Many people think that eating in a healthy way is very expensive, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Buying and cooking in a smart way can save you a lot of money! But first of all, remember that not investing in your health (and this include not buying the best food you can afford) probably isn’t the best idea in the long run. Also think about why some foods are as cheap as they are. Somebody in the production chain has to pay for that. Who is it going to be? You did the first step in the right direction by reading this article, therefore here are my favourite ways on saving up some money when doing the groceries. Enjoy reading, set a couple of my advices in practice and you are on the best way on eating healthy without spending a fortune!
Before we jump into the money saving, a few considerations about what is actually healthy. We don’t have a lot of good, in-depth research on this, because it is virtually impossible to do long-term research on humans, which would be necessary to answer this question. We only have observational studies, which are problematic if you want to deduct personal recommendations from them (if you are interested in this topic, read this).
A few things seem to keep us healthy though: a plant-based diet. This doesn’t mean you have to go vegan or vegetarian, but you should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Ideally buy seasonal, locally farmes produce and get a good variety of things. Second, avoid highly processed foods as much as possible (here is why). Again, going full paleo probably isn’t necessary, but eliminating most convenience/junk food from your diet is a good idea. Those are the basics, now let’s save some money, shall we?
- Farmer’s markets are great. Here you can buy directly from the farmers, resulting in better prices because you don’t have to pay the supermarket “fee”. You also support your local farmers, which is important for the agricultural economy of your region.
- Buy ugly produce. Often found only at farmer’s markets, but some supermarkets also offer “ugly” produce at a discount. Usually ugly produce is used as animal fodder, or even is left on the fields and not even harvested because supermarkets won’t buy produce that doesn’t fit their standards. Ugly produce is just as tasty and healthy as the standardised stuff you buy in the supermarket and most of the times you grate, chop or mash your veggies anyways so it’s not important if it was “pretty” or not in the first place.
- Buy in bulk. Bigger package sizes are usually cheaper than smaller packages. Just compare the cost of half a litre of milk to one litre. Supermarkets offer better prices to larger packages because it is proven that custumers consume more when buying bigger sizes. Which is worrying in the first place if you are concerned about body composition, but you are probably counting macros anyways or having some other form of portion/satiety control, so this isn’t a problem.
- Compare prices. It seems obvious when trying to save some money, but compare prices! And don’t just compare prices per packaging unit, compare per kg/litre prices. You would be surprised how much you can save by just making a better choice.
- Buy cheaper cuts. Especially when meat is concerned, it pays big time to compare prices. Cheaper cuts usually take more cooking time to get tender, but are very tasty nontheless. You can use them in stews, ragouts and one-pots. If you ask your butcher, you can even find cheaper steak cuts like flat-iron that only need a few minutes in a searing hot pan, just like their expensive counterparts.
- Canned, frozen and dried goods are great. Often times, nutritionally, there’s little difference between fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. And usually they are much cheaper than their fresh counterparts.
- Take advantage of deals. You can find really good deals at supermarkets if you are lucky (even though most deals offer junk food because it is so cheap to produce). Think about how you can preserve fresh goods (often a stew or curry that you can freeze is a good idea) and buy a huge batch.
- Ask about store memberships or programs. Although most of the time they don’t offer huge benefits, little things do add up in the long term!
- Shopping the perimeter of the store and giving yourself only the options of fresh produce, meats/cheeses, nuts/seeds, and cold-case items you need. Avoiding processed foods tends to be much cheaper and healthier.
- Cook at home. Eating out is always expensive, which is okay because you pay for the luxury of not having to cook yourself. But when your budget is tight, you are better off limiting this to as little occasions as possible.
- Love leftovers. Turn them into something different if you don’t like to eat the same dish too often. Leftover roasts can easily transformed into a curry or stew or salad or mash or…the list never ends: be creative! Sometimes it is enough to change the sides completely or add a different sauce.
- Stop food waste. Nobody should throw food away! But when you are on a budget, this gets even more crucial. Take care of your leftovers and store them savely in the fridge or freezer. Make sure your fridge is always tidy so you have a better overview of what needs to get used up.
I bet this list isn’t complete and there are even more ways of saving money while eating healthy. If you have more tricks in your sleeve, don’t be shy, share you knowledge with us, post it down in the comment section!
Are you struggling with a boring diet or are you not enjoying your training anymore? Contact us and let us talk how we can reach your body composition or strength goals and let training and eating be fun again!