You live in a culture where unhealthy food is an easier option than healthy food. Fast food is cheap, pre-made microwave meals are tempting after a long day at work, conventionally grown produce is a steal compared to the price of organic, and processed snack bars make an easy substitute for a home-cooked meal when you just don’t have the time.
Too many times you choose convenient foods over conscious nutrition.
Even when you’ve made a commitment to eat healthy, actually buying the nutritious foods you want can be a challenge. You may have good intentions when you go to the grocery store, only to be deterred by the high cost of organic produce and snacks.
These cost-savings strategies will help you keep your body healthy and your wallet happy.
#1 Prioritize Your Healthy Options
Eating healthily isn’t an all or nothing proposition. Every healthy choice counts, so even when you can’t give your entire grocery list an organic overhaul, you can prioritize your spending on the foods or products you care the most about.
If you love eating hearty, fresh salads for lunch, buy the best organic lettuce and vegetables. If you’re a carnivore, splurge on grass-fed beef or free-range chicken for dinner. If you can’t resist the juiciest, sweetest berries, make sure those are organic.
Then, to balance out the nutritional splurge, skip something you don’t value as much. That could mean passing on a bag of chips, buying conventional toothpaste instead of an all-natural brand, or eliminating that third weekly stop at your favorite coffee shop.
Buying organic fruits and vegetables ensures that your produce will be free of pesticides and synthetic chemicals, but the USDA organic label means more on some vegetables than it does on others. The Environmental Working Group puts out an annual list of fruits and vegetables most and least likely to be contaminated by pesticides—the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen.” Buy organic versions of the fruits and vegetables on the “dirty dozen” list, and save money on the conventional versions of the others.
Bottom Line: Don’t aim for nutritional perfection. Start by making small, budget-friendly decisions on products you care about the most.
#2 Buy Local
Sometimes the key to saving money is in your own backyard. Most people think of farmers’ markets as expensive, but actually the opposite is true. When you shop at a farmers’ market, you’re getting the best deals directly from the farmers. You also know you’re getting only locally grown, in-season produce.
If you don’t have time to trek to a farmers’ market every week, consider signing up for a CSA box. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and these boxes allow you to buy a “share” of fruits and vegetables from a farmer. The farmer will either drop off your share of produce at a central location each week or send it to you in the mail.
To cut down the cost even more, share a CSA-box with a friend or neighbor. You will both still get tons of delicious, fresh produce at half the cost.
#3: Use an Online Organic Grocer
Round out your shopping list with online grocers. These days, you can hop online to find good deals on the products you use the most. You can buy things like organic coconut oil, snacks, and spices on sites like Amazon.com.
Thrive Market is another site that offers healthy foods at a lower cost—you’ll find wholesome products at 25 to 50 percent off the normal prices. You can search for everything from organic and non-GMO, to gluten-free and Paleo, to vegan and vegetarian, so you know the products you order are exactly what you want. Like Costco, Thrive Market is a membership model. For an annual fee, Thrive Market members can order any products and have them delivered directly to their door.
Because Thrive Market offers only non-perishable goods, it’s a great resource for stocking a healthy pantry. Paired with a CSA box or farmers’ market trip, you’ll have all the nutritious food you need to make healthy choices every day.