Are you avoiding eating balanced meals because you think that doing so will be expensive? It’s understandable. While grocery store prices can seem high sometimes, not all foods are pricey, especially when you take into account any sales and practice other ways to save money. To help you get started, here is a great guide to healthy eating on a budget.
A guide to healthy eating begins with making a list
When you take the time to compose a shopping list before going to the supermarket, then you are more likely to only buy what you need in the kitchen. That is, as opposed to random purchases in the moment that are actually overpriced but have attractive packaging.
Once you have the list in hand – or write it in your phone to look at, as I do – then make sure you don’t deviate from it. That way, you won’t be tempted by impulse items or stress.
Check flyers before leaving the house
Once you have the list, it’s time to price match. Yes, you can do so before you even enter the supermarket!
Many stores still mail paper flyers to residences, at least here in Canada. If you have specified to the postal service that you don’t want “junk mail,” then you might not get those weekly flyers to your mailbox anymore. But you can still look up the flyers online; they are digital and usually formatted to easily scroll through.
I will say though that some flyers are hard to look at on paper because the store is trying to fit too many things on each page. It takes a magnifying glass to see it all! But others are well-designed and categorized by the store department so you can see what is on sale that you might need for the kitchen.
Even if you don’t shop at the store whose flyer you are looking at, you can still take the flyer (or have the digital one ready on your phone to show the cashier) to the store you frequent to match its price.
Yes, that’s healthy eating on a budget. Recently, I saved $5 on grapes with a price match! Here’s my post on Instagram about my experience:
View this post on Instagram
Today I was grocery shopping and looking around at all the people in masks, thinking how there is anxiousness in the air. Then a man came up to me and another person close by to say that we could each get a cheaper price on the grapes by using his flyer (price match). He saved me $5 using that flyer! An unexpected connection when I felt isolation, thank you kind sir! #connection #priceless #humantohuman
Compare pricing in-store
When at the actual store and wearing your mask, take the time to look at the different prices for the item you want, such as ketchup. If you have only one brand you buy for this particular product, then look at the sizes to see what is the best deal.
Does it make sense to get the biggest one? Often the single-size variety of something is expensive. Whether you will use it before the expiration date or not is another consideration. Avoid food waste, whenever possible.
You will likely find too that generic brands are less expensive than brand names. So, that is a definite strategy for eating on the cheap.
Did you know too that the shelf the product is on can make a difference too? If it is on an eye-level shelf, then it might be more money than ones on lower or higher shelves. That’s a tip!
Psst, know what your budget is
While this tip seems obvious, it is surprising how many people go food shopping without knowing exactly how much money would be “too much” to spend on their grocery bill that day. Know the figure and stick with it. Better yet, get below that dollar amount and feel good about the money saved!
Eating healthy on a budget grocery list
Now that you know the shopping tips and tricks, let’s get into what kinds of foods you might buy from the store. After all, certain ones can be more inexpensive than others.
A budget meal plan can include foods that are only a few dollars each, with the goal to eat more at home than out in a restaurant or drive thru. You’ll know exactly what is going into the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, as well as homemade snacks, when you are the cook and control the ingredients.
As for what types of foods you can expect to find for just a few dollars each at the store that are healthy, they can be categorized as:
- Whole grains
While prices can differ from one store to another, you already know now about flyer price matching, so that’s an advantage! For whole grains, they can include whole grain pasta, brown rice, and whole wheat bread. Another great choice is low-fat cottage cheese.
Regarding veggies and fruits, frozen varieties can be surprisingly inexpensive, particularly if you get them on sale and stock up (if there is space in your freezer). Frozen vegetables like corn are affordable additions to stews, casseroles, and homemade soups, and they can be cheaper than canned versions.
Plus, these types of dishes are ones that go a long way. For example, a batch of stew can likely last a two-person family two to three meals.
For fruits, stick with those ones that are in season to help cut the costs of the bill. If you want those that are not in season, then look at what’s on sale in the freezer section of the grocery store.
Want to lose weight when healthy eating on a budget?
Did you know you can eat healthy and lose weight? True! It just takes knowing the tips, which is why this guide to healthy eating includes it.
To start with, avoid wasting food. Rather than buying more fresh items than you’ll use before the expiry date and throwing them out, focus on buying nutritious foods that you can re-purpose for other meals.
Then you’ll be able to use them up. Eggs are great for that! If you don’t use all the groceries then you throw them out and the money spent on them goes in the trash too. A waste of money, and it’s not good for the planet either.
Also, as earlier suggested, opt for frozen veggies too rather than canned ones. Vegetables have lots of nutrients and frozen varieties have just as many nutrients as refrigerated ones. If you do find a great deal on canned veggies, then go for it for the sake of your wallet but choose ones without the added salt.
While we all know that beans are attributed with being gassy and not sexy, they are great for filling you up longer, high in fiber, and make a meal go further than it might otherwise. If you want to lose weight and stay on budget, then they’re a terrific choice.
Concluding words on this guide for healthy eating
As you can see, maintaining a balanced and nutritious approach to eating does not have to leave you poor. There are affordable options at the supermarket, especially when you look for sales, check higher and lower shelves, and choose items with lots of vitamins and minerals.
What are some other tips for healthy eating on a budget?
This post is also available in: French