Eating Healthy on a Budget
I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite a while now. Yet, being the kind of person who can only START something when they have an overview of the task at hand, I waited. I wanted to be sure my list of budget tips was complete, and that it included everything that has helped me stay within my budget each month!
Whether you do or don’t work with a grocery budget, this list is helpful to anyone! There’s so many ways we can save money (as well as save the planet) while eating healthy, some of which I wasn’t even aware of before embarking on my ‘grocery budget journey’. I hope these tips can help or inspire you in one way or another!
1. Cook at Home
This may be the most obvious tip, but I’m still going to put it on here! If you have a busy life, it’s so easy to eat out, order in, or even just to stock up on the ready-made meals available in abundance at the grocery store these days.
However, cooking at home really doesn’t have to take up that much extra time! Just dedicating one or two days of the week to do groceries and/or meal prep can save you quite a bit of pennies. I personally recommend buying a variety of fruit, veggies, protein, fat and starch options that you can mix-and-match throughout the week as oppose to planning out all your meals for the week. I used to do the latter, but realized it only gave me more stress and actually took a lot of time! Not to mention, it didn’t really allow for much room when it came to honoring what my body wanted to eat in the moment.
2. Write Down your Staples
Creating a staple grocery list was probably the most time AND money-saving investment I’ve ever made. I used to spend several hours in a week just doing grocery-related tasks such as creating grocery lists and going back and forth to the grocery store because there was always something I was out of, or forgot to buy on my grocery trip earlier in the week.
Taking the time to really sit down and write down EVERYTHING I use on a day-to-day basis saved me the time of making a new grocery list (usually with almost the same items!) every couple days. If you shop at different grocery stores for different (specialty) products, it can also be really helpful to note the current prices of certain staples, as well as where they’re cheapest.
3. Buy unprepared food
This tip technically falls under the first bullet, but I figured I’d still give it its own section because it is often overlooked. Technically, making a stir-fry from a $5 pack of ready-to-eat zucchini noodles is cooking at home, but that’s still quite a lot of money compared to making your own noodles from whole zucchinis that cost only $1 per squash! Nowadays, you can find almost anything pre-made, pre-cooked, or pre-cut, that it can be tempting to not do it DIY-style!
But again, couple hours a week to slice, rice, cut, chop, cook, and/or freeze your weekly fruits, veggies, and protein can be enough to save you that extra money you've been spending on pre-packaged foods!
I rice my own cauliflower every week and freeze in Ziploc bags. Only takes about 10 minutes and saves so much money!
4. Buy the fruit & veggie misfits
Only recently did I realize this was even a thing! Most organic grocery stores have a stand/section where any ‘not so pretty’ produce ends up. At my local EkoPlaza, everything on this stand is about 50% off, which can give you an incredible deal if you buy a lot (or all) of your produce organic.
The Albert Heijn (most popular grocery store here in NL) also has a produce line called ‘buitenbeentjes’. These products unfortunately do only come in larger quantities (for example, you can’t buy a single cucumber or zucchini, they come in a pack of 3-4), so you do want to make sure you’re going to use it all up! Others we’re wasting food, and no food goes wasted over here! I eat cucumbers everyday and often freeze 2 of the zucchini’s for smoothie bowls, so for me that’s not a problem.
5. Buy from Online Retailers
There are several online retailers that offer healthy foods for huge discounts! I’m currently subscribed to Kazidomi, an online supermarket that has all my healthy & organic groceries covered! Before shopping, you can even select your preferences such as vegan, gluten-free, high protein, etc, making it easier for you to find your favorite products.
By registering on Kazidomi.nl, you get access to daily discounts and deals. The products are then delivered straight to your door within 2 days. To get €20 off your yearly subscription to Kazidomi, you can enter my code LIV20 before purchasing!
6. Eat Local & What’s in Season
It’s easier for me to do this now because I’m pretty obsessed with strawberries and all spring/summer fruit, but this tip really makes a huge impact when it comes to shopping on a budget!
The reason local and seasonal produce is cheaper is simply because it doesn’t have to go through any middlemen! Produce that is not in season has often been transported halfway around the world to get to your store, which YOU end up paying for. The methods of transport for these goods is not beneficial to the environment either.
If you have a difficult time buying local or what’s in season, there’s several retailers that can help you out! I love Farmed Today (based in the Netherlands) because they are sustainable and source all of their products as locally as possible.
7. Buy in Bulk
Of course, only do this if you KNOW you’re going to eat all of whatever you’re bulk buying before it goes bad! Almost everything is cheaper (per serving) when you buy a larger amount, especially if it’s one of your staples.
8. The Freezer is your Friend
The strawberries were on sale and you bought a bit too many to eat while they’re still fresh? Slice off the stems and freeze em! Perfect for smoothies, jams, baking…
While figuring out how to get the best bang for my buck when it comes to budget shopping, I’ve found out that you can really almost freeze anything!
I’ve been freezing lots of summer berries as they’re currently even cheaper fresh than frozen. I also love freezing coconut milk or tomato sauce in ice cube trays when I buy cans/jars. This way you can just pop out and defrost the cubes whenever you need them in a recipe without feeling the pressure of immediately cooking up a meal for a whole family!
Even plant-based proteins such as beans, tofu, and tempeh freeze well! Just be sure to portion them out before freezing, so you don’t have to defrost the whole block (because then you can’t freeze again).
I can’t believe I’m already at point 9 and am just mentioning sales now 😂I feel like ‘sales’ are always the first thing people turn to when it comes to eating on a budget, but clearly there’s so many more! Still, sales are a great way to save even more money.
My go-to grocery stores (EkoPlaza and Albert Heijn) usually have week-long sales that you should be able to see at the beginning of the week. I always look at the sales before going shopping so I can plan out my meals based off of any special discounts or offers.
I’ve found that sales go hand-in-hand with bulk buying and freezing if you want to maximize your savings. Buy large amounts of whatever’s on sale and freeze anything perishable!
10. Use Discount Codes for Supplements
There’s a lot of amazing products in the wellness industry these days, from plant-based protein powder to collagen to superfoods! Unfortunately, many of these products can get quite pricey. That’s when using discount codes can be super helpful for keeping your budget in check!
I have a discount code for most of my (current) favorite health foods which can be found on my Favorites page.
I hope these tips help you in one way or another! What are your favorite ways to eat healthy on a budget? I’d love to hear!