When you’ve got a tight budget, meal planning and grocery shopping has its challenges. And, when you have a tight budget and you’re dedicated to eating healthy, it’s even trickier. Eating healthy can feel expensive to some people, but there are ways to eat better while still sticking to your budget.
Here are 11 of my favorite tried and true ways:
- Make a list and stick to it! I am obsessed with making grocery lists. It is how I get what I truly needed and not what I think I may need. It is so easy to get off of track when you are grocery shopping. But with careful planning, you can jot down a note of what is on sale and remember to stick to your list to spend every penny wisely.
- Shop produce that is in season. Product that is in season are known for having the best quality for the best prices. Since it is in season, there is plenty of it to go around so markets are less likely to jack up the prices. Make sense? It is the basic law of supply and demand here. Not only will it save money in your wallet, it also tastes better in season!
- Cut down on meats or choose meats that are on sale. Meat is expensive and it is only projected to climb, according to recent stats. You can either minimize how much actual animal protein you eat weekly or you can try cheaper cuts of meat. Some great cheap cuts are chuck eye steak, beef sirloin, chicken thighs & drumsticks, ground beef, ground turkey, and bone in pork chops.
- Focus on other sources of protein. There are other (and cheaper) ways to get the protein you need without having to eat meat-just ask vegetarians! Popular choices are tofu, tempeh, spinach, non-dairy milk, nut butters, quinoa, beans, and sprouted bread. Get creative and discover new recipes for a “Meatless Monday” and also reap the benefits of cutting animal products out for a day.
- Purchase the off-brand. Buying generic brands are a great way to save money. Sure the packaging may not be as alluring or pretty, but many generics are made from the same ingredients as their name-brand counterparts. Some of the best things to buy off brand are: milk, pain relievers or other meds, pantry staples, water, and cereal.
- Look for markdowns or sales. Things go on sale everyday-if not every week. Thankfully, there are weekly store ads and even some iPhone apps that you can obtain to figure out when a sale will be going on. If you are not sure what is on clearance, ask a sales associate!
- Drink more water. One of my favorite tips ever-do not drink your money away. Nix the sodas, juices, sweet teas, beers, and wines. Not only will you cut down on drinking free water, you will also help your waistline shrink. However, if you live in an area where the water needs to be filtered, I would suggest buying a detachable Pur spout filter. It will typically last you 3 months for around $15. Or you can buy the pitchers that filter your water for you.
- Check out store rewards programs. Many stores these days have loyalty programs as a way to thank their customers for their continued shopping experiences. You an earn points to save on future products or even get tons of coupons! Some rewards programs worth taking a look at are:Walgreens, Starbucks, Target, some gas stations such as Shell, CVS, and KMART.
- Shop local farmers markets. Shopping local is not only what we encourage, but it is cheaper and healthier for you-not to mention that you are helping to support your local farmers versus a vegetable yielding factory. The only con is that they are not as readily available as Wal-Mart or some other grocery store is so you just have to do your research to find one closest to you.
- Start a garden. Starting your own garden can certainly give you a sense of pride and accomplishment-and you will know exactly whats in your food. In a matter of time and some effort, you can easily be growing your own organic fruits and vegetables.
- Buy in bulk. Shopping at wholesale clubs such as Sam’s club or Costco can end up saving you a ton.. if you are buying in bulk. Some great things to buy in bulk are: alcohol, cereal, dried beans, pasta, toilet paper, paper towels, non-perishables, and diapers.