1. Staple goods game is lacking and needs some work
If you want to save money on groceries and eat healthy, focus on buying staple goods. Staple foods are great as foundations, budget friendly, generally accepted by all members of the family, and can be easily enhanced in terms of flavor and texture.
Most of the world is able to eat on a very low food budget just by focusing on staple goods. Some of the most popular staple goods found throughout the world are rice, beans, grains, corn, and pasta. These staple foods are high in fiber, provide energy, and help you feel full.
Staple goods are called staples because they are eaten routinely, inexpensive, readily available and supply macronutrients needed for survival. They can also be stored for long periods of time. For more info on staple goods, check out this definition from Wikipedia.
Many grocery stores are now offering a bulk bin section for these types of staple goods. This is both convenient and helps you save money because you are not paying for packaging. These dry goods store for a lot longer and can be great to keep in your pantry so you don’t have to worry about them going bad quickly.
What groceries should you buy on a budget?
We recommend buying the following items for their length of storage time, low price, versatility and for their support to eating healthy.
If you don’t have a bulk bin section in your store, buy potatoes, rice, and beans in bags rather than highly packaged containers. You will likely get higher quality goods, and still, get the best bang for your buck.
2. They are taking the fun out of shopping
If you are trying to save money on groceries and eat healthy, you should always remember quality over quantity. You don’t need to buy a ton of different things even if you have a coupon for it.
If you are tired of eating the same thing over and over again just to eat healthily or feel being on a budget means you need to suffer, then we’re sorry to tell you, you’re wrong.
Saving money on groceries and eating healthy on a budget can be fun. You just have to use your creativity and do things a little differently. Here are some things you can try –
Eat seasonally and locally, but think globally
It is not a requirement to eat processed foods just so that you can save money on groceries. There are tons of low-cost veggies in fruits in immigrant neighborhood markets and stores.
Outside of the US, fresh veggies are an important part of every meal. Since meat in many parts of the world is considered a luxury, many have grown accustomed to incorporating veggies into their diets. They also limit the use of processed food.
Many immigrant groups keep the same traditions they had in their home country. This is great for those in the know who want to save money, and eat fresh. If a local store or market wants to do well, they have to offer what the local population wants.
Go to an immigrant neighborhood and see what items they have to offer. You might be surprised at the variety and the quality of the goods. On top of that, many of the items may be super cheap. They come from small farms and the local stores are part of a small wholesaling network that’s able to get fresh food very quickly and at a cheap price. Check out this article from Saveur to learn more.
After picking out your veggies, take the time to google the history and the best ways to cook it. It’s a great way to save money on groceries, explore new areas in your city, and travel without a passport! It will be a healthy eating learning experience!
Different cuts of meat
If you still want meat while trying to save money on groceries and eat healthy, try introducing different cuts of meat into your diet. There are many cuts of meat that are cheap but are actually more flavorful and nutritious than the ones that are in high demand. For example, chicken thighs and legs are almost always cheaper than chicken breasts, and it’s no secret that chefs prefer to use them. Here is an article that describes why.
Another way to save money on groceries when buying chicken is to buy a whole chicken vs. buying the individual parts of the chicken. When you buy the whole chicken, you get all the types of pieces you want for a meal and will most likely have enough to make leftovers.
Even with my family of 5, there’s still enough meat after a meal for me to make either chicken soup or chicken pot pie the next day. That’s grocery shopping for a large family on a budget at the expert level!
Organs are very healthy and provide a lot of nutrients. Animal liver is one of the most nutritious parts of the animal you can eat. It’s even considered to be a superfood! Check out this article to learn more as to why.
If eating liver is now on your radar, because of its benefits, then buy it and start saving money on groceries! Try this Turkish recipe and let me know what you think! It’s one of my favorites. Turkish liver recipe It will make even the pickiest eater want a second serving.
Cook the same item different ways
Here are recipes you can use to cook the same item in different ways to keep things interesting.
3 Ways to make rice and peas
Peruvian coriander rice with peas
3 Ways to make pasta
Use Spices and Sauces
Using spices and sauces can help you save money on groceries and eat healthy, while at the same time adding variety to your meals. Coconut milk can make simple dishes taste exotic, and chili spices can be just what you need to kick your flavors up a notch. When you are trying to stay motivated use some spice spice baby! HA!
Don’t buy more, use the substitutes
Why buy when you can improvise! When you are baking and run out of eggs and oil, you can use mayo. Applesauce and bananas can be a substitute for eggs. They can then turn your baked goods into vegan-friendly options!
If you have coconut flakes or raw nuts, then you don’t need to buy milk. You can also make meatballs and chili without meat as long as you have lentils or beans or even eggplant on hand. Who knew?!
Here is a great list of items that can be substituted for other items when you run out.
3. Buying end products, and not the ingredients
If you want to save money on groceries, then don’t buy waffles, pancakes, muffins, or cakes. Why? Because you can make them all with the same stock of ingredients. The premade items might seem cheap to buy, but that is until you compare the price to making the baked goods on your own.
Did you know that if you have flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, sugar, and some type of liquid, you can make a ton of different pastries and breakfast items? All you need to do is change the amounts/proportions of these ingredients and you will be able to make pancakes, waffles, muffins, and cakes.
Baking is cheap and actually quite simple. We as a society have just gotten so far away from the basics that we think we can’t do it. Whenever something is made for you, you are paying more for it. If you want to save money on groceries and eat healthy, then you have to stop paying for convenience.
Additionally, all of the breakfast items we mentioned can be made over a weekend and then froze. Just pop them in the oven or microwave the morning you want to eat them. Buying the ingredients and baking things at home not only saves money, but it’s also healthier and it saves time. Really, the best way to save money on groceries is not to spend it in the first place.
4. Not understanding how grocery store sales can work in your favor
If the grocery store is out of the sale items that were on your shopping list, ask for a raincheck. A raincheck is an official note from the grocery store that states when the item is restocked, you can get it at the sale price.
10 for 10 isn’t necessary to save money on groceries
When you see the sale advertisements stating 10 for 10 or 2 for 5 etc, do you actually buy all of them? Did you know you usually don’t have to buy the exact number advertised in order to qualify for the deal? We actually can’t remember the last time we bought the full amount of the product to get the discount. The next time you go shopping for groceries, notice the discount is already applied to each individual item.
If the store doesn’t apply the discount to each individual item, then save your money and go shopping somewhere else. That type of grocery store is too old school and selfish for you to remain loyal to them. Remember, we are trying to save money on groceries and eat healthy, not make friends.
5. The portion of your budget dedicated to meat is too high
Meat is expensive and not the best food when you are trying to be mindful of what you are eating and trying to save money. Remember going to the Dr. and buying medicine are expensive too. If you treat food as your first medicine, you can save money and stay healthier in the long run.
Widen the budget by eating more veggies
Flip your shopping budget upside down and make the bulk of your purchases fruits and veggies. You will be surprised about how much further your dollar will stretch if you buy more veggies. You will also be eating healthier at the same time.
Use meat as a flavoring or side dish to save money on groceries
The American diet is very meat-centric. Would you be surprised to learn that many parts of the world use meat only as a side dish or for flavoring? If you want to save money, you have to be flexible and change your mindset.
Looking at the cuisines of different regions around the world, you will see that there are certain items that are low cost and are staples that each of them uses in almost every meal on a weekly basis.
Feel you still need some type of animal product with your meal, then try eggs. They are cheap.
Go Vegan to save money on groceries and eat healthy
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to eat meat to get protein. Vegetables and supplements can provide the necessary protein too. If you really want to save money try going vegetarian or even vegan for some meals.
There are some great vegetarian and vegan meals that even meat lovers would enjoy.
Potatoes are also a great item to buy if you want to lower your meat intake, but feel full. How many different ways can you think of to make potatoes? What dishes can you put them in to help fill you up and stay on a budget? Get creative!
6. You are not going grocery shopping on the best day of the week
If you are looking to save money on groceries and eat healthy, then don’t shop on the weekends. Based on the Ibotta survey, regardless of where you live, weekends are the most expensive days to buy groceries.
Based on the study, produce is a little bit cheaper on Fridays and bread is cheaper on Wednesdays. Who would have thought it?! Check out this article from the Today show to learn more.
7. You are not setting a per person grocery budget
If you want to buy groceries for a large family and still eat healthily, it’s a great idea to set a budget per person. Also, stick to the quality of items rather than the number of items. For my family of 5, I have a budget of $100 per person per month. It turns out to be $25 per person a week.
It might not seem like a lot, but $125 can buy a lot of groceries for your family. I concentrate on buying things that I need, and those that have the best bang for the buck. For example, I will buy bananas and a bag of mandarins over a pineapple. The fruits are cheap, last pretty long and are versatile.
Avoid the mistakes many people make by using your creativity, ramping up your staple items, changing your mindset, and thinking before you shop. Thinking globally, spices and concentrating more on adding high nutritional foods will allow you to have fun shopping and keep motivated. These things will make it easy to save money and eat healthy while shopping for groceries on a budget.
Nadia is a Financial Independence Coach from New York City. She holds a B.A from Columbia University and worked 13+ years in Investment Banking and Financial Services. She is an entrepreneur, investor, and partner at Wealth Twins LLC. She reached Financial Independence in her 30’s and is passionate about showing others how to achieve the same.