It’s often said that healthy eating is expensive, but that statement isn’t entirely correct. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics noted that the average cost of groceries in 2020 was $4,942 per year. This number is continuing to increase, especially with inflation. It can be challenging to choose healthy options when a package of cookies or chips is available for just a few dollars, but with a little planning and strategy, you can eat healthy on a budget.
Plan Ahead and Shop from a List
It’s easy to run into the grocery store without a list, but doing so can lead you to purchase too much of what you don’t need.
- Do an at-home inventory. Without checking, you may end up with your fifth box of whole grain pasta and lettuce that will likely go bad because you already have plenty.
- Take a look at the sales. See what is discounted and try planning your meals around those items. If chicken is on sale this week, plan to eat chicken tacos, grilled chicken, and chicken soup!
- Use coupons and consider going to more than one place. Clipping a few coupons can add up quickly. Bonus points if you can use a coupon on items that are already discounted! Many times, different stores have different items on sale. If time allows, hit a second store just to get those deals.
- Buy what you need. It may be tempting to purchase extra items, but for budget purposes, stick to what is on your list.
Grow Your Own
Seeds are inexpensive! If you have the time, consider growing some of your own fruit and vegetables. This may take a little work, preparation and research, but you could supply your family with fresh produce throughout the year. Every little bit can help. No room for a garden? Plant a few pots of tomatoes or veggies to supplement what you buy at the store.
Don’t count out a farmer’s market. You may be able to find fresh produce at a reduced price. Shop around because prices vary.
Substitute with Store Brands, Canned, and Frozen
Similar products are sold in different ways and can make a difference in price.
- Store brand products are great. Many times, store brands are identical to the brand name and cost much less. Compare the ingredient panels and consider buying the more generic store versions.
- Although fresh is always best, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables can work just fine. When choosing canned foods, rinse vegetables to reduce sodium and opt for fruits in water or juice, not heavy syrup.
Packaging May Make a Difference
The same food item can vary in cost based simply on how it’s packaged.
- Individually-packaged items can be very expensive. Instead of purchasing single servings of nuts, purchase a larger package in snack bags for your family to enjoy.
- Although bulk products have a higher overall cost, the price per serving is usually much lower. If this is an item you use often, consider buying in bulk.
Takin a few extra minutes for prepping and planning to make your grocery trip a positive experience that will save you money.