Many people believe that you have to spend a lot of money to eat healthily. This need not be.
On the contrary, the cost of not-so-healthy fast food, ready meals, and snacks can add up pretty quickly and become very expensive over time.
From my personal experience, I’ve also found that eating healthy can actually save you money in the long run, especially if you follow a few key principles when shopping, choosing, and preparing your food.
Here are 14 simple tips that can help you save money while eating healthy.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables are often fresher, tastier and cheaper than foods that are produced out of season.
This is because these seasonal ingredients are harvested when they are at their peak of maturity and not transported nearly as far, minimizing the time it takes to travel from the farm to your grocery shelf.
There are many guides online that detail which fruits and vegetables are in season in your area. You can also get a good idea of what foods are in season by visiting your local farmers market to see what’s available.
Many grocery stores offer products in both generic and branded varieties.
Opting for generic brands over name brands is an easy way to save money without compromising on quality.
Generic branded foods are usually comparable to branded versions in terms of safety, quality and nutritional value.
However, it’s always a good idea to compare the ingredient list and nutritional information on your favorite branded products with those on the generic versions before you buy them.
Planning your meals in advance is a smart way to save time and money.
Try creating a weekly meal plan, making a grocery list, and setting a specific time to prepare your meals for the next week.
One of my favorite ways to plan meals is to find a few recipes that use similar ingredients and switch between them throughout the week.
I like to focus on fewer ingredients with a shorter shelf life, like fresh fruits and vegetables, and alternate between different whole grains, legumes, spices, and spices at each meal.
This can help streamline your grocery list while also adding plenty of variety to your diet as you enjoy ingredients in new and interesting ways every day.
Cooking your own food at home instead of eating out at restaurants or buying pre-packaged meals is one of the easiest and most effective ways to eat healthy on a budget.
In fact, a single meal at a restaurant usually costs a lot more than buying the ingredients you need to prepare your own meal at home.
With added fees like delivery fees, service fees, and tips, the cost of dining out or ordering takeout can quickly add up.
When you prepare your own food, you also have complete control over what you put on your plate. This makes it easier to include more fresh, whole foods in your diet.
It also helps reduce intake of added sugar, salt, and artificial ingredients.
Plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, and tempeh are often much cheaper than animal-based proteins like meat, fish, and poultry.
Plus, these foods are high in protein, fiber, and a variety of other important vitamins and minerals. They’re easy to incorporate into recipes like casseroles, soups, salads, and stir-fries.
Keep in mind that eating more plant-based protein doesn’t mean you have to become a full-fledged vegan or eliminate animal products from your diet altogether.
Now, if you’re eating meat and want to start getting more plant-based protein, consider adding plant-based protein to your diet just a few times a week. This saves you money and reduces your meat consumption.
A flexitarian diet like this encourages plant-based eating, but also allows for the occasional animal-based diet.
Most grocery stores offer weekly deals and discounts, usually either advertised online or distributed in newsletters.
Before shopping, check if coupons are available for your favorite products to save some money.
You can also look for deals from online retailers like Thrive Market, Fresh Direct, or Amazon Fresh, which can be useful if you have limited access to a traditional grocery store.
Personally, I like to stock up on durable essentials when they’re on sale. These include rice, beans, condiments, frozen foods, and canned vegetables.
If you’re having a hard time using up all your fresh fruits and veggies before they go bad, consider getting frozen produce. It’s an excellent alternative.
Frozen fruits and vegetables offer the same valuable nutrients as fresh varieties, but have a much longer shelf life to help you reduce food waste (
I like to keep lots of frozen fruit on hand to toss into smoothies or mix into my yogurt and oatmeal. Frozen vegetables are also a great addition to stir-fries, or can be baked, sautéed, or roasted as a simple side dish.
Many parts of meat and produce are typically thrown away when preparing healthy meals at home.
However, there are many interesting and creative ways you can use your leftovers instead of just throwing them away. This can help save extra money on grocery shopping.
Save stems and stalks of vegetables to make soup stock, freeze leftover herbs, or dice and bake stale bread in the oven to make your own homemade croutons.
Need more ideas? Check out this article for a few other easy ways to use up your leftover food.
Storing food properly can extend its shelf life and make your meals last longer to reduce food waste and lower your grocery bill.
Try lining your fruit and veg drawers with paper towels to absorb extra moisture and keep your fruit and veg from going bad.
You should also store nonperishable ingredients like pasta, rice, and cereal in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place to maximize their shelf life.
You should also keep dairy in the main part of your fridge instead of the door, and freeze raw meat or poultry if you don’t intend to use it within a few days.
For example, experts advise not to store fresh poultry or ground beef in the fridge for more than 2 days at 4°C or below. Be sure to keep raw meat separate from other foods (2).
You can buy certain foods in bulk at a lower price, making it even easier to eat healthy on a budget.
Shelf stable options like grains, nuts, seeds, and dried legumes are particularly good foods to stock up on and buy in bulk.
Be careful not to buy bulk foods that have a shorter shelf life, including:
- fresh produce
- Prepared Meals
- Dairy products
Fresh herbs are perfect for adding flavor to your favorite healthy dishes at home, but they can also be quite expensive.
Luckily, growing your own herbs at home can be an easy, fun, and money-saving hobby.
It’s also very easy, even if you don’t have a green thumb – all you need is some soil, seeds and a sunny spot by the window or in your garden. There are many indoor gardening options to consider.
If, like me, you live in an apartment with little sunlight, you should try an indoor hydroponic garden. These are equipped with LED lights to make growing herbs at home a breeze.
Incorporating money-saving habits into your grocery shopping routine is a great way to cut costs while eating healthy.
- Make a list beforehand. First, write down what you need before you go to the store. Once there, stick to the items on your list.
- Shop at the edge of the grocery store. This can make it easier to skip items like processed foods and snacks, which are typically more expensive and less nutritious.
- Shop in peace and with a full stomach. You should also avoid going to the store when you are hungry or stressed as this could fuel your food cravings and lead to unhealthy shopping choices.
Instead of throwing away your leftovers, try saving them for an easy meal the next day.
Not only can this save you some time, but it can also help save you money if you’re taking your leftovers to work or school instead of buying lunch.
I like to double my portion sizes when I cook dinner and then save half to eat for lunch the next day.
Many online grocery services have popped up in recent years, delivering discounted groceries right to your door.
Some services such as B. Imperfect Foods or Misfits Market offer products with minor cosmetic imperfections at a lower price.
Not only do these services help you add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, but they can also help you save money and make it easier to stick to your meal plan if you only buy what you need.
This can also be a useful option if you don’t live near a grocery store or have limited access to fresh groceries in your community.
Although many people believe that eating healthy can be expensive, this is not necessarily true.
In fact, eating a healthy, balanced diet can actually save you money in the long run.
Try practicing some of the tips outlined above, which can make it easier than ever to eat healthy without breaking the bank.