One of the common misconceptions about healthy eating is that it’s expensive. There’s no doubt that highly processed, shelf-stable foods and sodas are often inexpensive and on sale frequently. That being said, there are also lots of ways you can incorporate healthier foods into your family’s meals by shopping smart and prioritizing your processes.
Have you used the high price of healthy food as an objection to changing how you grocery shop? Here are some things to consider when looking to shop healthier, and more frugally:
- Fresh vs. Frozen: When looking to purchase family-sized quantities of lean proteins, examine prices for both fresh and frozen options. A large bag of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts is an excellent source of lean protein at a low price. Don’t discount fresh options though. Check your market for sales and don’t be afraid to look in the meat case. There are often great deals to be found on seafood, chicken, and beef. Pork tenderloins also frequently go on sale and make a great slow cooker meal. It might take a few more minutes to look at the fresh and frozen sections, but the savings will be worth it. The same applies to green veggies such as broccoli, kale, and spinach.
- Greens are Good (and often inexpensive): A great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, greens such as spinach, kale, collards, and more are nutrient-packed, filling items. If you buy a single bunch of kale for $1.99, it can be the vegetable side for a family of 4. Instead of heading for the pre-washed, bagged greens, check out the prices on the fresh produce versions. An extra rinse and chop is worth the savings.
- Pre-Packaged Dilemma: Pre-packaged meals that are marketed as “healthy” are often quite expensive and they seem to perpetuate the healthy=expensive myth. Try to stick with purchasing lean proteins and vegetables as the bulk of your shopping cart, and add pre-packaged items only as needed to supplement those items.
- Check Local: Local Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) plans allow for purchasing large shares of fresh vegetables (and often, meat and eggs) for a price that might shock you. If you aren’t very picky about exactly what vegetables you get, or if you like experimenting with in-season items, search for a local CSA and see how their prices compare to the grocery. The upfront cost of the CSA can scare some away, but take that cost and average it out for the entire season and then compare the per-week cost for amount of food received.
- Buy in bulk: Bulk purchasing can create large savings on many items. This can include buying bulk grains like rice and quinoa, or even buying sale meat in larger quantities. You can have your butcher package the purchase in smaller quantities so you can easily portion and freeze what you can’t consume immediately.
- Alternative protein sources: Don’t forget about healthy meat alternatives that are protein-rich. These include eggs, seeds, nuts, and beans. If you can’t find many deals on meat, you can use these protein sources to supplement what you do find.
If you need a quick reminder of what to look for, remember the 3 S’s:
- Season: In-season vegetables are an economical choice. Not sure what’s in season? Simply check what’s on sale in the produce department!
- Sales: Do some planning ahead of time to find our what sales are going on in your area. One store might have a huge deal on ground beef while another one on wild salmon. This will help you prioritize both where you shop and what’s on your grocery list.
- Stock (Up): When items are on sale, don’t be afraid to stock up on them and freeze. Meats, bulk grains, and frozen vegetables are all easy to buy en mass and store for later consumption. Having these items on hand also reduce the amount of mid-week convenience shopping you might do. Keeping healthy options in the house means less fast food outside of the house.
What are some ways you save money on healthy food?