6 Tips for Healthy Eating on a Budget
Let's start off with we do not eat "perfectly".
I'm not even sure what "perfectly" means. I know it means a lot of different things to different people. I do buy many things that are organic and there are other things that I don't.
I enjoy buying healthy foods and getting the best quality I can. However, I like to follow the "80 - 20" rule. Which in a nut shell means that 80 % of our diet is healthy and natural whole foods, while 20% is not so perfect foods.
There is just too many other things in the world to stress over.
I aim for low grain, very little processed food, and as much homemade as possible. But it is really a balance between what I can either find, afford, or just handle with our super busy lives.
I think healthy living/eating is a journey and will ultimately look different for everyone. Every family will have their own standard for what the believe is healthy eating or what the word "healthy" even means. We are a family that eats meat and for many that is incredibly unhealthy choice.
Also, necessary dietary restrictions will also change family to family. Which may mean that your grocery bill will only be able to be so small.
Without further disclaimers - these are the six ways we save money on food while still eating healthy.
1. Simplifying Your Meals.
This is probably my biggest tip, and I am fully aware that it's not for everyone. But I believe it's the main contributer to how we save money.
I am not saying we never make a fun elaborate meal, or play with a new Pinterest recipe. We still make those, occasionally. However, that just isn't our everyday. Most of the time we are making simple but healthy meals that don't take 2 hours to make and a ton of different ingredients.
I work from home, homeschool, and have horses to take care of...I don't have time to make an elaborate meal every night. Yeah - just not going to happen.
I would like to mention that you'd be very surprised at how many tasty meals are actually very simple from scratch. It's not overly complicated once you get the hang of it.
2. I don't really buy snacks.
Now my kids do snack but I don't but food that is solely for snacking.
My kids snack on carrots, homemade granola, organic tortilla chips, cheese cut up, apples, clementines, and sometimes I'll make a smoothie for a snack. All of these are snacky items, but can also be used making a main meal.
For instance, I like to have organic tortilla chips on hand for an impromptu Mexican meal. But they also serve as a great mid-day snack when someone is hungry. Granola, apples, clementines, and smoothies are used mainly for breakfast's and also can double as the occasional snack.
When I cut out all of the extra snack foods that I was buying I was shocked at how my budget opened up and allowed for other things.
3. Buy in bulk and stock up when you find a good deal.
When figuring out my healthy eating budget this was the first thing I did. I started learning and remembering prices on everything I would buy. This takes some time to get down but very soon it became second nature. I memorized what the average price on organic meat, produce, and other items were. Then, when there would be a sale, or I would find the same thing at a farmers stand for cheaper, I would buy it up.
Also, buying a half or quarter of a cow or hog can help you save a ton of money in the long run. We haven't been able to do this just yet because we don't have the freezer space. But it is defiantly a goal of mine because I know how much we will save once we do.
4. Think outside of the grocery store.
I've found that the very best deals on whole foods isn't actually in the grocery stores. Things like organic eggs, meats, honey, maple syrup, and produce are most of the time significantly cheaper from local farmers. This however will take some digging and asking around. But once you find some reliable sources your budget will thank-you.
Spring, Summer, and Fall - Stop at all of the farmers markets/stands. (Hint: the smaller the stand the better the prices.)
5. I don't buy what I can make at home.
When I first started to buy foods that are organic or made with only healthy ingredients I immediately noticed the price shot up. At first I just went without said items. But over time I would find myself craving a lot of those foods that I had just left out because they didn't fit into our budget. So, this made me get inventive and has taught me a lot.
We now can make our own granola, salad dressings, bone broth, yogurt, mayo, honey mustard sauce, alfredo sauce, hot cocoa, sour cream, english muffins....and so much more. None of these things are super expensive but save us money over time. It all adds up. Plus, I know it's healthy and everything that goes into each item.
6. We eat and repurpose leftovers.
We totally eat left overs in our house. Most of the time left over dinners become quick lunches, which does save us money in the grocery budget. We also do have nights where it's "left over night" and we eat up everything that is in the fridge. No one minds and that knocks out a night of food for $0.
We also repurpose meats from a previous meal. For instance, one night we may have a roasted chicken and not eat all of it. So, the left over meat can get thrown into a soup or we may make chicken salad.
No food left behind.
I hope you found this post helpful and are able to take something away from it. I don't think all of these tips are for everyone but maybe one or two spoke to you.
I do want to mention that the transition period, when you're starting a more healthy and natural lifestyle can be more expensive up front. I find that there is learning curve as you're trying to figure out what you actually like to eat, what products you like to buy, and all of that. Also, as you stock your pantry it can be more expensive.
But I encourage you to make gradual changes by slowly weeding certain things out and bringing some healthy whole foods in. It's all a journey (that I am for sure still on) and I hope you have fun and enjoy the process.
Thank-you so much for taking time out of your day to hang out here!