Eating healthy is often harder than it’s cracked up to be, and one of the things that often happens when people try to transition to a healthy diet from an unhealthy one is that they start spending way more money. However, this isn’t necessarily due to the cost of the food itself, but mainly because they do not yet know how to optimize a healthy diet correctly and get the best bang for their buck when they’re actually shopping and cooking.
I’ve been there in the past, so I know exactly what that feels like. When I first started eating healthy, I distinctly remember spending at least $200 more on average per week on all my food. I was really frustrated with this, so I started asking for advice from people that have been doing this for a while and really trying to save as much as I could. And within two weeks, I had dropped from the mentioned $200 extra to just about $30.
Today, I want to talk about the six ways in which I did this, and how you can do it too!
No matter where you are, there is always some kind of sale going on at the store. You need to pay special attention to these and instead of trying to find a product that fits your already existing meal plan, build your meal plan around the currently available sales. If there’s a sale on chickpeas, for example, you can use your smartphone to quickly look up what sort of meal you can make using chickpeas. This can quickly save you a lot of money and isn’t that hard to do, so I highly recommend that you do it.
2. Produce in Season
Another factor that you need to take into consideration when thinking about the price of food is whether the product you’re looking for is currently in season. For example, you probably don’t want to buy strawberries in November because they’re in season in May and June.
This matters simply because produce is in greater abundance (there’s more of it around) when it’s in season, the supply is greater and the demand is more or less the same, so the price goes down considerably. I’ve seen produce fall to a half or even a third of its regular price when it’s in season, so that’s definitely something you should learn to take advantage of. Not only that, but both fruits and veggies are generally much tastier during this period because they’re fresh and haven’t been sitting in a freezer for six months.
3. Meal Prep
This is probably the most important tip I can give you. Instead of going to the store every day to get the groceries you need to make lunch and dinner, make a big trip once or twice a week and get everything you need for the following seven days. This means you will have to plan out your meals in advance, and therefore know exactly what you’re going to need. The idea is that the bigger your purchases are, the more likely you are to be eligible for all kinds of discounts that stores offer.
4. Packed Lunches
One of the worst ways that people waste money on food is resorting to take-out or eating at restaurants when they don’t have to. Simply put in a little extra effort to make yourself a packed lunch to take with you to work, and you can save on food significantly.
5. Generic vs. Brand-Name
Generic brands get a really bad rep and most people seem to avoid them outright at grocery stores, especially when eating healthy. However, the idea that generic brands are of lower quality than brand names is simply a huge misconception, and here’s why: all the products that you buy at a store have to go through the same quality control process before they reach the shelves. There’s no reason why a generic brand should be inadequate, in other words, because they took and passed the same test as the brand name products.
6. Handling Leftovers
Finally, if you want to save on food you’re going to have to find a way to stop throwing it away. Food waste is by far the most prominent type of waste in the world, and it’s simply because people don’t know how to ration their food properly and have no idea how to take care of leftovers. Cooking up a nice stir fry with leftover veggies is a great way to get rid of them and make a tasty meal at the same time, for example. Additionally, many meal delivery services nowadays offer the delivery of ingredients in precisely-sized portions for the meal that you want to make, so you don’t have to throw anything away. And you still remain eating healthy.
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Author bio: Vanessa Davis is a 32-year-old fitness enthusiast, mother of two and content writer at www.diet.st. She’s originally from Long Island, New York, and when she isn’t cooking up some new health and fitness article, she enjoys doing yoga and figuring out new, delicious organic-based recipes for herself and her kids.