How to eat healthy foods and save money at the same time

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This is a guest post by Mehdi, author of StrongLifts.com. If you enjoy this post, check out his site.

Eating healthy is important.

  • Lowers disease risks
  • Increases productivity
  • Gives you more energy
  • Makes you stronger

You probably think eating healthy is expensive. I’ll be honest — it is. But there are tricks to spare your savings account and keep it low cost. Here are sixteen ways to eat more healthy while keeping it cheap.

What is Healthy Food? Before we start, let’s define healthy food. It consists of:

  • Protein. The building blocks of muscles, needed for strength.
  • Fat. A balanced intake of omega 3, 6 & 9.
  • Veggies. All kinds, especially green fibrous veggies.
  • Fruit. Full of vitamins.
  • Water. 1 liter per 1000 calories you expend.
  • Whole grain food. Oats, rice, pasta, breads, …

On with the tips.

1. Switch to Water. I drank huge amounts of soda daily for more than 15 years. Then I started Strength Training and switched to water:

  • It’s healthier
  • It’s cheaper

Quit the soda & drink water. Take a bottle wherever you go.

2. Consume Tap Water. Check the price of water on your tap water bill. Now check the price of bottled water. Quit a difference, isn’t it? So why are you buying bottled water?

  • Cleaner? Not necessarily.
  • Better taste? No, simply a matter of Adaptation.

Bottled water companies get their supply from the same source you do: municipal water systems. It’s like selling ice to Eskimos. If you don’t trust the quality of tap water, filter it yourself. I use a Brita Pitcher. One $7 filter cleans 40 gallons water.

3. Eat Eggs. I always have eggs at breakfast:

  • Full of vitamins
  • High in proteins
  • Low in price

Don’t believe the Eggs & Cholesterol myth. Dietary cholesterol is not bound to blood cholesterol. Want to make it cheaper? Buy a chicken.

4. Eat Fatty Meats. Fatty meats are cheaper & more tasty than lean meats. You think it’s not healthy? Check the Fat Myths:

  • Fat doesn’t make you fat, excess calories do
  • You need a balanced intake of fats: omega 3, 6 & 9

I’m on the Anabolic Diet, I buy beef chuck instead of sirloin.

5. Get Whey. The cheapest source of protein. 70$ for a 10lbs bag lasting 4 months. Nothing beats that. Use whey in your Post Workout Shake to help recovery.

6. Tuna Cans. Canned tuna is cheap & contains as much protein as meat. Alternate tuna with eggs, meat & whey. You’ll easily get to your daily amount of protein.

7. Buy Frozen Veggies. I mostly buy frozen veggies:

  • Take less time to prepare
  • You don’t waste money if not eaten in time
  • Can be bought in bulk for discounts & stored in your freezer

If you can afford fresh veggies, then do it. I go frozen.

8. Use a Multivitamin. Pesticides lower the vitamin levels of your fruits & veggies. Two solutions:

  • Buy organic food. Expensive.
  • Use a multivitamin. $10 a month.

Choose what fits your wallet best. I take the multivitamin.

9. Fish Oil. Omega-3 is found in fish oil. Benefits of omega-3 consumption include:

  • Lowered cholesterol levels
  • Decreased body fat
  • Reduced inflammation

You need to eat fatty fish 3 times a week to get these benefits. Time consuming & expensive, I know. Try Carlson‘s Liquid Fish Oil with Lemon flavor. One teaspoon daily. You’ll be ok.

10. Buy Generic Food. The box might be less attractive, it’s certainly more attractive to your wallet. Brand-name food will always be more expensive. You’re paying for the name. Get real. Food is food. Go generic.

11. Buy in Bulk. Think long-term. Buying in bulk is more expensive at the cashier, but cheaper in the long run:

  • Gets you discounts
  • Saves time
  • Saves car fuel

Invest in a big freezer. Buy meats & veggies in bulk and freeze them.

12. Go to One Grocery Store. This grocery store is cheaper for meat, that grocery store is cheaper for veggies, the other grocery store is cheaper for fish… How many grocery stores are you going to, trying to find the cheapest food? Think!

  • Time is money. Stop losing a day shopping.
  • Cars don’t run on water. Lower your fuel expenses.

I get all my food in a big grocery store near my place. It hasn’t the cheapest price for all foods, but it saves me time & fuel.

13. Make a Plan . A classic, but worth repeating. Everything starts with a plan.

  • Make a list of what you need
  • Eat a solid meal, don’t go hungry
  • Go the grocery, get what’s on your list & get out

No need to take your partner or kids with you. This is not a recreational activity. Just get your food & get back home.

14. Take Food To Work. Ever counted how much money you throw away buying food at work daily? Start preparing your food for the day on waking up:

  • Get up earlier
  • Eat a solid breakfast (like Scrambled Eggs)
  • Prepare your food for work in the meanwhile

Total time 30 minutes. No stress during the day about what you’ll be eating & you get healthy food while sparing money.

15. Eat Less. This one is obvious. The less you eat, the lower your grocery bill. If you’re overweight, get on a diet. Your health & bank account will thank you.

16. Don’t Buy Junk Food. The last one. Stop buying anything that comes out of a box, it’s:

  • Unhealthy
  • Expensive

If you actually find junk food that is cheaper than whole food, think long-term. Health implications.

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Smart grocery store swaps

You’ve heard the old excuse before: Healthy eating is expensive. I can confidently call my food choices healthy—at least most of the time—but I’m also a cheapskate at heart. Luckily, I manage to eat healthy on a budget, thanks to a few simple swaps—some of which save calories, too!

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Too pricey: Fresh berries

Smart swap: Frozen berries

Fresh berries are often very expensive, especially when they are out of season. Frozen berries cost much less and they’re just as nutritious for you. Plus, with frozen berries, you don’t have to worry about eating them before they go bad. Throwing away rotten food is like wasting money!

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Too pricey: Instant oatmeal

Smart swap: Quick oats

Instant oatmeal is great in a pinch, but buying a huge canister of quick oats is a much more cost-effective option. If you compare unit price on the two items, it’s much more economical to purchase the quick oats. For an on-the-go option, I portion out 1/2 cup of quick oats, put them in a Tupperware container, and add hot water when I get to my destination. Plus instant packets are often packed full of added sugars (and calories!). I prefer to sweeten my bowl with more natural options, like thawed frozen berries.

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Too pricey: Vegetable chips

Smart swap: Kale chips

As a salty snack, homemade kale chips are a great swap to expensive veggie chips. And at less than 50 calories per cup, they’re just a fraction of the calories as the store-bought stuff. While they do require some prep work, kale chips are incredibly easy to make. Just spray washed kale with cooking spray, season with sea salt, and bake at 350° for about 15 minutes. They taste just like potato chips!

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Too pricey: Fresh salmon fillet

Smart swap: Canned salmon

We all know we should eat more fish, as it is rich in omega-3s, but buying fresh fish is not always friendly on my wallet. Instead, I swap fresh salmon for canned salmon, which is much less expensive, and I am still able to get those healthy omega-3s in my diet. Plus, salmon salad makes an über-tasty packed lunch.

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Too pricey: Whey protein powder

Smart swap: Tofu

Tofu sometimes gets a bad rap due to its mushy texture and bland taste, but swapping it with expensive whey protein powder in my smoothies saves me quite a few dollars. As a healthy, hunger-fighting protein source, tofu blends right into my smoothies, but for a fraction of the price.

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Too pricey: Lärabars

Smart swap: Nuts and dried fruit

Larabars are one of my favorites snacks, but buying them every week definitely takes a toll on my budget. Instead, I eat dried fruit, like dates and prunes, and nuts, like almonds and walnuts, and save my Larabars for a special treat. Eating dried fruit and nuts together makes a very filling snack that also satisfies my sweet tooth.

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Worth the splurge

Even though I make a number of budget-friendly swaps at the grocery store, there are some items that are worth the splurge to me. Greek yogurt and almond butter, in particular, are pricey, but I can’t seem to live without them. I rationalize their high price by saving money in other ways at the grocery.

Here are my 6 favorite tips and tricks for stretching every last grocery dollar.

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Plan a week’s worth of meals

When it comes to saving money at the grocery store, much of it happens before I even leave my house. Typically, on Sunday afternoons, I take the time to meal-plan for the week.

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Poke around the fridge

The first thing I do in my meal-planning process is take stock of what I already have in my kitchen. I take the time to move things around in the refrigerator and scour the cabinets to see what I have on hand. Most of the time, I am surprised by what I find—a jar of marinated artichoke hearts, a can of pinto beans, a half-used bag of coffee. Instead of buying these items again or letting them go to waste, I incorporate them into the coming week’s menu.

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Consider your schedule

Before I visit the grocery store, I look at my calendar as well as my husband’s for the upcoming week and create meals around when we will be home for dinner. We typically plan a meal for each night at home and make sure to take into account meals with lots of leftovers—like casseroles or homemade pizza. I keep in mind that Fridays and Saturdays are usually “wing it” nights because we’ll often end up going out to dinner or meeting friends for appetizers and drinks, so I don’t buy extra food for those nights.

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Don’t be afraid of bruised produce

I always check out the reduced produce area with the hope of finding some good deals. Usually, this produce has a single bump or bruise that can easily be cut off. But, I only buy produce that I plan to use right away or have something in mind for. It’s not worth buying damaged produce if I don’t end up using it. Lately, I’ve been buying a bunch of bruised produce that I immediately peeled and freeze for smoothies.

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Stock up on staples

Sure, you’ve heard of the “make a list and stick to it” tip when grocery shopping. It’s a great piece advice, and I usually keep it in mind. However, I also make sure to stock up on my favorite products when they go on sale. My husband and I plow through peanut butter and oatmeal like it’s our job, so when they go on sale, I make sure to buy them even if we haven’t run out yet. I know that we’ll use these items at some point, so I might as well stock up and save a little money.

How to eat healthy foods and save money at the same time

Yesterday, I was in need of some healthy-eating ideas. So I ended up searching for “healthy eating” on Pinterest, where all inspiration is found.

But there was one problem: Pinterest, as usual, gave me an insane amount of healthy recipes and meal ideas. But most of them were really complicated or had unusual ingredients that I don’t normally buy. So I ended up wasting a lot of time finding a not-so-hard recipe with the ingredients that I had. There has to be a better way!

Have you ever found a recipe that looks great, but requires 10 different ingredients, and you only have 6 of them?

I’ve found that the easiest and cheapest way to eat healthy is to keep is simple. As simple as possible.

Ways to Keep it Simple & Save Money:

1. Keep your favorite fruits & vegetables easily accessible

To start with, keeping it simple and healthy means easy-peasy plain fruits and veggies. Focus on getting 1 serving of fruit or 1 serving of vegetables at every meal. No exceptions!

Are you getting a naughty McDonald’s take out? Add an apple or a few baby carrots.

Are you feeling a little hungry? Instead of hitting the cookie box, go for your favorite fruit or vegetable first. We try to make sure that we have at least one kind of “favorite” fruit available each week as well as one kind of “favorite” vegetable snack. So we might buy a bag of pears and some fresh cucumbers to munch on for snacks.

We put them on the kitchen countertop or make them very accessible in the fridge to keep them top of mind.

2. Keep meat to a minimum

First of all, meat is expensive, so we try to stretch it as far as we can. Here are some of the ways we do that:

  • Replace meat with new favorite items: We add beans to tacos and quesadillas so that we can use less meat. They’re inexpensive, filling, and so good for you. We love fat-free refried beans.
  • Chop your meat: Instead of serving a big expensive steak, add a little chopped meat over your meals. Or smaller steak slices. For example, add a bit of chopped ham to a salad and baked potato meal. You can also get a huge bag of frozen stir fry veggies that includes the sauce in the freezer section of the grocery store. Cook up a batch of rice and add a little chopped chicken, shrimp, or beef for a healthy and inexpensive meal.
  • Soup! A small amount of meat, whatever veggies you’ve got and some broth. We love soup. I plan on sharing some of my favorite soup recipes this fall.
  • The Fun Platter. This is my husband’s specialty: he uses our fresh leftovers to make an amazing meal platter. Bits of meat, cheese, veggies, and whatever else he can find becomes a mini feast. It’s pretty inexpensive and healthy, with just a little bit of meat and a lot of veggies.

How to eat healthy foods and save money at the same time

When meat is the main course, don’t get sucked into complicated recipes. Simple is healthy.

3. Use chicken

We buy boneless, skinless chicken breast in bulk when it’s on sale (less that $2/lb). I freeze it all in 1-2 lb portions.

If you like this article, please save it on Pinterest 🙂

The easiest and most delicious chicken recipe I know is to marinate it overnight in balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing and then grill it. That’s it. You won’t believe how good this tastes.

To stretch the chicken, we chop it up and use it in wraps, quesadilla, on noddles, or in anything else. If we eat it plain as a main course, we make sure to have large portions of vegetables and rice with it.How to eat healthy foods and save money at the same time

4. Fish is healthy and can be inexpensive

I know fish is so healthy, but it has always seemed too hard to make. This year has been different though. We’ve been eating a lot of fish and I’m shocked at how fast and easy it is. I can make a dinner like the one in the picture below in less than 15 minutes. Plus, it’s so good for you!

If you aren’t normally a fish eater, you’ll probably be surprised at how filling it is. I know the price per pound can seem high, but we feel fuller on small piece of fish compared to the same size piece of chicken or beef.

Frozen tilapia is what’s most cost effective to buy around here. I usually buy a big bag from Aldi or Sam’s Club. We buy frozen Salmon if we’ve got a little extra money.

How to eat healthy foods and save money at the same time

Once it’s thawed, I simply cook in on the stove with a tablespoon of olive oil and some seasonings. Lately, we’ve been using a lemon pepper seasoning. While the fish is cooking, I microwave some sweet potatoes. Other side dishes we like to add are some noodles (I’m a Pasta Roni addict), or chips and salsa.

5. Limit specialized Ingredients

A lot of super healthy recipes use foods that I don’t normally buy. Some of the ingredients are very expensive, and it can quickly add up.

I’m cautious about buying all kinds of new specialty ingredients. I could blow my budget in a heartbeat buying chia seeds, goji berries, and organic flaxseed.

If I want to try some new healthy ingredients, I take them one at a time. I purchase one and try it a few different ways to get used to cooking with it and eating it.

Most of our meals center around the same group of ingredients. I know that if I try a recipe that is completely different from what we normally eat, there’s a smaller chance that we’ll like it, and we’ll have to spend extra money buying all kinds of ingredients that we don’t keep on hand. That’s a big reason why I try to add in new ingredients one at a time.

6. Meal plan to keep costs low

You know I can’t mention saving money on food and sticking to your grocery budget without talking about meal planning.

If you’re trying to eat healthier, don’t just buy a bunch of random healthy things at the store. You need foods that go together or you’ll have tons of ingredients that you can’t make anything with.

When I make my grocery list for the week, I also make a separate list of all of the meals that I’m going to make with the food I’m buying.

If you want extra meal planning help, I’ve got a free video training series that will break meal planning down into its simplest form so that it is no longer overwhelming. You’ll figure out why your grocery bill is so high and learn how to avoid the most common meal planning mistakes! Click HERE to sign up for the free meal planning videos!

Sticking to the same foods helps Kara Perez eat nutritiously, fight the urge to snack and overeat, and save money and time. Here she makes the case for how this strategy can help you.

I’ll never be someone who loves to cook. All of my cookware comes from Goodwill, and I find the prospect of creating meals in the kitchen more annoying than exciting. Because of this, I’ve attempted to simplify my meal-planning as much as possible. For a while, that meant a lot of packaged foods—like entire meals of tortilla chips and salsa.

Over the past two months however, I’ve developed a routine that is healthy, easy, and delicious. I consume the same exact thing for breakfast and lunch every day. Yes, I can almost see all the foodies weeping at that statement. But let me explain what I eat, and why it works.

Breakfast is a cup of black coffee and a bowl of Kashi Go Lean cereal with soy milk. For lunch, I eat one piece of whole wheat toast with avocado, hemp seed hearts, and tomato slices, topped with a fried egg. Sometimes on the weekends I switch up my lunch for something else, particularly if I’m eating out of over a friend’s house. But for the most part, this is what you’ll find me fueling up on twice a day.

I’m a freelance writer who works from home. As a freelancer, if I’m not working, then I’m not making money. My time is precious, and since I dislike cooking, having a go-to meal saves me time that I can dedicate to working. I always know how much time I need to spend cooking, eating, and cleaning up every day.

This means I can plan my days a little easier. It also means I don’t have to worry about scrounging up a meal each day I work from home. There’s no time wasted or temptation to procrastinate by making a more time-intensive dish.

Eating the same thing during the workday also means that I can control my budget and my nutrition. When I do my grocery shopping, I know that I need eggs, soy milk, cereal, avocados, tomatoes, bread, and hemp seeds. I can account for that in my spending and keep myself on budget. By keeping these foods on hand, I also cut down on the temptation to eat out. I know I can whip up a healthy and delicious meal quickly, and I save the cash I might otherwise spend on eating out.

I’m someone who can easily overeat or spend time snacking; I tend to be a grazer. But my meal routine lets me meet my caloric and nutritional needs while keeping me satiated until dinner. I know that I’m getting protein from the cereal and eggs, vitamin C and K from the tomato, omega-3’s from the hemp seeds, and fiber from the whole wheat bread. No matter what I eat for dinner, I’ve introduced these vitamins and nutrients into my diet through breakfast and lunch.

It’s not just what I eat every day that helps me stay healthy—having a set time to sit down for a food break keeps my metabolism steady. I eat breakfast around 9 a.m. each day; lunch happens four hours later. By the time 1 p.m. rolls around, I’m genuinely hungry for lunch, which in turn keeps me full until I eat dinner between 6-8 p.m.

However, I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist. So I asked someone with a health background if it was okay to eat the same two meals every day, and why this meal-planning has worked so well for me.

Stacey Mattinson, a registered dietitian in Austin, Texas, told me that the basis of my meal plan is fine, but variety never hurts. “Nutritionally speaking, we always recommend variety,” says Mattinson. “Different foods offer different nutrition profiles. Leafy greens offer vitamin K while red or orange foods are high in beta-carotene.”

She clarified further. “Is it wrong or hurtful to eat the same thing? No, I wouldn’t say that it’s detrimental, particularly because you’re eating a different dinner and have some variety on the weekends. If you have a different source of protein for dinner—like beans or tofu—keeping the base of your breakfast and lunch the same is not a problem. You can certainly increase your nutritional quality with variety, but there’s no problem with keeping the base the same.”

She recommended adding a few different types of fruit to my breakfast for variety, or switching the vegetables I put on my toast at lunch for an extra nutritional punch. I’m open to the idea of switching in other vegetables like spinach to my egg and toast, or having a banana with my cereal. But since I don’t feel the itch to change things up, I’m sticking to what works, for now.

How to eat healthy foods and save money at the same time

Yesterday, I was in need of some healthy-eating ideas. So I ended up searching for “healthy eating” on Pinterest, where all inspiration is found.

But there was one problem: Pinterest, as usual, gave me an insane amount of healthy recipes and meal ideas. But most of them were really complicated or had unusual ingredients that I don’t normally buy. So I ended up wasting a lot of time finding a not-so-hard recipe with the ingredients that I had. There has to be a better way!

Have you ever found a recipe that looks great, but requires 10 different ingredients, and you only have 6 of them?

I’ve found that the easiest and cheapest way to eat healthy is to keep is simple. As simple as possible.

Ways to Keep it Simple & Save Money:

1. Keep your favorite fruits & vegetables easily accessible

To start with, keeping it simple and healthy means easy-peasy plain fruits and veggies. Focus on getting 1 serving of fruit or 1 serving of vegetables at every meal. No exceptions!

Are you getting a naughty McDonald’s take out? Add an apple or a few baby carrots.

Are you feeling a little hungry? Instead of hitting the cookie box, go for your favorite fruit or vegetable first. We try to make sure that we have at least one kind of “favorite” fruit available each week as well as one kind of “favorite” vegetable snack. So we might buy a bag of pears and some fresh cucumbers to munch on for snacks.

We put them on the kitchen countertop or make them very accessible in the fridge to keep them top of mind.

2. Keep meat to a minimum

First of all, meat is expensive, so we try to stretch it as far as we can. Here are some of the ways we do that:

  • Replace meat with new favorite items: We add beans to tacos and quesadillas so that we can use less meat. They’re inexpensive, filling, and so good for you. We love fat-free refried beans.
  • Chop your meat: Instead of serving a big expensive steak, add a little chopped meat over your meals. Or smaller steak slices. For example, add a bit of chopped ham to a salad and baked potato meal. You can also get a huge bag of frozen stir fry veggies that includes the sauce in the freezer section of the grocery store. Cook up a batch of rice and add a little chopped chicken, shrimp, or beef for a healthy and inexpensive meal.
  • Soup! A small amount of meat, whatever veggies you’ve got and some broth. We love soup. I plan on sharing some of my favorite soup recipes this fall.
  • The Fun Platter. This is my husband’s specialty: he uses our fresh leftovers to make an amazing meal platter. Bits of meat, cheese, veggies, and whatever else he can find becomes a mini feast. It’s pretty inexpensive and healthy, with just a little bit of meat and a lot of veggies.

How to eat healthy foods and save money at the same time

When meat is the main course, don’t get sucked into complicated recipes. Simple is healthy.

3. Use chicken

We buy boneless, skinless chicken breast in bulk when it’s on sale (less that $2/lb). I freeze it all in 1-2 lb portions.

If you like this article, please save it on Pinterest 🙂

The easiest and most delicious chicken recipe I know is to marinate it overnight in balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing and then grill it. That’s it. You won’t believe how good this tastes.

To stretch the chicken, we chop it up and use it in wraps, quesadilla, on noddles, or in anything else. If we eat it plain as a main course, we make sure to have large portions of vegetables and rice with it.How to eat healthy foods and save money at the same time

4. Fish is healthy and can be inexpensive

I know fish is so healthy, but it has always seemed too hard to make. This year has been different though. We’ve been eating a lot of fish and I’m shocked at how fast and easy it is. I can make a dinner like the one in the picture below in less than 15 minutes. Plus, it’s so good for you!

If you aren’t normally a fish eater, you’ll probably be surprised at how filling it is. I know the price per pound can seem high, but we feel fuller on small piece of fish compared to the same size piece of chicken or beef.

Frozen tilapia is what’s most cost effective to buy around here. I usually buy a big bag from Aldi or Sam’s Club. We buy frozen Salmon if we’ve got a little extra money.

How to eat healthy foods and save money at the same time

Once it’s thawed, I simply cook in on the stove with a tablespoon of olive oil and some seasonings. Lately, we’ve been using a lemon pepper seasoning. While the fish is cooking, I microwave some sweet potatoes. Other side dishes we like to add are some noodles (I’m a Pasta Roni addict), or chips and salsa.

5. Limit specialized Ingredients

A lot of super healthy recipes use foods that I don’t normally buy. Some of the ingredients are very expensive, and it can quickly add up.

I’m cautious about buying all kinds of new specialty ingredients. I could blow my budget in a heartbeat buying chia seeds, goji berries, and organic flaxseed.

If I want to try some new healthy ingredients, I take them one at a time. I purchase one and try it a few different ways to get used to cooking with it and eating it.

Most of our meals center around the same group of ingredients. I know that if I try a recipe that is completely different from what we normally eat, there’s a smaller chance that we’ll like it, and we’ll have to spend extra money buying all kinds of ingredients that we don’t keep on hand. That’s a big reason why I try to add in new ingredients one at a time.

6. Meal plan to keep costs low

You know I can’t mention saving money on food and sticking to your grocery budget without talking about meal planning.

If you’re trying to eat healthier, don’t just buy a bunch of random healthy things at the store. You need foods that go together or you’ll have tons of ingredients that you can’t make anything with.

When I make my grocery list for the week, I also make a separate list of all of the meals that I’m going to make with the food I’m buying.

If you want extra meal planning help, I’ve got a free video training series that will break meal planning down into its simplest form so that it is no longer overwhelming. You’ll figure out why your grocery bill is so high and learn how to avoid the most common meal planning mistakes! Click HERE to sign up for the free meal planning videos!

How to eat healthy foods and save money at the same time

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The last time you were at your favorite restaurant or fast food joint, you may have noticed that a salad was going to cost you a bit more than a hamburger and fries. Unfortunately, this isn’t just a coincidence. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, healthy diets in America are going to cost you approximately $1.50 more per day than eating unhealthy.

Harvard Study Results

The study that the Harvard School conducted took ten high-income countries and compared not only prices per serving of food, but also costs per calorie. Currently, the Department of Agriculture in the U.S. recommends a 2,000 calorie diet for an average adult. Results that were conducted from the study reveal that if you’re eating a healthier diet to obtain those calories (meaning fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts) then you will be paying a significantly larger amount.

Processed foods, meats and grains were much lower in price but also considerably less healthy. Dariush Mozaaffarian, the study’s senior author, stated that individuals who are wishing to uphold a healthy diet would be expecting to pay $1.50 more per day. This will result in increased food costs of about $550 per person at the end of the calendar year. Adding $1.50 to your budget each day can benefit you in the long run. Because of all the health issues that will arise when you consistently eat unhealthy food, you will actually be saving money by avoiding those costly health problems.

Your Health Matters

Work and other responsibilities can take up a good portion of your time so it may be tempting to rush out the door to get a bite to eat. However, taking the time to cook a well-balanced, healthy meal is important. According to Business Insider, the average American family spends $7,023 on food annually. Approximately $3,008 of that amount includes restaurant food. Grabbing a meal at a restaurant can have dramatic effects on the body over time. Processed foods are high in sodium, fat and sugar. A diet that is high in sodium can elevate your blood pressure which is going to put stress on the heart and your cardiovascular system.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, but one meal at a restaurant can take up about half of that salt intake. The respiratory system is also affected when an excessive amount of unhealthy food is consumed. Eating excess calories and mass amounts of carbohydrates will cause the body to gain weight rapidly. Not only is eating healthier home cooked meals ideal for your wallet and saving money, but it can also save the potential health risks you could endure through eating too much restaurant food. A major tip is to try opting for fresh and whole foods. Processed foods can many times be more costly than fresh because they are pre-packaged.

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We recently signed up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) produce delivery program. We paid our annual membership fee and the deliveries are set to run from next month through the end of October. I’ve heard from others that CSAs can be expensive to join, but that there can be valuable health benefits. Today, I want to share the process of weighing the costs and benefits of a CSA program in case you’ve been considering something similar.

Grocery bills and expenses

I started by analyzing our current grocery needs. For the past year or so, we’ve spent an average of $200-$250/month. We’ve tried our best to save money on groceries while maintaining a reasonably healthy diet, but eating well isn’t cheap.

How to save on groceries

When we shop for groceries, we do our best to look for deals and bargains for items that we’d actually eat. We’ve found a few things that could lower our bill. I hope they can help you trim the fat from your groceries.

  • Keep a shopping list ready. I hate realizing that we missed something important and then having to run out and buy it at the closest store, which can be pricier. Using a whiteboard can help organize your list during the week, but be sure to take a copy with you when you head to the store.
  • Buy meat in bulk, portion it, and freeze it. By buying in bulk and dividing it up, you can bring the cost per pound way. For ground beef, I divvy it up according to meal plans like tacos, hamburgers, chili, and meatloaf.
  • Take advantage of sales on items that you’d actually buy without the sale. Sometimes I get an urge to buy something just because it’s on sale even though it’s not something that we use a lot, or even at all. When you do that sort of thing, you’re not really saving money, you’re just spending more.

Since the CSA deliveries will vary in terms of what we get each week, and they’re mainly produce items, we’ll still be buying quite a few “regular” groceries. In general, the advantage of the grocery stores is that many vegetables and fruits are present throughout the year, regardless of the local season. The disadvantage is that the price can be high at times, and the quality isn’t always great.

CSA costs and benefits

One of our reasons we hesitated to sign up for the CSA program in the first place was the upfront cost. The details vary by program and location, but it’s typical to make a big upfront payment at the start of the program. For example, here are the costs with typical local CSA programs:

  • Pre-pay your account with $200-$500. This allows you to order on a weekly basis as different types of produce come into season. You can choose the quantity and items you want by placing an order. Pick up is at a convenient location in the city.
  • Pre-pay by April for the May-September season for $400-$500. With this plan, you can order on a weekly basis and pick up at the farm or a convenient location in the city.
  • Pay for the full May-September season by first week in May for $500. As above, you can pick up your items throughout the season at specific locations in the city.

Our biggest financial concern was paying upfront for the food, but not using a good portion of the items. We thus ended up going for a plan that allowed us to pay on a weekly basis. The annual membership fee for the program we’re trying out this year is $15, and the produce is delivered weekly at a cost of $22 for a small box or $40 for a large box.

If you’re thinking that you can get rock-bottom prices with a CSA program, you’re mistaken. While many participants I talked were happy with the high quality of the food, the farmers that grow it are looking to get a fair price for their goods. You may save a bit of money because there are fewer middlemen involved, but you’re not going to get a screaming bargain.

Saving money on our food

One of our main goals in this experiment was to start eating healthier. By making some adjustments to our diet last year, we were able to lose weight and gain energy. Encouraged by this, we figured that incorporating some more local food in our diet would be more beneficial in the long run. If nothing else, having a fresh produce delivery on a weekly basis will entice us to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Another benefit is that the fewer trips we take to the grocery stores, the less tempted we’ll be to grab junk food. That means more of our money will be going towards nutritional food rather than empty calories. We’ll also be increasing the variety of produce we eat as they come in season.

Thoughts on joining a CSA

If you’re interested in joining a CSA, you really need to take a look at the big picture, and not just the bottom line price. Be sure to consider the health impact as well as the value of your time. While a CSA might not be for everyone, we’re very excited to try it out this year.

If you’ve ever participated in a CSA program, I’d love to hear about your experiences. How much did it cost? Did you enjoy it? Would you do it again?

How to eat healthy foods and save money at the same time

Eating healthy and stocking up on nutritious types of food can be extra challenging if you have a constrained budget. It is a well-known fact that wherever you are in the world, healthy and nutritious food choices tend to be more expensive than processed food. This often leads people to consume foods that are bad for their health.

But there are steps you can take if you really want to stick to healthy food choices even if you only have limited funds. Top this lifestyle change with fitness training with the help of a personal training provider in Seattle , you will soon become a better version of yourself.

Here are some of the ways you can eat healthy and still save money in the process.

Shop in Bulk

Most supermarkets and convenience stores give discounts to shoppers who buy in bulk. Be wise and practical by buying your favorite ingredients and snacks in bulk. This will save you not only money but time as well since you will not have to go back to the store now and then. Think about it — you will go to the supermarket less often, which means that you will also be saving gas money.

Eat Less Meat

Nobody is telling you to go full-on vegetarian or vegan because that is all on you. But what you can do is swap your meat with a few different types of food if you are worried about your protein intake. Different types of lean meat such as sirloin and tenderloin can be expensive, so try looking for other types of food that are also high in protein but easy on the budget.

The most obvious choice is tofu, but if you are not into that, try other foods such as quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, broccoli, green peas, nuts, yogurt, and eggs. All of these are rich in protein and will not hurt your wallet at the same time.

Bring Snacks to the Office

How to eat healthy foods and save money at the same time

Since you are probably buying in bulk, then bringing your snacks to work would be a very wise idea. Buying snacks individually in convenience stores or the supermarket can be expensive and very time-consuming.

If you want to snack on something similar to trail mix, buy ground nuts in bulk then pack everything on your own. This way, not only will you be saving money, but you will also get to customize your very own trail mix snack.

Know What You Need to Buy

Shopping aimlessly and having no concrete list can make your supermarket trip a spontaneous and expensive one. You will most likely be tempted to get every single item that you see if you do not have a list of what you need to buy. Not to mention the unhealthy choices that you will make along the way.

Plan your meals and make a list of the ingredients that you need. This way, you will get to save money by buying only the things that you need, plus, you will be sure that you will be eating healthy for the next few weeks.

Eating healthy while saving money is all about being smart and planning ahead. Be sure to keep these tips in mind, and you will be good.

How to eat healthy foods and save money at the same time

We are nearing the end of January and right now you are either winning or losing at this point when it comes to that New Year’s resolution you made.

Many people resolve to start off the year eating healthier, but for many that means what they think will be a hefty grocery bill. WKYT’s Amber Philpott hits the grocery aisle o help you save money and avoid those traps that might cost you more.

It is dinner time and busy wife and mother Lori Nichols is trying to get a healthy meal on the table for her family. Her son Jackson, right there in the kitchen with her.

“It can be a mix and match a lot of the time depending on our schedule,” said Lori Nichols.

Nichols and her family have committed to eating better in the New Year, she admits they struggle like any family with staying on track and on budget. Many times people equate healthy with expensive.

“At first I did until I would read tips on Facebook. I would see recipes scrolling through my feed and found it really doesn’t have to be expensive,” said Nichols.

Planning ahead and ordering groceries online Nichols says has helped her keep her grocery list from skyrocketing.

“I see the total before I’m actually spending the money so that has really helped us defray the cost of eating healthier,” said Nichols.

Experts say the average American family wastes nearly $1500 worth of food every year. A Harvard School of Public Health study in 2013 found the healthiest diets cost a $1.50 more than unhealthy diets.

“Healthy foods can be expensive if you don’t know what to look for because many of them may be marketed in a certain way or packaged in a certain way,” said Heather Norman-Burgdolf.

Heather Norman-Burgdolf is an Extension Specialist with the University of Kentucky, it’s her job to help others learn to navigate the grocery and not only eat better, but save more.

“Healthy food doesn’t have to be fancy right, it’s pretty simple.”

Norman-Burgdolf says there is a learning curve, but it’s not a hard one when it comes to spending and eating right. She says the hard part starts at home.

“So before you ever get to the grocery store I think its family buy in, investing the time it takes to learn how to eat healthy up front,” said Norman-Burgdolf.

So where do we start?

Her shopping list of tips begins in produce.

“Seasonal is going to be where you can save money, so think about how cheap zucchini is in the summer. I think there is some misconceptions that canned or frozen aren’t good options you should always go for fresh, but they are incredibly cost efficient.”

Buy your meat she says in bulk and skip pre-packaged items.

“My little rule that I go by is that the more packaging there is the more expensive it’s going to be.”

And last, convenience can be a costly trap.

“For example you have ten packets and we are looking at $2.39, but if you purchase the almost instant variety here quick one minute oats cause that is one of the complaints about eating oatmeal that it takes forever. This is under $5 and you have in here 30 servings.”

It may seem daunting at first, but Norman-Burgdolf says even the smallest of changes will make a big difference.

For Lori Nichols it’s a commitment her entire family has bought into and sticking with in the New Year.

“It’s fighting the last minute, changing your mind about what you are going to make and oh I’m tired from day and if I can combat that piece of it, it makes a total difference in our eating and our healthy habits,” said Nichols.

Another quick way to save on healthy items, Norman-Burgdolf says think about convenience items like pre-cut veggies and fruits. She says often times those pre-packaged items will cost you more than just getting the whole items, think not buying precut pineapple versus the whole pineapple.

Amber’s personal tips:

I buy big bags of spinach and freeze for smoothies

When avocados are on sale I buy several, cut up and freeze

I often buy frozen fruit when not in season

I start on Monday and portion out cups of grapes, snack size bags of almonds and fry 5 eggs for my breakfast, all small time savers that really add up!