“Healthy food costs too much.”
The number one reason people report not eating healthy or not eating enough fruits and vegetables.
But you’re not one of those people. That’s because you’ve already showed how you can practice long-term planning, patience, and seeking value when it comes to optimizing your financial health. It turns out that these same skills carry over quite nicely to seeking nutrient-dense foods and pinching pennies when you’re grocery shopping.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive.
And saving money doesn’t have to mean you’re stuck eating nutrient-poor foods. Here are six healthy shopping strategies that will help you save at least $40 per week on your grocery bill while prioritizing healthy foods.
Buy the store brand
Sure, name-brand items will be brightly colored and more recognizable when you peruse the grocery store aisles, but their neighboring, store-brand counterparts are likely identical down to the single ingredient. And what these options lack in color and pizazz in terms of marketing, they also lack in price, which, in this case, is a good thing. You can expect store-brand foods such as cereal, breads, wraps, canned produce, and an array of package goods to be at least 25 percent cheaper (if not more) than their name-brand neighbor.
Think about how these savings could apply across your entire bill…
This may be your most valuable cost-cutting tool. And it’s only the first one I’ve mentioned! You’ll also be happy to know that you’re not losing out on a single nutritious perk between name brand and store brand items, too.
My favorite store-brand items include canned vegetables, canned beans, Greek yogurt, and peanut butter.
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 1 – 2: $15 – $25
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 3 – 5: $25 – $40
Buy canned food
Canned food is misunderstood.
Many mistake canned food for sodium-laden yuck when in reality canned products contain foods picked at peak ripeness that are instantly canned to preserve nutrition and enable consumers to enjoy beyond the next three to five days of peak freshness. Plus, you can buy your favorite items at a fraction of the costs! In fact, just yesterday, I bought three 15.9-ounce cans of beans for $2.67 each. I could’ve bought a bag of beans (which need to be soaked and cooked) with the same amount for $5.89.
Yes, canning uses a lot more sodium than you may prefer to preserve the food, however, you’ll be happy to know that unless your physician has specifically instructed you to limit your sodium intake, there’s no reason to because your body is more than capable of removing what it needs. To cut back on the sodium content, though, look for reduced-sodium canned goods or rinse your canned beans, corn, or vegetables under water to remove some of the salt.
And, of course, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water.
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 1 – 2: $3 – $6
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 3 – 5: $7 – $12
Make a list before you shop
The recommendation to make a list may be the most reused budget-friendly, healthy eating tip out there. But it’s so valuable that it’s worth repeating. From a money-saving standpoint, having a precise list of your essentials will help you save tens of dollars. While making your list, make sure you double check the pantry, fridge, and freezer to avoid double buying or over buying.
From a nutrition standpoint, making a list ahead of time helps you to prioritize nutrient-dense food offerings, but also helps you to maintain willpower while shopping in the store. If you enter the store without a list, you’ll waste significant amounts of willpower (mental energy) trying to make a decision with an overwhelming amount of choices in front of you. By the time you get done with your shopping that Butterfinger that keeps making eye contact with you in the check-out lane is bound to end up in your cart…
If you have a precise list, however, you’ll be much more likely to stay strong and will even increase store-time efficiency.
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 1 – 2: $4 – $10
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 3 – 5: $11 – $15
Skip organic produce
Although seeing the word “organic” next to your favorite produce may lead you to think of this product as a healthier, more nutrient-dense option, it’s really just a code tag for “pay more money for me!” Environmental beliefs aside, organic produce offers no nutritional benefit compared to non-organic produce. Organic produce does, however, offer a higher price tag – sometimes as much as 150 percent compared to its non-organic neighbor!
If cutting your grocery trip costs is important to you, skip the organic section. You can enjoy the same nutrient-dense product for a fraction of the cost!
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 1- 2: $5 – $8
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 3- 5: $9 – $15
Buy in-season produce and freeze to enjoy year-round
When specific fruits and vegetables are in season, supply is overwhelming, thus companies can afford to offer such produce at a fraction of its off-season price. To cut costs and set yourself up for year-round enjoyment of strawberries (or any other produce), I recommend you buy your favorite produce in bulk when it’s in season. You can expect to find multiple BOGO deals and prices discounted at least 50 percent compared to off-season prices.
Unsure when specific produce is in season? Check out this handy guide put together by the USDA.
When handling frozen fruit in the off-season, I recommend using in place of ice cubes to make nutrient-dense smoothies, adding to a pitcher of water to make delicious fruit-infused water, or thawing overnight and adding to a warm bowl of cinnamon oatmeal.
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 1- 2: $5 – $8
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 3- 5: $9 – $12
Shop early in the morning
Your usual grocery store trip may fall on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, but most grocery stores open as early as 5:00 or 6:00 a.m.! Rather than scrolling through your social media feed in bed for the first 20 (or more) minutes to start each day, get out of bed and go save some money!
To help recoup potential losses on perishable products, specifically meat and seafood, most grocery stores will mark these items down exponentially in the morning hours. You may be able to save up to 75 percent on ground beef, chicken breast, pork tenderloin, salmon, or local white fish simply by shopping first thing in the morning.
Be aware, however, that these items will need to be cooked within 24 hours – I recommend cooking later that night or making yourself a fresh breakfast – before they spoil.
Yes, not quite a nutrition tip, but a health tip, nonetheless! Getting up early and getting a head start on the day typically leads to enhanced productivity, effectiveness, and success in many facets of your life and may have a positive impact on your physical health and your financial health.
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 1- 2: $8 – $12
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 3- 5: $13 – $21
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