Want to eat healthy on a budget? It is possible and not as hard as you may think. You can likely even save more money than you did while eating processed food.
It’s a new year and many of us are trying to eat better and reduce our spending. We often believe these two things can’t go together. Isn’t health food expensive? Well, it can be but there are ways to eat healthily and cut your grocery bill.
I have several chronic health issues include fibromyalgia. Conventional medicine offers little more than symptom control for me and I even skip that since it all comes with side effects. I have found when my overall health is at it’s best my symptoms are minimal.
While some things I buy would be cheaper if I got the less healthy version there would be a bigger cost to my health. Over the years I have found ways to reduce my overall grocery spending to make up for some of the pricier items. And don’t worry, you don’t have to become an extreme couponer or anything.
I’ll admit I let some of these things stop being habits lately and our grocery costs have suffered. I’m getting back to my good habits this year and going to see just how low I can get our grocery costs. We need food, I love food, but I don’t want to spend all of our money on it.
It really is all about habits. These things start to become second nature once you’ve done them for a while. And you have the motivators of more money and feeling better.
How to Eat Healthy on a Budget
Eat Out Less
Fast food seems cheap but it adds up. And dinners out at restaurants add up even more quickly. And of course, you also end up consuming a lot more calories.
The way I’ve found most helpful for preventing us from eating out too much is to have quick dinner options on hand. Freezer meals really help this, if you have something delicious in your freezer it really helps keep the temptation of dinner out away.
Another thing that has helped me is an Instant Pot. It’s an electric pressure cooker and so much more. Don’t worry this pressure cooker has all kinds of safety features and won’t blow up. And it cooks food so fast. I’ve even cooked a whole frozen chicken in the Instant Pot in less than an hour.
Cook from Scratch
When it comes to healthy food, especially organic food, packaged food is where you will really see a price increase. Learning to make more of your food from scratch can really cut your food budget.
Last year I learned to make some delicious crackers that make an amazing snack and aren’t hard to make at all. Making your own bread can seem overwhelming but really it’s not hard at all.
Even things as simple as making your own taco seasoning can make your food more delicious and save you money. Don’t try and do it all at once, learn to make one thing from scratch at a time. Before long it will all be a habit. And once you try homemade versions of things, it’s hard to go back to the packaged stuff.
Reduce Food Waste
30-40% of food in the US is wasted! Think about 30-40% of your food budget going in the trash. Planning your meals and keeping foods that will expire soon in the front can help reduce food waste.
One of my favorite tips for reducing food waste and saving money is to save your chicken carcass and veggie scraps to make chicken broth or just veggies for vegetable stock. It really is easy, especially if you have an Instant Pot, and makes amazing broth.
Casseroles, soups, and smoothies are also great ways to use up leftovers and scraps. When fruits are past their prime throw them in smoothies, same with leafy veggies. Bits of cheese, meat, leftover pasta, are all things that can go in soups and casseroles.
Get creative! It really can be fun to try and find ways to use up things that are leftover or going bad soon. Your freezer can also be your friend. Most foods can be frozen and it’s a good way to extend their life. When I have leftovers and don’t feel like eating them again the next time I stick them in the freezer for an easy lunch or dinner later when I feel like it again.
Meal planning reduces food waste and makes meal time so much easier. I only grocery shop once a month so a detailed meal plan is a must. I have meal planning printables that I use to stay organized, it really helps.
Another great option is Eat At Home. You can get budget-friendly meal plans that save you time and money. It’s great if you are too busy to meal plan or is just something you really don’t enjoy.
Soda and juice add up and aren’t that great for us. Stick to water most of the time. It’s a lot better for us and you’ll save a lot of money. If you want something different from time to time consider buying some tea in bulk and making homemade iced tea. You get control over the amount of sugar you use and quality of the tea. And it’s a lot cheaper!
Join Thrive Market
Thrive Market is kind of like Whole Foods, Costco, and Amazon combined. You get wholesale prices on natural food and you can order it online. I just renewed my Thrive Market membership after saving over $700 last year.
For a couple of months, I would price check items on Thrive Market and my grocery store to find which were best. Many of our staples are cheaper on Thrive Market unless they are on sale in stores.
I place an order about every other month to stock up and make sure my order is large enough to get free shipping. They are always adding more products so I’m predicting I will save even more this year.
Join a Co-Op
I was a member of a local co-op for years. Sadly they closed recently but I made some relationships with local producers so I can still get great local food from them.
Co-ops are a great way to cut out the middle man and buy straight from the farmers and ranchers. They get paid better and you spend less. Buying local is also great for your local economy.
Look at Sale Prices and Use Coupons
Before I even think about my meal plan I look at what I have on hand and then I check sale ads and coupons. I try to make as many meals as I can with what I have, sales, and coupons. And yes, there are organic and real food coupons! Some months I find a lot of coupons, some months I’ll use two.
Another way I save money on groceries is by shopping only once a month. If you are interested in Once a Month Grocery Shopping, sign up below for the free resource library which includes my free Once a Month Grocery Shopping Guide.