Healthy Eating on a Budget
Learn my techniques for eating healthy on a budget including tips, where to purchase specific items and even how to include organic foods and superfoods on a budget!Update: Since this post was written, I honestly have made some changes about the way I grocery shop. Eating local and sustainable foods has become more important to me. Sourcing where all my foods come from has become even more important. These days, I shop primarily at our local farmer's market or our local health food store, Rollin' Oats. I will do an updated post on how to shop local on a budget, soon!
A common theme I often hear from clients starting their new healthy living journey is the concern of cost. Eating healthy is expensive. I get it. I am frugal. Nick and I are getting ready to buy a HOUSE, so every dime we spend makes a difference right now.
Even though I am frugal, I still prioritize the food my husband and I eat because it directly impacts our health. While I will admit that eating healthy can at times cost more money, I don't think that means it has to. One of the ways I have been able to afford to include more produce, organic meats, and 'superfoods' in our diet is by shopping smarter. That means shopping at different places for the best price.
In an effort to be as helpful as possible and totally transparent, let's talk about how much money Nick and I budget each month for food...
$600-650 per month for both of us. $300-325 per person monthly. $75-81 per person weekly.
I know for some of you that may seem like a lot of money, while others may be spending way more than this. I personally see this as a reasonable middle ground, not too much and not too little. Considering my budget for food in college was $250-300, I am still spending right about the same, but eating wayyyyyyyy different.
If you do not eat meat, this amount could also be vastly decreased. I personally eat meat on a daily basis as that is what makes me feel the best, and I do not digest vegetarian sources of protein very well (legumes and I don't get along...). Since Nick and I both eat meat daily, I have become more consciousness of the source of the meat. I choose organic meat and grass fed beef as much as I can. Both of these items still fit in the budget mentioned above.
So where do I go and what do I get? Let's break it down...
Aldi Costco Whole Foods or local health food store Trader Joe's Amazon Publix or local grocery store chain Local butcher
Aldi- 1-2x/month 85% dark chocolate Fair-trade coffee Nuts (such as almonds, walnuts, pecans) Chia seeds Organic, grass fed beef (85/15) Specialty cheese Organic, unrefined, extra virgin coconut oil Produce- great prices for organic produce here for the 'dirty dozen' such as spinach, kale, berries, cherry tomatoes; can also get sweet potatoes, red potatoes, onions, avocado, tomatoes, etc. for a very low price
Trader Joes- 1-2x/month Organic large eggs Unsweetened vanilla almond milk Organic plain kefir Organic plain Greek yogurt Flavored Greek yogurts Produce- great price for organic spinach and kale and items like winter squash, beets, radishes, etc. Hummus Dates and dried fruits Nuts (like peanuts, walnuts, etc.) Specialty cheese Chicken sausage Turkey bacon or uncured (nitrate-free) bacon Cereal (usually Puffins) Organic steel cut oats Canned coconut cream and coconut milk Canned beans, tomatoes, etc. Whole wheat or brown rice pasta Wine (occasionally) Coconut water (for when the wine above is happening) 70-85% dark chocolate Extra virgin olive oil Organic, unrefined, extra virgin coconut oil Canned tuna (half salt or no salt added) Quinoa Brown basmati or jasmine rice Whole wheat Tuscan bread Whole wheat English muffins Corn tortillas Sauerkraut Spices (great price for higher priced spices like turmeric and Himalayan pink sea salt) Specialty items: 1-2 frozen meals for the month for Nick (for when a quick meal is necessary), I will buy 1-2 fun items per month (olive tempanade, feta dip, specialty rubs or sauces, this month I bought ghee to try out) If traveling: will get instant oats, RX or Plus bars, turkey jerky, premade trail mix
Costco- 1x/month Unsweetened almond milk Organic, 2% milk for Nick Organic eggs Organic, fair trade coffee PB2 or PBFit Organic peanut butter Almond butter Kalamata olives Frozen salmon or mahi burgers Frozen turkey burgers Organic frozen berry mix Organic frozen wild blueberries Organic whole chickens Organic chicken breasts Organic 85/15 ground beef Ground bison (get only every few months, not cost effective to buy every month) Chicken sausage Smoked salmon (get only every few months, not cost effective to buy every month) Quinoa Old fashioned rolled oats Dave's Killer whole wheat bread Cinnamon (we eat a lot of cinnamon so I buy this spice in bulk) Vanilla extract Produce: spinach, avocados, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, Brussels sprouts (since these items are in bulk I will usually use them in our weekly food prep, cook once and eat many times or will freeze some of the produce)
Whole Foods or Rollin' Oats (local health food store): Once a month Whole grains like farro, barley, millet, spelt Apple cider vinegar (raw, unpasteurized) Extra virgin olive oil (my local health food store makes their own that I purchase) Dark chocolate covered espresso beans (a favorite dessert of mine!) Siggi's yogurt (only when on sale) Kombucha (if I don't have my own homebrew on hand, this is rare) Kim-chi Teas like herbal tea, green tea, chai tea Shrimp (we live on the water so like to buy it here so it is local) Flavored nut butters (I buy these rarely, only when on sale) Specialty items: If we are traveling I will buy protein bars (like RX or Plus bars), turkey jerky, etc.
Amazon: Once every 3-6 months Cacao powder Cacao nibs Maca blend Protein powder (this is bought once a month) Matcha MCT coconut oil
Publix or local grocery store: Once a week Yogurt (plain for me, flavored for Nick) Organic, 2% milk for Nick Boars Head deli meat (for Nick's lunches) Bakery whole wheat bread Cheese (when needed)
Produce is picked up once a week (from one of these places or a local produce store/farmer's market). We also have a local butcher we visit every few months to get specialty meats and fish like fresh salmon, ground chicken, ground grass-fed sirloin, etc. We also save money when eating fish because Nick catches some (almost) every weekend. This is typically snapper, redfish, trout and sometimes flounder.
To save myself time, I usually go to the grocery store during my lunch hour from work, it helps me focus when shopping because I have a limited amount of time. I do not get every single thing listed above every time I go to the grocery store, just what is needed!
Go with a plan, decide your meals for the week and then grocery shop based off of needs.
Make items yourself. Things like granola, energy bites, salad dressings and protein bars can add up VERY quickly. I only purchase these kind of items when we are traveling and need convenient foods that I can pack.
Keep fun or specialty items to 1-2 purchases during a trip. If I bought every 'shiny' item I saw at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, we would be broke, so I usually allow for one "fun" item per trip.
Your turn: Share below your tips, tricks and ways you save money BUT still follow a healthy lifestyle. I am always looking for new ideas and look forward to getting ideas from you!