When we think of eating healthfully, we often assume that it means spending more money. However, with careful planning and consideration, you’ll discover that it really is more a matter of reallocating your current weekly food & beverage spending on healthier choices, not spending more.
If you’ve never really added up your weekly expenses for the occasional visit to your local coffee shop, fast food lunches, or dining out, you might be shocked by your weekly spending. For example, if you spend $4.50 on a specialty coffee drink each week, you could be using that money to buy a dozen organic eggs, one pound of spinach, five pounds of carrots, or half a pound of almonds, which would last you an entire week!
Before you begin the process of transitioning to real food it is essential to remember that the goal is to take your existing budget and to use it more wisely, in ways that will benefit you. Keep in mind that the goal is to take your current budget and reallocate some of your expenses so that you will be investing in your health, not spending on sugary drinks or nutrient deficient products.
Here are several steps you can take to eat healthfully on your current budget.
1. Determine what you’re currently spending on all food and beverages.
The best way to determine your weekly budget for healthy eating is to determine how much you’re currently spending on all food and beverages. This includes what you spend on groceries, eating out, beverages, on-the-go meals and snacks, etc. Once you determine your weekly expenses, it will be easier to determine your budget for healthier choices.
Now that you know your current spending habits, decide how much of those ‘non-essential’ expenses you are going to reallocate towards healthy options.
2. Meal plan.
When you have a plan of your meals for the week, you’ll know exactly what ingredients you will need for those recipes. This is why meal planning saves both time and money! You are more likely to buy what you need for the week, avoid impulse purchases, and you won’t be as likely to let food go to waste! All huge money-saving tips!
Meal planning also reduces the likelihood that you’ll resort to eating out when you don’t have a plan, which is about 3-4 times more expensive than making food at home, not to mention that when you eat at home you get the added benefit of knowing exactly what’s in your food and what is used to prepare it!
Need ideas for meal planning? Let me know!
3. Buy staples online.
Purchasing everything you need from your local grocery store may be convenient but it’s costing you! We just don’t need to be paying full price on everything we buy. When I did a price comparison of everything I buy on a regular basis, (including exact brands and products) I found that buying my staples from Thrive Market saved me $83. (Yes, eighty-three! That’s huge!)
When I buy my essentials from Thrive Market, I can choose from 4,000 best-selling health and wellness products and the top 400 natural brands on the market – in everyday sizes, always at 25-50% below traditional retail prices. They’re not knockoff brands either, Thrive Market carries many of the same brands I shop for at the natural foods store in my neighborhood.
Here are a few examples of the price differences I found from Thrive:
(Each of these is comparing the same size and brand between the two retailers)
|Item Compared||Grocery Store||Thrive|
|Pink Salt- (chunks) 26 oz||26.00||7.99|
|Ghee- 13 oz||11.99||8.99|
|Coconut Oil- 23 oz||17.99||15.63|
|Coconut Aminos- 16 oz||15.99||10.69|
|Avocado Oil- 16.9 oz||13.99||11.59|
|Almond Butter- 16 oz||13.60||10.99|
While it would be optimal to buy everything organic simply for health reasons, we have to pick and choose what is the most important to buy organic and what we can wait on, depending on our budgets. There are just certain items that should be purchased organic. Plain and simple.
One way I like to prioritize what I’m going to buy organic is following the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen for produce – download your wallet guide to take with you when you shop.
There are also other staples that are very critical to be organic. I include this in my Real Food Grocery Guide, here.
5. Buy from the bulk section of the store.
You can save some serious pocket change by selecting items in small quantities from the bulk section, rather than pre-packaged versions. You can buy nuts, seeds, legumes, certain types of rice, ancient grains (if tolerated), dried fruits, and even seasonings and spices from the bulk section.
The seasonings and spices seem fairly new to the bulk section. They might not be in all stores yet and you have to bag them yourself, but they are about a tenth of the cost of the bottled spices and seasonings!
Buy as much as you can from this section, you’ll notice the savings!
3 Extra Tips:
- Avoid premade beverages. They are often the highest cost to lowest nutrient ratio items you can buy. Try making your own beverages for a fraction of the cost!
- Buy real food staples like fresh produce and certain meats from your local farmer’s market. You can often get better deals on these items plus you’re supporting the local farmers in your area!
- Increasing the number of meals you eat at home each week not only saves you tons of money, it is also much better for you, as you can control what is in your food and how it is prepared.
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Have you tried any of these money-saving tips? What are your favorite ways to save on healthy eating? Share below!
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Hannah is the founder and health educator at Healthfully Hannah, empowering women to live healthfully through science-based, step-by-step guidance. Read Hannah’s personal health journey that led her to discover the power of Functional Medicine and Nutrition. Feel free to send Hannah a message here.
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