Happy Hump Day!
I hope your week is treating you well so far! Mine has been busy but it's flying by. I started my day off with a nice at home strength workout using all of my favorite toys. I'm working on a post about building your own home gym and how to utilize what you have to create great at home workouts. Stay tuned! After my workout, I whipped up a huge bowl of oats with blueberries and almond butter. I was so hungry I felt like I could have eaten two bowls, but I resisted. :)
Now on to the topic of the day. Many people think that they simply cannot afford to eat healthy or that, at the very least, it is going to cause a huge dent in their pocket book. To be honest, I completely understand where these people are coming from. It's really hard to convince someone to go to the store and spend $15-$30 on ingredients to create a healthy meal when the dollar menu is right around the corner. Do I think the dollar menu is the right answer? Heck no, but I'm just saying I understand how it is easy to think eating healthy is expensive.
Like many things, I think it is all about perspective. The slightly extra price for healthier ingredients far out weighs the hefty price your body pays when you eat junk food. Katherine, over at Real Food Runner, posted a great YouTube video yesterday about the real cost of healthy food. When you think of the cost of food in this way, healthy eating wins out by far!
Ok, so now we feel a little bit better about splurging on healthy ingredients, but we still have a budget to stick to right? E and I are definitely budget people. He's an accountant for goodness sake, so there is a spreadsheet for everything including our groceries. We have a certain amount budgeted each week that we "try" to stick to. I admit, sometimes it's hard, but I do my best. Here are some of my favorite tips for keeping your grocery budget in check while still feeding your family nutritious and delicious meals.
- Make the bulk section your new best friend. If you're not shopping in the bulk section at your grocery store, you are missing out! You can often get things for much cheaper then the boxed version. Plus, you can purchase exactly how much you need and nothing more. Some of my favorite bulk food staples are nuts, protein powder, nutritional yeast, quinoa, dried fruit, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, granola (be careful if you are gluten sensitive), trail mix, coconut flour, almond flour, almond butter, honey, and so much more.
- Bulk section part II - Check out your stores bulk spice section. When I discovered the bulk spice section at our local Central Market, it literally changed my life. How many times have you looked at a recipe that calls for 6 different spices and thought no way am I spending $3-$10 on each bottle? With the bulk spice section, this is no longer a problem. You can get almost any spice (depending on which store your shop at) in just the quantity you need. I often spend less than 25 cents on each spice. Talk about a money saver.
- Buy produce in season. Out of season fruits and vegetables have to be flown in from other places so they are going to be more expensive. Save yourself money and enjoy the most delicious fruit by purchasing what is in season. I've been enjoying the most amazing citrus fruit lately at rock bottom prices. Whenever possible, shopping at local farmers markets can be an even better option!
- Go with frozen fruits and vegetables whenever they are not in season. Whenever fruits and vegetables are out of season, I try to purchase them frozen instead. They often taste fresher and are way less expensive. I usually only use these for cooking since they don't taste quite as good as fresh ones. For example, I use frozen fruit in my oatmeal and frozen vegetables in all of my stir frys.
- Splurge on organic fruits and vegetables in the dirty dozen and save on those in the clean fifteen. Not ready to go completely organic? I understand. Splurge smartly by purchasing organic fruits and vegetables that fall under the "Dirty Dozen" category. It will help diminish your pesticide intake without breaking your bank.
- Utilize your leftovers in creative ways. Leftovers never go to waste in my house. Just because you have leftovers from the day before doesn't mean you have to eat the exact same thing the next day. If I have leftover meat from dinner, I usually throw it on my salad the next day. Leftovers also make great omelet mix-ins. We had leftover turkey sausage and potatoes from our dinner Monday night, so I threw them in my omelet the next day for lunch. It made my omelet more filling and flavorful for no extra cost.
- Have a few staple breakfast and lunch dishes and enjoy them all week. To keep my ingredients list to a minimum, I try to pick two healthy breakfasts (for example, oatmeal and green smoothies) and a lunch selection for the week. I usually have big salads for lunch or enjoy leftovers from the night before. This keeps the amount of money I have to spend on those two meals down and keeps my prep time to a minimum as well.
- Make your own goodies when possible. Store bought protein and granola bars can get expensive quickly. Try making your own at home. They are super easy, delicious, and you can control exactly what goes in them. One of my favorite go to protein snacks are almond chia power balls!
- Get creative with your protein sources! A piece of meat doesn't always have to be your protein source in every meal. Liz, from Swim, Bike, Run, Check the Weather and Repeat, suggests using alternative protein sources from time to time. She loves to combine black beans, brown rice, avocado, and salsa to create an inexpensive and protein packed meal.
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Alison, from Fearlessly Fierce, suggests sticking to the outside of the grocery store while shopping. All of the fresh produce, meat, and dairy are located around the perimeter of the store. If you avoid the middle aisles, you can prevent spending your money on overly processed, less nutritious food. Thanks Alison!
- Meal plan on Sunday night so you can choose meals that share ingredients. This also allows you to see what is on sale that week and plan accordingly. I always try to pick meals that share ingredients especially protein so I can purchase it in larger quantities. Crock pot meals are also amazing for busy nights! Here are some of my favorite healthy and affordable meals.
- Citrus Veggie and Quinoa Salad - This is the perfect dish to make on Sunday and eat on for lunch all week.
What are your favorite money saving tips at the grocery store?
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