My clients often ask me how they can buy healthier foods while on a budget. Though healthier items appear to be more expensive at the grocery store, a little strategic planning and timing of purchases can help you shop frugally and nutritiously! Here are a few of the top tips I share with my clients:
- Buy Local - Purchasing fresh produce from your local farmer’s market or roadside fruit/vegetable stand can ensure you’re getting a fresh product at a low price. Building a rapport with the market vendors can also help you barter for a cheaper price. If you don’t have time to shop at farmer’s markets, consider signing up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program. Consumers can sign up to purchase weekly boxes of fresh produce from a local farm/vendor that is delivered straight to their door or a designated place for pick up.
- Utilize Frozen Produce - Buying frozen can be a great deal on nutritious products. Today’s technology “flash freezes” fruits and vegetables at their peak level of nutrition, ensuring your product is packed with vitamins and minerals. Often times, frozen fruits and veggies can actually have more nutrition compared to fresh produce in your grocery store that may be several weeks old from travel and storage.
- Get to Know Your Grocery Store - Signing up for your grocery store’s reward cards while using in-store coupons and coupons from the internet/newspaper can help keep your wallet in check. Grocery stores often have store brand items that are comparable and cheaper than name brand products. Getting to know grocery store employees in the meat and produce section can allow you to ask about special promotions on certain meats or when produce will be restocked and on sale.
- Buy in Bulk - Warehouse discount membership stores that offer bulk purchase of food products can be helpful when you have a large family. Foods sold at warehouse membership stores are often much cheaper per unit (ounce, pound, etc.,). Buying bulk also allows you to use your items to cook for the week/month and freeze entrees until they are ready for your family to use.
- Convenience Your Wallet by Nixing Convenience Foods - When it comes to prepackaged, precut, or individually packaged items, most of the cost is connected to making the food convenient. Instead, opt to buy whole pieces of produce or other food items, such as rice, oatmeal, and dried beans, to prepare and package on your own. This will help you save money while also nixing preservatives infamous in many convenience items.
- Make a List; Check it Twice - Going to the grocery store with a plan in your hand can help reduce impulse shopping. Many recipe websites offer tools to help you create weekly menus for you and your family, while also compiling a grocery list of foods that can be used in multiple recipes throughout the week. At the checkout counter, make sure items are rung up based on any sale promotions that were advertised.
- Avoid Going to the Grocery Store Hungry - In fact, you may want to do your grocery shopping right after eating a meal to completely avoid any purchases on impulse and hunger. Shopping without being distracted by hunger while also having your shopping list in hand can keep you from making unnecessary purchases while having a time efficient trip to the store.
Using these tips can help you save money while purchasing healthy food items. Cooking at home with your low-cost healthy food items can also help you save money compared to dining out on a regular basis. Remember that even simplest changes such as creating a shopping list ahead of time can save your family money in the long run.