conventional. it's abundant when in seasons, which means it will cost less. Typically, it also has to travel less distance, which makes it not only cost-effective, but more energy efficient, too! You'll be saving money in grocery bills and health bills too.
SHOPPING - Stick to the store’s perimeter.
Packaged foods, which are typically found in the center of the grocery store, can be expensive. Premade sauces, cereals, packaged snacks, and other processed foods – especially from brand names can quickly drive up your grocery bill. To avoid this, stick to the perimeters, including the produce area – good for both your wallet and your health!
Buy whole foods - Pre-chopped salads and cut-up fruit trays, may be convenient, but their prices are marked up. To cut costs, opt for whole fruits and veggies and chop them at home. In fact, some veggies should be chopped right before cooking for optimal nutrition, such as broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables which release sulforaphane when they're cut up. If you don't have time to chop up your greens, sprinkle them with mustard powder for the same optimal nutritional benefit.
Pick plant-based proteins - Beans and legumes are nutritional powerhouses high in minerals and fiber. They’re also inexpensive. Beans and legumes are a filling addition to any meal, and dried beans have a very long shelf life! Buy in bulk and note that 1-lbs of dried beans expands when cooked into 3x as much; talk about value add. If you have extra beans on hand, you can make this protein packed and versatile meal, great for breakfast, lunch or dinner; Baked Beans Recipe.
Prioritize the Dirty Dozen - Organic produce typically costs more, so choosing organic when it matters most is a great way to save money. Foods on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list contain the most pesticides. Foods on their Clean Fifteen list contain the fewest pesticides, so you can opt for conventional versions of these if cost is a factor. You can learn more about organic vs non-Organic produce here.
Check out the frozen foods section - For less expensive fruit and vegetable options (especially organic), visit the frozen foods section. Fruits and vegetables are typically flash-frozen right
after harvest, which means they’ll still pack a nutritional punch. Frozen produce also keeps much longer than fresh produce, so it’s a great option if your fruits and veggies often go bad before you have a chance to eat them.
Buy in bulk - Dry goods in the bulk food section tend to cost less than the same amount of the same food in a package. Rather than paying for the package, opt to buy foods like rice, quinoa, nuts, seeds, and spices from the bulk foods section.
Compare store vs online prices - Have you ever noticed that the same item costs less in certain stores? If you always shop at the same store, compare the prices of your go-to foods at other stores. You can often save money by being a little flexible with location or buying online. Try Amazon Fresh or Thrive Market [for a 40% OFF your first order use coupon code http://thrv.me/PsbMfB]
Compare unit prices - Typically, stores will include two prices related to a product – the retail price (the price you pay) and the unit price (the price per a particular unit size). This makes it easier to see the better deal between different sizes or different brands. For example:
Brand A costs $3.50 for 14 ounces ($0.25 per ounce) and
Brand B costs $4.20 for 20 ounces ($0.21 per ounce).
Brand B may cost slightly more up front, but it is the better deal overall.
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