Tips to Save on Healthy Food

8 Apr

Photo by Julie Rybarczyk via Flickr

Photo by Julie Rybarczyk via Flickr


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?

8 Responses to “Tips to Save on Healthy Food”

  1. Girl Meets Debt April 8, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

    These are great tips for saving money on eating healthy Kendal! Another tip I like to use is whatever fruit or vegtable is on special at the supermarket that week than the bf and I will buy it and put in our salads or use to eat as one of our sides for dinner.I also think once we move into our condo in a few months, I will try my hand at a little bit of gardening! 🙂

    • Kendal April 9, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

      Buying whatever produce is on sale is definitely a good way to save! We try to do the same. Asparagus is one of those luxuries that we purchase only when it’s on sale, and we pretty much refuse to buy avocados if they’re more than $1 each. It’s great that you’re already thinking about gardening in your new place. Does you condo have an area where you can plant a garden or will you be creating one out of pots? Gardening in small space is definitely a challenge so I’m interested to hear how it goes! Thanks for commenting!

  2. Holly@ClubThrifty April 9, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    I have an upcoming post on juicing too! I just try to juice what is on sale. It makes me try new things! =)

    • Kendal April 9, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

      Good call, Holly! Buying what’s on sale also forces you to mix up recipes so you don’t get bored. Carrots and green apples seem to be my go-to “base” for juices and luckily both products are consistently inexpensive. I’m looking forward to shopping farmers’ markets with this new habit; there’s always fun new things to try!

  3. CF April 17, 2013 at 3:51 am #

    I try to buy local whenever possible – many local farmers may use good practices even though they are not strictly organic. And the food travels less, resulting in less environmental impact. We also grow our food where possible.

    I also try to be a flexible eater. I enjoy good food, but I’m not picky. So when salmon is on sale or asparagus is on sale, I’m quite happy to eat that item for a week!

    • Kendal April 17, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

      Buying locally is something I hope to do more of this year. Since we’re using more produce than ever, I can feel good about purchasing items from the farmer’s markets and not worry about food going to waste. We also just expanded our garden in hopes of growing even more of our own crop this year. Being a flexible eater definitely helps the budget — that’s something I can do more of, too! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Brittany April 19, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    I love supporting local/organic practices but it can be expensive. One trick to saving money, at least at our farmer’s market, is to show up and hour or two before closing and lots of products are offered at 50% off.

    • Kendal April 22, 2013 at 10:35 pm #

      Great tip, Brittany! I’ll have to try that once the snow stops falling her and the farmers’ market is up and running. Thanks for visiting!