Let’s face it, eating healthy can feel virtually impossible sometimes. One of the biggest barriers (aside from lack of time, knowledge of cooking, or motivation to cook) to eating well is financial. Healthfully grown & raised food may end up being pricier (at face value – many conventional crops are subsidized by the government, meaning they’re not necessarily cheaper; they just appear to be so), but when approached with a few key moves, it can be not only more affordable to buy organic, wholesome foods, but easier, more fun, and pain-free.
Here are my top 5 Tips to Keep the Change in the store:
1.) Meal Plan
Creating a meal plan is one of the best ways to save money on food. When you enter the grocery store with a clear vision as to what you need and what it will be used for, you’re much less likely to see things go to waste. Less food sent to the garbage or compost because it just didn’t get used in time = more money saved.
Bonus: Meal planning can also save you time when it comes to preparing meals, and makes you likelier to eat healthy as well.
I like to use a cute meal planning template to motivate me to write things down. Here are some good ones from Etsy:
2.) Grow Your Own
Studies have shown that families who garden save an average of $600 a year more than those that don’t garden (source).
Plus, there are many other benefits of gardening that might just motivate you to start growing some of your own food.
3.) Buy in Bulk
Buying food in bulk saves a significant amount of money compared to buying canned or in smaller quantities.
For example, the average cost for a can of cooked beans is roughly $1.19, yielding 2 cups of beans. Conversely, the average cost of a pound of dried beans is $1.99, which makes 8 cups of cooked beans (source).
4.) Shop Simply
Shop simply so that others may simply shop. Okay, kidding kidding. (You know the saying, “Live simply so that others may simply live.”) Phew…
But really, buying simple ingredients saves us $$! Shopping for ingredients vs. finished food items – i.e., packaged/processed goods – is the way to go when it comes to our wallets and our waistlines.
For example, if you purchase the ingredients to make bread rather than buying a finished loaf of bread, not only can you control what’s in the bread (eliminating unhealthy ingredients), but you can save significantly.
Focus on buying whole, real foods like fruits & vegetables, and bulk items including beans, grains, & nuts, and enhancers like herbs, spices, & oils, rather than already prepared foods and meals that will wring your budget dry in no time. You can mix and match these ingredients to create healthy, unique meals following your new meal planning technique!
This “ancient” practice is not lost. Bartering is a wonderful way to save money, not waste something that you perhaps have too much of, and get to know your neighbors and community.
Here are some ways to barter:
- If you have chickens, bees, or any other kind of edible goods, look for neighbors that also keep productive hobbies to trade some of your excess with.
- Make something with your unique talent and exchange it for something you really need from a friend or neighbor.
- Volunteer – often volunteering with organizations, farms, or businesses may yield you nice benefits other than that feel-good-ness :)
- Check out the “Barter” section on Craigslist – you may find a perfect match for that thing you want to swap for that other thing.