Probably the most common complaint I hear from people trying to eat healthy is that it is too expensive. While it is true that higher quality food will cost more than processed junk food, there are some strategies I have run across over the years that I think will help you. Here are my favorites:
1) Change your mindset to one of value vs. cost. If you just look at the numbers, eating healthy might look like it costs more, but if you consider that healthy eating is an investment that pays dividends later, it will change your perspective.
2) Use what you have. It might be true that you have a budget you need to stick to, but just make sure you use it wisely. Often, budget (or lack of) is an excuse to fill up your pantry with easy, convenient junk food. Check yourself and make sure you aren't doing this. If you have a small budget, commit to making the most of it. Use less expensive cuts of meat, shop for veggies and fruits that are in season. Cut out junk food and stuff that does not add value to your health. Stock up when things are one sale.
3) Buy in season. This will not only help your budget, but you will also get fresher produce if you pick what's in season locally.
4) Make a plan. Each time you walk into any store, you are conditioned to spend money. If you take a little bit of time each week before you shop planning what you and your family will eat, you will save lots of money because everything you buy has a plan. Without a plan and a list, most people will grab things that look good, but never get around to eating what they buy. This is especially true if you are hungry when you shop. Bad choice, my friends!
5) Use an online pick-up or delivery service. This way, you have to make a plan and can't impulse buy. There are many of these out there now. I also really like this because you can see as you go how much you are spending. This is really helpful for those on a budget.
6.) Cut down on eating out. If most people are honest about the amount of money they spend on at the drive-thru or other restaurant, they will find that they can stretch that into groceries that go much farther. Conduct an audit and see how much you are spending and if you could plan ahead and make your own lunches or dinners to go if you are not home.
7.) Make the most of everything you buy. This is an art I believe was perfected in those who lived through the Great Depression. One of my favorite strategies here is to roast a whole chicken (or purchase a rotisserie if you live somewhere that has healthy choices for this). Make a meal of the chicken and then use it to make bone broth. In the process, you will have enough meat fall off to make soap or stew out of the meat and broth. Super cost effective, delicious and full of collagen and minerals. I'll be doing this on my Facebook page this week, so visit www.facebook.com/doctorjeni and follow my post for more on this! Another way to do this is to make extra when you are cooking and use it in a recipe the next day. I do this a lot with chicken or ground beef. We will eat grilled chicken one night and then it shows up in a stir fry the next night.
8.) Keep it simple. You don't have to make a complicated, gourmet recipe every night for dinner. I try to think of eating a healthy, organic protein (meat, eggs, or shake) with one serving of fruit and 2 servings of veggies for 2 meals. This works for the adults and the kids in the house, too! Sometimes it's just a couple hard boiled eggs, brocolli, celery and an apple. Not gourmet, but very healthy and simple! If you are on the go, make the veggies raw and just have them chopped ahead and ready to go.
I hope this has encouraged you to make the most of your grocery budget!