The economy has hit a low point. However, you don’t have to start eating poorly to save yourself a buck. Here are some tips to help you eat healthy while you are conserving money.
Navigate The Farmers Market Like A Pro: Farmers markets are the go to place for fresh organic produce. The certified organic seal of approval is typically accompanied by a higher price tag compared to their pesticide ridden counterparts. Here’s how you get around the hike in cost. Chat up the farmers. I found at my local market that several of the stands I typically bypassed because they didn’t have a huge banner announcing their certification, where using organic farming techniques. I was humbled by the fact that the majority of the farms where in the process of being certified which takes several years. They have to prove that they have been using organic farming practices for quite some time. A lot of the farmers were only a year or a few months away from certification. The produce was cheaper without the label, but still organic!
Another way to buy organic on the cheap is to buy the “less than perfect” specimens. The ugly, ripest guys are cheaper. A little bruising never hurt anyone, especially if you’re using it in a smoothie the next morning.
Make H2O Your New Best Friend: Do you really need milk? Or that fizzy juice concoction? High fructose corn syrup laden drinks are not only horrible for you, but cost money you don’t really need to spend. Stick to H2O (and maybe some wine) and save yourself calories and dollars.
Spice It Up:Pass on those pricey sauces or dressing and spice up your dishes with cheaper options. Never underestimate the power of onions and garlic! Super cheap compared to that six dollar organic teriyaki sauce flown in from Japan. Hit up Costco for items like olive oil and vinegar in bulk. Grow your own herbs and add them to every dish. Viola!
Swap Out Meat: Instead of reaching for the grass fed beef, pick up a can of lentils. Beans and legumes harbor tons of protein and cost pennies compared to organic meats. You don’t need to become a vegetarian, maybe just buy enough meat for two meals a week.
Stay In:Eating out causes the largest dent in my food budget. Not only is dining out more expensive than the home cooked version, it’s probably not nearly as healthy. You don’t smother your omelette in butter at home, why pay more to eat worse food? Coffee is a big budget buster for me. It’s just too easy to hit up Starbucks on my way to work, but I have to remind myself that 3 dollars a day adds up quick. Pack lunches and snacks so you won’t buy on the go. I know staying in to eat isn’t always the most fun, but that’s just one more reason to invite friends and family over. Make it a potluck and save even more.
Plan Your Meals: A tried and true method of many mothers out there is to plan all of your meals for the week. Make a list of every ingredient for each meal and only buy what you need. That way you don’t over buy or stock up on things you already have in the pantry (source).
I have been doing many of these tips myself. Going to farmers markets, and planning out your meals can make a big difference in your budget. Meat is also very expensive, so adding in a meat free dinner at least once a week can save you roughly 7 dollars. You don’t have to live on drive through dollar menus to save money during these tough times.
(CES, PES, CPT, BS)