Does it have to cost me my whole budget to eat healthy? Organic food is just too expensive. There is a myth that eating healthy = expensive. Yeah, it could cost me my whole budget but the simple truth is eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. Over the course of the years, my goal has been to develop some ideas for feeding healthy meals for our family of six while keeping to our monthly grocery budget. Here I share some tips with you that I have learned along the way.
1. Homemade meals are our JAM.Yeah, we enjoy eating our Chipotle when we are out at and about, hands down. But when it comes to eating out at ANY restaurant, in fact is it nearly impossible to really know what they have put in your food. This means you may be racking up more calories and unhealthy ingredients than you thought. So when you cook up some homemade goodness, you know every ingredient that goes into that delicious meal. Homemade meals will not only guarantee what kind of ingredients are going into your food and therefore helping you eat cleaner, but it will also help save you some money. Take for example a homemade omelet at your local breakfast cafe that can cost you around $8-$9, while making an omelet at home will cost you know more then a few dollars. So for 3 eggs, a handful of green peppers and onions and tomatoes you can make your homemade omelet for under $2 and with no mystery greasy oil base! ;)
2. Buy things in bulk and freeze.This has been a game changer for me, especially when it comes to purchasing meat, fish and chicken. Every month I head to our store and load up on chicken, hamburger meat, frozen fishes, etc. The great thing about loading up on meats ahead of time is that it keeps your weekly spending down but also helps you to always have plenty of protein sources in your freezer. For example:Wild Caught Salmon or Wild Cod= $10.00 for 1 lb, great Omega-3s Organic Chicken (frozen or not frozen)= $15.00 (around this price depending on size)
3. Explore grocery stores with private labels.Soo Trader Joes is our good friend! My mom introduced me to the wonderful land of T. Joes and I have been shopping there ever since. Did you know that Trader Joes and Aldi’s are sister stores? A fun little fact! You can get some amazing deals by buying items from these type of stores because they cut out the middle man and create there own products. Sure they aren’t “name brand” but 99% of the time they taste just as good, if not better. Did you know that all Trader Joe’s products have non GMO ingredients? So while it may be a private label, you won’t be sacrificing quality by shopping at these types of stores, the only thing you will save is $$.
4. Make a grocery list and menu for the week, and then stick to it!I don’t always get this right. Some weeks I find myself at the grocery store every day but we've saved money by making a plan and sticking to it. Most every Sunday afternoon when we’re relaxing and watching football or hanging out, Garrett and I sit down and plan out all the activities of the week, and that helps me create a meal plan for each day before heading to the grocery store. That way I know EXACTLY what we need and I am able to really prep and be sure we have what we need. A bonus is that I’ve calculated how much our family eats and so we RARELY have leftovers! If I have leftover grilled chicken, I will throw that into another meal later that week.
5. Buy vegetables and fruit in season.You are probably in the know that fruit and veggies vary in price depending what season it is. So when buying fruits that are in season you can see how the cost is cheaper! Have you ever noticed that your favorite fruits and vegetables are considerably more expensive during different seasons? That’s because not all produce grows year-round. Getting fresh fruits and vegetables in their off-seasons requires expensive travel and shipping, and the stores pass the cost on to you as a customer. For example, if you’re looking to save, stick to what’s in season, like apples and pears in the fall and strawberries and grapefruits in the spring.
Here's a fun little cheat sheet you can save on your phone and use next time you are sitting down to plan out your menu for the week. Seasona
l Fruits and Vegetables. Also, use the “Clean 15” and “Dirty Dozen” lists to help you navigate which products to buy organic (or take with you when you travel). For example, if you have a choice between more expensive organic red peppers and less expensive conventional asparagus – choose the asparagus. A side note you’ve probably noticed is that buying pre-washed and ready to eat fruits and veggies sometimes cost twice as much then when bought raw. So I like to keep white distilled vinegar in my kitchen and add a little cleaning step before eating or cooking them.