Eating healthy is something many of us strive to do more of, but we often find ourselves rethinking certain good-for-you grocery choices because of their higher price.
While some health foods are more expensive than standard grocery items, there are plenty of affordable options and several shopping strategies to ensure you stay on budget while cleaning up your diet.
6 tips to eat healthy on a budget
Learn how to eat healthy for less with these six easy to follow tips.
1. Stick with the season
Even though you can find just about any fruit or vegetable at the grocery store year round, it’s best to stick to those that are in season. Produce sold out of season will cost you anywhere from 20% to 40% more.
If you’re unfamiliar with how to cook with a certain crop that’s on sale, use the Recipes by Ingredients app to find a new and tasty dish.
2. Study the Clean 15
When it comes to organic produce, the cost can be a big burden on your budget and a big turn off. While there are vegetables and fruits that experts recommend you buy organic to avoid chemicals — like apples and tomatoes — there are many others that are perfectly safe to eat in the traditional form.
In fact, the “Clean 15” includes a list of fresh vegetables and fruits that are least likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues. Study the list and stick with these non-organic options when planning your meals.
3. Focus on frozen
Frozen fruits and vegetables often get a bad rep for being a less-healthy choice compared to fresh. Most shoppers don’t realize though that such produce is flash frozen at peak ripeness, which retains its optimal flavor and nutrients.
Since it costs less too, frozen turns out to be a much better option from a health and price perspective! Save even more by opting for the generic or store-brand packages and stock up during sale time since you don’t have to worry about these foods going bad.
4. Look for coupons
You likely associate coupons with processed food, but there are plenty of health food brands and stores that provide money-saving vouchers these days. Whole Foods, for instance, released a mobile app that features in-store deals on everything from quinoa to black beans to whole-grain bread.
Meanwhile, brands like Nature’s Path periodically offer coupons through product packaging and in health and natural food magazines. You can even find printable grocery coupons for produce and other health and organic foods via CouponSherpa.com.
5. Seek manager markdowns
Fish and lean protein like chicken breast are among the top healthy diet choices recommended by health professionals across the globe. These also happen to be among the most expensive health foods on your grocery list.
To save, search for any meat, chicken or fish nearing the sell-by-date and ask the store manager if he or she can offer a discount. Often times, these will already be marked down as “manager specials” but are perfectly safe to consume. Stock up on a few packages then freeze what you don’t cook right away for later.
6. Plant your own garden
Since filling up on leafy greens and colorful produce is key when it comes to healthy living, why not grow your own garden to save on grocery costs and limit food waste?
If you’re new to gardening, start small by planting just a couple favorite herbs like rosemary, sage or dill and study up on gardening tips for optimal conditions.
Don’t have a lot of space? No problem! Vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, summer squash, eggplant and peppers can be grown in containers on window sills, perfect for apartment dwellers.