I’m a girl on a budget. Sorta. I’m lucky in that I don’t have a set limit for groceries, but I still save when I can. Here are a few guidelines that I follow that may or may not help you save money while eating healthy.
First up, enough with the coupons. Coupons save a lot of people a lot of money… but not me. I find that most coupons out there are for name brands; I typically save money by regularly purchasing store brands instead. I’ve also noticed that coupons aren’t usually for the healthiest options. (I don’t care if you save $100 on 5 bags of Ruffles potato chips. You’ll save money and calories by not keeping them in your house anyway.) I’m not saying all coupons are worthless, just use them wisely.
Next, utilize bulk bins. If your grocery store has them, don’t let them intimidate you. I’ve tried new (affordable) grains this way, such as wheat berries and millet. My husband had the fabulous idea of re-using old jars for my bulk purchases. Sure, you can buy cute matching mason jars, but you’d have to save a lot of money on bulk items to pay them off via savings.
Pack your lunch. And snack. And breakfast. I know it’s a lot, but who cares if people judge the size of your lunchbox? I pack my lunch for work 99% of the time, and I also pack my breakfasts since I go straight from the gym to the office. PB & fruit sandwiches, overnight oats, protein oats, and protein shakes are all great on-the-to breakfasts. For lunch, I’m a huge fan of big, one-pot meals, which often incorporate grains from bulk bins.
Frozen, canned, and fresh, oh my! I love frozen veggies. Some are better than others, but who can turned down cheap, pre-washed, pre-cut, and storable? I also use a lot of canned veggies, especially tomatoes and green beans. Those are staples in my home. Fresh is good too, but when buying fresh produce, be sure to check your store’s flyer for what’s in sale and/or what’s in season. Eating seasonally is a great way to save money and vary your fruits and veggies.
Nobody puts baby in a corner – bring side dishes to center stage! Lots of recipes focus on main courses, but sometimes I just like to whip up sides as my main meal. These are often cheaper, easier, and healthier – depending on the side, of course. For example, here was yesterday’s lunch. It’s braised cabbage and apple with apple cider vinegar and spices. I could have easily upped the protein by throwing in walnuts, diced sausage, or just bits of chicken.
What are your favorite ways to save money without putting your health on the back burner?