The cost of healthy food can blow out your food shopping budget.
This fact can make it very challenging to still eat well while watching your pennies.
Don't despair because there are still many ways you can eat a wide variety of whole foods.
Here are 20 ways you can save money when buying healthy food.
1. Write a Meal Plan
This one tip will save you so much more money.
Planning is paramount.
Set aside one day of the week and decide what you are going to eat for the week to come.
Write down all the ingredients you need.
Go through your pantry or cupboard and fridge and see what you have. It's amazing how much stuff you have pushed to the back that is still useable.
By planning what you need you will reduce wastage by not throwing unused items.
2. Buy Only What's On The List
Stick to the plan.
Don't get distracted and buy potentially expensive items that you don't need.
Supermarkets have all the whole foods on the fringes so shop there first. Fill up with the best stuff first then there is less room for discretionary items.
The middle of the store is where you find the majority of heavily processed foods that are less nutritious. The ends of the aisles and shelves at eye level are where the most tempting and expensive items will be.
There are many smartphone apps that can help with shopping lists also. These are a great way to make life easier.
3. Cook At Home
Cooking at home is so much cheaper than eating out.
By using the plan you created you'll be more inclined to eat at home rather than succumb to the last minute decision to eat out.
For the cost of one meal at a restaurant you could buy enough food to eat for at least a couple of days at home.
Some people like to prepare their meals for the week on a weekend while others will cook on the day.
By using only the ingredients you bought you know exactly what's in your meals.
4. Make More Than You Need And Use The Leftovers
This is sometimes referred to as batch cooking when you cooking larger meals.
It can save you time and money.
The leftovers can be used for lunch the next day or frozen to be used later.
They can be turned into other meals like stews, curries, stir-fries and burritos. These are all good meals if you're on a budget.
5. Avoid Shopping When Hungry
This will lead to impulse buying and straying from your list.
Those middle store food items will have more chance of ending up in your basket.
Shopping when hungry can lead to you blowing out the budget on less nutritious more expensive foods.
Grab a piece of fruit, yoghurt or other healthy snack before heading to the supermarket.
6. Focus On Buying Whole Foods
Compare the cost of less processed foods.
For example a block of cheese is cheaper than buying already shredded cheese.
Bulk items like oats and brown rice are always cheaper per serve than their processed cousins.
And because they are sold in bulk they provide many more servings per bag or box.
7. Consider Buying Generic or Supermarket Brands
Step into any major supermarket chain and they will be selling their own branded items at a cheaper price.
All foods have to be made a certain quality standard so you'll still be getting a good product at a price lower than the more expensive name brand item.
8. Reduce The Sweets and Soft Drinks
These items really add more to the bottom line of your food budget. They are expensive and not overly nutritious.
When you can reduce them you leave more money to spend on better quality, healthier food options.
9. Make The Most Of Sales
When something you use regularly or is a favourite comes on sale then stock up on it.
If it's a staple then it's worth buying a few more to save some money.
Just make sure that it's not a perishable item that you end up throwing out because you couldn't use it.
10. Look At The Cheaper Cuts of Meat
Premium cuts of meat and especially fish can be quite expensive.
Look a bit wider than just your steak and fish.
There are many cuts of meat that are perfect for stews, curries and casseroles that won't break the bank.
You can buy more of this kind of meat and use it for more than one meal as well as leftovers.
11. Try Some Other Protein Options
As meat can be an expensive ingredient you'll save money by thinking outside of the standard sources.
You could substitute some meat meals with other things like lentils or beans, eggs or canned fish.
They are all very cheap and keep on the shelf for a long time so you won't be throwing them out any time soon.
12. Buy Items That are In Season
Food that is in season is much cheaper and is also at it peak for ripeness, nutrition and flavour.
Buying food out of season generally means it has come from some distance and may not be at it's best nutrient wise due to storage and transport.
Don't worry if you end up with too much you can always freeze it or use it next week.
13. Buy Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
Items like berries and other fruits are in season only for a few months and can be expensive.
But with the quick freezing of many of these food types they are still very nutritious and are available all year and in large quantities.
They are great additions to cooking, smoothies and on meals like porridge and plain yoghurt.
14. Buy In Bulk
Many foods like rice, oats, and dried beans can be bought by the bag full and stored in containers to be used in many different dishes.
Even nuts and dried fruits are more economical when bought this way.
They can form the foundation of many inexpensive and delicious meals.
15. Grow Your Own Food
If you have the space, are willing to put in the time and effort you can grow a wide range of food that can save you money.
Food like tomatoes, herbs, onions and potatoes are great produce to grow.
They are a great way to supplement your shopping and can be picked at the peak of freshness.
It is an amazing feeling to grow and eat your own great tasting food.
This is a simple method of preserving excess food to be used at a later date.
Rather than throwing out your extra fruit and vegetables grab some vinegar and some jars and you can create some amazing tasting pickles.
Check out this link for some ideas: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/news/a19516/surprising-things-you-can-pickle/
In a similar vein to pickling, preserves are a great way to make use of extra fruit to make jams or marmalades.
When finished you have an item that can be kept on the shelf unopened for at least a year.
18. Take Your Own Lunch
The amount of money you can save by packing your own lunch is huge over time. The cost of eating out will add up especially if you're doing it regularly.
And if you're making more food than you need you'll have a steady supply of leftovers each day for lunch.
The added advantage is you've made it so it'll be healthier as well.
While it does require some planning your budget will thank you every week or month.
19. Learn To Love Cheaper Food Options
We are very lucky to live in a time where inexpensive and healthy food choices are widely available.
Be open to the idea of trying ingredients that you've never used before and experience the variety of delicious and cheap meals you can make.
Try using more eggs in your recipes along with beans and legumes, frozen fruits and vegetables, cheaper cuts of meat and whole grains.
You'll be adding so much more variety to your diet and in turn reap the health benefits.
20. Explore The Online Marketplace
The internet has made the options for the consumer greater so it's worth keeping an eye out for businesses offering great deals on food items.
You can register with them to receive updates on deals and specials.
You can also have the items delivered directly to your door.
You don't have to spend a fortune to eat good food.
There are many ways to eat healthy food when sticking to a budget.
Some of the best ones are planning your meals, cooking at home and making smart decisions when shopping.
Just remember that your more processed foods are going to cost more.
We all want to live healthy lives but it doesn't have to send you broke in the process.