If you’re trying to eat healthily but also looking for ways to stretch your food budget, then you are going to LOVE this post. It’s definitely not impossible to eat healthily, no matter what kind of budget you have. Hey, we all can’t afford goji berries every week, and that’s totally normal and OK! So if you’re wondering how to eat healthy on a budget, keep reading! Here are 8 easy ways to eat healthy on a budget. Note some of these tips and put them into action in your grocery routine this week.
1. BUY LOCAL
If you have access to a local farm or farmer’s market, then you already have a running start on ways to stretch your food budget. Forget organic for now, and concentrate on buying local. This is one of the best ways to improve the nutrition of your diet and your budget all in one step. And here’s something I just learned from a local grower: though most small farmers can’t afford to be certified by the USDA as “organic,” a lot of them are… just ask!
2. NIX THE ORGANIC OBSESSION
While buying organic is important for you and the economy, it can be hard to do on a budget. I suggest comparing prices of organic versus conventional at a couple of stores local to you. If organic items are only pennies more, feel free to splurge, but if not it’s okay to consume conventional in a pinch.
3. KNOW THE TOXIC 12
While you may have your heart set on budgeting for healthy eating by buying only organic foods, that’s not always necessary. There are plenty of foods that we peel (like avocados, oranges, and bananas) so it’s perfectly safe to eat the non-organic version. It’s important, though, to know which organic foods will get you the most safety for your food budget buck, and these foods, which are clearly unsafe to eat unless they’re organic, are known as the Toxic 12 (or the Dirty Dozen).
They are: apples, celery, bell peppers, strawberries, peaches, grapes (imported), kale (and spinach and lettuce), cucumbers, blueberries, potatoes, nectarines, and green beans.
4. SHOP ONLINE
One of the best ways to stretch your budget further is to consider buying all your vitamins and supplements online, along with some items like protein powder, grains, nuts, seeds, and even superfoods if you can afford them. I like websites such as Vitacost, Amazon,and my personal favorite - Thrive Market, just to name a few. You’ll pay almost 20%-25% less than you will in stores, if not up to 50% less with site sales.
5. KNOW YOUR STORE SALES
It’s not just sugary cereals and fattening processed foods that make the coupon lists these days — even the healthiest of health foods are showing up in the Sunday circulars.If you really want to save money, be sure you know what days of the week every store near you releases their store sales ad. Even Whole Foods! This will help you plan what you buy from each store, so you can easily wait to buy an item if you know it will be on sale in the next few days. Some stores double or even triple manufacturer coupons, which is definitely a right step in the direction of budgeting for healthy eating!
6. DON’T BE A SNOB TO FROZEN
Frozen fruits, veggies, and leafy greens are all packed with nutrition, so don’t snub them as being inferior. These will help stretch your budget further since many are cheaper per serving and you don’t have to worry about them spoiling before you use them. Frozen spinach, carrots, peas, berries, and veggie mixes are all great places to start.
7. AVOID BOXED ITEMS
Most items in a box at the store promise you a host of health benefits that you’ll also pay for. Even healthy, trendy items like quinoa and chia seeds can be pricey and not budget smart. If you’re low on cash, buy from the bulk section and don’t forget that oats and flax work just great with no quinoa or chia needed.
8. RE-PLAN YOUR MEALS
One last tip to consider is that you may have to re-plan your meals to be more budget savvy. Remember, you don’t have to go gourmet in the kitchen when the basics work just fine and taste great too.
These small ways to stretch your food budget further aren’t rocket-science, and I promise anyone can do them, no matter what type of budget you have.