Think a nutritious diet = expensive? Not so fast. While it’s true that many “health foods” tend to cost more—e.g., energy bars, premade “healthy” frozen dinners, gluten-free bread, and organic produce vs. non-organic—eating healthily doesn’t necessarily have to be.
Sure, shopping at fancy health food stores and subscribing to pricey health trends (we’re lookin’ at you, kombucha) may put a dent in your wallet. But fulfilling the basic needs of a healthy diet—getting 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, eating fiberful whole grains, and minimizing your intake of unhealthy fats and sugars—is more about being savvy than wealthy.
Nourishing your body is not only a long-term investment for your health, but if you do it right, it may actually help you save money, too. Next time you’re at the grocery store, keep your wallet fat and your body fit with these money-saving tricks.
1. Buy raw or whole. Raw and whole foods—think whole, untouched fruits, vegetables, and nuts—are not prepared or processed in any way. Because there’s less of a “process” involved, that means they tend to cost less than their pre-made counterparts.
Example: Next time you’re reaching for a bag of pre-cut cauliflower, compare the weight of the bagged cauliflower with a whole cauliflower. The simple act of cutting your own cauliflower could save you a pretty penny.
2. Peruse the perimeter. The colorfully packaged, not-so-healthy eats, such as processed cereals, canned goods, and frozen dinners, usually live in middle of the store. Aim to shop along the outer aisles where the fruits, veggies, meats, and whole grains are.
3. Keep a grocery list. Sticking to a list will help prevent you from buying things you already have (because who can really remember the inventory of everything in their pantry?) and things you don’t need … like Double Stuf Oreos. Plus, it will save you time and gas from multiple trips to the store for one-off items.
4. Eat or freeze. Eliminate food waste by taking a quick inventory of your fridge a couple times a week. Spinach about to go bad? Throw it in tonight’s pasta or toss it in the freezer for a smoothie tomorrow. You can also freeze it using your ice cube tray.
5. Be a coupon master. Take advantage of those coupon books, but *only* buy foods you normally buy. Also, keep an eye out for double- and triple-coupon days!
6. Buy generic. This is a good rule of thumb for anything you buy at the grocery-store, not just food-related items, such as over-the-counter medications, beauty products or cleaning supplies. Generic brands often cost less, but are just as effective as name brands.
7. Buy in bulk. Found a coupon for frozen peas or a deal on a healthy whole grain cereal? As long as it’s non-perishable or has a long shelf life, stock up! Check out these four foods that never expire.
8. Don’t shop hungry. If you’re hungry, you’re more likely to reach for, well, anything and everything that looks delicious. What’s more, being hungry can actually affect your emotions, and may influence your eating choices. (Seriously, being “hangry” is a thing.) Fuel wiser decisions: Have a healthy snack before you shop.
9. Go high, go low. Stores often jack up the prices on eye-level items since they’re within an easy reach. If you’re looking for a specific item, check the top and bottom shelves for deals.
10. Shop online. According to Consumer Reports, you could save up to 10 percent by shopping for non-perishables, such as coffee or pasta, online.