Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. In fact, you can eat healthy, even organic, while on a budget. We have in our minds this idea that eating healthy costs hundreds and hundreds of dollars, picturing $800 and $1000 a month grocery bills. And yes, you could go nuts and buy $8 apiece heirloom tomatoes or you could make smart, careful choices, and feed your family good, clean, wholesome (delicious!) food without blowing your budget every single month.
Believe it or not, our monthly grocery budget is less than $300. Some months I’m really on top of my game and manage to get it under $200, and then we use the extra to throw at our debt or have a family fun splurge. (Who am I kidding? It always goes to family fun splurge)
How? No, I’m not one of those crazy coupon clippers. Mostly because Alaska’s newspapers don’t carry those wonderful, thick stack of coupons on Sundays… or any days. But, my favorite store, Fred Meyer’s, has their own store coupons + manufacturer’s coupons, too. And bonus points that they have them all in an app so no clipping required!
I’ve learned my local stores, who carries what for the best regular price, as well as their sale and markdown trends. For example, Fred Meyer marks down their produce, even organic, between 10am and 1pm, so going at 11am seems to be the perfect time. Eggs, including organic, are marked down every three weeks or so, milk less often, but the almond milk goes on sale monthly.
Meanwhile, across the street, Carrs has meat on sale at least every other day. Pork, chicken, beef, seafood, you name it. I can usually grab chicken for $1.25 or less a pound and stock up. Our two chest freezers are so full right now that I’m “forbidden” from buying any more meat. But it’s so difficult to be good when the prices are low!
Likewise, farmers markets are a great source of local, fresh produce and resources. Often held seasonly (though some run year-round) you can good deals on some pretty amazing produce all the while supporting the local economy and small farms. I can get a 14-inch, thick zucchini for $5. You can’t beat that. (And check out my list of smart swaps to find out what to do with all that zucchini)
Take this next week’s trip to the grocery store to really study their prices, sales, and trends. Don’t be afraid to ask the store associate when things go on sale or what day has the freshest products (which would last longer back at home). Make a list of all your favorite products and ingredients, and shop around for the best price, keeping in mind that if you have to drive 30 miles out of the way to save $1, it’s probably not worth it. Combine that trip with other errands to make sure you actually save money in the long run.
It really is possible to eat healthy, clean food while on a budget. And both you and your wallet will feel better for it!
title image credit: Karin Dalziel