Eating Well on a Budget 

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One of the biggest concerns people have about implementing a healthy diet is how much it costs. I recognize the challenges of eating well with limited financial resources and time, so I hope this blog post provides some perspective, as well as strategies, that make eating healthy on a budget a little easier.

 

Before getting into strategies for saving money, I encourage you to first evaluate how your budget aligns with your values and goals. Quality nutrition is one of the biggest factors in achieving optimal health. For me, there is nothing more worth my time, money and investment than my health. Over the years, I’ve learned ways to reallocate funds from my budget that allow me to spend more on food. Areas I pulled from include eating out, going out, shopping, and traveling. If you haven’t sat down with your budget in a while, I encourage you to start here! 

 

Another thing to consider. The United States is the wealthiest country in the world, yet we spend the smallest percentage of our income on groceries. We also have the highest rates of obesity, chronic disease, and mental distress/disorders  in the world. I think we have it all backwards. In the short term, real, organic, healthy foods may be more expensive than fast food, factory farmed meat, GMO/pesticide ridden produce and other products. But in the long run, these types of food come at a huge cost, in that our health suffers. 

 

That being said, all of us want to save money and shop smartly. And there are lots of tips and tricks for slimming down your grocery bills. 

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Strategies for Saving Money on Groceries 

 

  • Buy whole foods and rely less on packaged, pre prepared or chopped foods. You always pay a premium for the convenience of preparation. ​​

  • Make more foods yourself. Think sauces, condiments, dressings, snacks, smoothies etc. Making these items yourself saves you money and exposure to additives, vegetable oils, and added sugars that come with most packaged foods. 

  • Prioritize shopping organic by utilizing the Environmental Working Group’s Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen guides. The Clean Fifteen is a list of tested produce that was found to have the LEAST amount of pesticide residue. The Dirty Dozen is a list found to have the MOST. So in order to save money, prioritize the Dirty Dozen for organic and buy the clean fifteen conventional. The EWG updates these guides yearly! 

 

  • Look at the cost per ounce on the left side of the price tag when comparing items. This is the best place to determine the cheapest price when comparing options. When there’s a sale, this will be updated, so make sure the sale is actually saving you money in comparison to other options that may not be on sale. 

 

  • Shop produce that is in season. Foods that are in season taste better, are cheaper, and more nutritious. Find out what is in season where you live here. 

 

  • Shop local. Utilize your Farmer’s Market’s, locals CSAs and butchers. When you shop directly from a farmer, cutting out the grocery store middle man, you’ll automatically save money. Plus you’re supporting your local community and getting some of the best quality, most nutrient dense food. This is also a great way to save money on organic quality produce, as many farmers follow organic farming practices, but don’t get the official organic certification due to the price. 

 

  • Get organized. Plan your meals and stick to a grocery list within a budget. This is a foundational step in implementing anything sustainable. 

 

  • Comparison shop. Compare prices at multiple stores on your most purchased products. Once you find the store that has the cheapest option, utilize grocery delivery to save time. 

 

  • Cook at home more. Eating out even two less meals per month could completely offset the higher cost of quality food. I encourage my clients to identify three go-to meals they can cook in 30 minutes or less. This saves money and reduces stress during busy weeks. Think stir-fries, veggie soup, or even breakfast for dinner. Keep it simple! 

 

  • Utilize subscriptions for things you use all of the time. This is especially helpful for bigger families who go through a lot of the staples. Amazon, Thrive Market and Butcherbox are my go-tos. 

 

  • Stock up when things are on a sale. I just bought 4 bottles of extra-virgin olive oil last night when they were 50% off as a daily special. I also love to do this for more expensive  organic, grass-fed or wild caught proteins. Just freeze and thaw for 24 hours before you plan to use. 

 

  • Speaking of sales. For any fellow Whole Foods junkies, download their app on your phone and link your Amazon account for an extra 10% off all sale items. 

 

  • Buy in bulk. Honestly, Costco is the MVP in our house. Also, cook in bulk. This way you have something ready to go on busy nights when dinner sneaks up on you. Last minute takeout adds up. 

 

  • Look for discounts and coupons. For many brands, especially those you have to order online, discount codes exist for first time buyers- sometimes up to 30% off! It’s definitely worth a quick google or instagram search. As a health coach, I contact trusted brands and products for discount codes to make them more accessible for my clients and community. For some examples, visit my shop page here. 

 

  • Know how to store your produce so that you aren’t wasting food, and in turn your money. Check out this article for everything you need to know. 

 

  • Pack your lunch. The average lunch out costs $13. The average meal made at home costs $4. Packing your lunch is an easy way to save money plus you have full control over what goes into your food.  Personally, I “habit stack” and pack my lunch for work while I make dinner. 

 

  • Drink water, and drink it out of a reusable water bottle. Beverages like sodas, kombuchas, juices, alcohol, etc really add up. Plus, the majority of them come with added sugars that are wreaking havoc on our health. Save yourself additional money and avoidance of microplastic by buying a reusable, stainless steel or glass water bottle over plastic bottles. ​

  • Utilize frozen produce. It's significantly cheaper and just as nutrient dense as fresh produce. ​

  • I recognize the privilege that comes with being able to afford food in this country period. Economic strains and rising food prices have now put one in four people on federal nutrition assistance. We have alot of work to do here,  but in the meantime, Good Food on a Tight Budget  by The Environmental Working Group is a great science-based guide for how to eat healthy food at the lowest cost. 

No matter where you are starting, my goal is to meet you where you are, and provide helpful, practical recommendations so you can feel your absolute best. If you have any questions on implementing these tips or need help getting started, feel free to send them my way at hello@ameliabrownwellness.com