Most of the country has been hit by this snow covering arctic freeze. California has been the extreme exception to this weather. In contrast, we have been hit with a recording breaking drought. So bad that experts are predicting our food costs to increase by 10 – 15% for the next year to year and a half.
Unfortunately not only does this effect California, but the rest of the nation as well. Our sunshine state produces many of the crops that the rest of the country enjoys year round.
For anyone that made a resolution at the beginning of the year to eat healthier this may concern you. For those of you that have made it a lifestyle to eat healthy, like myself, this could put a huge dent in your grocery budget.
Fortunately with some small adjustments to the way you shop you can still maintain your budget. You can even afford organics.
I keep my grocery bill within $90 – $120 for a family of 4, every week. I buy a lot of organics, but not exclusively. I have 2 growing boys that eat like wolves, a husband that needs to feel satiated, and I like all of us to eat clean foods 80% of the time.
You must be asking yourself at this point how on earth I accomplish that trick?
Here are my 12 tips that I use every week to keep my family healthy and on budget.
#1 Plan, plan, plan!
- Plan meals weekly for you and your family; breakfast, snack, lunch, snack & dinner. Plan all seven days. Mark days that you will eat leftovers and go out for dinner too.
- Use your grocery stores weekly ad to make money saving menus.
- Make a grocery list using your weekly menu.
- Do not buy anything that is not on your list.
- Use ingredients multiple times in your menu.
#2 Buy Generic Products
- Especially organic ones.
- Benefits: they cost less, have the same nutrients, and taste the same.
#3 Buy Only Items on sale
- Use the weekly store ads to build weekly menu.
- Use sales to stock up when possible
- Even though a sale is 10/$10 you do not have to buy 10 items, most of the time.
- Look at the unit price to verify the sale item is the cheapest.
#4 Buy in Bulk
- Especially if the bulk item is on sale
- Items can be frozen if they are not going to be used within 5 days of purchase.
#5 Buy Frozen Fruits & Vegetables
- They are usually half the price of fresh
- Have longer shelf life
- Saves you time, if they are already washed and cut
- Nutrient dense. If they are frozen when picked they contain more nutrients than fresh.
- Less waste = More money saved!
#6 Buy Whole Foods
- Shop the perimeter of the store, avoid the aisles.
- Unprocessed foods are cheaper and more nutritious.
- Gives you complete control over ingredients. Processed foods have dangerous levels of sodium, added chemicals to preserve the food and maintain color.
- Avoid anything that comes from a box 90% of the time.
#7 Buy Calorie Dense Foods
- Eating calorie dense food leads to eating less because you feel full.
- Examples: Avocados, beans, peanut butter, brown rice, oats and dried fruits.
- Watch portions, in excess they can add unwanted weight.
#8 Buy Cheap Protein
- Buy ground turkey, pork, chicken breasts/thighs & turkey bacon in bulk when on sale.
- Buy packs of chicken with skin on and remove skin yourself. Huge savings!
- Beans, mushrooms, eggs, nuts and tofu are good money saving replacements for meat.
- Look for discounted items to expire. Freeze them immediately if not using that day. There are some very expensive cuts of meat that can be purchased for up to 90% off in this section!
#9 Buy in Season Fruits & Vegetables
- In season items are cheaper and taste better.
- Winter – Root Vegetables
- Fall – Apples & squash
- Summer – Berries & Cucumbers
- Spring – Artichokes & asparagus
- Freeze any fruits and vegetables you haven’t used by the end of the week.
- Look for resident farmers market assistance programs. In my city, Rancho Cucamonga, there is a program for families with children 5 years and younger, or pregnant women. Participants receive $50 to spend at the local farmers markets each month. Follow this link to sign up.
#10 Max Out Your Discounts
- Get the store card for your supermarket and know how to use it.
- Clip coupons. You can find them at online or in your Sunday paper.
- Check the unit price for the best deal. Least expensive isn’t always the smartest buy.
- Walmart will price match. Bring the competitors ad with you and be prepared to let the clerk know which products you are price matching before she/he rings them up.
- Sign up on product websites to receive their coupons via email.
#11 Be Drink Smart
- Stop buying bottled water. Buy a Brita pitcher.
- Make your own coffee. One year of Starbucks will cost the average person $790 (not daily). One year of daily Keurig coffee consumption is $156.52 a person.
- Stop drinking costly, body harming sodas.
#12 Grow Your Own Food
- Much more cost efficient than purchasing fresh or frozen in the store.
- The taste is unbeatable.
- More cost effective way to consume organics.
- Even in a small yard you can plant in raised beds or containers.
So, there you go, that is how I eat healthy on a budget.
Yes, it will take you some time to put together your menus and list. Before you know it this will become second nature. You will slowly evolve into a healthy, money saving machine.
I will testify that it is worth the time it takes to do this every week. It actually becomes addicting. I look forward to seeing what I saved at the bottom of my receipt every week.
Can’t see yourself doing this, but would love healthy balanced menus and/or meals to be made for you? If so, click here.
Do you have a tip you would like to share? If so, leave it in the comment section below.