Is it really a misnomer that you have to spend more money to eat healthfully? I don’t believe it is, and I want to debunk the theory. I’ve gathered together some of my tips for saving money but still eating good, real food. Here are 8 ways to save money on real food:
- Cook at home. Undoubtedly my most important tip: cooking at home. Eating at home allows you to really know what you’re eating. And it also saves you money, since you are getting the specific quantities of just the right foods that you desire. But you must make sure to do #2 – #2 below, that is;).
- Plan your meals. “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” This saying runs so true when it comes to meals. If you find yourself wondering at 5 p.m. what you are going to serve for dinner, well, chances are you are going to either a.) overspend at the grocery store or b.) end up grabbing take out. Which is much more expensive than cooking at home. Formulate a plan on the weekend, do your shopping, and be ready to take on the week.
- Shop from your pantry. I’m often amazed at how much food we have in our pantry. Cans of beans, whole wheat pasta, various flours, pulses and more. And then one of my kids announces that we have no food and that we need to go shopping! This actually sounds like a challenge to me: I like to make it into a game; what kinds of meals can we come up with from the pantry? Get creative and don’t head out to the store just yet; use what you already have on hand. You may just be surprised.
- Buy from the bulk bins. I frequent the bulk bins on a weekly basis for foods such as nuts, seeds, dried lentils and beans, oats, rice, and more. You’re not paying extra prices for packaging, and you can get the exact quantity that you need and want.
- Lower your meat consumption. This is a great way to cut down on costs. Meat is by far one of the most expensive things on the menu, whether at the grocery store or at a restaurant. Add in that organic and/or local label, and the costs just keep getting higher. If you’ve always had meat with every meal, start off with one meatless day each week, or try only eating meat with your dinners, or only on weekends. Whatever scenario works for you – eating less meat will help you spend less money.
- Eat seasonally. This one is twofold. Seasonal foods will not only taste better (because they are fresh and in their growing season), but they will also be less expensive because of the greater quantities available. While my kids looooove them some watermelon, I explain to them that we generally only get it for 6-8 weeks out of the year because that’s when it’s in season and the yummiest! Yes, you can seek most any fruits or vegetables out at any time of year – but if they are not in season, they are likely being transported miles and miles to make it to the store where you find them which means that they are not fresh by the time you get them and also not a good choice for the betterment of our world.
- Pitch the processed. Do you ever take stock of just how much some of those boxed and bagged goods cost? Cut the cookies, crackers, frozen meals and sodas. Your waistline and your wallet will thank you.
- Make it yourself. You’re busy, I get it. But there are some foods that will eat up at your budget that really don’t take that much time to make yourself. Instead of those individual yogurt cups, buy a large container of organic plain yogurt and sweeten it with fresh or frozen fruit and a splash of maple syrup or honey. Or those little oatmeal packs – divide out little baggies (or jars) of rolled oats with raisins or other add-ins and pull one out in a pinch in lieu of the little individual packs that can end up adding additional costs, too.
Are there any others that I forgot? How do you save money on real food?