If you read part 1 on how to eat healthy on a budget, but want more tips, then here’s part 2 with more ideas! My article was originally posted at Dishfolio, but I’m sharing it here because it’s awesome
If you joined me for part 1 of my post earlier this week on how to eat healthy on a budget, here’s part 2 with some additional budget-friendly shopping tips! These posts ended up being quite long, so I split them up for easier reading. There’s nothing quite like trying to read an essay on shopping to put someone to sleep 😉
Since I have been re-doing some of my older posts, this one was posted on Dishfolio about 4 years ago and I decided to refresh the post a bit, so you’ll probably see some older comments below from my older blog Fit Betty (my fitness blog before I merged it with this one). One of my goals this year has been to revamp older posts on my blog to improve my older content, so this is part of that goal.
If you are on a journey to better health, buying and preparing the right food can be a challenge, not to mention making sure you’re not overspending on all those health foods. Here are some more great ways to save some money on your grocery bill while still eating healthy food. These tips are also great for families with multiple food allergies (like ours)!
How to eat healthy on a budget, part 2
1. Exercise Caution at discount grocery stores
Discount grocery stores are awesome! But I have found that I tend to buy a lot of junk food that I don’t need at discount grocery stores just because they are a really good deal. Ultimately, people who shop at discount grocery stores need to really think about what they need, otherwise it is too easy to spend money on frivolous sale items.
Discount junk food might be a good bargain, but it’s still junk food that will end up on your waistline regardless of the price. Save your money for healthy staples that you need so you don’t get sucked into the savings trap.
And don’t forget to check expiration dates: you will always overspend on food that gets thrown out, regardless of the discount!
2. Eat less packaged foods, even if they are healthy
Healthy snacks and packaged health foods are fun to have around, but they should still be considered occasional treats. Packaged health foods are usually more calorie dense and they cost much more than whole, fresh food because you are paying for preparation and packaging.
Keep staples around the house, like crackers and cereal, depending on your family dynamic, but keep the bulk of your intake from whole foods and you will save money and calories! There is, however, an exception to this rule…
3. It is ok to spend a little more money for convenience if it means less waste
It is ok to spend more for some convenience if it means that food (and money) won’t get wasted. I used to buy leaf lettuce because it was cheaper than bagged salad, but I honestly hate washing lettuce. The lettuce would just get old and tossed, so even though it was cheaper, I still wasted money by not using it.
I decided to spend a bit more and buy bagged salad. I don’t have to wash lettuce and we still get our greens and it doesn’t get wasted as much. Take a good look at your family’s habits and see where you can spare the extra cash and where you can save it. Every family is different, so don’t feel guilty for making your own grocery shopping rules that fit you best.
4. Instead of eating out in a pinch, try this…
“Don’t eat out” seems like a no brainer tip and is on everyone’s list of ways to save money and calories. But let’s be practical: what do you do when you are pressed for time or don’t have the energy to cook a full meal? People are busy, and McD’s is fast and cheap, but it isn’t something you should rely on regularly.
we still eat out at times, but we try not go out often to save money and to eat better. When we do take the time to eat out it’s usually something we really really love. When we are pressed for time, sometimes we’ll buy a rotisserie chicken and bagged salad or veggies (frozen or fresh) and we can throw together a healthy meal in 15 minutes. The cooked chicken is a bit pricier than a whole chicken you might cook at home yourself, but it is much healthier and more affordable than feeding 4 people (or more!) at a restaurant.
A couple of our local stores also sell the rotisserie chicken pulled off the bone, and many times it actually costs less than the whole chicken (considering the weight of skin and bones). Buy a container of pulled chicken, whole grain tortillas, avocados, and tomatoes to make easy pulled chicken tacos.
If you are on-the-go and can’t make it home to eat, buy some cooked chicken and pair it with a bag of carrots or some fruit for a quick and healthy meal even if you can’t make it home to sit down and eat. Many supermarkets also have a good selection of fresh single-serve green salads that are often cheaper than salads at many fast-food restaurants.
5. When traveling, shop at local supermarkets
You can save a little cash when you travel by hitting up the grocery or drug store for food and snacks rather than a restaurant. We have traveled to Las Vegas several times and the food and snacks can add up to a hefty tab! We took a walk down to Walgreens and picked up fruit, trail mix, and bottled water at a fraction of the cost that snack vendors were charging.
We usually try to book hotels with a microwave and fridge/freezer, and we go to supermarkets to stock up on healthy food and snacks for the next few days. There are plenty of quick and healthy meal options at a supermarket when you are traveling: single serve yogurt, single serve milk, fruit, veggies, healthy frozen meals, trail mix, dried fruit, cereal, etc.
We still often pack our own healthier and allergy-friendly snacks when we travel these days, and sometimes I’ll pack oats for easy overnight oats in our hotel. Between bringing some of my own staples (like gluten-free oats, nuts, and apples) and local grocery stores, we can still eat healthy and make eating affordable even while we travel.
Sarah Jane Parker is the founder, recipe creator, and photographer behind The Fit Cookie. She’s a food allergy mom and healthy living blogger based in Wyoming. Sarah is also an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Certified Health Coach, Revolution Running certified running coach, and an ACE Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist