10 Ways to Save Money by Eating Better

Yes, eating healthier is likely to cost more than eating very poorly.  You wouldn’t expect to buy better gas for your car for less than the cruddy gas would cost; we can’t very well expect to fill our bodies up with “Premium” fuel for less than the bottom-of-the-barrel offerings.  With that said, there are ways to save money on eating healthier and here’s how you do it:

1.  Keep an Eye Out

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Produce departments will often mark things for clearance that are actually PERFECT. Bananas are a big one here (So many people think the brown spots mean they’re bad when it actually means they’re ripe).  Bananas are fairly cheap anyhow but I have gotten them by the bag-fulls for just a couple bucks a bag.  I then get them home, peel them, drop them straight into a freezer bag and freeze them for later use in smoothies or to throw in the food processor for an easy alternative to ice cream.  Green beans, sliced carrots, peas, berries, stone fruits, avocados and countless others freeze very well with little effort. Many fruits can be bought nearly at a steal when in-season, from grocers, farmers’ markets or straight from the grower.

2.  Offset Your Expenses AND Boost Your Health With Our Favorite Budget Savers

  • Dried Beans & Lentils

Beans & lentils are loaded with energy, fiber, and many body boosting vitamins while providing an abundance of protein without the extra fat found in animal products.  Dried beans are super affordable (even buying them organic is cheaper by the pound that meat alternatives), are ridiculously easy to prepare (soak & boil.  Yep, that’s it!) and are extremely versatile.  Beans & lentils can be used to create everything from traditional soups, stews & sides to veggie burgers to cream sauces…even to desserts like brownies.

  • Whole Grains

With all the dietary trends making villains out of grains, we run the risk of missing out on a powerhouse source of energy and nutrient.  Grains have been staples of the human diet across thousands of years, and have even been the saving factor for entire nations that otherwise would have starved to death in times of famine.  Grains can be an inexpensive way to fuel body and brain.  Whole wheat (whole grain and flours), hulled barley, millet, buckwheat groats, brown rice, wild rice, specialty rice…the list just goes on and on.  Grains are versatile and can be added to just about any dish – soups, stews, one-pot wonders, you name it.

  • Spuds

potatoes

Seriously, I really don’t know that I could ever wholeheartedly trust anybody who doesn’t like a good spud at least every now and then. I mean, come on!  Who doesn’t love potatoes?  All joking aside, potatoes are seriously awesome.  They tend to be inexpensive, easy to cook and go with just about anything and any meal of the day.  Roasted, baked or boiled, potatoes make a delicious dish loaded with nutrients (especially those much-needed minerals) and easy on the wallet.  We buy these organic because pesticides and herbicides are absorbed directly into the potato itself from the surrounding soil.  Still, even organic potatoes typically run only about $1.00/lb when buying in bags of 5+ lbs.  A 5lb. bag of potatoes is enough to make potatoes alongside or mixed into multiple meals.  Alternatively, a full bag can be prepared as mashed potatoes to serve fresh and save.  Freeze in quart-sized freezer bags for easy sides later.

  • Rolled Oats in Bulk

Repeat after me:  “No more Instant Oats!”  Instant oats often have very little remaining nutritional value, are much more expensive on the whole, and are typically chock full of added sugars and junk flavorings.  Rolled oats are every bit as quick and easy without these cons.  A pinch of cinnamon, a little almond milk and a splash of honey or maple and you’re in business, my friend.  Steel Cut Oats still boast maximum nutritional value, as far as oats go, but for those that simply do not have the time, rolled oats are a good runner up.  My favorite way to eat them is with cinnamon, maple and fresh sliced banana.  No cooking necessary.  I like the slightly chewy texture over the mushy, cooked consistency.  Either way you like them, oats are a great way to boost nutrition while saving time and money.

3.  Opt for frozen over fresh when watching that bottom dollar

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…especially when shopping “out-of-season.”  “Freshest is bestest!”  Still, when fresh produce isn’t available or affordable, be sure to check out what’s in the freezer section.  This can also be a good way to get a better quality for your buck too.  You can often save money by buying things like organic frozen green beans instead of the conventionally grown alternatives found in the produce section.  Is it always an even swap culinarily speaking?  No, but most of the time the exchange can be made with little detection or compromise in your favorite dishes.

4.  Opt for quality over quantity

This is especially key with meat and dairy.  Too much meat and dairy is unhealthy.  Period.  No further elaboration needed there.  (We’ve really already talked on this in  our article on Proteins that Pack a Punch or Dairy if you need reasons why).  With that said, you may find that you’re able to afford organic or better quality choices by reducing the family’s overall consumption of animal products. Most people easily eat in a day, the most they would need for a week.  Other protein options, such as beans can cheaply replace meats with many meals.  Reducing the portion size is another way to save on the expense (giving you more money for better quality) while boosting your family’s overall health.  Higher quality foods of all sorts provide more nutrients.  This means you can eat less while gaining more in terms of nutrition.

5.  Shop Smart & Know your Dirty Dozen & Clean 15

Eating organic and watching a budget can be a real challenge.  Get acquainted and educated on which foods tend to be the most highly contaminated and which tend to be the cleanest.  This will help you get a better idea of which foods are worth the splurge and which you can more safely save a little moola on.  Be sure to print out your lists of the Dirty Dozen and The Clean 15 to take with you on your next shopping trip!

6.  Stock up & Save on Staples

Some items may be used so much that paying the high price of buying a little at a time makes no sense whatsoever.  When possible, by larger volumes of items, such as a good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which can be transferred into a smaller vessel, as needed, for ease of use.

7.  Compare Unit Prices

Bulk is often a good way to save money but there are times when the bulk runs more per pound or ounce than even the very same product & brand, in a ready-to-go package.

8.  Take inventory of your time & resources

Be sure you check your fridge and cupboard before venturing out to buy more. You may have forgotten those peppers you picked up last week or missed how perfectly they’d pair with a little tomato or cucumber the couscous you already have in the cupboard for a delightful, refreshing couscous salad.  Throw in a cup of those peas you happen to already have in the freezer and Bam!  That’s one less meal you have to plan to buy food for this week.  Sometimes you’re all set to rock your face off with what you already have on hand.  This helps to reduce food waste and frustration, save money, and maximize your grocery budget.

Also, be sure to be realistic about the time you have in the coming week. If your schedule is already booked, you may not want to buy all you need to make something that would demand hours of your time in the kitchen.  The last thing you want to do is spend a chunk of your budget on something you just don’t have time to prepare, only to watch it turn into one of those creepy science experiment looking things that not even the dog would eat.

9.  Plan Ahead

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Let me tell you what I personally find frustrating – Meandering through a grocer for over an hour, emerging $20 OVER-budget and getting only half-way through the week before I realize I have a house full of groceries and nothing to make for dinner.  {insert one big, fat frowny face right here}  It sucks.  And I must admit, I am not one to always sit down and plan ahead each meal.  I like the freedom of going with my gut on what I’m going to have for dinner.  What if I plan spaghetti for Thursday and decide I want tacos?  Here’s the thing, at the very least, making a list of things you must have to make some good, whole meals and other household staples is a good way to keep you on point and under-budget.  This will save you time and money while shopping.

10.  Don’t Shy Away from Replays or Retakes

Keep an eye out for foods that can do double time.  And I’m not just talking leftover-city.  For example, I may make one large pot of beans and divide them.  Some may go on salads, some seasoned and served as a side with dinner, and some pureed to make cream sauces or bases for other dishes.  This saves time and money while making the most of and reaping the most from the foods we buy.


We hope these tips have been a great help to you.  If so, please don’t forget to SHARE this article with other friends and family who stand to benefit from it as well!  Thank you!

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