My recent foray into juicing means we’re spending a lot more on produce than we used to. Though I don’t mind paying more for quality, healthy food — I agree with author Michael Pollan’s motto “pay more, eat less” — I do understand that not everyone has the same luxury.
Still, there are a few tried-and-true strategies to help offset the higher cost of healthy food. I’ve compiled the following tips based on personal practice plus advice I’ve read from other sources.
Be Thoughtful About Organic
Organic produce represents the ultimate in health food but carries with it a hefty price tag. Leading experts in the nutrition and environmental industries — including Dr. Andrew Weil and The Environmental Working Group — point out that not all fruits and veggies are susceptible to modern production practices. Produce with thick, removable and non-porous skin need not be purchased organic and represent an area where you can save a little money. Consult Dr. Weil’s “Clean 15” list of items you don’t have to buy organic.
Think Outside the Grocer
Supermarkets represent our go-to sources for food, but there are other stores that offer healthy choices for less. In addition to farmers’ markets and warehouse stores, retailers like World Market offer everything from quinoa to brown rice to whole wheat pizza crust. I was there this past weekend and scored 10-percent off my purchase by using a mobile coupon. Ultimately, retailers that offer healthy food are ideal because you can use frequent deals and promotions to reduce your grocery bill.
Buy Whole or Frozen
When it comes to buying fruits and veggies, it’s best to buy them whole or frozen. Precut or prepackaged produce carries a hefty 40-percent markup, plus some of the nutrients are lost during processing. Buy fresh produce in season and peruse the frozen food section for off-season options. For example, fresh asparagus can cost upward of $4.99 per pound, whereas frozen asparagus carries an average price of $1.99 per 12 oz.
Find Fish Frugally
To keep our hearts healthy, we’re advised to consume fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids twice per week. Since the price of fresh fish is often prohibitive (unless you live on the coast), look for frozen salmon filets or use canned tuna or sardines in meals. I save on wild-caught salmon during promotions at Sprouts or when purchased frozen at Sam’s Club. Flaxseed and walnuts are also excellent sources of omega-3s and can be easily incorporated into your morning cup of oatmeal.
Plant Your Own
‘Tis the season for planting! My husband and I moved a ton of rock this weekend in order to expand our garden, and I hope to learn about canning and other methods of preservation so our harvest doesn’t go to waste. If you have the space, create an edible garden based off herbs and veggies you use frequently. You’ll learn that fresh-grown produce is far superior to anything you buy at the supermarket, plus the plant cost and fruit yield make it an incredibly frugal practice.
How do you save money on health food?