Healthy Shopping on a Budget

As an athlete, what you fuel your body with is extremely important. However, eating healthy is not always cheap!  Following a clean, healthy diet can add up quickly, and in comparison to the ‘Dollar Menu’ crap at certain fast food chains it can seem down right expensive.  Being a trainer and competitor, it’s extremely important for me to eat properly but I learned quickly that I needed to come up with a few ways to save money here and there.  I’m going to share them with you, so that you too can save a few bucks at the grocery store.

The first thing I did was to analyze where I was shopping on a weekly basis (both grocery stores as well as meals out) and how much I was spending.  I already knew I was spending too much, but after analyzing my receipts, it started to become clear why.  I love the big, fancy organic-based grocery stores!  There, I said it.  I am a sucker for their hand-made décor, exotic fruits, meats, and other specialty items that no one else seems to carry.  But as much as I love them, it’s simply not feasible for me to shop there every week.  I was paying almost twice as much on some items and not even realizing it!  I do still shop there, but I only pick up the specialty items I truly can’t find anywhere else, like bison meat.

*** TIP*** Use your smart phone to snap a quick pic of your grocery bill before you leave the store. Then there’s no excuse for losing your receipt and not being held responsible for tracking your budget!

With my newly planned grocery budget in hand, off to the discount grocery store I went.  I thought I’d be a bit depressed about it, but that $100 a week I started saving changed my tune pretty fast!  I couldn’t believe it.  Now, it’s appropriate to mention I stopped buying as many organic or hormone-free foods, which is another reason my bill started to go down.  I find my body responds well with what I’d call the ‘regular’ foods, so I opt for this less expensive option.

Another way I was able to cut my grocery bill was to purchase less fresh fruit, especially those that weren’t in season. I’ve found that frozen berries (without added sugar) are just as good as fresh. Besides being cheaper, they last longer and I’m not wasting them.  I no longer feel like I’m throwing money down my garbage disposal, it goes right back in the freezer until next time.

I also swapped quick oatmeal for steel cut oats or plain rolled oats. It’s also a win-win because the quick oats tend to have added sugar.

I have proven to myself that eating healthy doesn’t always have to be expensive.  The discount or lower-priced grocery stores may not be as sexy, but saving money is possible!  And remember, if you have a few pricey items that you can’t live without, simply swap out other foods for cheaper alternatives and you can still splurge on your specialty foods!  Believe me, incorporate a few of these ideas and your piggy bank will be fuller in no time.