Grocery shopping can be challenging when you’ve got a tight budget. When you have a tight budget and you’re dedicated to eating healthy, it’s even trickier. Might as well give up and go for the Big Mac, right?
Put down the burger and step away from the fries. Eating healthy on a budget isn’t impossible (it might even be easy) if you follow these 6 tips.
#1 The farmer’s market is your friend.
Major retailers are in business to make a profit. Can’t fault them for that, but you can reduce the costs by skipping the middle man and going straight to the source. Reasonably priced produce can often be found at local farmer’s markets (and even when it isn’t cheaper, the food is tastier and better quality). To reduce costs even further, visit the market at the end of the day when you may be able to score bargain prices.
#2 Avert your eyes.
Back to that “supermarkets want to make a profit” thing – shelves are often stocked so that the priciest brands are at eye level. It’s a nifty psychology trick if you’re the store, but not so good if you’re a cash-strapped consumer. Look up or down and you may be able to find comparable goods with lower price tags.
#3 Keep your impulses in check.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail,” the saying goes. Planning your meals ahead of time – or at least coming to the store with a shopping list instead of winging it – can help ensure you stay healthy and within your budget. You can also plan your meals around sales, if you’re willing to put in an extra step. Either way, make sure your stomach isn’t rumbling when you hit the aisles. You’re much more likely to buy impulsively when you’re hungry.
#4 Embrace your inner Elsa and go frozen.
Fresh fruits and veggies are usually in season only a small portion of the year, and can be expensive investments. Frozen produce is cheaper, available all year, sold in sizeable bags, and generally just as nutritious as its un-frozen counterparts. It also saves money by reducing produce waste, since what’s in your freezer won’t spoil. Take your frozen food game to the next level by buying fresh produce when it’s in season and freezing it yourself.
#5 Don’t take the easy way out.
Purchasing prepared foods is guaranteed to inflate your grocery bill. A block of cheese is cheaper than shredded cheese. Whole carrots and celery are cheaper than tubs of pre-cut sticks. Heads of lettuce and stalks of other leafy greens are cheaper than the stuff in bags. It will require a slightly larger time commitment, but it’s worth it if you’re trying to conserve cash.
#6 Have a little black dress on hand.
Why does every woman have a little black dress in her closet? Because it works with any occasion and any accessory. The LBDs of the food world are equally versatile. Score yourself a large, inexpensive bag of brown rice or quinoa and you have an all-purpose side dish or meal base that can accompany anything you throw at it.