The biggest complaint I receive when talking to someone about healthy eating and budgeting is how "expensive it is to eat healthy." I won't lie- it can absolutely be draining financially to purchase foods viewed as healthy. However, it CAN be done, and still stay on budget. One MUST have a game plan and stick to it with a little thing I like to call, "discipline." It doesn't hurt to have some awesome resources and tips, so here is my personal game plan. Thank me later.
1. Take a picture of what's inside the refrigeratorThis is way faster than making a list, sometimes. This age always utilizes phones for so many uses, so might as well add one more. Simply snap a shot of the inside of the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, and you can glance back while shopping to see what you really need. I cannot count how many times I've doubled up on something like milk, almond milk, or eggs because I thought I needed them. No, I needed more yogurt- and bought zero yogurts.
2. Make a list and STICK TO ITIf you're going to take the time to make a list (or, lets be honest, cannot function without a list), better to not disgrace your precious time by not sticking to it. At the end of the day, no matter where you shop for groceries, that entity is a business. It will throw promotions and sales and yummy things left and right. Use your list to karate slice through all of that to victory. That Coca Cola sale on 2 liters for $1 you just passed?- that's a bag of whole, raw carrots in your buggy.
Make a list that incorporates items with coupons, sales, and/or rebates!
I also like to make my list to be in order of where I'll find them, instead of running all over the store out of order or potentially skipping items. Like my yogurt...
3. Use rebate/coupon apps
CouponsCoupons.com app can allow you to print wirelessly to a printer, or upload to certain stores on loyalty cards!
Rebate AppsThis is the FUN part. You shop, you pay, you go home. Right? Wrong. You shop, you pay, you go home, you get money BACK. That's right. Here's just a few to get you started:
Walmart Savings Catcher: scan every Walmart receipt, app searches for lower prices on items purchased there, and refunds the difference. I get on average $30 every 4-6 months! Free money.
Ibotta: Deals updated weekly and monthly, and serves several stores, such as Walmart, Kroger, and Target! Simply select deals, ex: $2 back on Pampers diapers, $0.75 back on any dozen eggs, scan items, upload receipt, and within 24 hours, get your rebate! The app allows money back for friend referrals, too!
Checkout 51: Same concept as Ibotta, updated every Thursday. Usually has the option to select 20% off produce of your choice.
Shopkick: No purchase necessary for this one! Turn on bluetooth, turn on app in store, get points for being there. Get extra points for scanning select items while at store. Occasional purchase points. Points add up to go towards gift card to use a many different stores!
4. Keep pantry go-to's stockedKeeping items like brown rice, steel cut oats, sweet potatoes, EVOO and canned veggies handy can make for a quick, frugal, and healthy meal. These items take a while to expire, and can be used in many ways to accompany other items. You would be surprised of the meals I can throw together with what looks like a bare kitchen. This saves gas going back and forth to store, money on not using items you already have, and calories from resorting to eating out!
5. Meal planningThere are different levels of this skill. For my body building friends, this is a strict process. This can easily be modified, however, for the general public to help stay on a healthy track, minimizing eating out, and keep money in your pocket!
- Cook in bulk: meats, grains, and veggies are great foods to practice this with. Take chicken for example- you could buy the pack of 3-4 breasts for $6-8, and have meal for one night, maybe two depending how many you're feeding. If you spend $2-3 more, however, you can get double the amount, and cook them to have for the next 3-4 days*! (*Cooked meats need to be used in this time frame!) Use simple herbs and garlic to make flavorful and versatile options for dinner, salad toppings, and soup- all from the same pack!
- Remember tips for shopping and list making- create meal ideas that utilize similar ingredients as mentioned in the first bullet
- Pre-pack meals, especially if planning to take to work. Makes mornings so much easier, and your day stays on track!
6. Stay on the perimeter of grocery store and out of the center islesLIMIT AND REMOVE THE UNNECESSARY. Gatorade, chips, and steak are not essentials. #ATALL #SORRYNOTSORRY
Remember what I said about them being a business? They WANT you to scan the items around each isle so you can buy what you didn't know even existed! Temptation usually lies within these isles. Think about it. What foods aren't refrigerated or fresh? Bread, chips, boxed baking items, ready-made sodium traps, cookies...you get the point. The outside will have your REAL food: produce, fresh meat/seafood, dairy, eggs. Items such as grains like to hide in these isles, and I recommend treating it as a mission when getting them. She looks both ways before entering, eyes scanning cautiously. She spots the Quaker steel cut oats...but then sees that she can get the store brand for a $1 cheaper. Grabbing the tub of the precious grain, already pushing the cart in go-mode, she barely glances up to see Pop Tarts, chocolate chip flavored. However, she is already at the end of the isle, slips into the oncoming traffic, and the escapes the trap with seconds to spare. Now, onto getting the yogurt she forgot. Until next time...