Healthy Eating On A Budget
I received a request from one of my followers a few weeks ago for me to talk about eating healthy on a budget. I thought this was such a great question! So the other week I ran a poll on my Instagram stories to see if anyone else wanted to learn more about this and 100% of people voted ‘yes’. Clearly, this is a topic that needs to be addressed!
The main comment I’ve been getting is that overall eating healthy is expensive. First of all let me say, I agree. Eating healthy can definitely be pricey and I sometimes shake my head at the prices I see on fresh produce and meat at the grocery store.
However, it is important to point out that a higher price of food comes with the territory of eating healthy. For years we’ve grown accustomed to the ridiculously low prices of junk and processed foods. You could go to the grocery store and spend $100 on food for a few days, or you could head over to your favourite fast food chain and spend $30 on lunches for the entire week. I totally get it, it can be a tough pill to swallow when you start eating more whole-food based and all of a sudden your food bills are three times the price.
Unfortunately we are at the mercy of prices at the grocery stores and it’s not always cheap. But I wholeheartedly believe that we will pay for our health now, or we’ll pay for it later. I would personally rather keep my body healthy and strong than pay for medications and sick days later on. It is absolutely an investment to eat healthy but I think it’s the best investment that you’ll ever make. It’s never wasted money to invest in your health.
With that being said, I still like to budget when and where I can and I definitely go out of my way to make healthy eating as affordable as possible for us. For me there is no other option to eating this way so I have to do what I can, when I can, to save money.
To make things easier for you, I’ve rounded up some of my tips and things that I do to save money! Implementing any one of these tips is a great way to get started and save a few bucks at the grocery store.
Get organized and PLAN
There is nothing worse than walking into the grocery store without a plan. You end up buying a bunch of food that you have no ideas for so it sits in your fridge and pantry, until it inevitably gets thrown out.
Food waste is a huge waste of money. Take the time each week to sit down and plan out exactly what you need for all meals and snacks. Planning out your recipes and meals is the best way to ensure you’re getting exactly what you need and nothing goes to waste.
Watch for sales and keep an eye on prices
This may seem obvious but stock up when things go on sale! Obviously watching for fresh foods on sale is the best idea but this works really well for any non-perishable items you use frequently as well.
For example, if you know you use coconut milk in a lot of your recipes, then it’s worth it to buy a few cans when the price is really good. Having your pantry stocked with your favourite ingredients is also a great way to whip up healthy meals in a pinch.
Psst… for more tips on healthy eating tips and pantry staples, check out my Eat Well, Be Well ebook here! (link to ebook page)
Go more plant-based
One of the easiest ways to save money on food is to cut back on your meat consumption. Let’s be honest, meat is really expensive; particularly if you want to buy local, free-range, organic, wild-caught and/or grass-fed varieties. It’s definitely a nice idea to consume these meats but it is definitely not financially possible for most people.
Try including more beans, legumes and other plant-based proteins into your meals. Plant-based proteins offer so many health benefits and they are a fraction of the cost of meat. Canned beans are a really convenient option, but go for dried beans for even more savings.
If you’re not used to eating plant-based proteins then start slow! You don’t need to make full-on vegan meals but you can definitely sub in some beans in place of meat. This way you still get to enjoy your animal proteins while saving some money at the same time.
Shop around for the best price
Know your stores and know where to find the best price. Here in Winnipeg we are definitely limited on our options for natural/heath food stores. Unfortunately we have one major health food chain here and their prices can definitely be high. But luckily natural foods are gaining in popularity and the regular grocery stores are catching on! Superstore and many Sobeys locations have great “natural foods” sections and their prices can be really good. I also find a lot of my favourite organic and natural brands mixed right in with the regular brands at my local Osborne Village Safeway!
Be sure to shop around and become familiar with which stores have the best prices on what you’re looking for.
Keep it simple
Stick to whole foods and limit your consumption of supplements, powders and potions.
These additional items are a great supplement to any healthy diet. But they should stick to being a supplemental part of your routine. These items are always pricier than real food and in many cases they aren’t even necessary. If you’re just starting to change your habits and eat healthier, don’t get swayed into thinking you need these other items as part of your healthy lifestyle. Focus on food first and when in doubt, stick to nutrient-dense whole foods as much as possible.
Buy in bulk
It will always be cheaper to buy in bulk; particularly with foods like nuts, seeds and flours for baking. Bulk Barn has a great selection of these items and you will save a lot of money by ditching the fancy packages and buying them in bulk.
Choose your brands wisely
Popular “name” brands are well known and usually what we’ll gravitate towards purchasing. But next time you’re at the store be sure to start paying attention to the generic, “no-name” brand versions of products. I find a lot of these less-fancy brands actually have superior products to some of the other brands and they are always cheaper. Just be sure to still read your ingredient lists so you know exactly what’s in your food and choose the best brand accordingly.
One of my favourite “no-name” brands is Kirkland at Costco. They make so many great products and their prices are definitely the best. Their organic virgin coconut oil is the best price I’ve seen anywhere and it’s no different than the more expensive brands.
Shop in season
Whenever possible buy fresh produce in season. You’ll notice the prices of fruits like grapes and berries skyrocket in the winter months. It’s just not worth it to spend the extra money on these foods, particularly when the quality of the food isn’t the best in the winter months.
Take advantage of local produce whenever you can. Here in Manitoba we have a short growing season but it’s definitely nice in the summer and fall months to enjoy it to the fullest.
Frozen fruits and vegetables are a great option to use in the winter months when fresh isn’t available or reasonably priced.
Of course I’m not referring to any type of fresh food with this one. But there are so many great pantry and kitchen staples that are so much cheaper to buy online!
Certain foods like nuts and seeds, snack foods, baking supplies and other natural/health foods are great to buy online. You are more likely to find deals and better prices overall when you shop online. I like using Amazon, Well.ca and Vitasave.ca for a lot of my supplement and natural food purchases.
Eat at home and make your food from scratch whenever you can
This may sound obvious but how often do we go for the convenience of pre-made foods? How often do we eat out when we don’t feel like cooking? These are habits that really add up over time, especially if you try to eat healthy while eating out. Stick to homemade meals and snacks as much as possible!
P.S. Looking for some personal guidance at the grocery store to get started? You’re in luck! I’m currently running a promo with my initial holistic nutrition consultations! Book in your 1-hour consult with me and you’ll receive a FREE grocery store tour. I’ll help you walk through the grocery store with a fine-toothed comb and we’ll cover how to shop healthy and smart. You can also choose to have a meal prep/cooking session or pantry clean out! Click here to get in touch with any questions or to book your consult.