There is a misconception that shopping for healthy food can be expensive, which it can be if done incorrectly. Before going any further, we can all agree on one thing and that is eating healthy and embracing a healthier lifestyle is dirt cheap compared to the cost of illness. In this week’s article, we will be dive into ways you can save money while shopping to maintain your healthy lifestyle.

  1. Devise a Plan– Having a plan will help you in many ways. Not only will it allow you to stick to the foods on your list, it will also help you stick to your pre-planned meals throughout the week.  First, you must plan your menu for the week. Before you decide what meals to make check your coupons and weekly store ads to plan your meals around what is on sale at your local store. Your menu will allow you to create a shopping list of foods needed. The USDA was nice enough to create a colorful weekly meal planner. Click HERE for your meal planner. Now that you have planned out your meals, check in the fridge for items that you have and write down items you need to make your dishes. Click HERE for your colorful USDA shopping list. Now that you have a list and plan of action, do not deviate from it. This will ensure you stay on budget and select foods that will nourish your body and help you accomplish your health and fitness goals.Bottom-line: Plan your weekly meals, make a list, and execute. Period.
  2. Be the Coupon Queen/King– Couponing can pay off if done properly. This may require some planning ahead, on your part. The good news is, we are in 2017! You can access coupons right on your smartphone or tablet. You can download your grocery store app (if they have one) and “clip coupons” right onto your phone. If your store does not have an app, grab the weekly specials flyer and scan to see if there are valid coupons available. By combining electronic and paper coupons you can potentially save a good chunk of cash on your next supermarket visit. The key to effective couponing is planning ahead. First, figure out what day your local store has sales (couponing is more beneficial when there is a sale on the item). If the foods that are on sale align with your needs, get your couponing on!Bottom-line: Take the time to plan ahead and clip coupons (paper or electronic) for foods you enjoy. Places you can find coupons include- the Sunday paper, printable coupons from couponing websites, friends and family, the store flyer, or even hidden in the junk mail you may regularly throw away.
  3. Do not shop while hungry or hangry– Going to the grocery store on an empty stomach can result in you buying everything on the shelves. If this sounds silly to you, try it and get back to us. Not only will you buy more than you need, you may also be tempted to buy the unhealthy foods which can increase your grocery bill. Do yourself a favor and eat something before shopping. Make sure you are always prepared in case you head to the grocery store on the spur of the moment, for example, after work. One way to do this is to keep snacks with you, such as fruit, granola/protein bars or nuts.

    Bottom-line: Do not go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Your wallet and stomach will thank you.

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  4. Compare Unit Price, Not Price of Item- Most products in the stores have a unit price indicated next to the price of the product on the price tag. This price is more important to look at than the actual price. The unit price compares the actual price to the amount of product being sold, for example, how much something costs per pound. The unit price gives a better indication of the true cost of a product and can save you lots of money. If the unit price is not indicated on the price tag, simply divide the cost of the product by the amount of the product. For example, a 5 lb bag of rice selling at $2.50 has a unit price of $.50 per pound. Bottom-line: The unit price gives a better indication of the true cost of a product and can save you money.
  5. Buy in Bulk (Wholesalers)– Buying in bulk will help reduce the amount you spend, especially the items you consume most frequently. Identify your local wholesaler (Costco, Sam’s Club, BJs) and become a member. You may pay more upfront, including a membership fee, but in the long run you will save tons because the unit price is exponentially lower than regular supermarkets. This simply means you get more bang for your buck. Make use of your freezer and store the excess for later use. It may be beneficial to purchase a separate freezer for your bulk items.Bottom-line: Buying in bulk and wholesale will help reduce long-term costs of buying healthy food.
  6. Replace Meats with Less Expensive Protein Sources– Eating less meat can help save money. Also, switching to more cost-effective sources of protein can help your wallet breathe a little. These sources include- eggs (the golden child of protein sources), legumes, canned fish, hemp seed, or combining plant-based foods that make a perfect pair like rice and beans. Not only are these items delicious and nutritious, they are easy to prepare and they have a longer shelf life than meats, fish, and poultry. Try this: plan to make one meal next week with one of the substitutions mentioned above.

    Bottom-line: Cutting down on meat will cut down grocery costs.

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  7. Shop Seasonal and Local– Shopping at your local market can help decrease your spending as well as help out local farmers. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are typically plentiful, therefore farmers can afford to reduce the price on these items. If you are new to the local markets scene, check out our recent article on FARMERS MARKET 101. Bottom-line: Produce that is in season and local tend to be higher in nutrients and more affordable. You can not beat that!

There you have it! Implement these tips into your weekly shopping to lower the cost of eating healthy and watch the savings pile up. We love your feedback, so let us know how these tips helped you save this week!