I get this question, or shall I say complaint, a lot. “I want to eat healthy, but it’s expensive.” I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be. I hear you. I don’t want to spend my entire budget on groceries, either. But I don’t want to live on junk food. Here are a few tips I’ve learned on how to balance the two practically.
1. Limit impulse purchases. How do you realistically do this? For starters, you don’t go ready to chew your arm off because you haven’t eaten since you first woke up six hours ago. You also go with a thought out list planned around what’s on sale, the meals you planned to prepare for the week (including breakfasts and lunches), and you plan to have leftovers or double up uses for certain items.
2. Think outside of the grocery chain box. Buy your produce in season. You may invest in a farming co-op. They can be very cost effective and as a bonus, save you a bunch of time in the store if they deliver right to your doorstep! Local farmers markets and stands are also great options to buy seasonal, ripe produce. Meat markets can also be a great way to get way save on fresh meats. Bonus, these places usually only offer what you are looking for, which means no room for impulse purchases at the check out on candy, chips, etc.
3. AVOID couponing. You read that right. I know, I know. But I tried it for a season and I ended up spending more because I often found myself buying things I didn’t need simply because I had a coupon for them. It was also very time consuming not only to look through the papers and magazines, but also in the store while I was shuffling through my coupon files looking through what I had clipped.
4. Buy generic. They are often the same product as name brands, just different packaging.
5. Think simple, whole foods. Does it grow on a tree? Can you picture it in nature? There are no chocolate chip cookies trees. No potato chip farms. The real potatoes are pennies and pack so many more nutrients than their ultra processed counterparts.
6. Plan for three meatless meals a week. Beans, eggs, and high fiber grains like quinoa are very inexpensive ways to include protein in a meal without meat. Better yet, always plan meals around the vegetables and grains and make meat the garnish. It’s cheaper and better for you!
Happy shopping! Would love to know in the comments what you come up with.
P.S. If you’ve been looking for support, you’ve come to the right place, request to join my online support group for all things nutrition and weight loss support.
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Jillian McMullen, CSOWM, RDN, LDN