Food gets more and more expensive every year. It can be even more expensive if you are trying to eat all – natural, organic and /or GMO-free! Not mention if you have a son like I do.
I can buy groceries and then look up and they have all magically disappeared. I am starting to feel like the grocery store is our second home.
The USDA estimates that a family of 4 spends roughly $897.20 monthly on a moderate grocery budget and those with more liberal budgets spend around $1,111.60 monthly. USDA.gov
As you can see groceries take up a big chuck of most household incomes but WE GOTTA EAT!
Many people say the reason they can’t eat healthy is because their budgets just won’t support it. I completely understand where they are coming from being a single mom and living off the income from this blog.
Let me tell you there are some months that are downright scary but being healthy and putting good foods into our bodies is important.
The long term benefits are better health and fewer health related illnesses and expenses.
If your reading this and saying I just can’t afford to eat healthy I promise you there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is possible to eat healthier and save money at the same time.
I have put together 15 tweaks that you can make to your current grocery shopping routine to help you do just that even if you have a boy at home.
1. Buy Less than Perfect Produce
If you have been to any furniture store you know there is a hidden room or floor that houses all of the damaged furniture.
I know this area well.
But did you know that many grocery stores have areas like this too! Okay it isn’t in a hidden away room or anything like that but most stores do sell and discount damaged produce.
This produce is still perfectly fine to eat, but it may be bruised or oddly shaped. Remember its not what’s on the outside that matters its what’s on the inside.
2. Take Inventory and Use a Shopping List
First things first never I repeat never go to the grocery store without a shopping list and a plan.
The moment you walk into a grocery store without a plan and a list you are in trouble because things will began to fall off the shelf into your cart.
Then when you get home you will have 50 things you didn’t need and the one thing you needed you forgot.
Believe me I know from experience.
Take stock of what you already have at home. I created this handy and free freezer/pantry list printable. Print it off and keep track of the things you already have.
Once you know what you have it is time to make a list of what you need. A shopping list takes on superpowers shielding you from impulse buying and forgetfulness.
3. Plan Meals Ahead of Time
It never fails I mention meal planning and people start to run for the hills.
Meal planning is NOT Meal prepping.
So don’t run away because I am not telling you that you have to spend your entire Sunday cooking all the meals for the week. Meal planning is simply putting together a menu for the week. You don’t have to cook it all yet I promise!!
Meal planning is useful when it comes time to do your inventory and then write out your shopping list.
Use your meal plan to guide your trip and only get what you need to prepare the meals for the week.
Of course I created another free printable to help you with that too! The weekly menu and shopping list printable will allow you to plan your meals and then on the same page create your shopping list.
See there is no need to be scared I got your back because I want to you eat healthier and save all your hard earned money.
Here are some resources to help you with meal planning:
- 15 Tips for Better Weekly Meal Planning – Kitchn
- 3 Reasons to Meal Plan + A Quick Guide to Getting Started – Summer Tomato
- Simplify Menu Planning with Rotating Menus – Organize Yourself Skinny
4. Let Your Smartphone Work for You
If you have a smartphone and you aren’t using it to help you save money and eat healthier then you aren’t using it to it’s full capacity.
Get your smartphone right now and download these free apps:
These apps all work differently some can save you money (Shopkick and Ibotta) while others can help you pick healthier options (Shopwell).
5. Comparison Shop
If you were buying a car or tv your would compare prices from different stores, RIGHT?!?! Well the same should apply to your food purchases.
A trip to the grocery store may not cost as much as a TV does upfront but remember the average family of 4 spends enough in groceries to buy a new flat screen every month.
Try to learn which stores in your area have the best prices on which goods, or which have the best sales on thing your family eats. The easiest way to do this is to go to their websites and get their weekly ad that way you can compare and map out where to get what for the best price.
Want to start creating healthier habits? Sign up and get our free healthy habits tracker:
6. Buy Less Prepackaged Foods
Does your kid like lunchables? Mine does but it can be cheaper to make your own lunchables. I started making my son after school snack packs not only could I choose the ingredients I was saving money.
Have you ever compared the prices of pre-made kid lunch packs to the actual ingredients needed to make those packs?
Save money by buying ingredients, not meals. Here is a cool video to give you some ideas:
7. Put it in the Freezer
If you have ever said ” I would buy organic but it would just go bad before I had a chance to eat it” then it is time to put your freezer to work.
There are so many things you can freeze and then use as you need them. So if there is a great sale on produce stock up and freeze it for later.
I personally use a FoodSaver FreshSaver to get all the air out of the bag before I freeze any of my foods. This will help it keep longer and ward off freezer burn.
Once a Month meals has a great post on the foods that you can and cannot freeze and over at Deliciously Organic there are 20 Tips on Freezing Food to Save You Time and Money. So if you are wondering can I freeze this check out their post.
Here is a chart to show you just how long your can freeze different foods.
8. Buy in Bulk
A simple way to buy organic foods on a tight budget is to buy in bulk. You can get great deals on organic meat and produce at wholesales stores like Costco, Sams or even online retailers such as Azure and Thrive Market.
Don’t go getting crazy now. Make sure that you are buying foods that you already know your family likes, otherwise you will waste money, food and space. Remember if there is a good deal on things your family does like you can always freeze it for later.
9. Prioritize Organic Purchases to Eat Healthier
We would all love to be eating totally organic but that might not be feasible for your budget. The best way to get around this is to prioritize your organic purchases.
You should definitely get organic meat, dairy, and other animal byproducts as the non organic types have the highest chance of being full of pesticides, chemicals and hormones.
If you need help prioritizing what to buy organic you should take a look at the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen”.
10. Cut Down on Meat
No I am not trying to turn you into a vegan or a vegetarian. But if you serious about trying to eat healthier then one meatless meal a week is a great option not to mention a major money saver. Meat can be pricey so if you cut down to once a week Meatless Monday it can add a little extra meat to your wallet…see what I did there.
Now you are probably thinking then what am I suppose to eat but I got you covered. There are some great recipes online for meatless dishes.
Here are some resources to give you some ideas:
- Quick Meatless Recipes – Martha Stewart
- Meatless Monday: Healthy Vegetarian Recipes You Must Try – Eating Well
- 12 Mouthwatering Meatless Meals – Health
11. Make it From Scratch and/or Grow it at Home
Here is the thing healthy pre-made meals and sides may be insanely convenient but they can also be just as insanely high. If strolling into your local Whole Foods and picking up a dish from their prepared foods section isn’t on the budget it is time to make it from scratch, which is even healthier than Whole Foods.
There is a great book called The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making by Alana Chemila that can help you make many of the foods you are buying right at home.
While on the subject of making things from scratch why not try your hand a growing some of your own foods. If you are tight on space you can grow many foods right in your house. I have grown romaine lettuce right in my dining room. It is really simple just stick it in water and watch it grow.
Here are some other foods that you can grow indoors:
- Culinary Herbs
- Edible Flowers
If you need more information and tips on how to get started growing your own foods indoors check out the book Indoor Kitchen Gardening: Turn Your Home into a Year Round Vegetable Garden by Elizabeth Millard.
12. Eat Seasonally
While you can buy the majority of produce year-round, every fruit and vegetable actually has a time when it is truly in season. If you want to eat healthier and increase the amount of produce you eat try to stick to what is in season.
Foods in season will be the cheapest because they won’t have to be shipped in from different parts of the world. Check out Fruits and Veggies More Matter’s page that has a complete list of What Fruits and Veggies are in Season.
13. Check out Your Local Farmer’s Market
If you’re lucky, you may have a farmer’s market in your area, or maybe in a bigger city near you. Farmer’s markets can be a great place to get locally grow fruits and vegetables for lower prices. Not to mention you are supporting a local farming families.
Don’t know where there farmers market is in your area you can use the Farmer’s Market Locator on LocalFarmMarkets.org
14. Use it All Up
In our house usually the last week of the month is when I decide to eat according to only what we have in the house. That means no grocery shopping at all. Grab whatever you have in the fridge and freezer and get creative. Many a times last nights rice with some frozen broccoli, smoked sausage becomes tonight casserole.
Casseroles are the way to go to mix and hide foods into dishes while using things up. Greatist put together a list of 65 meals that you can create with your leftovers that can help give you some ideas so you don’t waste any of your food.
15. Buy the Store Brand
Finally whenever possible opt for the store brand. The store brand is ALWAYS cheaper. I mean come on do you really need brand name lettuce?
I hope that you found this post useful and are well on your to saving money while you eat healthier. Your family, your body and your wallet will thank you for it!!
What are some ways you save money when grocery shopping? Do you create a shopping list or do you just wing it?
Never Miss A Freebie
Each month we send out a very special email with free printables. Periodically you will also get special discounts for the shop.