When you’re on a budget and trying to save money, one of the worst mistakes you can make is sacrificing quality food. Good food not only improves your mood, but it is also the leading contributor to your overall health. Poor food can lead to a variety of nutrition problems, as well as heart disease and even dental issues.
Fortunately, there are ways to eat well and stay healthy when you’re on a budget. Try these tips to save money at the grocery store.
Skip organic food. Non-organic fruits, vegetables, and meat have all been scientifically proven to be just as nutritious as their organic counterparts. In blind taste tests, it was shown that nearly ninety percent of people could not tell the difference. Considering that some organic foods cost nearly twice as much as non-organic versions, you could cut grocery bill a lot by choosing non-organic.
Buy directly from the farmer. Shop at farmer’s markets or look for food co-ops in your area. Buying local produce can be a lot cheaper since there is no middleman. Fruits and vegetables bought this way also tend to be fresher.
Buy fruit in season. Learn which fruits and vegetables are grown in your area and what times of year they are harvested. They are usually cheapest immediately after harvesting. Learn how to can and freeze produce to take advantage of these low prices all year.
Prepare as much as you can at home. Restaurant meals often have a lot of additional fat and sodium; especially those meals with a lot of vegetables. You’ll cut your food budget significantly and feel better.
Stick to healthy and cheap foods for the bulk of your diet. Rice, oatmeal, and beans are known for their health properties, and they are also some of the cheapest food in the supermarket when purchased in bulk. Avoid the processed versions of these foods such as instant oatmeal and boxed flavored rice kits. These products are convenient, but they have a lot of added sugar and salt.
Buy meat in bulk. Many warehouse clubs and privately owned grocery stores offer their customers the options to buy large quantities of meat. Buying a dozen chickens or a whole cow (the store will cut it to your order) may seem like a lot, but you can save several dollars per pound of meat. If you like grass-fed beef or free-range chicken, this method of purchasing can save you a lot of money, especially if you buy directly from a farmer. If prepared properly, meat can last in the freezer for six months before its taste is affected.
Consider day-old produce and dairy. On the day that items expire, many stores significantly mark down the price. If you arrive early in the day, it’s possible to pick up gourmet cheese, cage-free eggs, and deluxe baked goods for pennies. Make sure you can eat whatever you buy within a day or two, or be prepared to freeze it and use it in a recipe later on.