I promised to talk a little bit about a question I get asked ALL the time. How do I afford to eat healthy?
It seems like every one has been tricked into the notion that eating healthy has to be expensive. It doesn't. That being said, I truly believe in setting aside more money for healthy and nutritious foods. I would rather have a fridge full of good food, and the supplements I need than to go out drinking or buy a new pair of shoes. I budget accordingly. However, if you are on a tight budget already and want to eat as healthy as possible, here are some of my tips.
1. Make a list - shop with a list, and only buy what you wrote down on the list. I love to use Plan to Eat which creates shopping lists for me, based on what meals I have planned for the week. Another great resource is to create a shopping list that includes all of your favourite healthy foods where you can circle, highlight or check what foods you need for the week. My free Mini Wellness Guide has a mini grocery list that you can use for this. Sign up for email updates to receive this pdf link.
2. Never go to the grocery store hungry. Eat a snack or have a small meal before you go. This is so important, because we make impulsive buys when we are hungry and end up leaving with WAY more food than we need - which leads to waste.
3. Buy in season food as much as possible. Not only are foods that are in season more nutritious and easier on our digestive systems, they are usually more affordable when in season. You have all probably noticed when asparagus is $9.99 a pound and then goes down to $3.99 a pound when it is in season. Buy it then. Seasonal produce is also great because it usually has more of what we need in it for a specific season. Here in Canada, in the colder months you see a lot of squash and more carbohydrate dense root vegetables available, this is because we need warming foods, whereas in the summer you can get watermelon at a much more affordable price and these foods tend to be higher in water content and more cooling.
4. Buy organic as much as possible, but if you can't afford to buy all organic buy the clean fifteen as non-organic and ensure you are buying the dirty dozen all organic. To help you out here is EWG's great Clean Fifteen & Dirty Dozen list's, you can get a PDF copy at their website.
5. Buy local. I am really lucky to live in a city with a local farmers market at our mall in the summer, but also to have so many food box services available. You can get a box of produce at a great price that has local and organic produce in it, all while supporting local farmers. You can also look for a local food co-op that you can become a member at or volunteer at.
Here are a few great local options:
The London Food Co-op
Eat Green Organics
The Food Box Project
And these are just a few options! Search for some great options in your area. You can also volunteer and help at community gardens OR start your own vegetable garden in your own backyard.
6. When at the grocery store, avoid going down the isles. Try to shop as much as possible in the perimeter of the store. This is normally where the fresh food is. This keeps you from buying processed crap or things that are devoid of nutrients and high in calories, fat, sugar, and salt.
7. Consider buying in bulk. Things like flours, nuts, seeds, protein powders, supplemental poweders (such as wheatgrass) are usually cheaper at a bulk food store. Save those things on your list for there.
8. Buy whole ingredients and make your own pasta sauces, guacamole, hummus, etc. Not only will they taste better, but they will have less preservatives and other nasties in them and the whole ingredients you buy can be used for multiple things.
9. If you have a Costco membership - buy certain things there. Coconut oil is cheaper, you can get great Organic products such as frozen fruit and veggies, they now carry a wide variety of gluten free pasta's, quinoa and rice. If you don't go with a friend who does and purchase specific things from them.
10. Shop with flyers. Go to a grocery store that either has a sale, or will price match another grocery store. It may be a pain in the butt - however, you can save money and might even be able to shop for everything at one store.
And there you have it, my 10 top tips to successful grocery shopping.