One of the biggest challenges many people face when trying to adopt or adhere to a healthy diet and lifestyle is the extra cost.
Unfortunately, it is true that eating fresh, organic whole foods, and using chemical-free household and personal care products do cost more than processed and fast food or conventional drug-store products. Therefore, when switching to a healthy diet and lifestyle, it can be a bit of a shock to the bank account.
Fortunately, with a little strategy and creativity, living well and eating healthy can be affordable! Follow these tips and tricks, and your pocketbook won’t know the difference.
Buy In Bulk
When you see something on sale at the market or the grocery store, stock up. With enough time or freezer space, you can stock up on a surprisingly large variety of foods. For example, when tomatoes are in season and are much cheaper compared to any other time of year, buy lots! You can freeze tomatoes whole, dehydrate them, or make and can tomato sauce. You can buy almost any vegetable or fruit in bulk and figure out a way to preserve it.
Another food you can buy in bulk and save is meat. This may require investing in a deep freeze, but the money you save on the meat and other freezable foods will have it paid off in no time. Purchasing a whole or half cow, pig or sheep directly to the farmer will cost much less than buying all the individual cuts on their own. If buying half an animal is still too much, go in on it with a friend who is also eating healthy on a budget. As well, nuts, seeds, and beans are all more affordable when bought in bulk.
Whenever possible, buy your food directly from the producer to avoid the extra expense of a middleman. Buying meat, eggs, fruit, and veggies directly from the farmer can save money. A great place to buy direct is at your local farmer’s market. A pro tip is to contact the farmer ahead of time and work out a deal on the produce or meat you would like to purchase.
Shopping at wholesale stores such as Costco can save a bundle of cash. Luckily, Costco does carry some healthy, organic foods. We got a Costco card specifically for the organic olive oil. They sell a 2 pack for $18, whereas one bottle of the same organic olive oil costs that much at other grocery stores. The savings we incur from the olive oil alone has definitely paid for the card. Costco also sells affordable deep freezers!
Simplify Your Ingredients
Don’t spend money on expensive speciality herbs and foods that you will rarely use. Instead, buy swiss army knife foods and keep it simple. Get a few herb mixes and a few versatile foods that can be mixed and matched with each other to make different meals. Potatoes, for example, are very versatile and affordable, whereas gluten-free bread is not all that versatile and definitely not affordable.
To add variety to the same basic meal you can use different herb mixes, to give your meal a different cultural flare. You can enjoy Indian, Mexican, Asian or Italian inspired meals just by switching the herbs used.
Eat Local and In Season
Eat fruit and veggies when they are in season in your local area. This is when they are most affordable and nutritious. Eating foods when they are out of season not only costs more, but you are paying for a less nutritious food because they are most likely transported in from another country.
Pick Frozen over Fresh
If you do want to eat a vegetable that is out of season, consider buying it frozen. Frozen veggies are often cheaper than their fresh counterpart. As a bonus, vegetables are frozen at the peak of their season when they are most nutrient dense. Freezing retains many of the nutrients, so frozen veggies may actually be more nutrient-rich than vegetables in the produce aisle.
You might also be able to find a good deal on frozen meat compared to fresh. Our local butcher sells frozen sausages at 20% off, which is perfect for buying bulk and stocking up the freezer!
Eat the Cheaper Cuts of Better Quality Meat
Grass-fed organic meat from animals raised well costs much more than conventional grocery store meat. A way around this is to buy the more affordable cuts such as shank, short rib, chuck roast, brisket, and offal. These cuts tend to be a little tougher so you will need to pull out your crockpot or slow cooker. As well, the cheaper cuts tend to be healthier than the steak cuts because they contain more nutrients such as glycine, proline, vitamins, and minerals.
Cook Meals in Bulk
Cooking in bulk not only saves money, but it also saves precious, precious time. Cooking in bulk will ensure that the meat and veggies you bought in bulk will not spoil, You can freeze extra meals for later dates when you have less time or energy to put into healthy cooking. A great strategy is spending one day a week preparing meals and food for the upcoming week.
Plan Your Meals
A little meal planning can go a long way. Planning and prepping your meals ahead of time will prevent an expensive trip to the grocery store, or worse yet a restaurant after work.
Grow Your Own Food
You don’t need to be a master gardener or have an acre of land to grow your own food. Tomatoes, lettuce, and herbs are awfully easy to grow in pots. Not only will this save money, it will give you satisfaction. There is nothing more rewarding than eating a vegetable you grew from a seed. Also, the soil and pots can be re-used year after year with a little organic fertilization.
Eat the Clean 15
The Environmental Working Group comes out with their list of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 fruits and vegetables each year. The Dirty Dozen is a list of veggies you definitely want to buy organic because the conventional versions are very high in pesticide residue. But, the Clean 15 are conventionally grown veggies that are low in pesticides. To save money, buy conventionally grown Clean 15.
Eat Out Rarely
Eating out should be reserved for special occasions, such as birthdays and anniversaries. Eating at restaurants is expensive. The amount a single evening out costs at a restaurant could pay for a few days or even a week of healthy home cooked meals. When you do decide to eat out, go out for something you would never make at home, so it feels like a special treat.
Make Coffee at Home
Buying a $4 coffee from a coffee shop is a daily expense most of us can forgo. Instead, buy the beans from the coffee shop and make your coffee at home. This will save a few bucks every day.
Make it From Scratch
Nut milks, nut butters, nut flours, kale chips, energy balls, beef jerky, and bone broths are all quite pricey. These can all be easily made for a fraction of the price at home using raw ingredients. The more foods we make from scratch, the more money you will save.
I Want to Hear From You!
Will you put any of these tips into practice? Which ones do you find to be the most money saving? Do you have any other methods to eat healthy while sticking to a budget?
Lindsay Rusk Health is a dedicated resource for people who are interested in health and improving their health. Therefore, this post may contain affiliate links. These links add no extra cost to you. I only recommend products and brands that I personally use for myself or my family. For more information, see my Terms + Disclosure.