Eating healthy certainly isn’t cheap, as most of us know, but there are some wonderful ways to reduce expenses while on a diet that you might not have considered yet. I always tell people never to let the cost stereotype surrounding eating healthy keep them from making healthy changes. Going broke over your meals isn’t necessary, and is completely preventable, no matter how healthy you choose to eat. Over the years as an avid healthy eater, I’ve learned a few tricks for ways to reduce expenses while on a diet, or just eating healthier. Though I’m not on a diet, I have been before, and have found the following tips very useful. I hope some of these tricks will help you, and also help to show you that eating healthy is the best thing you can do for yourself without having to go broke to do it. Besides, eating healthy keeps you feeling well, which keeps you out of the doctor's office more often, and I figure you can spend your money on healthy food, or healthcare. I don't know about you, but I’m choosing food, along with these frugal tips!
1. Focus on the Basics
It can be easy to want to purchase all kinds of new healthy products for your new healthy diet, all at one time, yet this is one of the worst things to do if you’re trying to reduce expenses while on a diet. It makes many of us feel better to go on a “healthy eating shopping spree” to kick off our new lifestyle. I’ve done it, and you probably have too. It’s almost as if we make up for the food we’re not going to eat anymore by bingeing on buying tons of health food instead. Don’t fall prey to this common mistake. Focus on the basics to save more money. For instance, we all know that plain, healthy foods like green veggies, leafy greens, berries, oats, brown rice, quinoa, and fish are healthy for us. If you want to add more animal products, stick with basic skinless chicken, egg whites, and Greek yogurt. You can add more satisfaction to these meals with simple spices and flavorings you already have at home. Those foods aren’t costly when you buy them in proper amounts and buy the basic forms. It’s when we buy too much at one time, and buy all the packaged foods or fancy versions of health foods that things get pricey.
2. Avoid the Health Bars
Don’t buy any of those pricey health and nutrition bars either. This is slightly part of tip number one above, but also deserves its own category. Those products usually aren’t that healthy, and labels are very deceiving. I investigate health products like you wouldn’t believe, and have yet to find the “perfect” one. Most all contain either too much sugar, unhealthy fats, processed ingredients, or too much sodium. Now, these bars might come in handy when you’re in a pinch, but they’re not worthy of a spot in your daily food budget. Leave them at the store, and only pick one up on the go when you can’t eat a meal, such as during travel. These bars are costly, and no matter what diet endorses them, they’re not a part of a healthy diet or a healthy budget. Plain almonds are a much better choice, even though they don't come in a fancy package or chocolate granola coating!
3. Make Your List and Check It Twice
I always, always make a list before I go to the store. Otherwise, I get sidetracked by all the beautiful produce, colorful new health products, and don’t even get me started on the spices, herbal tea, and superfood selections! It can be so easy for me to visit the store and go over my budget, buying way too much at one time. Sticking to my list helps me stay focused and see what I really need, and what I don’t. I know when I made the list at home that I checked it twice to ensure I had everything down necessary to eat that I was out of, and the other stuff will just have to wait. Never leave home without your list! This is key to a budget.
4. Rotate Your Pricey Items
Here’s one trick I like to use to help me keep from feeling deprived. I have a couple of things each week that are costlier, yet they're things I really enjoy and they help supplement my healthy eating lifestyle. For instance, raw nut butters, organic spices, and some forms of organic produce are all staples in my diet, along with wild fish, organic Greek yogurt, or organic kefir. To help save my weekly budget, I rotate which items I buy each week. I only buy one or two pricey products per week, and have to make them last throughout the week, or longer. Then, the next week, I switch to another product that’s a little costlier. Each week, I always buy inexpensive healthy items such as leafy greens, frozen vegetables, and almond milk. This rotation tip helps me keep my budget around the same each week, since it helps balance things out better.
5. Stock up on Sale Items
One other tip I have is for sale items. Whether at the store or online, I buy many healthy products like organic coffee, vitamins, clean, vegan protein powders, and some superfoods that are part of my everyday diet, but I only buy them when they go on sale, and I buy enough for two months. This helps me not have to worry about ordering them more often, and I usually get one for the price of two if I wait for a sale. This might mean you have to trade off brands, but so long as you keep items that are healthy in your pantry, they will help support your healthy diet without breaking your budget. I actually find clean protein powders like hemp protein more economical than meat, since a two month supply lasts me two months, and is only around $20. I can’t eat meat each week for that, regardless that I don't want to! I'll take a yummy smoothie over a piece of chicken any day! Whether you choose protein powders or other pricey sale items like meat, dairy, or fish, try to stock up when they go on sale, and freeze what you can to extend the shelf life.
6. Consider Less Animal Products
Another tip for eating healthy and saving money is to eat less animal products. Put your ethical issues or love for meat aside and look at your budget. It’s plain and easy to see that eating less animal products is cheaper. Last year when I was broker than I’ve ever been, I wasn’t vegan, but actually ate vegan to save money. I only had $40 a week for groceries for myself, and couldn’t afford animal products. Produce, veggies, and oatmeal aren’t the most exciting foods to eat, but they are cheap, along with some other vegan foods. Even going vegetarian, which is how I eat now, can help your budget. It was not easy, but I did it, and I also saved a lot of money in the meantime and my health was just as great as ever!
7. Use What Coupons You Can
I know eating healthy doesn’t come with many coupons, but use what coupons you can. There are some really great websites for finding health products on sale, such as CommonKindness.com, WholeFoodsMarkets.com, SouthernSavers.com, and you can always check online sites such as Amazon.com for weekly grocery deals. Websites like Amazon.com, Vitacost.com, SwansonVitamins.com, and iHerb.com all carry dry goods you can buy so much cheaper than in stores, and even buy in bulk if you want to. Gluten free items like oatmeal are half the cost, and many shelf stable almond milks, whole grains, spices, superfoods, protein powders, and even vitamins and supplements can all be found online too, at much cheaper prices. I always suggest using what coupons you can in multiple places to save the most money while eating healthy.
I know budgeting isn’t easy, but try to keep your day to day meals simple and clean. You don’t need a bunch of processed foods, diet packages, pre-made shakes, diet supplements, etc. You simply need to choose clean foods and make them work into your budget, not against it. With a few tricks to work your favorite items into your diet, like rotating items and only purchasing when they’re on sale, you can be sure that you’ll be healthy, satisfied, and within your budget. Do you have a budget tip for healthy eaters or those trying to start a diet?