I frequently hear people say that eating healthy, and especially eating organic, is too expensive.
Well, it can be. But it can also be pretty cheap. The key is to plan and strategize before you shop.
Last fall, I chatted with some real food experts about how to eat better for less. I loved their tips and immediately put some of them into action (Tip #1 below was revolutionary for me). Since then, our grocery bill has been significantly less on most weeks.
Here are some of the best tips from these experts, and ways you can make healthy eating on a budget work for your family.
10 Ways to Eat Better For Less
1. Keep your fridge bare enough so you can see everything in it. Americans waste at least 30% of the food they buy, which obviously wastes money too. If you can see everything in your fridge when you open the door, you’re more likely to use ingredients before they go bad.
2. Grocery shop more often. Head to the store a few times a week to buy fresh food you’ll use right away. Sure this takes a little more time, but you’ll buy less (which saves time) and you’ll be more efficient with your ingredients and can take advantage of great sales throughout the week.
3. Use the bulk bins. Need a cup of quinoa for a recipe? Head to the bulk bins and buy just a cup. This way you won’t end up with a big box of it in your pantry that you forget about and have to throw away later.
4. Look for less packaging. The more packaging a food comes with, the higher it’s cost usually is.
5. Expand your definition of the pantry. The “pantry” is not just the cupboard, but also the fridge and freezer! When a food eat frequently is on sale, buy a little more and save it in the freezer. Also take advantage of frozen vegetables & fruits which are often cheaper than fresh.
6. Buy in season. I’ve said this a million times, but it’s worth repeating since local, seasonal produce is SO much cheaper than out-of-season. Look for specials in your grocery store or farmer’s market – these are usually the seasonal items.
7. Shop the farmer’s market right before it closes. You get the best deals at the end of the market because vendors are trying to get rid of their stuff. Also, look for the ugly or mis-shapen fruits & veggies – these often taste the best and cost less.
8. Start with one organic food or food group. Organic food is more expensive, so if you’re on a tight budget, pick one or two foods you’ll buy organic for now. Perhaps that’s organic dairy or The Dirty Dozen. Here are some more tips for eating organic on a budget.
9. Learn to make soup. Soups are the perfect budget meal: they make the most of veggies that would otherwise go bad, can be made out of anything, and last up to a week in the fridge. After you have a few soup recipes in your cooking repertoire, you’ll feel more confident experimenting.
10. Take a cooking class. When you learn how to make even a few dishes in a cooking class, you begin to develop skills that you can then build on so that cooking at home becomes easier and easier. Making meals from scratch is a practice you have to hone, but if you get some tips from an expert you can become competent pretty quickly.