Healthy Eating on a Budget

20161023_105616.jpgWhen you think of healthier eating habits, what’s the next thought you have?  Do you think about losing weight?  Do you think about vegetables?  Do you think about starving yourself to death?  Our society has equated healthy eating habits with several of those things.  However, my first thought while I was in the contemplative stage of change was the cost.   Prior to starting this journey, my wife and I were already spending way too much on food.  The mere idea of increasing that bill was a very unwelcome idea.  Sound familiar?

Take a second and type “healthy eating cost” into a search engine.  No really, I’ll wait.  What were your results?  Did you find articles that would discourage change?  I did.  Once I set out to the grocery store to embark on my new journey to health, I was IMMEDIATELY questioning whether this would be something we could maintain after we got that first $300 bill.   That question got worse after we ended up needing to go grocery shopping only a week later.  I don’t consider myself to be poor, but I definitely can’t afford a $300/week grocery bill.

Today , I would love to share some tips I have learned to cut our bill down by over 71% from that first week – a cost even LOWER than our original unhealthy grocery bill!!!

  • Do some research.
    • Spend some time online collecting every recipe idea that you can find within your desired food or calorie limits. You may never make ANY of these recipes (we haven’t), but these will get you started in training your brain what foods to be looking for and how they cooperate with other foods.  From these recipes, you can also begin to build a list of basic, repeating foods that you can buy and use in multiple healthy food creations (ahem,… chicken… cough, cough).  This will help you to prioritize where to put your money for the most impact on your diet.
  • Visit alternative food stores.
    • Let’s face it!  We are creatures of habit.  My wife and I fell into the same ritual when it came to buying food.  New stores had moved in and old stores had renovated since we developed our routine.  Though we always planned to visit/compare, we never actually did that.  While we were going through our routine, a local Aldi store went through MAJOR renovations and had begun taking plastic forms of payment (a huge plus for us) and focusing on the healthy food market.  Who knew?  Probably millions, but the important thing was we didn’t.  Take the time to visit other places to obtain your food supply.  We have visited several grocers and even local farmer’s markets in an attempt to find the cheapest places to buy our food.
  • Think outside the box (well, my box…).
    • I have a very dear friend that saves about $30 a week on groceries by utilizing cheaper forms of protein than meat.  Meat tastes great and that is my preferred method of eating protein; however, there are many other sources of protein that you can build a meal around that are much cheaper.  Try using beans in your recipes or adding walnuts to a salad to get those healthy fats and proteins into your meals.  I am no longer buying fresh fruit to add to my plain, greek yogurt.  These days, I buy a package of freeze dried fruit that I can crush into a powder and use at my own pace rather than having a small window of freshness to consume them.
  • Buy in bulk/online.
    • As I was walking through Wal-Mart this weekend, I noticed that they are now carrying a brand of coconut oil that I purchased online.  The big difference?  I purchased a container that was at LEAST five times bigger for a few dollars more than the small container they were selling.  Sometimes those bulk prices can be scary, but making the initial sacrifice can lead to HUGE savings in the future.
  • Buy local.
    • Foods that are packaged, frozen, and transported long distances are often more pricey than foods that are grown, caught, and sold locally.  Spending time to find places that you can buy local berries, meat, and fish leads to foods that cost less and are frequently more fresh than the stuff you may find at the grocery store.  There are local farms around here that sell all kinds of produce at great prices while their crops are in season.  Take the time to stop and buy those great foods and freeze them to get you through those long and pricey seasons that these foods aren’t in season.
  • FORGET ORGANIC!
    • While there is a legitimate market out there that is trying to make food available that is grown in as natural methods as possible, there is also a market out there that is designed to take your money!  Educate yourself on what it means when a food is labeled organic and the potential dangers of “organic” processes before you make the decision to spend your money on a label.  My wife and I don’t make this an issue in our grocery shopping, but our decision may not be right for you.

When we started our journey, our first grocery bill was $300!  It was insane.  However, by learning these lessons, we have been able to drop our grocery bill to about $85 each week on average.  Our grocery bill is even cheaper than it was before we started this journey!   It is my hope that you can take our experiences and avoid those first few weeks of terrible grocery bills.  Remember, this is not a forced process.  Slow down, take a deep breath, and then invest the time to shop smartly (this will take time), but it gets easier.

For now, though, it’s back to taking my life back…

  • September 11, 2016: 450+pounds
  • Today:  411 pounds
  • Total loss:  39 pounds (14.6% of my total excess body weight)

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6 thoughts on “Healthy Eating on a Budget

  1. Really enjoyed this read. The amount of money I spend on groceries is ridiculous! I feel like I spend almost double now than when took no thought to making healthy choices. Your journey is really encouraging!

    Liked by 1 person

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