Even with consistent exercise, it’s still important to eat healthy food as often as you can.
Your health, performance, and physique will all suffer if you’re not eating well. As the famous saying goes: “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet!”
And, it’s completely true! In order to eat your best, you need to cook at home more often, and eat more fresh food.
However, the problem with this for most people is that they can’t fathom taking the time to grocery shop, or they feel groceries are too expensive.
On the contrary, cooking from home saves you plenty of money throughout the year versus buying pre-packaged food items or eating (ordering) out.
So, how can you make the most of each grocery trip and save both time and cash?
It is possible to stock up on whole, unprocessed foods at the grocery store without spending a fortune.
The first thing you want to do when grocery shopping is to try and pack as much good food into your grocery cart as possible. But, as many of us know, the price of good food is not cheap!
So, how do we do it?
Below is a great list to help you meet this goal and actually enjoy what you’re buying too!
Eating healthy does not have to make you go bankrupt, but instead, can make you wealthy with good health and stamina.
1. One of the most important foods to fill your cart with are fresh vegetables and fruits.
Especially with vegetables, they’re low in calories, high in nutrients and, as one of my weight loss success stories told me: “You can eat vegetables until you almost burst, and you’ll still lose weight”.
Items like spinach, romaine, kale, peppers, carrots, celery, sweet potatoes, oranges, and bananas are excellent additions to a fit, fabulous diet.
However, you’ve probably heard that you should purchase certain fruits and vegetables organically due to the potentially high pesticide content of their non-organic counterparts (even washing and peeling doesn’t help).
For others, you can buy conventional and save money.
The Environmental Working Group has created a list of the 12 most “dirty” produce items that you should buy organic and the ones that are least harmful (keep this list handy when shopping!).
[image_with_text image=’https://www.oceansoulretreat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/8-tips-to-save-money-on-healthy-food.jpg’ title=” title_color=” title_tag=”]
Photo from the Environmental Working Group. You can find more information here.
Thankfully, organic foods are not as expensive as they used to be, and not all fruits and veggies are high in pesticides.
From this list, you don’t have to buy popular avocados, eggplant, or sweet potatoes organically but instead purchase them in their less expensive, non-organic form and/or from a reduced price grocery store. If you’re not sure about whether an item is “OK” to buy in non-organic form, a good rule of thumb is this: if it has a thick, dense peel that you DO NOT eat, like bananas, oranges, or melons, it’s generally fine to buy non-organic.
The rest you should try to get organic – like apples, berries, celery and spinach.
REMEMBER! Even if you can’t fathom spending more on organic produce, these foods are still beneficial to eat, so buy them anyways – the benefits of the antioxidants in the fruits and veggies will outweigh the deleterious effects of the added chemicals, for the most part.
2. Look for produce or other grocery items with a discount due to a “close to expiry” date.
Saving on a veggie like spinach goes a long way as it can be incorporated into many snacks and meals including smoothies, omeletes, salads, sautéed veggies, pizzas, and more!
Look for these kinds of deals when shopping, especially if you know you will eat it quickly.
3. Buy seasonal produce rather than those not even close to season.
One of the biggest offenders to seasonal eating is buying berries in the winter… you’ll pay almost double and you can be sure that it’s been trucked thousands of miles to get to your store. Not only are you paying more, but our planet pays for it with more carbon and pollutants.
Depending on the season, you can easily buy food from farmers in your area.
This is not only less expensive, but these foods will have a higher vitamin and mineral content, because they haven’t travelled for days in a truck to get to you.
And, they will taste WAY better too!
If you need ideas for local farm stands near you, check out this site:
You can also use this resource to learn what items are in season, and they often provide recipes so you know what to do with them – very cool!
In the winter, when most produce is not in season, choose frozen, untainted fruits and vegetables (no butter, sugar, etc).
Frozen produce is very fresh and doesn’t spoil – it’s good for people who may not eat those foods right away, even in the summer.
NOTE: Do NOT microwave your veggies in plastic steamer bags! Cooking in plastic is not healthy for your body or for your taste buds.
Cook your veggies in a Corning Ware or Pyrex glass dish in the microwave if you have to. But, ideally, cook them on the stove in minimal water.
4. Buy pre-bunched items.
The other day at Price Chopper (a discount U.S. store), I bought 5 pre-packed cucumbers for just $2.88. Normally, these sell for $0.75 to $1 each, so this was an awesome bargain.
Then, at ALDI (another discount store) I bought 6 Kiwi’s for just $2.50 versus $0.75-$1 each, and a bag of bananas for $0.42/lbs. versus $0.79.
Bagged apples, oranges and grapefruit are like this too. Plus, it helps saves trips to the store.
5. No matter how strapped you are for time, avoid pre-cut items, like cut apples, squash, and corn.
Not only is this more expensive, but it usually is preserved with chemicals to prevent browning, and these chemicals may not be great for you.
6. Use the shelf stickers that list the price of the item per weight.
Compare the price of items using labels that tell you the cost per weight.
This is a great way to price compare using the volume/weight of the food to get the best deal!
Most stores have this option, so use it when you can.
7. For meat, fish, poultry, dairy and eggs, try to buy free-range and organic whenever possible.
But, when this is really pricey, or not possible, choose natural items with as few added ingredients as possible (avoiding nitrates and added sodium). Also, buying in bulk (large quantities) and cooking in batches will help you save money and time.
I often tell my clients to batch cook on the weekends (especially protein items) so you’re never left without good food choices, or are pressured to eat something you don’t really want.
Cooking ahead of time saves you precious time, but saves your health too.
8. Finally – make your grocery list based off recipes/meals you plan to eat for the week.
Decide what you’re going to make for the week and then buy for those recipes or meals.
Jotting down a meal plan for the week can keep you accountable to using the food you have in the fridge, saving you money by ensuring you eat what you purchase.
This is not only time efficient, but prevents you from buying things you MIGHT make, but don’t get around to, and end up throwing away.
Don’t hesitate to buy something that’s on sale for an outstanding price and modify your plan for the week so you can save cash.
I hope these tips have helped you as much as they have helped me.
Eating healthy is not as pricey as it used to be and there are so many ways to save. Enjoy!
About the Author: Cassandra Forsythe
Cassandra Forsythe PhD, RD, CSCS, CES, is a mother, entrepreneur, author, nutrition expert, scientist, teacher, and fitness and health enthusiast. She is also the owner and head instructor of Fitness Revolution Vernon, which has positively transformed the bodies and lives of hundreds of women and men across the state. You can find out more about Cassandra on her website.