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How to Eat Healthy AND Save Money

Updated on April 15, 2013

As a health and fitness coach, I hear it quite often that it's just too expensive to eat healthy. Yes, I completely agree that the cost of groceries continue to go up and up, this is completely true. That being said, I have some great ways that will help you save a little or even a lot on your groceries AND be able to eat healthy at the same time! Read on, and you will likely learn something you didn't know about before!

1. Eat fewer meals with meat:

Many of us feel we need to have some sort of meat to make a meal a meal, and this simply isn't true. There are TONS of healthy recipes that even the most stubborn carnivore will like. From veggie chili to rice and burrito bowls, huge salads or a hearty lentil vegetable soup, the sky really is the limit. And I promise you don't have to have one little ounce of tofu in sight!

2. Buy in bulk whenever possible:

This being said, make sure you do price compare, but most likely you will save money when you buy in bulk as opposed to buying packaged on the shelf. Rice, beans, quinoa, nuts, oatmeal, flour, the list goes on and on. And more stores are choosing to add a bulk section than ever have before. If your favorite store does not have a bulk section, consider putting in a request and asking others to do the same. You just might be surprised that they will do it down the road!

3. Make your meals ahead of time:

We are all rushed these days, and cooking a meal after a long day and hauling kids from one activity or another is totally unappealing, I agree. So, plan a day (or two) where you do your shopping and then make your meals for the week ahead of time. This can be as far as making a complete meal or at least doing as much prepwork ahead of time as possible. Sometimes I will make a few meals ahead, other times I do some extra prep work, like brown extra meat, soak a lot of beans or make extra stock, and yet other times I will make a meal and double or triple it, and freeze the leftovers for future meals.

4. Become friends with your crockpot:

I can't tell you how many times the crockpot (slow cooker) has saved me. I use it to make big batches of chili or soups, to make my chicken or veggie stock, to cook a roast or just to keep some food warm (like baked potatoes or some chicken or fish) when I know I won't be home in the evening but want the hubby to have a warm meal. There are so many ways you can use a crockpot to feed yourself and your family, and it will really save you time and money!

5. Shop the ads:

I get or pull up online the weekly grocery ads for all the stores in my area (there actually are quite a few!), then I sit down and start deciding on things we need, and things that would make great meals for the week. Then I decide when would be a good time to start hitting these stores. Sometimes I do it all in one day, other times I space it out a bit if I'm short on time or patience. All the store will price match what other stores have, as well as take competitor coupons. We do have one store here in my area that will actually mark down things that are on sale in the other stores ads, which I think is pretty cool. They are usually the store I hit first. But, they don't carry everything I like or have a bulk section, so I have to go to one or more other stores to get everything for the week. At least where I live, all the stores are pretty close in distance, so it works well to hit a few different stores when needed.

Something else to remember about shopping the ads is to not stock up no more than you can realistically use in a few days or weeks, depending on the items. Unless you are shooting for a spot on "Extreme Couponers" or have an extra large family, there isn't much sense in having 30 jars of peanut butter or several cases of dry cereal. I've been guilty of this in the past, and even things like that have a shelf life. Once the family gets tired of something I thought was a super great deal, it just sits there until it goes stale and ends up in the garbage.

6. but shop at home first!

We forget sometimes what we have on hand, so when you are making your grocery list and deciding on meals for the week, check your cupboards, fridge and freezer before heading out the door. I've done this so many times...... Think I need something so I but it at the store, just to find out I already had some at home. Or the opposite..... Thinking I do have it at home, just to find I did not, which sometimes ends up with an extra trip to the store.

Look through everything and ask yourself what you can use such-and-such for? If you have produce in the fridge that is still salvageable, what's kind of soup or casserole can you make with it? If you have other sort of leftovers, depending on what it is, can you use it in another meal, or is there enough to have another lunch or dinner out of it?

A lot of homes have at least $100 worth of groceries already at home in one form or another; some even more. That is MONEY right there my friend, so make sure you use it some how, some way!

7. Check out local CSA's and farmers:

CSA's are a great way to save some money on produce, you are buying locally and in season, and you get the opportunity to try things you may not think to try otherwise. And there are farmers that will sell you meat when you order a large amount. Both of these might be a good idea to find a friend or two to go in one, to maximize your savings and if space is an issue.

8. Check out some apps that pay:

I don't recommend buying things that aren't healthy or you won't use, even if it's a "great deal", but I've found a couple apps I use on my iPhone that pays me back for buying a product (basically still like a coupon/rebate). One is Ibotta, the other is Endorse. They are similar, but a bit different. With Endorse, you can buy any of the listed products at any store and they even usually have some things that are listed as "any", meaning you don't have to be product specific. I've gotten money back for buying pet food, granola bars, coffee, and more. With Ibotta, you do need to double check the stores, but you can get money back on lots of different products.

With both, double check that you have the right item by using the bar code scanner, so you are surprised when you get it home to find you bought the wrong thing, and double check their work too. There has been a couple times my request got kicked back because they didn't think I had the right product when I did. Usually a simple rebuttal to them gets things changed.

Offers change each week, so check them often and make sure you get yours in when you buy something that you get money back on! And bonus points for using a coupon and/or getting it on sale too! When doing it that way, there are some things I've gotten for free or almost free!

9. and go online to find lots more coupons:

Websites like www.SmartSource.com and www.Coupons.com are great places to start to find coupons for groceries, but most coupons are not for anything most of us would consider healthy. I go to the stores websites directly, like www.Target.com or www.WholeFoodsMarket.com and print out store coupons and then decide if that store or another will give me more bang for my buck.

And a couple other great sites for find coupons for things on the healthier side are Mambo Sprouts and Common Kindness. Check out these sites, you will find coupons you won't find anywhere else!

10. Keep track of prices from one store to the next:

There are many ways to do this, but if you keep track of prices, you will know ahead of time where to get what items at. Like, I know that Whole Foods is the best place to get protein and snack bars (and they usually have some great coupons on their website!), but Target is better priced on regular granola bars, just as an example. You can find printouts online, make a spread sheet, or just keep a notebook with you to jot prices down as you go. But this will help save you lots of money in the long run, plus you will know if something is listed as "on sale" at one store, if it really is a good buy or not.

11. and have a list of "must have" staples and favorite recipes:

We all have things we love and our family loves that we need to have on hand at all times. In my house, some of that list is: peanut butter, ketchup, ranch dressing, coconut and olive oils, and a variety of different spices. Make sure you have a list too, either on your phone or on a sheet of paper on the fridge, so when something is running low, you can write it down. It's one thing to go without something that is a special treat, but running out of peanut butter will create undo stress on a person!

Also, we all have favorite recipes, whether it's something that is a frequent meal, or one that was a new recipe that everyone loved (and I recommend trying a new recipe a week too!). I actually use my Pinterest board mostly, but also have a notebook where I keep many of these recipes. Actually just shared my amazing spaghetti sauce recipe with my oldest son when he tried to make it but "it wasn't as good am Mom's".

This also helps when you are in a rut or nothing really sounds good. Love my favorite recipes!

12. Above all else, make it fun!

Stretching a dollar can prove to be stressful for some of us, but instead, think of it as a game. If you have a certain amount of money you budget each week for your grocery bill, use these tips and play around with ways to make your money go a little further. If you have a little left over at the end of the week, buy yourself or your family a treat, or save it up to go out to dinner or buy something you want.

Look for other budget stretching but yummy and healthy recipes and share them with others. If you have kids, get them involved in the food prep, the planning, the shopping or coupon clipping. Make it a family project and give everyone ownership in what you are trying to do.

Honestly, you DO NOT have to spend tons on groceries to be able to live and eat healthy. It might seem that way, at first, when you are stocking up on some of the staples you need that you may not have. But you will see by the time you practice this way of eating, you will feel better, look better, and feel healthier, plus without all the junk and convenience foods, you will most definitely be saving money!

Try these tips out and let me know how they are working for you!

About the author:

Rebecca was once a junk food junkie, couch potato party girl. The idea of eating healthy and working out was completely foreign and ridiculous to her, until the time her father had to have quintuple bypass surgery. At that time she realized if she didn't make changes, that would be her future, and putting her two sons through that was the last thing she wanted to do.

She made changes and decided to pay it forward by becoming a yoga instructor, personal trainer and online health and fitness coach. She lost weight, quit smoking, drinking and junk food, and is totally in love with life.

She would love to be your free coach..... Go here to get her free coaching tips and advice!

Join Rebecca today!

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