How to Optimize Grocery Shopping for your Budget and your Health

How to Optimize Grocery Shopping for your Budget and your Health

We here at Vivre Naturals believe in you and your potential to live your best life. Receiving proper nutrition is one of the MOST important aspects to living this healthiest life, which is why we have created our whole-food, plant-based vitamins and supplements which help you fuel your mind and body with the goodness of the earth. On top of this simple daily habit, it is also crucial to eat a well-balanced diet of nourishing foods. The adage is true that you are what you eat. What you put into your body fuels the functioning of your brain and bodily systems. It builds the cells, tissues, and organs of your body. Your food provides the necessary energy that powers all of your basic bodily functions such as breathing, digesting, repairing the body, keeping you warm, promoting necessary growth and powering your immune system. The nutrients in it help you protect yourself against disease and influence your hormones and moods. Sacrificing nutrition for anything else is a mistake.

Though you know that fueling your body with optimal nutrition is one of the most vital aspects to health, so often it may feel like eating healthily is too costly! Fresh produce and what people might consider “health foods” sometimes seem prohibitively expensive. Take heart, though, because this does not have to be the case. With a few tips and tricks, and a bit of effort and preliminary research on your part, this can be avoided. Keeping your home stocked with healthy foods should be a priority and here we will help you find ways to accomplish this affordably.

Tips and Tricks to Save on Healthy Food:

  1. Don’t do all of your grocery shopping in one place. Assess the stores in your local vicinity – even those that are a bit of a drive can make shopping remarkably more affordable if you utilize them correctly.
    -Search for wholesale food stores such as BJ’s and Costco. You will need a membership for these but it will pay for itself quickly. Don’t do all of your shopping here, however. This is just one piece of the puzzle. They key to keeping your grocery bill the lowest is to always buy everything you can at its lowest unit price.
    -Find grocery stores that have regular Buy-One-Get-One sales
    -Find low-cost grocery stores like Aldi. Aldi is an excellent resource and can be found all over the US (and in many other countries). They have a number of strategies that they use to keep costs low and are a terrific source of fresh produce, gluten-free products and organic food. The cheapest grocery stores that are available across the US are Aldi, Market Basket, WinCo Foods, Food 4 Less, Costco, Walmart and Trader Joe’s.
    -Find discount grocery stores. These usually sell items that other big stores have in excess, or they don’t want because the boxes/cans are dented or the expiration date is close-approaching or has passed. You can find massive savings at these stores. The products they carry are typically inconsistent, but this adds to the adventure.
    -Check out your local farmers markets. This is a amazing source of fresh, local food and is a fun outdoor experience.
  2. Sale shop. Find stores that have regular sales - especially Buy-One-Get-One (BOGO) sales. It’s fun to make this into a search-and-find mission for kids (or yourself!). If you are in a regular supermarket that has normal to high price points but you purchase only BOGOs while you’re there, your grocery bill will be cut in half! Stock up on these BOGO items. They typically occur cyclically so if you stock up and don’t buy them anywhere else you can usually find them on BOGO at the same store again in the future and stock up again. If you take note of these cycles, you will eventually be able to predict the sales cycles. However – don’t be a sucker when it comes to sales. Ask yourself if it’s something that you will really consume. If not, let the sale float on by. If so, utilize these sales to your advantage and build your shopping strategies around them.
  3. Meal Plan. There are numerous benefits to planning out your meals for the week. Knowing what you’re going to cook and eat makes grocery shopping more streamlined and helps save you money and keeps your diet healthier. When you don’t already have a plan in mind it makes it easier to just give into temptation and order takeout or pick up something fast on the way home.
  4. Food Prep. Find a time each week to prepare your foods for the coming week. Take out all of the veggies and fruits you’ve bought (or do it right when you get home from shopping) and cut and chop them so they’re ready to be used. Prep salads and whatever veggies you’re going to put into eggs, soups, tacos, or whatever meals you will make that week. Cut up fruit so you can grab it on the go. If you do this all at once and have the prepping already done, it will make your week so much smoother. Removing this obstacle will help you stick to your meal plan and will promote healthy eating in general.
  5. Use a list. Dive into your grocery gathering ventures armed with a solid plan in the form of a shopping list. Plan out your meals ahead of time and plan your list accordingly. Once you’re in the store it’s easier to follow your plan instead of perusing the aisles to see what looks good. If you have (big or small) helpers with you, work as a team to locate all of the items on your list.
  6. Shop the Perimeter First. Most of the freshest and healthiest foods are generally located around the perimeter of grocery stores. Start with the produce section and then move around to the proteins like meat, eggs, and fish. Try to stay out of the middle of the store as much as possible, instead focusing on the healthiest parts first.
  7. Eat the Rainbow. Different colored fruits and vegetables contain different vitamins and minerals. In order to consume the most varied nutritional bouquet, make sure to eat a variety of colors over the course of each day and week. This is a fun activity for children and a great way to optimize everyone’s diet.
  8. The “One Thing” Rule for Kids. When shopping with children a good tactic to prevent them from asking for everything is to tell them that each child is able to choose one thing throughout the course of the trip for himself or herself. Put limits on their one thing, if need be, like “no candy,” or “nothing with artificial food dye.” Then instead of asking for yogurt with characters on it and goldfish crackers and fancy kid toothpaste and everything else desirable they see, they can learn to prioritize their wishes. Additionally, instead of saying “NO” a million times, you can repeat just a couple of times, “is that what you are choosing for your one thing?”
  9. Use coupons and/or coupon apps. Many stores provide their own coupons or deals that you can apply at the cash register by using their apps. These can often be paired with coupons that you cut out of circulars that are in Sunday newspapers. There are ways to get massive savings on your grocery bills by using coupons. If you’re interested in this, search online or on YouTube, as there are sites and videos that will teach you how to do this. The general gist of it is to stockpile paper coupons by buying multiple Sunday papers and organizing the coupons so you can find them when a sale presents itself. Say there’s a sale on canned peas at a certain store. Search through your clipped coupons for that particular brand and combine the sale with the coupons with stockpiling. Get as many as you can at this lowest price and you will never have to buy groceries at the normal price again if you continue using this method.
  10. Invest in a second freezer.Though the upfront cost of a new appliance can be daunting, having extra room to store freezable goods (think: meat, bread, certain fruit and veggies, casseroles… the possibilities are nearly endless) can allow you to take advantage of excellent sales when they’re around. It is hard to pass up a BOGO chicken breast sale because you don’t have enough room in your freezer! This also helps when you’re cooking and choose to make more than one meal at a time. It’s nice to be able to pull a vat of homemade turkey soup out of the freezer when you’re out of fresh dinner options.
  11. Plan your meals based on sales. Answering the age-old question of “what’s for dinner?” can be a daunting task, merely because it rears its ugly head over and over mercilessly without end. One way to make things more interesting (as well as cheaper!) is to base your meal planning around ingredients that are on sale.
  12. Online Shopping. Besides having to brave the grocery store for a million little things, there are other benefits to online food and household goods shopping. If there are items that you buy over and over, it is often possible to buy them cheaper online through Amazon subscriptions. Signing up for a subscription means that they are delivered to your home and the price is lower than purchasing them one at a time. Plus, when you shop online it is often easier to avoid the temptation of instant gratification… and the requests of any children who might be in tow.
  13. Shop on a Full Stomach. It might sound silly, but this is a powerful tactic! It has been proven that people buy more snack items when they’re shopping on empty. Everything looks irresistible when your stomach is grumbling.
  14. Keep track of your real-time spending. It is helpful to work with a calculator in hand when grocery shopping. Round up to the nearest dollar while doing so. When you see how quickly things add up in real time it tends to make you really think about your spending priorities.
  15. Grow Your Own. This can be a lot easier than you would think! Some of the simplest things to grow on your counter are sprouts! Many try and fail with herbs on their windowsill, but growing your own sprouts is straightforward and fool-proof. Growing tomatoes and lettuce in pots outside is pretty simple too, as long as you remember to water them regularly. Regrowing food from food waste is a fun and interesting way to make your food money stretch. There are countless foods you can do this with and once you start looking into it you might get hooked!
  16. Raise Chickens. Chickens are fairly simple to keep. They give you eggs and happily eat your scraps! Check your local zoning laws to find out how many you can keep on your property. Then stand back and enjoy their delightful personalities while enjoying the freshest eggs possible.
  17. Cook from Scratch. Prepackaged foods such as seasoned rice packages, dinner sides, baked goods, bread, dips, French fries, etc. (the list is endless!) are highly convenient but they come with a higher price in terms of both money and health. Making your own food from scratch is more time-consuming, but that seems to be the only drawback. Homemade foods don’t contain the preservatives and other stabilizing additives that are included in most packaged foods. Making your own food can be fun and it’s a great activity for children to help with as well. Staying away from processed foods and snacks can take some major willpower but it is completely worth it and gets easier over time.
  18. Minimize Food Waste. We always think about saving money when we buy food… but rarely think about what happens after we make it. An ungodly amount of money is wasted annually in discarded food but with a bit of thought this can be avoided in your household. Consciously think of ways to utilize leftovers. Meal planning helps with this because you can plan to use all of the ingredients you buy or have in your home. Including a leftover night once a week can help too. Composting is another great way to avoid food waste, and helps you grow your own food in the future.
  19. Buy Meat Wisely. With many cuts of meat, it is possible to only buy it when it is on sale. When you find meat sales, stock up and put the excess in your freezer. Instead of just thinking about what you want to eat or cook, look at what’s on sale and find ways to use it. Alternatively, buy cheaper cuts of meat – say, chicken thighs instead of breasts – and incorporate it into your meals. Saving a little on each meal will turn into big savings in the long run. Since meat is generally the most expensive part of each meal, another way to save each week is by going meatless for one or more meals.
  20. Buy Generic. Are you worried that generic pasta sauce will ruin your spaghetti? Chances are, it won’t. But prove it to yourself by giving it a try at least once. You’ll probably like the taste and you’ll definitely like the savings!
  21. Join a CSA, Organic Co-op, or Disfigured Produce Organization. If you are lucky enough to live in an area that has a CSA, you could sign up to receive regular deliveries of local produce right to your door. Community Supported Agriculture is a model of farming and distributing food locally. Organic Co-ops, on the other hand, are organizations in which their members are shareholders and receive discounts on organic foods. Lastly, there are a rising number of companies out there that mail out boxes of disfigured produce – think funny-shaped carrots or extra bulbous tomatoes – that aren’t as beautiful on the outside as what you will find in the grocery store. Their value, of course, is in their nutritional power and a lower price point.
  22. Invest in a slow cooker. These make it simple and delicious to eat healthy foods that are wonderful to come home to at the end of the day.

It is our hope here at Vivre Naturals that this list of ideas, tips, tricks and strategies will truly inspire you! We hope you will use it to adapt your current spending and eating habits so that you can get the most out of each dollar in order to imbue your body with the nutrition you need to live your best life! Start now by prioritizing your nutrition by consuming high-quality, plant-based vitamins and supplements and a complete diet of wholesome foods, which will pave the way to health in every other aspect of your life. If you are overwhelmed at the long list above, please save it and start small. Adopt one small change in your life until it becomes a habit and then start with another. It’s not necessary to overhaul everything at once. The most important part of all of this is creating and maintaining a healthy mindset, one that places value on your health and motivates you to actively work to make your life the best and healthiest it can be.

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