Welcome to the first of a six-part collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody! As a food blogger, I know a thing or two about how expensive healthy food can be. Over the years I’ve developed some tips and tricks to make healthy living more affordable. So in this series we will talk about everything from groceries, to eating out, to eating healthy while traveling, and tons in between.
Today I want to start with the most basic of our food budget – groceries. Groceries can be expensive no matter what, but especially if you are a healthy eater. But this doesn’t have to be so; there are tons of ways to help you save money and still eat healthy. Here are my top ten tips to help you stay healthy while reducing the cost of your groceries.
10 Tips to Making (Healthy) Groceries Budget-Friendly
1. Buy Seasonally. Especially produce.
Taking time to research what is in season in your area will make buying produce much more cost efficient. When produce is in season there will be a surplus, allowing for reduced prices. If you are unsure of what is in season in your area, try shopping at the farmer’s market or subscribe to a CSA box that can be delivered to your door!
2. Go meatless. At least once or twice a week.
Not only is it good for your health and the environment, it will help your wallet tremendously. Beans, nuts, and meat substitutes are significantly cheaper than any meat product. Perhaps you start with one or two days a week and see how you feel. I bet you’ll feel lighter physically, and thicker in the wallet. I call that a win-win.
3. Limit your alcohol consumption. You and your wallet will feel better.
Alcohol is expensive. No matter if you are a glass of wine with dinner or a cocktails at the bar kind of person, it will add up. I suggest limiting the amount of days you drink, maybe only on the weekend. I also suggest drinking most of your alcohol at home; we all know it’s cheaper that way! It’s not the most fun suggestion, but I think your body will thank you as much as your bank account.
4. Buy frozen or canned. For produce that isn’t in season.
Read the labels on frozen and canned items to make sure they aren’t swimming in preservatives. If they aren’t, this is a great healthy way to save money on out of season produce. They will last longer, and are usually pretty affordable.
5. Eat or freeze leftovers. One less meal to spend money on.
I am the first to admit that if I make a large meal or eat a restaurant, I don’t always want to eat the leftovers the next day. So I make a rule that if I don’t eat them in the 2-3 days post original meal, I freeze them. Be sure to label what they are so you don’t forget, and then you have a fun surprise meal for later.
6. Limit grocery trips. Make a plan and stick to it.
If you only go to the grocery store 1-2 times a week it will force you to finish out what you buy instead of wasting ingredients or having produce go bad. Making a meal plan for the week ahead of time will help you not forget anything, and can make it easier to limit your trips.
7. Stick to your list. Don’t just throw stuff in your cart.
I fall victim to the shiny grocery item allure all too often, but this can quickly deplete your grocery budget without even realizing it. When you limit your grocery trips to just the items on your pre-planned list, you can much more easily budget how much you will be spending per week. So keep your eyes on the prize.
8. Allow 1-2 treats per week. You deserve it.
While sticking to the list is important for your budget, I think treats are important for your mental health. Give yourself the freedom to buy one to two “treats” per week. Maybe this is a chocolate bar, or an expensive juice, or even that fancy cheese – whatever the case, give yourself some freedom here. It won’t blow the budget if you ration the frequency.
9. Try to make pantry staples at home. It’s so much cheaper.
Store bought “health food” items like nut milk and nut butter are pretty expensive at the store. So if you have the time, it will be extremely beneficial for you to start making these things at home. I would bet that it’s easier to do than you think, and in the long run it will save you a ton of money.
10. Buy in bulk. Especially spices and pantry staples.
Buying in bulk is a great way to be able to limit the amount of what you need. This way you can buy just a cup of rice, or tons of oats, or just a pinch of saffron instead of buying what is pre-portioned. It’s worth driving a little further to the grocery store that has a bulk section, because this will save you SO MUCH MONEY.
Over the next couple of months I’ll be covering tons of ways to be healthy on a budget. So keep an eye out for those and head over to Brewing Happiness for healthy recipe inspiration in the meantime!
Haley Hunt Davis is the voice behind Brewing Happiness, a food blog dedicated to celebrating healthier choices. Haley makes “health-ified” versions of everyone’s favorite foods, like pizza and chicken nuggets, as well as suggestions for how to make every dish fit one’s lifestyle. For more from Haley, follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.