I hear this all the time. And it’s true. Nutritious, nutrient dense, whole fresh food costs more than the stuff in boxes in the center of the store. (And the craziness of that would be a whole other post…) But avoiding the cheap stuff in boxes ensures you’ll spend less on healthcare for years to come, so let’s look at the ways that we CAN cut costs on real food.
1. Plan your meals. You make a calendar and put each day’s meal on it, then purchase what you need for those meals. I’m not much of a meal planner myself, but I hear that it works really well. 🙂 I’m more of a “keep a lot of basics in stock and check Pinterest before I cook” kinda girl.
2. Make a list and stick to it. Not only does it save money, it will save time in the long run, because it simplifies mealtime.
3. Make use of Pinterest – it rocks. Go there and search things like “easy cheap healthy meals.” Seriously, you can search that and find a ton of ideas. Follow my Pinterest page and I’ll steer you in the right direction.
4. Shop the sales, shop at lower cost stores and use coupons. It’s a bit more time consuming than just going to one store to buy everything, but you can save a ton of money on this one tip. I get out my trusty sale ads when they come on Wednesday and buy stuff that are really good deals and plan my meals around those. And I gotta admit – I was a little freaked out the first time I shopped at Aldi, but it’s one of my go-to places now. Avocados for 39 cents! Organic baby carrots for $1.29 a bag! Seriously.
5. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists for the foods that are most and least full of pesticides. They even have an app, I’ve been known to whip out my phone in the produce section to see if I need to buy something organic or not. Best budgeting tip is to stick to the Clean 15 as much as possible and then when organic foods on the Dirty Dozen list go on sale, stock up. Note: There are a lot of foods that aren’t on either list – I guess they’re moderately full of pesticides. Use your best judgment. The thicker the skin, the safer it is.
6. Buy frozen fruits and vegetables when they’re on sale. That way, you’ll have them when you need them, and reduce food waste because they don’t go bad.
7. Oh, food waste. Try not to buy anything you won’t fix before it goes bad. It’s a no brainer, but we all do it…
8. Eat less meat. Search Meatless Monday, or Vegan Before 6 for ideas. It’s good for your budget, your body and the planet.
9. Avoid “special” foods. Those are the ones that are nice to have, but not widely available – some examples include chia seeds, flax seeds, expensive protein powders… take a look in your pantry and see what you can do without.
So, there you have it. Those are my tips. What do you do to keep your food budget as wallet-friendly as possible? Share in the comments below!