Eating healthy may not always be easy, but it doesn’t have to be expensive.
While many people believe they cannot afford to eat whole, natural foods, a few tips can help reduce one’s grocery bill to make healthy diets more obtainable for more people.
“So many people have a misguided idea that the only way to eat healthfully is to spend exorbitant amounts to do so,” said Crystal Paine with Money Saving Mom. “Sure, you might spend a little bit more than someone who is eating a diet composed mostly of processed foods, but it really doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg as some people will make you think – especially if you’re willing to get creative and think outside the box.”
For starters, plant a garden and grow your own food. But if you can’t grow everything and you don’t have a homestead, here are four tips:
1. Make your own meals
People who buy pre-packaged foods or who frequent restaurants will see their food budgets quickly shrink when they make their meals at home, said Heather Tenney at In God’s Economy.
“I know this seems self evident, and most people will answer with ‘I just don’t have the time,’” Tenney said. “But really, this is a key in being able to live this way on a budget.”
Tenney suggested for people to shop along the edges of the store to find the healthiest options for natural, budget-friendly food.
2. Cook healthy meals in bulk
In addition to making meals at home, cooking meals in large quantities can help incorporate healthy foods into a low budget, Tenney said.
Katie Hale with Premeditated Leftovers suggested setting aside a few times a month to cook healthy meals in large quantities. Freezing the meals in small containers allows for meals to thaw quickly and also provides the option for portion control.
“I find that less food goes to waste this way, which means I don’t need to shop quite as often as I used to,” Tenney said. “I do this once every month or two, and it really helps me with my time as well as my budget.”
3. Create season-sensitive menu plans
Menu plans not only help save money on natural foods, Hale said, but also help busy families save time in the kitchen.
Because healthy meals can require extra time to prepare, following a meal plan can take the confusion out of what to cook each night, Hale noted. In addition to making grocery shopping trips easier, meal plans help people know exactly what food items need to be unthawed from the freezer or used from the pantry in order to make cooking healthy foods as easy as possible.
In addition, people who already menu plan can further increase their savings by planning meals based on what is growing in their region, which is likely what is on sale at the grocery store or farmer’s market, Paine said.
“If you know in advance what your family will be eating each week, it will keep you on track and make you less likely to splurge last minute on those items that are convenient in the store,” Hale added.
4. Take advantage of discounts
Switching to a healthier, more natural diet can take time, Tenney said. Rather than buying everything needed for a healthy pantry at once, she suggested for people to regularly check for sales at the grocery store to see what the prices normally are – and watch for when they drop.
“The health food section is no different than the rest of the store – there are sale cycles there, too, with many of the items going on sale several times a year,” Tenney noted. “If you learn to watch for those sales, you can easily stock up on your basic pantry supplies when they are cheap.”
Kim Anderson with Thrifty Little Mom also said that some stores mark down groceries on a particular day each week – a perfect time to stock up on healthy staples.
“Learn what foods freeze well to take advantage of sales on produce, meats and dairy,” Tenney said. “Before you know it, your pantry is full and your shopping list is short.”
What are ways you save money on natural foods? Share your tips in the section below: