Filling your cart with good-for-you foods doesn't have to break the bank. In fact, there are a number of ways you can eat healthy on a budget. There's a common misconception that "healthy" foods, like fresh fruit and vegetables, are more expensive than their over-processed alternatives. While it’s true that fresh produce and protein-packed items can sometimes be pricier than prepackaged meals, there are ways to shop smarter to stretch your dollar. Follow these cheap, healthy eating tips to create a supermarket strategy that gives you the best bang for your buck. Then turn that pantry full of nutritious ingredients into mouthwatering, heart-healthy meals your family will be asking you to make again and again.
Stop reaching for the more expensive, big-name brands and start tossing the store brand version in your cart instead. "Often, the ingredients and quality of store brand vs. name brand is identical, with the main difference being cost," Megan Scutti, registered dietitian and mindful & intuitive eating practitioner, tells Landcruisers. "Sometimes, you can almost cut the price of an item in half, especially in the organic aisle, by choosing store brand varieties."
"A huge misconception in the wellness industry is that you can only eat 'healthy' by buying fresh varieties of produce," Scutti says. "However, frozen and canned produce have the same nutritional values as they do in their fresh states." Keeping your pantry stocked with canned green beans, for instance, is an inexpensive yet effective way to add more veggies into your diet. Just watch out for added sodium and sugar– Scutti suggests choosing items that are either lightly seasoned or canned in their own juices.
"Besides being more environmentally friendly and tasting fresher, produce is usually cheapest when it’s in season," Kelli McGrane MS, RD for Lose It!, tells Landcruisers. Not sure when your favorite fruits and veggies are in season? This seasonal food guide website will help you determine what's growing in your area.
If you feel your family won't eat the fresh spinach and asparagus you bought before they spoil, use the ingredients to make a meal that you can save in freezer-safe containers to eat next week. "Not only will this help save you money, but it also saves time down the road," McGrane says. "All you'll have to do is thaw and reheat."
Not only is scaling back on pricey cuts of meat a great way to save, but it's also a chance to try different meatless dinner ideas that could end being a family favorite."By incorporating a few meals each week that use plant-based proteins, such as pulses and lentils, you can save money while also getting heart-healthy fiber and antioxidants," says McGrane.
If your local supermarket has a bulk bin, use it. Whether you're shopping for nuts, seeds, or fresh coffee beans, bulk bins are a good way to save money because you skip the added costs of packaging, says McGrane. "Plus, if you're looking to try a new grain or flour, bulk bins allow you buy a small amount to make sure you like it before spending money on a larger quantity," she adds.