A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that maintaining your health was more important than saving money. While retaining insurance is one example of that, the same concept can often apply to the foods we buy and what we consume. One unfortunate irony these days is that some of the least expensive foods are also the least healthy for us. As a result, anyone who’s ever made a real effort to adopt a healthier diet may have been turned off by the heightened costs of doing so.
Now I’m not suggesting that you should never indulge in the occasional fast food meal or enjoy some “guilty pleasures” from the grocery store. However, if you are looking to make some healthy changes but don’t want to spend a fortune on food, there are a few ways I’ve found to make that possible. With that, here are four tips for saving money while still eating healthy.
Plan your meals and buy in bulk
Buying fresh produce and meats can be great in terms of eating healthy but the problem is that they won’t stay fresh for very long. Because of this, if you don’t plan ahead, you could end up letting good food go to waste. That’s why it’s a good idea to put more time into creating your shopping list and have a meal plan in place so that you can make full use of your fresh items.
Of course, in some cases, you may also be able to stock up on certain items and freeze them for later. In fact, according to the USDA, many types of meat can be frozen for up to four months, while the freezer life of poultry can be even longer. As a result, don’t feel like you need to buy processed or preservative-rich items in order to enjoy the benefits of buying in bulk.
Shop sales and specials
Another disadvantage to shopping for healthy items is that you’re far less likely to find coupons for things like produce than you are for sweets and fatty foods. That said you may still be able to score some good deals. For example many stores will have good sales on select in-season produce you can take advantage of by featuring those items more heavily in your meal plans for a time. Similarly holidays often bring upon various meat sales that you can use to restock your freezer at a great price.
Something else to be on the lookout for are “manager specials.” In most cases, these specials offer discounted prices on produce, meats, and other items that are approaching their expiration date. That fact might be a turn off for some but keep in mind that these items are still perfectly safe to eat as long as you use them in a timely manner.
Drink more water
One easy way to lower your grocery budget and make a positive health change is to opt for water instead of things like soda. Even if you do end up buying bottled water or utilizing a filtering system like Britta, the cost if often far lower than most other beverage options.
As for those like myself who might need a little more than just plain water to wash down their meals, I’ve found sparkling waters to be a great alternative to sodas. While name-brand seltzers like La Croix can actually be even pricier than Coke or Pepsi, the popularity of sparkling water has brought a number of generic options to stores like Aldi. Personally, that’s where I’ve been stocking up on calorie-free beverages, lowering both the amount of money we spend at the grocery store and the amount of sugary soda I consume.
Make “healthy” junk food
Finally, if you don’t want to completely bid adieu to some of your fatty favorites, there may be a way for you to at least craft a healthier version of it. Something in this vein that my wife and I love to do is make our own pizzas. Not only does this allow us to customize the ingredients in an effort to cut calories but it can also allow us to cut costs. Of course this is just one example and, thanks to the Internet, there’s no shortage of creative recipes you can find that could help you find a new frugal and healthy favorite.
As a trip to your local Whole Foods will tell you, shopping for healthy foods is rarely a cheap endeavor. However there are still a few changes you can make to your shopping list and diet that could be a step in the right direction for your health while still not causing a major hit to your wallet. By planning ahead, seeking out sales, and making other adjustments, you may just be able to enjoy the best of both worlds.