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Healthy Grocery Shopping on a Budget

Moving towards a healthier lifestyle can be an exciting but often daunting task, especially when it comes to grocery shopping. Walking into the grocery store is increasingly overwhelming with shelf upon shelf of items claiming to be healthy [link to How ‘healthy’ foods are derailing our health article], so how to do you shop for healthy groceries without spending your whole paycheck?

There are some very simple ways to get the most out of your money when grocery shopping, we have put together a list of tips and tricks that will help you get everything you need for a week of healthy meals without spending too much money.

  1. Make a plan: Before you go grocery shopping, plan what you are going to be cooking and eating that week. This will help you avoid multiple trips to the grocery store, which often end up being costly. It is a good idea to look at the weekly flier if your grocery store has one, as there is typically sales on fruits, vegetables, and proteins.
  2. Visit your Farmer’s Market: Farmer’s markets are a great place to buy fresh fruit and vegetables directly from the farmers themselves. Though not always the case, the prices tend to be a little lower than grocery stores and you have the opportunity to taste before you buy to make sure you are getting great quality goods. At most farmer’s markets, the prices tend to get dropped towards the end of the day as they are closing up shop. This is a great time to do your shopping and get excellent deals.
  3. Purchase in season: Purchasing in season is not only a great way to help the environment (less transportation), it is also a great way to save some money. Tomatoes in the summer are going to be less expensive than if you purchase them in the middle of winter, so when they are in season stock-up. If you stock-up while certain fruits and vegetables are in season, you can freeze or preserve them for use throughout the year.
  4. Opt for less expensive cuts of meat: There are many inexpensive cuts of meat that can be turned into a delicious and juicy meal when prepared the right way. Slow cooking is a great way to take advantage of these cuts, plus if you have a crockpot you can easily make a low-effort meal that will feed you throughout the week.
  5. Prep ahead of time: If you take a few hours over the weekend to prep you will have food ready to go for the week, helping you to resist the urge to order take-out or buy unhealthy items. If you roast chicken and vegetables, cook a large batch of grain, and cut fruit on Sunday you will have everything you need to quickly throw together a healthy, delicious meal for lunch or dinner throughout the week.
  6. Repurpose last night’s leftovers: Leftovers are a great way to get the most out your groceries. However, this does not mean eating the same thing all week. For example, a roast chicken can be turned into a delicious salad or tacos with a few added ingredients and spices.
  7. Take advantage of beans and whole grains: Beans and whole grains are a great way to add bulk to meals without spending a lot of money. Both whole grains and beans add nutrition, including protein, complex carbohydrates and vitamins & minerals.
  8. Stick to the outer aisles: The inner of the aisles of the grocery store is where you will find chips, candy and other unhealthy foods, but if you stick to shopping the perimeter of the store you will make healthier and less expensive choices. The outer aisles are where you will find fruits and vegetables, meat, and dairy, all of which can be vital parts of a healthy diet. Processed snacks and meals tend to be full of unhealthy ingredients or preservatives to keep them shelf stable, plus the prices add up quickly for a relatively small amount of food.

Healthy grocery shopping does not have to be stressful or expensive, the most important thing to keep in mind is to make a plan. Pick out recipes and meals ahead to shopping and make a detailed shopping list of what you need to buy -stick to your list! With a little planning and the strength to resist the Oreos, sticking to a healthy and affordable shopping list is easy.

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