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Tuesday
Mar032015

5 Ways to Save On Healthy Food

How can healthy food be more budget-friendly? 

It's a question I find myself answering on a weekly if not daily basis while consulting with clients or discussing lab testing interpretations.

When we change over our diets, we take on a transition that will affect the way we shop as well as cook and eat. Affording a full list of healthy foods every week can seem out of reach, but there are many ways to save! 

Read on for five essential money-saving tips you can use in your food shopping this weekend!

1. Buy in bulk. 

Buying in bulk allows you to get more food for your dollars, and there are many opportunities and creative ways to do so. Make it a habit to only buy your nuts, seeds and true whole grains (e.g. quinoa, wild rice) within the bulk barrels or pull-down bins in the store. 

Sure, there won't be any cooking directions, since there's no packaging. Just remember: that's what online recipes are for! Likewise, the almonds don’t come in a cute pour-out bottle, but your wallet will be fuller and you'll be happier at the check-out. Instead of purchasing individual pounds of ground beef, think of seeking out a local farmer to purchase several pounds of a cow instead. (Ask a neighbor, friend or family member if he/she wants to split a side of beef with you!) Become a member at one of the large-chain bulk discount stores where you can readily purchase large containers of healthy foods as well.

2. Focus on content more than convenience. 

Our society places such a premium on convenience that the priority has taken a toll on our diets - and health. While we can make choices that use our time wisely, we need to balance our values. The more convenient a healthy food is, the higher the cost - unless you’re buying low-quality foods.

If you want to save money, look for ways to cut the convenience factor and prioritize nutritional content.  Instead of purchasing pre-cut baby carrots, go for full-size, uncut carrots and slice them yourself at home. (Get the kids involved, or share a "food prep" night with your partner.) Challenge yourself to find foods that are in their whole natural state as much as possible. Instead of precooked meats, purchase raw. Instead of individual grass-fed yogurt cartons, purchase a pint or more at a time. 

3. Do your research and be willing to shop multiple places.

Here’s that convenience argument again. Although it’s convenient to gather all your week's groceries under one roof, don’t depend on getting the best food for the best price at one stop. It’s normal for me to swing by a few different stores throughout the month to get the best deals on high-quality food. I know which place has the best price on almond butter or coconut flour as well as who has the best-looking and tasting produce. When my favorite foods/brands are on sale, I stock up. In the spring and summer, I shop locally at farmers’ markets for my produce.

At one of my favorite stores, they discount their grass-fed steaks/beef at the end of the week as the use/freeze by date nears. That’s when I swoop in and purchase as much as I can fit in my freezer. I typically shop for produce every week, but I can get my meat and other everyday foods with just one or two more stops each month. 

4. Take full advantage of coupon and discount deals.

Coupons aren't just in weekly newspaper inserts anymore! Many stores actually list coupons or specials through their social media, so be sure to “like” the stores and companies you prefer to get week deals and printable/scannable coupons.

Some stores even post their coupons directly on their websites each week, which may mean all you have to do is pull up the site at the register. One of my favorite spots keeps their coupons generic, offering dollars off produce or meat of your own choice and not a specific brand.

Many small-chain stores will even double coupon values if you choose to shop in their stores on days with lower traffic. Make sure you talk with someone at your preferred store to find out what day their weekly deals start and if they participate in any other discount offerings for groceries. Then adjust your shopping to those unique times! 

5. Plan out your meals, and stick to your budget. 

I’m always shocked to hear “I don’t know” when I ask what a person’s monthly food budget is - especially after that person just told me he/she doesn’t eat healthy food because it costs too much! 

It’s extremely important to plan a budget and stick to it each month if you're trying to save money or avoid overspending. You’ll first have to get an idea of “what” your food staples cost each month, so track your food intake for an entire month to get an idea of how much you spend. 

Once you determine a budget, challenge yourself to stick to it every time. Don’t forget to plan your meals for the week so you get a feel for “how much” of everything you need. This will help you focus at the grocery store and only buy what you are planning on using.

Sure, every now and then I might purchase something off the list that's a good deal or just looks good, but don’t make a habit of going to the store without a plan. And if you have a thoughtful plan for the food you bring into your home, you’ll be less likely to let it go to waste.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Are you interested in additional tips for cutting your healthy grocery budget? Talk with one of our dietitians today!

In health, Anika Christ – Senior Program Manager of Life Time Weight Loss

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

 

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Reader Comments (2)

The tips are pretty useful for as a housewife who like to save my money. I always buy vegetables, berries and fruits at the farmer's as it is more healthy than at the store. I like diffrent sale bargains that really save money and time. I get used to buying coupons on the site. Thanks again for your help!

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLakisha Greene

Food budget is essential. And it is more important when you are in strict healthy diet. But I don't believe that it is costlier than the packed food. Healthy diet doesn't mean you have to take a lot of organic fruits and vegetables. Certainly you have to eat these but the central theme of dieting is moderation. Control your diet. Even if you eat junk food, try to take it occasionally.

July 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKartik
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