Healthy eating is one of those things that many people may assume is expensive- but the reality is that it’s actually pretty affordable! As someone who has been plant based for 5+ years, I’ve had to navigate my way through different grocery stores to find fresh fruits, vegetables and other health foods. And let me tell you- I’ve learned a lot!
I used to spend a decent amount of money on foods like veggie burgers, fruit juices or even salad mixes but was finding that I was coming home with barely any food. When I got into reading ingredients on labels, I realized that most foods advertised as healthy literally costed pennies to make which inspired me to start buying ingredients rather than pre-made foods.
So today I decided to write a blog on some tips to help you make healthier choices at the grocery store on a budget!
1. Write out a list of recipes beforehand
One of the best ways to stay on budget and preplan healthy meals is to write down a list of recipes you would like to have throughout the week! I start by writing out the days of the week and what I plan on making each day. I then break down each recipe into ingredients that I will need- it’s the perfect way to buy the exact amount of everything without being wasteful!
For example, you could have black bean burgers for lunch one day this week, which would require you to buy basic ingredients such as black beans, soy sauce, onions and garlic which don’t cost very much. And same goes for writing down a recipe such as chickpea tuna– all you really need are chickpeas, some seaweed and plant based mayo which can be found at most grocery stores. The main thing is to start being mindful of the foods you buy, what you spend and what you’re choosing to eat weekly!
2. Get familiar with your local grocery stores
Another great way to eat healthy on a budget is to become familiar with your local grocery stores. There are certain stores that I would never buy produce from because it’s much too expensive (such as Sobeys, Metro or Loblaws) unless I really needed to. And other stores that I do most of my shopping at such as Fresh Co and No Frills. It’s important to get to know which stores are near you and becoming comfortable with the idea of shopping at multiple shops to find the best deals!
This also allows you to compare pricing. You’ll get used to to seeing the price point of foods you typically buy and allows you to spend more consciously!
3. Do the majority of your shopping in the fresh fruits and vegetables section
The reality is that the grocery store is full of processed foods and health items that claim to be good for you when you don’t need them to stay healthy. If you’re really looking to adapt to a healthy lifestyle, 80% of your grocery shopping should be done in the fresh fruits and vegetables section where most things are only a few dollars a pound. You can get a decent amount of bananas for $2.00 or a bag of carrots for less than $3.00!
I typically buy vegetables such as eggplants, onion, garlic, tomatoes, avocados, mushrooms and others, and it doesn’t cost very much. I also buy fresh fruits such as apples, bananas and oranges because they’re always in season and generally affordable! But as I mentioned, get familiar with your local grocery stores and check around for deals. You never know- maybe the bananas are cheaper at one store but the apples are cheaper at another!
4. Buy more beans and lentils
I’ve talked about the health benefits of black beans, lentils and even chickpeas in recent blogs but they’re also a great way to save money- they’re such a cheap health food! Packed with plant proteins and vital nutrients, beans are an amazing addition to your diet. There are two varieties: dried or canned. Dried beans are much cheaper but take longer to cook if you don’t have a pressure cooker. Whereas canned beans cost a little bit more, but still very affordable and are ready to use in recipes right away!
Whatever variety you choose, beans are a great addition to your diet and are affordable either way. I personally love dried lentils because they don’t take nearly as long to make as dried beans but are just as nutritious!
5. Check the price tab to compare pricing
A lot of people don’t know this (or maybe I just learned this late 😅) but the price tabs at the grocery story actually have a breakdown of price per weight. If you look closely under the price, you will see how many grams or millilitres an item is, plus how much it costs per weight/volume.
I find this particularly useful for bulk items to see if it’s actually worth it! A lot of the time when bulk items are on sale, it’s not much cheaper to buy more or the bigger size. And the little fine print under the price is the perfect way to find out!
I know this seems like pennies, but it’s honestly a great way to reduce your grocery bill and cut costs. We all know that things add up but taking the time to read pricing is a great way to make sure you’re putting your money to good use.
And above all: read ingredients
This one is important- if you’re looking to make healthier choices, always read the labels of anything you buy! I typically only buy items such as natural peanut butter, baking items and cooking seasonings but I always check the ingredients first. Knowing what you put into your body is a huge step to better health and allows you to be a more conscious consumer.
If you feel lost, keep in mind that most foods shouldn’t contain a list of ingredients and preservatives! You can also check out my blog on reading ingredients here.
Other helpful tips:
- Avoid shopping when you’re hungry. I know this sounds ridiculously simple but it’s the best way to avoid impulse buys.
- Avoid buying soft drinks, juices or pop. Making your own juice at home is much cheaper and healthier!
- Don’t be afraid to buy ahead: if the avocados aren’t ripe yet but they’re a good price, buy them and ripen them by your window. Chances are the price will increase once they’re ready to use.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog on healthy eating! I hope that I inspired you to make some healthier choices this week because all it really takes is a bit of will power ☺️