I came up with these 5 tips and tricks for eating healthy on a budget after years and years of trail and error. I wanted to share my favorite tips and tricks on grocery shopping on a budget, my favorite places to shop, and how I cut our grocery bill in half!
But Eating Healthy is Expensive
I used to spend $200 a week on groceries for me and my husband.
Yes that is as crazy as it sounds.
When I first started paleo, I bought a lot of foods that I thought I needed to have on hand. I bought a lot of food that also went to waste. I thought because I was buying all of the right things, and getting all the right foods that I was doing it right.
In reality, buying healthy food shouldn’t break the bank (or cost more than your car payment). I’ve made some slight adjustments to the way I grocery shop over the years to help us with eating healthy on a budget, and these are the top 5 things that have helped me save money on groceries and eat healthy for less.
1. Trader Joe’s is King
I can’t sing the praises of Trader Joe’s enough when it comes to saving money on eating healthy. Trader Joe’s is where I pick up a lot of my weekly staples like veggies, paleo baking flours, nut butters and more. They have a great selection of organic veggies for a great price. I rarely spend more than $40 on any given shopping trip there. You can download my Trader Joe’s Shopping Guide for some of my favorite items I pick up on a weekly basis.
2. Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15
The Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 is a list released and updated yearly by the Environmental Working Group that lists out produce with the lowest amounts of pesticides and produce that absorbs the most. You’ll typically find produce that does not have an outer shell to protect it in the dirty dozen like strawberries and spinach. These are the produce that you should prioritize as organic whenever possible. But items that are on the Clean 15 list absorb the least amount of pesticide and are okay to not buy organic (I see you avocados). This list helps to understand what produce should be organic and what produce you don’t need to purchase organic. This can help save money in the long run.
If you do go organic and notice that your produce is starting to go bad, toss them in the freezer. Berries and spinach are especially good to toss in the freezer for smoothies.
3. Thrive Market, and You Don’t Even Have to Leave Your House!
I didn’t discover Thrive Market until a few years ago, but oh man has it been a game changer when it comes to a lot of the specialty products I buy. They sell a lot of name brand specialty items like Siete and Simple Mills for lower prices than what you’ll find in stores. I’ve noticed that a lot of conventional grocery stores are starting to pick up these products which I think is great, but also jacking up the prices.
Thrive Market does require a $60 yearly membership fee, but I’ve saved so much money using them for my specialty products it has been well worth it. They also carry a lot of products that I haven’t been able to find locally. If you haven’t tried Thrive Market yet, you can click on this link for 25% off of your first order and your first month free.
4. Meet Your Local Farmer
Farmers Markets are an amazing way to not only get to know where your produce is coming from and who is growing the food, but it can also be a great way to save as well. If you visit the Farmers Markets in the last 30 minutes or so, the vendors will usually offer you a lower price so they don’t have to haul all of their stuff back with them.
If you have a local farm that produces meat as well, you can usually go in on a share, or what we do is buy a large box of meat at the beginning of the month that will last us the entire month. It may be a cost in the beginning to buy organic, pasture raised meat, but buying in bulk to freeze throughout the month will actually save you in the long run. There’s also a lot of great online bulk meat delivery services like Butcher Box and Vital Choice for seafood.
Meat is one of those things I can’t bring myself to compromise on when it comes to quality. We’ve met our local farmers, and seen how the animals are raised and what they are fed. I know not everyone may have that luxury, but doing more research into the source of your meat (or even contacting the farm directly) , and learning how they are raised and what they are fed, will go a long way. I set aside a large portion of our grocery budget for this at the beginning of the month.
5. Meal Prep Items that Can go With Everything
When you’re planning out your meals for the week, try to include ingredients that can be included in multiple meals, so that you are using all the food that you buy AND not having to buy tons of stuff. For example, if you meal prep chicken for the week – you can make a chicken veggie bowl for lunch, and maybe chicken tacos for dinner the next night. Pre cooking veggies is also a great way to make sure you always have something on hand to incorporate in meals in case you’re like me and don’t get enough veggies in your diet.
Here are some other little tips and tricks to keep on budget:
- I never leave home without a list. If I went to the grocery store without a list I would be like an unsupervised child in a candy store and my wallet (and my husband) probably wouldn’t be too happy about that.
- I only bring cash to the grocery store. I set aside a weekly budget for groceries, and pull that amount out in cash. It forces me to stick to the plan, and if I come in under budget I use that extra money for other groceries I may have “wanted” but didn’t “need”
- I haven’t done this personally, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about Imperfect Produce, a delivery box service that will deliver produce that isn’t perfect to your door for a discounted price.
I know how daunting switching to healthier eating can be at first, especially if you’re feeding an entire basketball team back at home. Adapting some of these tips will hopefully help you discover what works best for you and your family, and how to set aside a budget that keeps you healthy and happy. Eating healthy on a budget shouldn’t be complicated or impossible!
What are some tips and tricks that help you with eating healthy on a budget? Share in the comments below!