Walk into any grocery store and you are likely to find an array of packaged, sugar infused foods being sold for a bargain. Make your way around the aisles and you are likely to notice that the healthier fare is marked quite a bit higher. With such a difference in price it might seem impossible to shop healthfully while maintaining a positive balance in your checking account, but there are a few tricks for staying in budget while filling your fridge with nutritionally abundant foods. Healthy eating can be affordable, but there are a few things to keep in mind while filling your grocery store cart.
The number one most important rule of thumb is to stay away from the trendy foods. Who doesn’t love goji berries and spirulina? Trendy foods, often touted as “super foods” are great if you can afford them, but when sticking to a tight budget it is perfectly okay to leave these pricier items on the shelf. Instead of spending more money on trendy items that often come in small packages, your money could be better spent on more basic items that pack a nutritional punch without eating up so much of your budget.
Rule number two is to stock up on frozen goods. Frozen fruits and veggies are just as healthy, if not more so, than their fresher counterparts. The beauty of frozen foods is that they stay good in your freezer for long periods of time. This means that if they do not get eaten right away they will still be good the following week, and the week after that. This can help cut down on waste. Frozen produce also tends to come in larger packages with a lower price tag. This makes it a great way to add nutritional value to your diet without breaking the bank.
Another great trick to healthy eating is to eat seasonally. Strawberries, for example, are a warm weather fruit. They are not readily available to most of us in the middle of January. Although we can typically find them on store shelves year round, it is important to recognize the fact they are shipped in from far off places during colder months. The further they travel, the more expensive the trip. Biting into a juicy strawberry while wearing your Snuggy, and sitting by the fireplace might seem like a great idea, but those berries are likely marked up for being out of season. Buying locally grown, seasonal produce is a great way to stay in budget. Apples, for example, are typically harvested in the fall and are likely to be a cheaper fruit option as the weather cools down. Sweet potatoes are another great choice for colder months.
When shopping on a budget it is also important to take advantage of sales and mark downs. A lot of people get into the habit of buying the same foods every week. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, mixing it up from time to time can be a great way to save a few bucks. If you usually buy spinach, but this week kale is on sale, then buy kale. Frozen broccoli has been marked down? Go ahead and stock up. Prices often change based on gas prices, crop output, and various other factors. Keeping an eye out for good deals is a great way to save a lot of money in the long run.
Buying in bulk is another great way to save money. Some items, like beans and rice, have a lengthy shelf life and can usually be found in large quantities for low prices. These items are great for bulking up meals and are a great source of plant protein and fiber. Add them to soups, or cook them up and serve them as a side dish.
Shopping healthfully may seem like an expensive venture, but if you know how to bypass the gimmicks, pay attention to sales, and stock up on bargain foods you are likely to find it as budget friendly as shopping gets. And just think how much you will save on hospital visits as you provide your body with the nutrients it needs to operate at peak performance! Good luck and happy shopping!