“I’m trying to eat healthy food” is a phrase said by many but implemented by few because of budget restraints. Grocery shopping for healthy foods, or what you perceive to be healthy foods, can get expensive very quickly.
Realistically, you can buy healthy foods at a reasonable price, you’re just missing these key hacks. Rethink your grocery store shopping approaches and lists to achieve the diet you want with the budget you have.
Buy in bulk
Sometimes you just know what you want. If you have a food that you know you eat regularly, consider buying it in bulk. In the long run, it can be cheaper to buy in bulk since the price per unit will lower dramatically. National chains like BJ’s, Sam’s Club, and Costco require memberships, but if you can find everything you need there, it may be worth it. Otherwise, tag along with a friend or family member who has a membership and shop together!
Don’t be deceived by food labels
It can be tempting to wander down the “health food” aisle and come across an abundance of foods labeled organic, low-carb, or diet-friendly. Their packaging promises a lot, but few deliver. There are no FDA-approved versions of labels like all-natural, immune-boosting, and free-range, so food companies can put a label on anything if it convinces you to buy it. Most products with those labels are processed and include chemicals meant to cut back on calories but that ultimately neglect nutrition. Not to mention, they’re exceedingly expensive to buy week after week. You can put together your healthy snacks for a fraction of the cost.
A good rule of thumb is to stick to the perimeter of the grocery store. Everything you need will be there, while boxed or canned foods tend to be in the middle aisles of the store. The ends of the aisles in the middle will have necessary items like sauces and spices. Wander into the middle of the grocery store carefully, and stick to your list.
Frozen over fresh produce
Not all quality fruits and vegetables come from the produce aisle. If you have trouble eating fresh produce before it goes bad, make the frozen aisle your new best friend; frozen fruits and vegetables can be just as nutritious. When fruits and vegetables are frozen, it preserves their nutrients for longer than ready-picked produce. They are picked at peak ripeness, when they are most nutritious, and frozen within a few hours. Look for deals on large bags of frozen produce, which could end up saving you more.
Unlike fruits, vegetables undergo a process called “blanching” before freezing to preserve color and flavor, which can reduce their levels of vitamins and minerals. Be sure to research the specific vegetable and brand before purchasing.
Go to these foods that are always cheap
You might be thinking too hard about your healthy grocery list, and therefore could be missing what’s right in front of you. Items like the following are typically always available, are inexpensive, and are versatile staples in healthy dishes.
- Beans: Beans are a protein-packed meat alternative that are delicious in everything from salads to stews.
- Brown rice: As an alternative to processed white rice or pasta, this can be a good option for incorporating a filling carb into your dishes.
- Eggs: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner—eggs are a protein and vitamin-filled option you can serve many different ways.
- Greek yogurt: Whether you top it with granola, or use it as a smoothie base, you can’t go wrong with a plain or naturally-flavored fruit Greek yogurt for protein.
- Oats: Oats can be slow-burning and steady carb to have for breakfast, in your yogurt, or as oatmeal.
- Potatoes: Mashed potatoes covered in butter aren’t very healthy, but steaming or roasting your potatoes with herbs and spices makes them flavorful and maintains their antioxidant benefits.
- Tuna: Fish is a fantastic source of healthy fats, and canned tuna is a delicious way to get your seafood fix without the seafood prices. Put it in a salad or on a sandwich for a tasty lunch.
Stay informed and healthy—happy shopping!
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