One of the biggest excuses I hear why people say they don’t eat healthy is because it’s too expensive.
Money is always a touchy subject to broach, but it’s hard not to argue that if there’s something you should be willing to spend money on, it’s your health…
Regardless, I’ll give it to you: There is some truth behind the eating healthy is expensive ‘excuse.’ It CAN be super pricey, especially if you’re buying organic everything and grass-fed, skinless, boneless chicken breast from Organic Grocers. But it doesn’t HAVE to be as expensive as you think, if you’re clever about it. I'm honestly shocked at how little it costs when I look at just my vegetables for the week. The things that add up fast are convenience options; boxed and prepackaged items, grab n go snacks etc.
Eliminate those, eat healthier, save money!
Here’s a challenge to you, if you’re into both saving money and eating healthy: Figure out what you spent on groceries in the last month and see how much you can 'PR' your grocery bill in the first three months of 2019. Maybe even put the money aside each month. My guess is if you have been careless and lazy with your grocery shopping (and if you eat out a lot), you might have enough for a trip to Mexico at the end of the first quarter of the year:
Here are 7 tips to set you in the right direction:
Don’t be a skinless, boneless chicken breast snob:
Though skinless, boneless chicken breast is easy and convenient, whole birds, or chicken thighs or breasts with the bone-in and the skin on are considerably less expensive. Yes, it might take a bit more work, but you can think about your trip to Mexico you’re earning as you peel the skin off and remove the meat from the bone. Or if you leave the bone-in it will stay much juicier!
Though I mock the skinless, boneless snobs, the concept applies to all types of protein. Many times we opt for the ultimate cuts of the cow, for example, when the less expensive cuts can be tasty, too, if cooked properly. Tenderloins make better steaks than eye of the round or flank steak, but there’s s time a place for all of the cuts. Just takes getting a little more creative in the kitchen. And adding seasoning. And always salt. And then more salt. It's what we call a 'flavour enhancer'.
No reason turkey
You maybe have missed out on it this season already, but after a big occasion like Christmas or Thanksgiving turkeys go on massive sale, sometimes reduced to just 20 percent of their regular cost.
Though you might have turkey fatigue still at the time, buy one or two anyway and throw them in your freezer for later. If you buy a fresh, not frozen turkey, it’s obviously best to cook it up now, but you can still freeze the cooked meat for later, and boil the carcass and make a giant pot of turkey and wild rice soup and freeze it for when your turkey hangover has subsided. It's a great, easy way to make a ton of high quality, lean meat at once at a very low cost.
And here are three other great things to make with turkey that make it taste less like boring old dry turkey:
- Turkey Chilli
- Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash
- Turkey Curry
Check out the above recipes, as well as more healthy turkey recipes, here.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when shopping is being so tied to their list and what they planned to make for dinner that night that they miss out on great deals in the moment. I recommend browsing through the flyers and seeing what meats and vegetables are on sale that week in the stores and plan from there.
The better, more creative cook you are, the easier this will become, but if you’re someone who likes to buy fresh protein and vegetables frequently, sometimes it’s worth going shopping with an open mind about what dinner will be that night. Wait to decide what your protein will be until you see there’s a massive sale on chicken thighs.
Even if you don’t intend to use something that day or even that week, when you see a sale that’s too good to pass up - STOCK UP! If chicken or extra lean ground beef is on sale, buy 1 or 2 more extra packages and freeze for the following weeks. You would likely buy it the following week anyways because you need it even though it's not on sale.
If you are into buying organic everything, beware that buying organic everything isn’t always necessary. Check out this article that talks about the foods that don’t need to be organic, including produce such as avocados, sweet potatoes, mangoes and pineapple.
Use your own kitchen
This one’s a no-brainer, but eating out instead of batch cooking at home is the easiest way to crush your wallet. That $18 rice and chicken bowl you buy at lunch would probably cost you $5 if you made it at home and took it to work to warm-up there. (Not to mention, it’ll probably be healthier because you know exactly what you’re putting in, and you’ll be able to add more protein and reduce the carbs a little more).
I like to recommend one food prep day per week for some serious batch cooking. Prepare lunches for the week to grab and go, and get a head start on preparing some vegetables so they're super easy to cook up right away during the week.
I know it’s a pain in the ass to stop at multiple stores, but maybe spread it out over two or three days. Some places are best for produce, other places for protein. Take advantage of each and you’ll be surprised how much you can save. You can also find the stores that have point systems that reward you more for buying there. If you're a family of 3 or 4, points will add up FAST!
To keep you motivated for that extra stop: Put a little post-it note on your dashboard that says MEXICO to remind you of the savings you’re accumulating by making that extra stop…
It’s super easy to put leftovers in the back of your fridge and forget about them. Or maybe you just grow bored of them and purposely throw them out. Just like the turkey theory, it’s worth looking up recipes you can make to repurpose foods in creative ways.
Vegetables, which have a shelf life, are often thrown out. The best way to give these guys another chance is to get them into soups and stews, which also happen to be quite economical. To avoid either option, get familiar with quantities you'll actually use during a week and DO NOT buy more than that. On the flip side, if you're always running out of something, maybe do a bit of math before you shop to find the magic number.
Invest in a cow or a pig.
This is more of a long-term cost savings, but it can be a big saving in the course of a year. I've done this several times and it is a fantastic option! If you don’t have the freezer space for a full or even half a cow, then go in with a friend and buy a quarter cow each. And make sure to use all the various cuts of the animal.
Keep us posted on your monthly grocery bill savings, and feel free to share your best cost-saving tips!