I’m a people watcher. I’m really not trying to be rude… I’m simply intrigued by the personalities various people have and the way they interact with others. So, not surprisingly, I found myself people-watching in the slow-moving check out line at Wal-Mart one day. Directly in front of me was a mother and a couple of her teenage daughters. As they emptied their overflowing carts onto the conveyer belt, the following conversation ensued: “Ugh! Look at all of this crap food. It’s embarrassing!” You could tell they felt that the food they were buying wasn’t the best and regretted the effect on their health, but likely their reasoning would be the belief that it costs much less than healthier options.
Next to the belief that a gigantic bowl of “whole grain” cereal is a healthy breakfast, I think the greatest myth we believe when it comes to food is that eating healthy means added expense. Eating well does not have to cost you any more – and with a little work, will likely cost less. Case in point: Three years ago we made some pretty major eating changes. As I piled my cart with more protein and produce and fewer packages, I really anticipated my grocery bill to be higher. Instead my bill was less on average. What?!
So, what are some easy tips to follow to make eating healthy a possibility on your budget?
Choose your store wisely. Shopping at Aldi has been the single best decision for our grocery budget. On average my grocery shops are about 30% less than I would spend for the same thing at any other grocery store. Obviously, not everyone has one located conveniently, so consider your local options for budget friendly shopping.
Shop in season. It’s not new advice, but it can save a lot of money to enjoy produce that’s currently in season
Shop the ads. Plan your weekly menu around the weekly specials where you shop. Remember: the goal is eating healthy food. Focus on those produce and protein pages of the flyers.
Cut the junk food. Junk food isn’t good for you, doesn’t truly fill you up, and it’s expensive.
Consider shopping at Sam’s or Costco on a regular basis. Prices for meats, fruit, and veggies can be hard to beat at these stores. Let me advise you to make a list before you go and really stick with it! It’s super easy to get sidetracked and overly attached to seasonal gift sets, beautiful (and giant bottles) of shampoo, etc. That kind of shopping won’t save you money.
Take an honest look at your fridge and pantry and determine whether you NEED to go shopping or not. How often have you (or I!) stared into the refrigerator and bemoaned the fact that there was nothing to eat… when really there was. Before you go shopping, look through the food you already have and honestly evaluate what you have to work with. You’ll most likely find that you have plenty of meals waiting for you to put together.
Comment below and tell us your favorite grocery budget-slashing, health-increasing tip!