How to Save Money While Eating Healthfully

Guest post from Pam of Be Healthy Be Happy Wellness

Want to save money on whole foods? Prefer not to purchase convenience food items? Maybe you’re just not interested in figuring out coupons?

Don’t worry, there are still several ways to get substantial savings on your groceries:

1.  Buy what’s in season.

This one is my favorite tip — not only will you be purchasing your produce at it’s lowest price, it’s more likely to be local, fresh, and taste better! We tend to eat a lot of apples in the fall, asparagus in the spring, and tomatoes in the summer.

If you are interested in a wider variety of produce year-round, buy it when it’s in season and freeze or can extra for the rest of the year. We do this with blueberries, peaches and apples.

For example, I never have to purchase a pint of blueberries for $4 in the winter. Instead, I can pull a bag from the freezer that were frozen the day after they were picked (and purchased for $2 a pound!). Let’s face it, a winter blueberry shipped all the way across the country just doesn’t taste as good as one picked in July!

2.  Check out your local farmer’s market.

Even here in the Midwest, we are starting to get winter farmer’s markets — yes, the selection is a bit more limited, but the produce is fresh, reasonably priced, and healthful!

In the summer, when the competition (and prices) are fiercer, a great way to get extra savings is to offer to buy a large quantity from a farmer. Often, you can get a better price if you buy in bulk. Then, split your bulk purchase with a friend if you don’t need (or can’t use) it all before it goes bad.

3.  Buy straight from the source.

Anyone eating a whole foods diet knows that meat is the most expensive part of the meal! A great way to save on meat (and ensure the quality is what you want for your family), is to purchase directly from a local farmer.

Many farmers will sell their meat in portions (1/4 or 1/2 a cow or pig is a great size for a family of four to six). If that’s still too much meat for your family, find some friends to go in on the meat with you.

We purchase our meat once a year from a local farmer who raises his livestock in an organic, grass-fed manner. Yes, that one-time-a-year the bill is high, but we have delicious meat the rest of the year and our monthly grocery bill tends to be quite low.

4.  Plan your meals around what’s in season.

This tip ties right along with #1 and #3. I look at the ad to determine what produce is on sale and in season, and plan my weekly meals based upon those items along with a variety of the meat that’s already in my freezer. It’s easy to menu plan and my weekly grocery bill stays low!

5.  Make your own desserts and snacks.

Don’t buy the individual packaged goodies. They cost a fortune!

Instead, once a week, make up a batch of cookies, a tray of muffins, or a loaf of quick bread and then portion them out into individual servings.  Your kids won’t complain about eating the same cookie and quick bread for a week if it’s delicious!

For snacks, think of easy things like air popped popcorn, cut up veggies and fruits with dip, or a small cheese and cracker plate.

Enjoy these tips and apply them to your own shopping — you’ll find yourself eating better and saving money at the same time!

Pam Howard is a Holistic Health Coach who specializes in helping busy moms (and others) become healthier, so they can enjoy a happy, fulfilling life. Find her at Be Healthy Be Happy Wellness 

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  1. Heather says

    Agree with all of the ideas.

    Regarding the last tip: I have recently stopped buying crackers and similar items. We have a discount store where you can get the name-brands for about $1 a box, so I rationalized that it wasn’t much money. Plus, the convenience of slapping some crackers down in front of the kids was great! And I only got the “healthier” choices, like Wheat Thins and pretzels. But some of my children were only eating crackers and never wanting fruit, and so I just stopped. Amazingly, they haven’t complained. Now for snacks, it’s fruit, nuts, cheese, popcorn, carrot sticks, etc. Still convenient, but I feel so much better about it. Probably not any cheaper than the discount crackers, but that’s okay. My picky eater still isn’t loving fruit, but she is eating better at meals now.

  2. Susan says

    In addition to the farmer’s market, try you-pick places. My kids love to pick a gallon of strawberries, green beans, blueberries, peaches or whatever when it’s in season and after a week or so whatever is not eaten I freeze for winter. It’s an active activity and gets us eating fresh local produce.

  3. Amber S says

    Another great way I’ve saved money on produce is through a co-op. We have Bountiful Baskets here (check to see if they’re near you or would be willing to help you start a new site!) Every other week, for $15, I get a basket of each fruits and veggies. The variety can’t be beat, and it’s a great value for what you get. We generally get 5-7 varities each of fruits and vegetables. I live in a small town 45 minutes from a grocery store, so this helps keep fresh produce between trips to town (every 3-4 weeks).

  4. Kim says

    We do a “pick you’r own blueberry farm. We get a pound of blueberries for 75 cents. We can also do strawberries for about $1 per pound. That is ridiculously cheap!! We don’t have much eles on the way of “pick your own” here (we are in NW FL) (I would LOVE to do tomatoes and squash and we have never had any luck growing them!) But we do have farmers market and I can find some great things there on the weekends.

    • says

      WOW! I would love to get blueberries and strawberries for that price!

      From what I’ve read, your tomato and squash season is different there in Florida, with fresh tomatoes in February. I hear October is a good time to set plants out there because it is cool enough.

      Tomatoes won’t set fruit above 90º (we have 5 months of temperatures over 90º where I live in the desert; our tomatoes will grow 8-9 feet tall but won’t produce fruit during that time). Squash tends to have much of the same problem; I have to hand pollinate them. The tomato plants won’t even flower once it gets so hot.

      See if you can get a local growing calender that helps you know when to plant, and I’ll bet you can get more to grow than you think! It was long thought that bluberries only grow where it’s cold, but Florida growers have experimented with certain varities to help you get them, and obviously in abundance at that price! You have great soil there and humidity; tomatoes are technically a tropical plant.

      Keep trying!

    • Andrea says

      We pay more than twice that for pick-your-own here in New England. Sometimes the grocery store is cheaper, but the taste doesn’t compare!

      • Wendy says

        Same here in NC. Our strawberry season went out last month and even when I picked my own they were $2 per pound. But the taste is better so I will pay that price.

    • says

      It seems “pick your own” are a novelty so they are always more expensive than what is in the store. It’s also an event so they run out fast.

  5. says

    In addition, grow your own!

    We eat in season from the garden; right now it’s apricots, plums, blackberries, and apples (we have more apples that ripen in the fall; these are early apples so as to always have fresh fruit) along with zucchini (soon!), Swiss chard, green onions, tomatoes, and herbs. Very soon we’ll have grapes. I don’t get a lot of most of those things, but it helps a lot!

  6. Meredith says

    If you know someone that gardens, don’t be afraid to ask to have or buy any extra produce. Most people that garden have more than enough to eat, can, and freeze. I love to give away my stuff but people have admitted to being afraid to ask. Just ask or if you feel more comfortable, ask to buy.

    • Andrea says

      We swap with friends. For whatever reason, I can grow killer green peppers. Last year, I swapped a few for green beans with our best friends who can’t get peppers to grow in their yard at all.

  7. Heather C says

    These are great tips but I just had to laugh at the last one. I agree with the concept and practice it as much as possible but making a batch of cookies, tray of muffins or a loaf of quick bread once a week does not go far with four kids, two of them teenage boys! I’d love to hear from moms of big families how they fill in the holes that are left after good meals are eaten and the homemade snacks are gone.

    • Andrea says

      I have four kids and a husband with zero self control around sweets. I make two loaves of pumpkin bread at a time or a double batch of cookies. When that disappears, there is fruit, carrots and yogurt. We also do cheese and crackers and trail mix made from raw nuts and raisins (bought in bulk). When I have the time and motivation, I bake snacks twice each week.

  8. says

    I’ve just started trying our local farmer’s markets out here. They are a bit of a drive from my place but it feels so good to be buying veggies that are in season and straight from the ground! The one we went to most recently was right in the middle of the actual farm so it was fun:

    I agree that with a little bit of planning and ahead of time prep, you can have wonderful, healthy homemade snacks for your kids. I really like for healthy, homemade snack recipes like crackers.

  9. kat says

    thanks so much for this article. i am trying to be healthier because i’ve noticed my cupboards full of processed foods and just cleared it all out because i’ve been really sluggish lately. Another great tip is to shop at ethnic grocery stores. We got to this mexican grocery store in california called El Super. They have really cheap produce on Wednesdays. This week we got cherries for 99cents a pound, oranges are 4 lbs for 99 cents, etc. the prices and the produce are amazing! You just have to go early because it is super packed!! I started juicing and eating healthy so with these prices, i will be thin again and only my wallet will be fat :)

    • Mandi says

      We live in So CA, and I LOVE Wednesday produce day at the Mexican grocery stores, too. We have one called Best Way near us and it is not uncommon to get cucumbers 10 for a $1, pinapples $1 each, bananans 4 lbs. for a dollar, oranges for 6 to 8 lbs. for a dollars, mangos 2 for a $1, etc. It’s crazy and has made a huge difference in how much produce we are able to eat and our budget. When I let got of all other deal hunting if things get crazy, I try to still do this! I also have pretty good luck with produce at the 99 cent store. I can often get organic romaine and spinach, cantaloupe, watermelon, and cauliflower.

      • says

        The ones I’ve been in are dirty so I’ve been nervous to buy anything. Also the few things I’ve picked up looked like they wouldn’t last more than a day.

  10. Amy says

    I love all of these tips! Great post!

    We love pick-your-own places as well…we live in N. IA and there is a strawberry farm as well as an apple orchard not far from our little town. We save so much (even with the gas $ it takes to travel there) and it gets our kids out and learning about fresh foods & what a strawberry REALLY tastes like right out of the ground or an apple off the tree. They are so much more flavorful! We freeze a lot of strawberries and it’s so nice to have ‘fresh’ strawberries when it’s below zero out! :-) We love to can apple pie filling and applesauce in the fall too.

    Also we have two amish grocery stores close to our town and we love to stop in and check it out as often as possible. We’ve gotten some really great prices on fresh fruit & veggies…like a tray of tomatoes (5 big ones) for $1.49 total and 49cent heads of lettuce. Also they had preservative free lunchmeat about to expire for 79cents a pound! It made an awesome picnic lunch for our family. The other grocery has bulk spices and flours…it makes eating gluten free a lot less expensive. I get spices for under a $0.40 per ounce as well!

    It pays to look or ask around and find these hidden gems!

    • says

      Amish grocery – what a great idea. That would be a fun one when you are traveling too!

      I’ve found that even Whole Foods (which is normally EXPENSIVE) had good prices on bulk foods – and spices – especially if you just need a small amount.

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