Sometimes eating healthy can seem like a daunting task. I get it—trust me. In a world of organic, vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, etc. etc. etc. it’s so hard, first of all, to know what’s right or best to eat, and then with overpriced shopping markets, confusing sales, and deals that aren’t really deals, trying to eat well on a budget can be overwhelming!
But guess what? It doesn’t have to be.
Here are seven stupidly simple tips for eating healthy without breaking the bank.
1. Buy bulk.
One of the biggest changes I’ve made to my spending habits over the past few years is buying bulk. Regardless of whether you’re a family, or just one person (aka my life, and yes, I still buy bulk!), bulk buying is the most cost efficient option.
First thing’s first: see if anyone in your family or circle of friends has a membership to a wholesale foods place like Sams Club or Costco. Can you be an additional cardholder on their account? Can you pay them half (saving you both money!) and get yourself added to their membership?
When you’re thinking about buying bulk there are two things you need to keep in mind, 1) realistic options and 2) freezable options.
Think, first of all, how much of something you’ll legitimately eat until your next trip to the grocery store. Are you someone who makes a wrap every single day, and thus would benefit from a huge package of tortillas? Are you going to have excess of something, or will it go bad before you’re able to eat it all? Will you really eat the 20-pound bag of apples in a month? Then think about what you can freeze and prioritize that. Maybe you won’t get through all of the giant container of salsa, but you can put half in a separate place and freeze until you’re ready—thus not wasting anything!
Asking yourself these questions (and being mindful to not get overly excited about the discount prices) will help you make smart decisions in your bulk buying.
2. Get the freezable options.
Speaking of freezers, when you grocery shop, always keep your freezable options at the forefront of your mind. When you can freeze items, you have no obligation to consume them within a given time period—this helps you get your money’s worth! Plus, products have a very long ‘freezer life’ so you won’t have to feel pressured to keep buying and buying, what you have will last a while.
3. Use grocery and coupon apps.
There are apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 that legitimately give you cashback rewards when you purchase grocery items from their selected lists. They have so many options, you’re guaranteed to need at least something, and you get cash on the things you were already buying—a no-brainer!
Grocery store apps are also great in terms of getting store-specific coupons and staying updated on sales. Downloading and turning push notifications on can help you figure out the best time to shop.
4. Take advantage of online shopping.
Okay, sometimes online shopping can be the worst. But if you’re looking to save a little $ on groceries, check out how online prices compare. Not only will this save you time, but when you think about it, you save on gas, aggravation, and sometimes companies even offer free shipping after a certain order amount. (Try Amazon or Thrive Market.)
5. Check out the store brands.
Store brands get a bad rap, but they’re great alternatives for saving money. Just be sure if, and when you’re considering a store brand, that you look into the ingredients. While many store brands are excellent, some may have artificial flavors, sweeteners, non-GMO products, etc.
6. Don’t go to the store hungry.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wandered into Sam’s Club and bought way more than was necessary, simply because I was hungry. We are creatures driven by our senses—if you’re smelling + surrounded by food, you’re going to start caving to the cravings (and overspending!).
6. Read the newspapers (seriously!).
When was the last time you even picked up a newspaper?! For me it was just a few days ago because you know what they always have? Coupons. Great ones, too! Even though this seems outdated and antiquated, there’s something to be said for combing through a magazine and finding a traditional coupon or advertisement that helps you save. Every little bit counts!
7. Meal prep.
Don’t just buy ingredients for one meal and then new ones for the next day; instead, think about what quantities or types you could purchase to help yourself out long term. Use meal prepping as a tool, too. When you cook in large amounts and divide it up, you’re not only saving yourself time and money, but you’re creating sustainable, healthy habits for the remainder of the week.