I would have thought I’d have been the last person to do a post about healthy eating on a budget. That makes it sound like I’m made of money or have found the secret money tree. Well, I’m not and I haven’t – but it’s no secret that I love a good foodie splurge, if you will. When I didn’t have as many obligations as I do now, it was a lot easier, and I’ve gradually roped myself in to watch my spending a bit more on my trips to the grocery store.
It might help in a contradictory manner that there’s something about equestrians that requires us to own extras of everything, so I have that to splurge on too. Why yes, yes I do need more than one saddle, bridle, saddle pad, girth, brush, etc, etc, etc – even if I only consistently ride one horse.
So, how did I start being a little more watchful of my wallet? Here’s what I’ve started doing, maybe you can find some use, too!
- Buy what’s on sale, and clip coupons! It’s difficult with “healthy” food, since all too often you’ll find tons of sales and coupons for junk foods, and not so many when it comes to health and natural foods. But, there’s almost always coupons direct from company websites, and every little thing helps. My grocery store will even double coupons under $1, which makes me really happy when I find a coupon for save $1 and I’m really saving $2. See, I really am frugal at heart. Additionally, I’ve begun buying the fruits and veggies that are on sale (that I like), and not every veggie known to man that is more expensive than any other. It hasn’t been repetitive yet, and this way I still allow myself one or two new finds/experiments.
- Plan your trips. I don’t know about you guys – but every time I run in for one thing, I think of a couple other things I could get too. And then, oh, you know – since I’m spending so little – why not try this, too? And this? And then it’s not such a little shopping trip anymore. I’ve finally gotten over this hurdle and can run in a store for just one or two things – but on my “big trip” I make a list so I don’t go in there not knowing what I need and some recipes in mind I’ve been dying to try. Okay, that and I can hardly remember what I wore yesterday, let alone that I need more yogurt or oatmeal. This includes having some recipes in mind, but not necessarily meal planning if you don’t want to.
- I really don’t need five kinds of jam. I’m actually still convincing myself of this, and same goes for nut-butters. It’s a WIP, but I’m getting better. These things take time, you know. Though my new $3 PB is a great find. Although I can’t say I won’t still be buying expensive nut butters. I guess that’s my weakness. Which brings me to my next point.
- I allow myself a weakness/splurge. Because, even if I am trying to be conservative, I’m still a foodie at heart and just want to try everything. My main weakness now is nut butters, fruits, and veggies. I feel like that might be a general consensus 😉
- I stock up on sale days with pantry items. Things like canned beans on sale for 69 cents? Um, why not? I’m always going through cans of them, and it just makes sense to get them on sale. I guess the dried beans are even cheaper – but I always just go the canned route. I guess I shouldn’t be giving money-saving advice, huh? Pretty much anything shelf-stable that I eat and see on sale and could use sometime within the next couple weeks anyways, I’ll grab if I’ve got the extra bucks. Just watch the labels and make sure they’re not clouded in sodium, and I’ve seen tons of canned fruits with HFCS and weird oils. Huh?!
- Make your own food. Enter: bars, seitan, lunch, breakfast, coffee. I used to have an “I’ll eat out any day,” attitude – and now I’m all about packing! Not to mention, making a salad or some seitan on a weekend can last almost all week if you need it to, and even though bars on sale for 10/$10 is hard to resist – making your own bars is usually cheaper, too.
- Frozen food is not always an enemy. Frozen veggies, actually – are often a great way to go. And I’m always seeing them on sale and with coupons! Some do include dressings and are not just the veg – but it all depends. And some are great mixes where you’re really getting a bunch of different veggies all in the same box! I’d even read that frozen veggies can sometimes even be better for you as they’re frozen right as they’re picked – sealing in all the nutrients. And same goes for frozen fruit!
- Grow your own. Cost of a 6-pack of peppers? I don’t think I even paid $3! Even if I only grow one pepper, I’ve beat the grocery store cost of $3.99/lb.
- Bring along your reusable bag! Not only is it environmentally friendly, but some stores even give you a couple cents off per bag. So, I say bring at least a dozen bags and put one thing in them all 😉
- Buy store brands. For most things, at least. I mean, really – a big tub of Quaker oats is highly likely to be identical to a store brand. Same goes for a bunch of brands, and give you the choice of organic or not, too! Just compare labels.
- Reduced produce can be a lifesaver! My favorite is when I can find three bundles of super-ripe bananas for just $2. An oatmeal lovers dream! And in summer, just freeze a bunch for banana soft-serve, too. Cheapest ice-cream you’ll ever eat!
- Buy in bulk. Unfortunately, I don’t have a membership to a costco or a sam’s club – but I’m sure some of you do. And there’s debate as to whether bulk bins are sanitary at all, so I won’t preach on that issue, but I will say I do get some stuff from them.
And here’s your reminder to enjoy your pasta…
Olive Oil – 1 t. = ~ $0.15
Tomato – 1 whole = ~$0.75
Whole Wheat Penne – 1 serving = $0.16
Red Pepper – 1/4 of a large =~$0.75 (?)
Homemade Black Bean Cutlet (uhhhh….)
salt, pepper, dried basil
Feta Cheese – On sale + coupon brought this to only $1.50! so let’s say $0.15
and pine nuts – admittedly, purchased before I “frugal’d up” at $20/lb.
…you do the math. And compare it to how much you’d spend on this at an Italian restaraunt! (of course…you’re liable to get about 4 servings these days, but I digress…)
What do you do to save money at the store?