The cost of food is probably one of the biggest monthly expenses in most American household budgets. The average family spends between $700 and $1,000 per month on food.
A few years back, I purposed to cut our household grocery bill down to just $300 per month. In the past year or so, I’ve set a goal to eat healthier and prepare more nutritious meals for my family.
At first, I thought does healthy food really cost more money? I was afraid that buying healthy food would cost us an arm and a leg each month. Sometimes healthier foods were pricey and increased our overall food spend. However, I adopted a few simple ways to save money on the right foods so I’m still just spending $300/month for my family of 3.
Here are some practical ways to make shopping for healthier food more affordable.
Shop For Seasonal Produce
The great thing about buying fresh produce is that something is always on sale. If you take advantage of seasonal sales, you’ll always save money.
I love buying fresh fruit and vegetables for my family. In the fall, we eat different types of apples and seasonal vegetables like squash. In the summer, we eat more berries and can find corn on the cob for as low as 5 cents each.
Some vegetables that are always easy to find for a low cost include zucchini, cucumbers, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.
Buy Frozen Fruits and Veggies
Frozen veggies have the same nutrients and benefits that you’ll get when you eat vegetables. Plus, they are usually cheaper and you can keep them around longer for better meal planning.
I try to keep a few bags of frozen veggies on hand at all times if I ever need to throw them in a soup or dish. I usually buy a bag of mixed vegetables to make a stir fry once or twice a month.
I’ll add shrimp and season the dish with pineapple juice, ginger, a little salt and some liquid aminos (sub for soy sauce) instead of using a sugary stir fry sauce.
Depending on the store, you may be able to save money by buying bags of frozen fruit as well. I like to use frozen fruit to make fresh smoothies with spinach. This can be a great snack or even substitute a meal if you’ve gotten pretty full earlier in the day.
Price Match When You Can
Some stores like Walmart allow you to price match and more people should take advantage of this option. If a store offers price matching, this means if you find a nearby competitor store that is offering the same product but at a cheaper price, your store will match the price on their ad so you can get the best deal.
Be sure to read each store’s price matching policy in detail to ensure that you follow the rules correctly. Compare ads each week and you may be able to get deals on produce, meats, and other items.
Buy More Ingredients vs. Kits and Ready-Made Meals
It’s no secret that processed food is pretty bad for you. It’s often packed with unnecessary sugars, sodium, and fillers. The convenience of having “ready-made” food just isn’t worth it.
You can likely spend less money and eat healthier by purchasing fresh ingredients and preparing your own meals. That way, you also know exactly what’s going into the food.
Don’t fall for expenses of chopped fruit or bags of already-peeled garlic. Just buy the food you need fresh and whole and cut it up yourself.
Sometimes, food sold in a box or kit is marked as “healthy” when that’s not exactly the case. Let’s take salad kids for example. Some kits are filled with processed meats, sugary dried fruit, and sugary dressing. Plus, they are pretty pricey.
Instead of buying single-serve salad kits for your lunch at work, consider just buying a big bag of mixed greens and divvying it up in different containers for each day. You can even make your own salad dressing for cheap which will likely be healthier.
Buy In Bulk
Also, realize that you can freeze different types of food. For example, you can buy multiple loaves of whole-grain bread or several containers of almond milk on sale and freeze for future use.
If you like to shop organic, you’ll definitely like to stock up when certain organic foods go on sale.
So Does Healthy Food Really Cost More Money?
For my family, buying healthier food didn’t really affect our budget. That said, we also did plenty of research and utilized many of the tips mentioned above to save.
If you want to eat healthier and still stick to your budget, I’d recommend narrowing down which foods you want to start eating and how you’ll improve your diet.
Then, use some of these strategies to help you take advantage of sales and eat seasonally so you don’t have to overspend. Ultimately, your health is priceless and the fact that it doesn’t cost a lost of eating healthier is a nice perk.
Have you ever wanted to eat healthier? How do you like to save money on healthy food?