Stretching a buck… How to shop smart & keep your healthy lifestyle!

With healthy eating becoming a new and exciting trend, more and more popular health food stores and markets seem to be popping up every couple of blocks. It doesn’t take much to find a spot where you can get local produce or a wide selections of fruits, veggies, and organic products. Maybe you’re really in to buying organic or maybe you just want really, really fresh and tasteful produce. Whatever your motive may be for shopping “healthy”, I’m sure there was a time or two when you’ve walked out of a market or grocery store thinking “how in the world did I spend that much money?!”

Grocery stores do a great job of making you think that they are giving you a great deal on “local” or “organic” produce. Pay a little more attention the next time you browse through the isles of your favorite health food/grocery store and really crunch some numbers in your brain.

“Apples, $0.69 each!”

“Almonds for $3.99.”

“Medium sized bag of chia seeds, only $6.99!”

Now go back and think about that…

Apples for $0.69, sounds great right? Let’s say 5 apples=1lb. Actually, in reality 5 apples is probably closer to 1.5/2 lbs, but we will stay with 1. That means you are paying $3.45 for 5 apples… that doesn’t seem as great when you can get 1lb of grapes for the same price right? How about the chia seeds? A little over-priced as well. Yes they are good for you, but you will use what…. a Tbsp/day max? Why are you paying $6.99 for something that you will barely use?

There was a period of time when I was spending a ridiculous amount of money on groceries. I remember walking out of a grocery store having spent $75 and only had 3 bags in my hand (mind you this was when I was vegetarian as well, so that does not include meat). It was then that I realized I needed to become a little smarter about spending and how I was shopping. Today, I’m going to share with you a few tips for shopping healthy on a budget. Now I spend anywhere from $25-35 dollars each visit to the grocery store, and yes… that does last me over a week AND includes a few chicken breasts here and there. Try using some of these tips and see if it help you shrink your spending instead of shrinking your wallet…happy shopping!

1. Look for a bulk-foods section. Often times you can find a bulk foods section in a grocery store, especially those that are marketed to sell local, fresh, or organic products such as Whole Foods, Sprouts, and even Kroger or Fry’s. This is where I purchase things like chia seeds, almonds or other nuts, and even sometimes trail mixes or specialty granola. Nuts, such as almonds, commonly run from $3.99-$5.99/lb. I typically never get a full pound, I get what looks right to me and what I think will last me about 1 month. When you compare this to that miniature can of almonds for $3.99, you will be shocked at just how much money you were wasting for very little product. This is also a great spot to get sugar, flour, nut butters, etc.

2. Freeze, freeze, freeze and take advantage of a current sale. No, this doesn’t work for everything but it can make a big difference when you do it right! I mainly use this concept with fresh fruit. When fruits like blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, etc. go on sale for “$0.88/pkg” I am all over them. I grab about 3-4 packs, take them home, wash them and cut them if I need to, then put them in a tightly sealed baggie or container and pop them in the freezer. A bag of frozen fruit can cost you anywhere from $2.99-$6.99 depending on the fruit. Make your own and save yourself some dollars!

I also use this concept with bread, bagels, tortillas, or other grain products as well!

3. Feel your fruit and veg. Sounds a little strange I know, but don’t get in the habit of just popping a few cucumbers into a bag or grabbing a bag of apples without feeling it first! If something has even a little bit of give, it will go bad within 3-4 days tops. Don’t waste your dollars just by being lazy! Look for firm skins, bright colors, and few brown spots or bruises to get the longest life out of your produce.

4. Don’t waste your time buying organic if it isn’t necessary. Yes, we’ve all heard of the “dirty dozen” and the “clean 13”. Well those lists were made for a reason! Buying organic just to buy organic isn’t going to help you become a healthier person, it is just going to burn a hole in your pocket that will have little to no repayment health wise. Why do you need an organic pretzel? I can answer that easily for you… you don’t!!

5. Look for the store brand. Most stores that are know for being “healthy” or “fresh” have a store brand. For example, Whole Foods has 365, Trader Joe’s has a store brand, Sprouts has a store brand, Kroger or Fry’s has Simple Truth. Look for store brands when buying packaged, bagged, or caned foods such as cereals, crackers, breads, pastas, dressings, etc. The store brand will usually save you at least $2 vs the other big name competitors.

6. Last but not least and probably my most important tip… eat something before you go shopping! If you don’t believe me on this one, test it out one time. Typically a hungry mind buys more and buys things that are unnecessary or uncommon to their usual grocery list. Don’t allow the tummy to shop for you!

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