Healthy Eating on a Budget
Have you ever walked into a health food store all excited that you are going to make the well intentioned changes you've been planning only to walk out with a bill that will leave you with buyer's remorse over the sky high cost of it all. Sure the free coffee and gluten free cracker samples are enticing...but so is your hard earned money! I've been there and felt the frustration and lamented over the higher cost of some health foods wondering how to save while also eating clean.
I've realized that there are many false assumptions that are made when it comes to eating healthy. People assume you have to shop at stores like Whole Foods or Fresh Market to eat healthy all the while passing up their local grocery store or Farmer's Market. This is not a post to bash Whole Foods shoppers by any means (it's a great store!) but rather a post to show you that there are alternatives and ways to save AND still eat clean.
Over the years I've come to learn how to navigate the world of healthy grocery shopping on a budget. Yes, it can be done and takes a little bit of investigating and hunting. I recently took a trip to Aldi and documented some of the great produce and products that I found there. Many of you may not have an Aldi but have other discounts stores such as Lidl or Grocery Outlet near you that you can shop at.
I first made my rounds picking up packs of trail mix (my kids love to snack on these) full of healthy nuts, seeds, and cranberries. I threw in some unsalted almonds and grabbed some almond butter and then meandered over to the produce isle. There I picked out some produce for the week. While most discount stores don't typically carry large amounts of organic produce they do usually carry a decent selection that you should take advantage of. This is where you should do most of your shopping and stock up! Remember you vote with your dollars so if want to see a broader selection of produce in the future show retailers this by shopping organic.
Next I headed to the refrigerated section where I found some organic Eggs. Choosing the right eggs in the grocery store can be confusing. There's "Free-range", "Cage-free", "Natural" and "Organic". While the thought of "Free-range"/"Cage-free" chickens sounds great it doesn't mean these chickens were roaming around on lush green pastures but rather that they weren't cage up for the entirety of their lives. A great alternative to look out for is "Organic" eggs. They may be different colors so be adventurous and try them out.
I spotted some kombucha and sugar free guacamole as well as some organic quinoa and beans. As I strolled down the meat and poultry isle I spotted some organic grass-fed ground beef that come in cubed sized packets that are great for storing in the freezer. Other great finds...aloe vera juice, organic frozen berries, organic soups, breads, grass fed cheddar cheese, ghee, flax seeds, stevia, organic coconut oil and wild caught fish.
You don't have to have an Aldi to eat clean and healthy as there are many discount stores that offer a broader variety of options. Investigate and be creative and go out of your comfort zone when shopping (and by this I mean go for the veggies you've never tried and not the new Doritos Flamas Tortilla Chips!). Below I made a list of great ways to do so in your own weekly shopping trips.
"Healthy Eating on a Budget" Shopping Tips
1) Find out where your local discount stores are and what kind of produce and products they sell. Ask when their delivery truck comes in so you can get first dibs on fresh produce.
2) Look for stores like Lidl, Aldi, Trader Joe's and Grocery Outlet for deep discounts on food.
3) Shop sales! You can get great produce and organic products every week when you shop the sale items. You may be intimidated by the different produce you've never tried before but be adventurous and see it as a challenge to try something new and even create a new dish out of it. Who knows, you may have a new favorite vegetable!
4) Shop your local Farmer's Market. I'm amazed at the fresh produce and the inexpensive cost of it all. Get to know your local farmer and don't be afraid to ask how they grow their crops and raise their animals. This produce is far superior to anything in the store since it's picked shortly before it gets to you retaining all those good nutrients!
5) Purchase high quality meats, poultry, and seafood but don't eat it as often. In doing so you are saving money and eating healthier at the same time. Americans at large eat way more meat/poultry that is recommended and can easily forgo it and substitute it with healthier options.
6) Check out the frozen organic section. Oftentimes you will find produce that would otherwise be out of season but will cost you less.
7) Buy in bulk and store what you don't end up using in glass mason jars for later use.
8) Take advantage of BOGO sales and use this as a way to stock up on certain foods you eat a lot of.
9) Use coupons. I get coupons mailed to me every couple weeks for organic produce that I can redeem. Sign up with your local grocery store online or in-store to receive these money saving coupons.
10) Use digital coupons. Now with everyone using their smartphones it's easy to search and download coupons for their local grocery store.
I hope this list was helpful for you on your quest to better health and wellness. Remember to be adventurous and try new foods but most of all to enjoy food...it's God's gift to us.
Stefanie is a Certified Functional Medicine Health Coach & Holistic Nutritionist who specializes in Detoxification, Functional Nutrition, Lyme Disease & Mold Illness.
She is available for one-on