Eating well on a budget
Updated: Mar 27, 2022
One of the most common phrases I hear from my clients is: "eating healthy is so expensive!"
They're not wrong - organic, thoughtfully sourced foods can sell for 20-50% more than their conventional counterparts.
As a Holistic Health Coach, I'm all about creating sustainable lifestyle changes, and a 50% increase in the weekly grocery bill is not sustainable. So, no matter what your financial situation is, I want to leave you with a few tips on how to get the most bang for your buck when you start making better choices at the grocery store that will impact your diet meal plan.
Always have a plan + a grocery list
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!
This might seem like a simple idea, but I can't tell you how many of my clients don't do a weekly diet meal plan! With the plethora of items available on Etsy/Amazon, you can make it fun by using a cute weekly meal planner (or just use an old fashioned pen/paper). Pick a day of the week (for me it's Sunday), and look at your work schedule + other obligations, and then plan out what meals you are going to make (or buy). For your busier days, you might want to plan for leftovers or to have a healthy food takeout option. Do a quick sweep of your cabinets/fridge to see what you already have (or what's about to go bad) and then make a grocery list from there!
Whole foods > packaged foods
This is an important one, so listen up!!
There are some GREAT packaged/processed products that can satisfy any lifestyle choice (organic, paleo, keto, vegan... the list goes on!!). But these packaged products are still more expensive than WHOLE healthy foods (ie- fruits + veggies). A bag of grain-free tortilla chips costs $6 and is maybe 3-4 servings. You can get some organic celery + hummus as a snack for $5 combined, and that will be enough for 6+ servings. I'll be posting some examples and comparisons in my Instagram stories this week- check it out if you need some guidance on this!
At the end of the day, you'll save a lot of money but mostly choosing fruits + veggies versus packaged "health" foods. Your wallet + your waistline will thank you!
Buy in bulk
If there's something you like that is on sale, buy multiple units and keep it at home (assuming it's a non-perishable or something you can freeze). Many times, you can also find larger quantities of items for a better price per unit. If you are unsure of whether you're getting a better deal by buying more, check the "price per unit" on the price tag to confirm.
Visit multiple grocery stores
This obviously requires more time, but this has been a great way for me to save money and eating well. I am very particular about the brands I buy, so I have to visit multiple stores to get the best prices on all the items I like. For example, I buy most of my produce at HEB, but they don't have a great selection of frozen fruit for my smoothies (I buy these in bulk at Costco). I like some of the specialty items at Trader Joe's (s/o to the cauliflower gnocchi!!) but they are limited in other items. By visiting multiple stores, you get the best items for the best prices to your diet meal plan.
Eat less meat
I typically find that meat + seafood are the most expensive items on my grocery bill. Let me first say- animals products are NOT a place where you should cut corners. The animals/fish that are raised conventionally are pumped full of chemicals, they live in stressful conditions and they are fed genetically modified feed that has little to no nutritional value. You should ALWAYS buy the highest-quality meat/seafood that you can afford. (Ideally: pasture-raised meat and wild-caught fish). That being said, your bill could go up significantly if you eat a lot of animal products. The solution- eat more plant-based healthy protein! It's better for your wallet + better for the environment. I personally only eat one 4-oz serving of meat or seafood per day MAX and instead fuel my day with plant proteins. Some great, low cost sources of complete plant-based proteins include:
Quinoa (try my Mediterranean Quinoa Salad recipe)
Beans + rice
Tofu (try my Vegan Pad Thai recipe)
Nuts (like almonds, cashews, pecans)
Seeds (like hemp seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds)
I am also a big fan of supplementing with a high-quality plant-based protein powder- here's my morning smoothie recipes!
This is another SUPER important one. When you're eating well on a budget, your freezer is your BFF! I freeze EVERYTHING. If you have leftovers from a meal and don't intend to eat them right away- freeze them and have them in a couple weeks when you have nothing to eat! You can also buy a lot of organic fruits + veggies frozen for 20-30% cheaper than buying them fresh. I buy frozen spinach to throw in soups + sauces, green beans and broccoli to roast in the oven, and frozen peas + carrots for Asian dishes like my Panang Curry. I also buy a ton of frozen berries for my smoothies. I find the best place to get organic, frozen fruits + veggies in bulk is Costco. My second favorite place is Kroger.
Need some help navigating the grocery store, cleaning out your pantry, and putting together a budget-friendly meal plan? How about all of the above? Work with me personally to achieve your health goals in a SUSTAINABLE way- email me at email@example.com to set up a free consultation my health coaching services.