One of the biggest excuses for eating unhealthy foods is that they’re seemingly less expensive. Healthy options are at a premium, and when trying to pinch pennies it’s easy to make the cheaper short-term choice rather than the one that pays off for long-term health.
Although it may seem that healthy food is more expensive, there are strategies you can apply when shopping to cut back on cost. Following these tips will help you save money at the grocery store on healthy food options, allowing for more freedom and flexibility throughout the rest of your life.
7 Ways to Save Money at the Grocery Store
- Stick to your list.
It’s much easier to give into the temptation of special sales or novelty snacks when you don’t have a shopping list with you. Bottom line: the grocery store wants you to purchase more items, so they’ll make them flashy and easy to grab. Plan your list ahead of time and stick to it. If you’ve picked up something that you’ve changed your mind about purchasing, ask the clerk at the register to put it back for you. They won’t mind at all.
- Pay attention to frozen foods.
No, we don’t mean buying frozen pre-packaged processed meals that are full of sodium. They may seem like a cheaper meal than going out to lunch, but your taste buds won’t be as satisfied! The economical choice is to load up on whatever frozen fruits and vegetables are on sale instead. These items are frozen at their peak of freshness locking in those vital nutrients, and making them a super easy addition to quick and healthy weekday meals or smoothies. Frozen produce will also keep much longer in the freezer, so they’re great if you’re unsure of what your meal plan will be for the week.
- Plan your produce purchases.
Don’t get tempted by seemingly fancy produce that you’re unsure of how to use, or that you’re not sure that you will like. Instead, purchase produce that you’re positive that you’ll eat. If you’re unsure of your meal plan, opt for the heartier fresh fruits and veggies such as squash, root vegetables (like beets, carrots, onions), sweet potatoes, apples, and oranges. Steer clear of anything pre-sliced or chopped in the produce area, as it’s much more expensive. Allow time to slice and dice during your meal prep for the week.
- Don’t toss produce that is turning.
Produce usually wilts due to lack of water. Perk up celery, carrots, or kale by soaking them in a bath of cold water in the fridge overnight. If bananas get mushy, save them for smoothies or cut them into chunks and freeze. The same goes for berries or other fruits you’re not ready to use – the freezer is your friend! To save cost in the future start by storing your produce properly to make them last as long as possible.
- Buy produce that is in season.
The farther fruits and veggies have to travel to the store the less tasty, less nutritious, and often more expensive they will be. Opt for produce that’s in season whenever possible to maximize all of the benefits. This guide from the USDA is a good start for learning what produce is in season for the area in which you live.
- Purchase pantry items in bulk.
Many stores now have bulk sections for dried goods, making it much easier to purchase only the amounts you actually need. Use this section when loading up on dried goods such as nuts, seeds, oats, rice, and quinoa.
- Choose conventional when appropriate.
Yes, organic produce is ideal. However, if cost is an issue it’s better to go with conventional produce than no produce at all! Just remember to thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before using and consult this list of items for those at the highest risk of pesticides.
There are plenty of ways to eat healthfully while sticking to a budget. No matter what your circumstances, it is possible for anyone to purchase groceries to prepare healthy and nutrient-dense meals. It just takes some planning ahead and a little creativity!
[Credit: Rizzo, Natalie. “10 Food-Shopping Mistakes That Are Costing You a Fortune.” Greatist.]