Getting your grocery budget under wraps can be as simple as knowing what expensive foods to stop buying. It truly isn’t too difficult once you know which foods to avoid throwing in your cart and which ones to add instead. I’m a grocery shopping nut and absolutely love buying myself and my family healthy foods, as I’m sure you do. I don’t eat out too much, so I used to rationalize spending half my paycheck on my groceries. When the economy took a hit, I wasn’t able to do that anymore. To keep things simple and painless, I just learned what expensive foods to stop buying and started buying more frugal, yet still healthy, choices instead. Read on to learn what foods to leave on the shelf and which ones you can keep in your cart!
1 Fresh Berries
I love fresh berries just like the next girl, but I bet you didn’t know fresh berries are one of the top most expensive foods to stop buying ASAP. Instead, opt for frozen organic berries, which are usually half the cost and you don’t have to worry about them going bad on you. Best of all, you can eat them anytime you like instead of having to eat them right away before they spoil, which is in a matter of days. Even buying them fresh and freezing yourself isn’t as cheap as buying them pre-frozen. Berries are often frozen at their peak right after harvest, so frozen berries can actually be fresher and higher in nutrition than fresh ones at the market. Save the $6 you would spend on a half a pint of fresh, organic berries and buy two large 12 ounce bags of frozen berries instead!
2 Pricey Meats
If you love a good steak, don’t opt for the top dollar sirloin at the market, and choose cheaper cuts of organic meats such as buying a whole organic chicken, rather than spending the same amount on just the tenders. If you buy fish, buy it frozen instead of fresh to get more fish per serving. It is also slightly fresher this way. If you’re vegetarian, you are probably automatically saving in this area, but still be aware of how much you spend on protein sources. Choose hemp seeds or hemp protein, whole blocks of tofu instead of pre-seasoned or pre-portioned ones, nuts and seeds in the bulk section versus individual containers, and avoid loading up on vegetarian, pre-packaged meals or frozen meals.
3 Pricey Condiments
I love the flavoring idea of using condiments like mustard, tamari, dulse flakes or healthy dressings, but be careful which ones you choose. Some can cost as much as $6 per container. Opt for plain mustard, which is usually cheap, and try to use apple cider vinegar with chopped garlic, or herbs and spices you have at home instead of buying more condiments at the store. This takes the flavor of your foods to a whole new level and saves you money. If you just can't live without these items, then consider buying one per month and rotate what you use in your kitchen. This will save you more money than buying them all at the same time each visit.
4 Bulk Produce
First of all, I believe most of our grocery budget should in fact be made of mostly fruits and veggies, but unless you really eat enough of bulk produce items such as a whole bag of avocados, apples, oranges or tons of greens, don’t buy in bulk. These items are healthy, but add up quickly and spoil fast. If you aren’t willing to freeze what you won’t eat before it goes bad, then just buy what you need. I realize bulk buys can seem like a savings, but unless you truly eat everything you buy, you’re wasting your money.
5 Pre-packaged Health Foods
Those bags of packaged kale chips, bottles of trendy coconut water, bottled juices, and those popular gluten-free vegan crackers are pricey items you do not need. Sure, they are nice to have, but keeping these items as a mainstay in your grocery cart will end up ruining your grocery budget. For starters, these foods don’t last very long in terms of servings and secondly, they aren’t filling foods. Try buying more substantial, whole foods or making your own kale chips at home. If you like coconut water, consider buying a larger container to save money, and using less at a time. Treat yourself to one of these pricey indulgences once a month if you just absolutely love them.
6 Frozen Meals
Frozen meals just irritate me! The portions are so small, the prices are too high, and the sodium content is absurd! Even vegan options or healthy options in the freezer aisles are a waste of money because you only get one serving for your money. To avoid this supermarket, money-sucking trap, just invest in ingredients to make your meals instead, which will give you many more servings and be healthier. This saves you money and health concerns. Buy frozen organic meats or frozen veggies in the freezer section instead. Frozen fruits are also great and buying a bag of organic quinoa makes for a perfect grain and protein ingredient that you can use multiple times for months. It also cooks up fast, which is nice too!
7 Exotic Teas and Coffees
I could spend half my grocery bill on fun new teas and exotic coffee blends, but the truth is, I wouldn’t be left with much food if I did that! Stick to simple, less expensive herbal teas like plain peppermint, chamomile and green tea, and buy a store brand of fair-trade organic coffee. You’ll still get all the health benefits, great tastes and benefits, but you’ll save much more money over time.
Remember, buying healthy foods is possible on a budget. The key is just knowing what expensive foods to stop buying and which ones to start buying instead. How do you save money at the market? I’m always looking to save where I can!