Hi all! I made it home from my travels and am looking forward to settling back into routine here. There’s so much to do over the weekend to get myself caught up but I’ll be back in action next week so stay tuned. I was contacted by the folks behind www.coupons.org who offered to do a guest post on my blog to provide readers with some tips on how to save money on healthy foods. I thought it would resonate well with all of you so I gladly accepted their offer. I hope you find the information helpful. Enjoy your weekend, everyone!
How to Save Money on Healthy Foods
This post was written by Coupons.org’s resident writer, Ella Davidson. Coupons is a consumer savings site that strives to save consumers more than just a few pennies.
Whole Foods means you spend your Whole paycheck. It is a joke that has been circulating around the organic and natural foods community for some time. Even though the joke that turned myth has been easily debunked, it still speaks to the idea that buying organic and healthy can be costlier than buying food from the local grocery store. But this does not always have to be the case; with a little forethought and cunning you can manage to buy healthy foods at half the price.
Every good meal begins with preparation. Planning ahead and preparing a meal plan helps cut down impulse purchases, allows you to collect as well as use coupons, and helps you decide where to buy. I know I always end up the sucker to impulse purchases and if I fail to plan ahead I end up with prepackaged food that has an ingredients list straight from NASA’s next space adventure: Maltodextrin, Monosodium Glutamate, Sodium Caseinate, Disodium Inosinate, and Disodium Guanylate. But those are just some of the ingredients in a bag of Doritos Chips. To think that if you planned ahead you could have spent the same amount of money on a whole and filling salad or, if you are like me, a healthier bag of potato chips.
If you are trying to save money while buying healthy, then the second key alongside preparation is to buy nutrition and not quantity. Ever wonder why you get hungry an hour after eating off McDonalds’ dollar menu? Or how much nutritional value actually exists in a Pepsi or a Coke? That is because most fast food and many splurges like potato chips or cookie dough add calories to your day but they add very little nutrition. This means you end up eating more junk because those hunger pains come back a lot quicker than normal. If you plan ahead it makes it a lot easier to avoid these impulse buys and quick fixes to hunger. Instead, planning ahead means less junk in the shopping cart, smaller portion sizes, and more meals cooked at home which overall leads to a smaller food budget.
Now maybe you are already in the swing of preparation. Maybe you already plan and cook all your meals at home but you are looking to make the switch to healthy foods. If that is the case, then try using some of the same money saving tricks that you use on normal food for the healthy food instead. For example, when I try to save money I go to Costco and buy in bulk. Well, why not buy bulk when it comes to healthy food? Most healthy food stores have bulk sections that contain a plethora of common items like flours (gluten-free included), beans, grains, almond butter, and even many alternatives and special purchases. Choosing bulk will help you save money because it cuts back on the cost packaging and the cost of a brand name.
Now here is where buying healthy food gets a leg up on the grocery store when it comes to saving money: local food. Not only does it help save the environment, but local foods help keep that green in your back pocket. If you buy in season local produce it saves on shipping and preservation costs. We all know how expensive mangos out of season from the tropics can cost. The best places to buy local, cheap, and healthy are farmers markets, co-ops, and farms. They can bring the savings on to you since the food came straight from the farm: you can buy wholesale without having to fund large transportation, administrative, or corporation costs.
The largest contention that I hear with buying healthy is that these local foods—vegetables, fruits, unpackaged fresh meats, and unprocessed foods—spoil quicker than jerky sticks or other prepackaged snacks. I would say that this falls largely into the planning category. Try using the same foods you purchase for multiple meals, or try buying more versatile foods. Also, get smart on purchases. For example, buy frozen fruits and vegetables. Many times frozen is just as healthy, they stay fresh for much longer, and then you get to incorporate healthier foods into your meals and snacks. Or even simpler, pack yourself a healthy sack lunch of leftovers on your way to work or school. It is healthier, keeps food from spoiling, and is by far cheaper than eating out every lunch.
So next time you sit contemplating a four-layered, fried chicken, triple-patty, and cheese from a can junk food snack, instead think of how you would feel after a delicious home cooked healthy meal. Satisfying, delicious, fresh, and light on the wallet—all things I love to see in the food I eat—so why not make it healthy too?