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14 Ways To Eat Healthy On A Budget

The grocery store has been an expensive place lately. When you're trying to eat healthily, the rising cost of groceries is especially challenging. As a health coach, one of the most common issues I work with is helping my clients to eat healthier while still sticking to their budget. This isn't just something I help my clients with, but it is also something I practice in my own home. So, I want to share with you some tips and tricks that have worked for me and my clients on saving money while eating healthy!

1. Plan Out Your Meals

Planning out your meals saves you money as well as time at the grocery store. Planning your meals ahead lets you figure out the items you need, what meals you are in the mood for, and get a better idea of what your grocery budget is looking like for this specific trip. Planning ahead lets you customize your meals to fit these specific needs. Make a list and stick to it! (Don't forget to think about snacks too!)

2. Use Common Ingredients In Your Recipies

This tip goes along with planning your meals. Instead of buying several types of ingredients, try and use the same ingredients in your meals. The way you cook and season things make them taste completely different from one meal to the next, so I promise you will not get bored, and you will save money by having to buy fewer items, so buy the bulk package instead of spending the money on several different things.

3. Don't Be Fooled By Labels

When it comes to eating healthier, we sometimes feel like we need to opt for the packages that say things like "organic, "natural," "cage-free," etc., which absolutely cost more. This is not true! If you have not already read my blog post that explains what these labels mean and why they are not always worth the money. To know if something is truly a better option for you, the best place to look at is the Nutrition Facts panel, not the labeling on the front.

4. Utilize Your Freezer

Get into the habit of freezing your leftovers instead of popping them into the fridge. Things come up unexpectedly during the week, like maybe a friend invites you over for dinner, or the office orders pizza, and you end up not eating the leftovers. Those leftovers will go bad within so many days in the fridge but can last for months if stored properly in the freezer. Also, if you notice an item on sale like bread, buy extra and freeze it until you are ready to use it; just make sure you are packaging the items you freeze correctly so they last the longest!

5. Always Double Check Before Leaving The House

I cannot tell you how many times I have bought something that I already had in the back of my fridge, freezer, or cabinet that I forgot about. When making a grocery list, always check before buying because you may already have something you can use at home.

6. Don't Grocery Shop Hungry

This is one I have fallen victim to many times in my life. If you have heard the expression, "my eyes are bigger than my stomach," this is the perfect time to use it. When we go to the grocery store already hungry, we are more inclined to spend more money on items we may not usually spend money on because they look good. When we shop hungry, our brain is more focused on fulfilling the need to eat than picking out the best financial options. To avoid this, eat before shopping! Plan to grocery shop after a meal, or if that doesn't work with your schedule, keep a snack on hand if you find yourself being hungry around your grocery shopping time.

7. Buy Frozen & Canned Fruits And Veggies

When buying fruits and vegetables, one of the easiest and most impactful ways to save money is to buy frozen or canned. This allows you to buy fruits and veggies regardless of the season, and these are available for sale for low prices and can even be found in dollar stores. When buying canned foods, try to pick foods that come in water and be sure to check the sodium content, and opt for options with lower sodium. Try to avoid cans packaged with syrup or added sugars. When it comes to buying frozen, try and stick to plain fruits and veggies without added sauces, butter, or creams. Remember, you can make your own later instead!

8. Shop Around

It may be annoying at first, but you want to try shopping at different places. Not all grocery stores are created equal! Some stores just have better prices and sales and are worth switching to. Remember to check locally as well, especially when it comes to produce. Oftentimes, farmer's markets have cheap prices. Another option is to check out online shopping. Remember, once you find a store you like, ask about member cards. Most grocery stores have free memberships that you can sign up for using your phone number, which will give you discounts or points toward future orders. Check your app store to and see if the store has an app for coupons and special deals.

9. Add In Meatless Meals

You can have satisfying, filling, meatless meals for cheap! Despite what food companies may tell us, we do not need to buy faux meat products, which always shocks me with how expensive they are, to eat meatless. Meatless meals can be a satisfying and cheap way to stick to your budget and eat well!

10. Try And Avoid Processed Foods

Not only are whole foods better for you, but you're able to make more out of whole foods because they can all be combined to make something different. Take a banana, for example; a good snack on its own, but it can also be used as a topping for yogurt, dipped in chocolate for a dessert, cut up and put on a slice of toast with peanut butter, etc. Processed versions of foods oftentimes cost more. For example, cheese, sometimes buying a block of cheese is cheaper than buying it already shredded or sliced. Or if you are someone with a sweet tooth like me, get into buying ingredients to make mug cakes or individual desserts. The ingredients cost less than buying an actual treat because they last so much longer and can make more; also, making treats yourself means they are less processed and can have fewer added sugars. Processed foods are often more expensive and not as good for us!

11. Use Coupons

Get used to looking for coupons before you shop. If you know there is something you buy often do a quick google search to see if there are any manufacturer coupons or to see if the store you are shopping at has any available. This is where it can be helpful to utilize a store's app, or even pick up a free newspaper at the library and clip coupons the old fashion way. You may need to find time for this, but coupons go a long way!

12. Buy Store Brands

Buy generic! I get that sometimes we just like how a specific brand tastes for certain items, but trying store-brand items can save you serious money at the checkout. Think of items like olive oil, milk, butter, cheese; these items are notorious for being expensive when buying name brands. Did you know branded items can cost 20% or more compared to store brands?

13. Shop In Season

When it comes to buying fresh produce, shopping seasonally can really help cut costs. Seasonal produce tastes better and has more nutrients when in season. When produce is out of season, it has to be shipped from farther away, meaning the grocery store is spending more money to have that product in stock, so you are going to be spending more money when buying it.

14. Start An Indoor Garden

I by no means have a green thumb, but planting a few seeds and sticking them on my window was something manageable that actually saved me money. I love using fresh seasonings and herbs when I cook, but I couldn't justify buying them at the grocery store when I know the rest will go bad in my fridge. So I planted some herbs that I like, and now I no longer have a need to buy herbs. You can even find these plants already growing at most grocery stores that just need to be repotted. If this resonates with you, and the herbs stay alive, there are a lot of easy foods you can grow in your kitchen, like lettuce, green onion, kale, peppers, and even potatoes!

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