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How to shop for healthy foods, even on a budget.

How to shop for healthy foods, even on a budget.

A complaint that I hear all the time, is that people “don’t have enough money to eat healthy”.  While eating healthy can be more expensive (especially if you are buying organic foods), you don’t have to break the bank to make healthier choices and improve your health.  Of course, we always have the option of drinking fresh green juice 3 times a day and spending a hundred dollar bill every day at Whole Foods, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  It is simple to make some minor changes to your shopping habits in order to make some positive changes to your health.


1) Avoid buying pre made foods and meals.


Most of the time it is much cheaper to make your own meals than to buy something pre-made.  For example: for an organic burrito you may pay 2-4 dollars for one 10 oz serving depending upon the store and the brand of the food; so buying ten of these could cost between 20-40 dollars total.  For that same 40 dollars you could easily buy organic chicken or beef, all of your spices, organic beans, organic tortillas, and make 15 or maybe even 20 burritos yourself.  It may be a little more time intensive to prepare your own meals, but they will almost always be better for you, and you’ll usually save money as well.


2) Buy in bulk when possible.


Often times you can find bulk bins at stores.  In these bulk areas, you can get  foods like: oatmeal, beans, rice, lentils, nuts, and seeds for much cheaper than the prices you will pay for prepackaged products through the store.  Usually these bins pour out into one of the bags available from the store, and you can either leave them in bags at home, or invest in some good tupperware so you can store foods longer in your pantry.  This rule can also apply to things like produce and meats, if these items are on sale or are cheaper per pound at a higher amount try to take advantage of it.  Often times I will see apples marked at 2 dollars per lb individually, yet there are 5lb bags for 4.99 in the same store.  I am not advocating buying more than you need, but if you can eat it, or if you can find a way to store it its a good way to save some money.


Also stores like Costco and Sam’s Club often have healthy foods that you buy in large amounts to save big money.  For example: they have 10 lb boxes of rolled oats for 7$, usually 1 lb of oats is between 1-2$, so you can save a lot this way when you start purchasing more items in bulk.  I frequently shop at Costco and I have found a lot of healthy foods much cheaper than they carry at other stores just to give you an idea of what I have found: quinoa, rolled oats, black beans, 6 lb bags of frozen chicken breast, organic eggs, a large variety of fresh produce, chia seeds, hemp seeds, organic cereals, extra virgin olive oil, organic unrefined coconut oil, and a ton of others!


3) Shop around, and take notes on prices.


By not buying foods at the very first place you see them, sometimes you can find them cheaper somewhere else.  For example: I frequently shop at 3 different stores.  I have a rough idea in my head about what things cost at each individual store, and where certain foods are cheaper.  I may not be able to find seaweed at store b or c, so I have to use store a.  Sometimes a, b, and c all carry an item so I chose the store with the lower price for the item in question.  This also applies heavily to online shopping.  You can often order bulk supplies from online cheaper than you buy them at the store.  Many websites offer lower prices for higher quantity purchases, so make sure to check into this option especially on bulk items and dried goods.  Nutsonline is a great website for buying bulk dried goods and powders.


4) Avoid buying drinks.


Drinks you buy at the store like: tea, cola, juices,and lemonades can be incredibly pricey, especially when you consider they have very little or no nutritive value; stick with drinks like water, and skim milk and if you want tea or coffee, try brewing it at home instead.  Just by skipping starbucks each morning and brewing your own coffee at home, you can easily save 50$ per month or more.


5) Pay attention to serving sizes and weight.  


Many companies try to trick their customers with deceptive packaging or other tricks to make you think you are getting a better deal than you are.  Many times, you will see two boxes of cereal sitting next to each other, one box is significantly bigger than the other and it is also slightly more expensive than the smaller box, but if you look closely you will sometimes see that the larger box actually has less food inside!  Many packages are injected with air or put inside of oversized packages to give the appearance of a more food, but by reading on the front label, you can tell how much weight is actually present in the box.


6) Dont always buy name brand.


A lot of people instinctually buy name brand foods because they think they are of a higher quality, but this is certainly not always the case.  Many stores like Kroger and even Whole Foods are now carrying private store labeled goods that are just as good or even better than name brands; sometimes, these store brands can cost half of what the same name brand foods cost.  By opening yourself up to trying foods that aren’t name brand, you can potentially save a large amount of money each month.

These six tips should all help you save money each month, and while some of them may cause a little bit of inconvenience or take longer, it is hard to put a price on your health.  Living healthier, feeling better, and feeling better about yourself and your choices are more than worth the small investment of time it takes to take care of yourself.  Try these tips out and let us know what you think.  Feel free to leave any other tips you can think of in the comments below or join us on Facebook, or twitter and tell us what you do to save money each money on healthy foods.

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