One thing that I struggle with, and I know many others do as well, is finding the perfect balance of eating well without breaking the bank. I’ve heard time and time again that healthy eating is way too expensive, and I definitely agree that it can be! It’s easy to get sucked into the fancy new “healthy” products on the shelves. I’ll admit that I’ve been guilty of spending far too much on something as basic as a box of crackers!
I personally make it a priority to buy the best quality groceries that I can. On the other hand, having money in my bank account is a priority as well. So, how can we all have both of those things? Here are a few simple tricks that I have learned to incorporate to keep my grocery budget low while still buying high quality food.
Meal Plan – Making a meal plan for the week can be a pain but it is so worth it at the end of the day. I personally like to plan all of my breakfasts & dinners, and use leftovers for lunches. A great trick is to make the recipes for the week work together so that you don’t end up with leftover ingredients that you have to throw away. If you make a roast chicken one night, then perhaps you can make broth with the bones and use that for soup later on in the week. Or if you know that you’ll have a lot of leftover veggies from other dinners, plan to make a stir fry! Most importantly… make a grocery list straight from your meal plan and stick to it once you’re at the store!!
Keep it Simple – You don’t need to try a new recipe every single night of the week, and you also don’t need to make a huge meal every night either. Sticking to a handful of the “old faithful” quick, easy meals usually means less ingredients, and a better chance that you’ll already have some of them on hand. Try to incorporate some meatless meals into the rotation, which will cut back on your weekly grocery bill big time!
Shop Local & Seasonal – I’ve been a huge believer in farmer’s market shopping for a long time, and I can absolutely say that it saves me money on my produce. During my meal planning process, I usually leave out the specific details about the veggies I am going to use. I make a note of how many meals I need veggies for on my grocery list. Once I get to the market, I make those choices based on what looks delicious, what I can buy locally, and what the prices are like. That way, I don’t end up spending way too much on veggies that are out of season and have been imported!
Shop Around – One of the biggest things that I’ve learned recently is to stop assuming that the small, organic grocery stores will be the most expensive. I have found time and time again that some specialty items can be purchased at somewhere like Community Natural Foods for less than at Superstore. For certain high-priced items that I buy on a regular basis, I keep track of prices at different stores that I shop at in my phone. By doing this, I can compare while I’m in the store and know for sure if it’s worth going somewhere else to pick it up or not.
Another thing to keep in mind is the “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen”. Know where to splurge on organic produce and where it’s okay to spend a little less. Online grocery shopping has also become a convenient option, and can offer some savings as well! Some specialty items (seeds, flours, etc.) can also be purchased online in bulk, which can offer significant savings over time. If you are buying large quantities of nuts, seeds or flours, be sure to store them in the freezer to maintain their nutritional value!
DIY – Salad dressing, broth, hummus, condiments, pasta sauce… what do all of these things have in common? They are overpriced. Full of unnecessary ingredients. And insanely easy to make at home. Getting creative and making things from scratch will save you huge in the long run. Don’t worry, you don’t have to make everything at once! Whenever I have some extra time during my meal prep day or a free evening through the week, I’ll add something extra to the mix. It’s so convenient to make items that can be frozen; having jars of things like broth and pasta sauce in the freezer is a lifesaver on busy days, and it stops me from picking up those extra items on my way home!
So there you have it… a few tips that I use to get on track with my grocery store spending. Drop a comment below if you have anything else to add to this list; I would love to hear some of your thoughts!
Jen loves to motivate and encourage others in their own health journey, and she believes that each person should navigate their path in a way that is as unique as they are. As part of the Naturmend team, she welcomes the opportunity to share knowledge and support with others within the community.