Eating Healthy Can Mean Saving Money

I was recently watching a medical show (I may have an obsession with the Dr. Oz show) in which people complained that they couldn’t eat well because healthy food is too expensive. While some health foods can be pretty expensive, so are many unhealthy foods like take-out pizza, ice cream, and chips. As someone who likes to eat food which is good for me, I can tell you that eating well does not have to be a budget breaker.

Fruits and vegetables are not as cheap as ramen noodles, this is true. But the fact is that your body needs many vitamins and minerals to function well. When I was younger, I didn’t care as much about eating well. I ate some fresh food and protein, but more often than not I’d eat something lacking nutrition. And the problem with this was that although I ate enough calories, I was still hungry a lot. So I would eat more snacks and eat bigger portions.

Once I had gained a bit of weight and realized that the reason I felt so tired and bad all the time was because I was eating crap, I decided to start eating better. And a really odd thing happened. Eating small portions of healthy food made me feel fuller. I realized I did not need to eat as much food when I ate well. If you eat a filling, healthy meal, you don’t end up reaching for a bag of chips twenty minutes later.

How does this translate to cheaper groceries? Eating smaller portions means buying less food. Instead of  paying for double the amount of processed food, I can buy fresh food and keep my grocery bill on budget. And losing 20 pounds has certainly been an added bonus. Here are some easy things you can do to save money on your grocery bill and get healthier :

  • Make some vegetarian meals. I have made a great chickpea curry for a very good price, and it was filling and delicious. Bean burgers and bean salads are also great options, and when paired with a grain, the protein in beans is considered a “complete” protein.
  • Opt for inexpensive fish and shrimp. They are much cheaper than expensive cuts of meat, are very lean good sources of protein, and taste great.
  • Skip sugary drinks, including juice. Juice is expensive, and you’re better off eating a piece of fruit anyway. It’s more filling!
  • Buy in season. Buy whatever fresh foods are in-season as they are at their cheapest price.
  • Shop reduced sections. Buy meat that is closer to it’s expiration date and cook it right away. I often find meat 30% off which is perfectly fine for dinner that night, and leftovers afterwards. Be careful to only buy as much as you can cook within the next 1-2 days, otherwise it can go bad if you wait too long.
  • Buy in bulk. You can find lots of grains, cereals, honey, etc. At bulk food stores and it is almost always cheaper than buying even the store brand products found at grocery stores.
  • Buy fresh, not frozen. Frozen fruits and vegetables tend to be more expensive. If you buy produce fresh while it’s on sale, you can eat it fresh as well as freeze it to be eaten later.

These are just a few things you can do to make eating well work on a budget. Now the only excuse for getting food from the McDonald’s dollar menu is that you really want that cheeseburger. Which is totally fair, but enough with this “I can’t eat well because it’s too expensive” stuff. What do you do to try to save money on your grocery bill?

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  1. LOVE this post! This is something that we are currently working on and have been doing better with too. Buying fresh food at Aldis and the farmers market can help save also.

    • Thank you ! Same here. Our grocery bill never ends up being too much, and we do stick to healthier choices, so it can work if you’re careful! Farmer’s market is great too.

  2. I couldn’t agree more!! Buying in-season is probably the most underrated saving trick out there. Also, if we’re buying something in a box (cereal, crackers, etc) we go with the store brand because we figure that it really isn’t something we need to be buying.

    We freeze tons of things- it’s much easier to shop for a family than a couple, even though we’re only two people. So we make family-sized everything and then freeze at least half for later.

    • Buying is season is really important. It sucks when you want something and it’s out-of-season, but usually it can be avoided anyway. And the out-of-season stuff doesn’t taste that great anyway! And we live as just a couple too, and it’s nice to have tons of leftovers for later.

  3. A lot of people don’t realize that Whole Foods takes coupons. You can stack manufacturer’s coupons with Whole Foods coupons and get great deals on healthy items.

  4. We recently changed the way that we shop to cut out a lot of the crap and now do our shopping at Costco and order the organic box. Scoffed at for being not frugal, it’s actually proving to be less expensive than our regular grocery budget and filled with healthy, real food.

    My tip, Look for Friday only Safeway sales, there are some great ones, like raspberries 3/$5. You can lay them flat on a cooke sheet until they get hard in the freezer to freeze them – rather than paying almost $5 for one package when you want them.

    • Raspberries are amazing. And extremely expensive usually. Thanks for the tip ! Costco is a great place, as long as you don’t get wrapped up in the sales and buy too much ! :P

  5. I haven’t paid full price for meat in forever. I love your tip on buying what’s on clearance. You never know what you might get, but there’s always something on sale. We love berries, pineapple and lots of more expensive fruits, but if they aren’t on sale, apples and bananana work just as well. We also picked lots of fruit at an orchard this fall. I still have frozen peaches stored up. We got them at $.44 per pound. It does take a bit more planning, but you don’t have to eat donuts every day unless you choose to.

    • Exactly. t’s nice to get a variety, but that’s why freezing in-season stuff means you can get some berries when they aren’t cheap. :)

  6. We are definitely trying to eat healthier. Making time to cook is the hard part.

  7. I recently switched to a 100% preservative free diet and my grocery bill is substantially lower. I have also started buying my meat in bulk from a farmer which is way cheaper and healthier.

  8. Some cheap staples that are healthy and I enjoy are rice and beans. Separate or together they are very healthy and I eat them often.

  9. I also recommend the bulk foods sections – even at Whole Foods. Dehydrated TVP is a great source of healthy vegetarian protein without all the salt and added preservatives of the stuff that comes in the frozen sections! And it’s ridiculously cheap!

  10. Jacqueline says:

    Learning to cook was one of the best things I’ve ever done for my health and my budget. I eat out a lot less, especially at lunch time, and the increase in my grocery budget is still way less than what I used to spend buying lunches every day.

  11. I agree with many of your points. I transitioned gradually from a typical American diet to a whole foods, no-grain diet so I can’t directly compare the costs but this way is definitely not much more expensive up front. I try to think of quality food as an investment in my health so even if it is costlier or more time-consuming up front I think it will pay off in a big way later in life.

  12. Good post.. I have also found that frozen meat can be injected with up to 30% water which is absolute madness!!!

  13. We do all of the above and have learned so much about our eating habits and grocery budget just by posting our weekly grocery shop. What I do know and one other fan pointed out above was that learning to cook was one of the best things she had done. I can’t agree with her more and that is why I encourage my fans to try and cook one new recipe per week from scratch at home like we do. Well we create many recipes but it’s fun in the kitchen when you play around with ingredients. Vegetarian meals are amazing and you don’t even miss the meat. I could go on forever about this topic but I’ll leave it at that. Cheers Mr.CBB

  14. Great tips and totally agree, that if you do eat healthier and stop buying junk food and eating out, you’ll realize that it’s not that expensive to eat well.

  15. And there is the long term cost of not eating healthy too, like heart disease and diabetes. Medications cost money. Health care cost money. I’d rather pay a little more up front than after I’ve gotten sick.

  16. Great post! Also, if you buy almost-expired meat, you can freeze it for months.

  17. LOL! That gif is HILARIOUS!

    I think you missed a very important tip that really drives up grocery costs. You can eat healthy and cheaply if you buy in season! Buying in season helps keeps costs down and will guarantee freshness. For the fall & winter months, you can freeze the food you bought. And with a little work, you can make your own foods like spaghetti sauce, and freeze them til the winter.

  18. Great post! I also agree that saying healthy food is too expensive is a cop out. My favorite way to save on healthy food is to make yogurt at home. It’s super easy and way cheaper than store bought.

  19. Thank you for writing this! Yes, eating healthy can be expensive but so can eating crap! Eating healthy AND cheap requires EFFORT which people don’t want to do. I’m partaking in a ‘big cook’ this weekend (prepping huge amount of freezer meals in one sitting) and while the upfront cost is expensive these fresh ingredients (boneless/skinless chicken, pork loin, lentils are all included) will equal to less than 2.00/serving. I disagree with frozen being more expensive though, I find frozen a whole lot cheaper for most veggies. I buy a 750g bag of frozen corn or broccoli for 1.99..I can’t buy that much fresh for that price. I also buy veggies on season and cut them up/freeze since I usually end up cooking or stir frying anyway.

  20. I’ve really never struggled with my spending when it comes to food and groceries. Honestly, fresh food can be very cheap! if it’s in season.. you are usually good.

  21. Great post! I agree with the person who said that eating unhealthy costs a lot more in the long run. It’s so destructive to eat crap, and disrespectful to your body.

    Not just saving money but respecting your mind and body by eating right. : )

  22. I didn’t know that. I wish I lived near a Whole Foods!

  23. Great Post! You have to be careful where your fish comes from. More and more doctors and health officials are saying to stay clear from fish from China (including canned Tuna and Salmon). Fortunately, most grocery stores carry fresh canadian salmon and other fish. We only buy them on sale in bulk then cut and freeze. By “forcing” ourselves to cook diners at home, we are saving so much from not going to the restaurant and have learned to enjoy the meals that we prepare, instead of the tasteless Ramen noodles. Healthy food is much more delicious.

  24. I’ve used TVP in chili before, it tasted great!

  25. I totally agree! Our grocery store marks down organic produce on clearanceand we stop by a few days a week and get salad vegetables for dinner. We spend very little on groceries. I personally find processed snack foods expensive!

  26. I was thrilled when I discovered quinoa a few years back. It is a complete protein, high in fibre and iron, gluten-free, and low in cholesterol and sodium. If you buy it in bulk (I usually get mine at Bulk Barn or Save On Foods) it can work out to a pretty good deal per meal! It has a lot of versatility in recipes and I personally think it’s quite tasty :)

  27. Not that everyone who eats “bad” ends up obese, but I know that obesity puts a huge strain on the medical industry. The amount of money that could be saved if people focused more on being healthy is incredible!

  28. I go to two different grocery stores to get the good deals. To manage this, I made a table showing the prices of commonly-purchased items at each store. That way, I’m not standing in Trader Joe’s and wondering if their price is better than Giant Eagle’s.

  29. On the no sugar drinks – drink water, from the tap.

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