Buying Healthy on a Budget

Is grocery shopping for a healthy lifestyle more expensive? The answer is absolutely not, but it can be if you let it. As a student studying nutrition I hear this all the time from friends, family, and random people I meet, “I would love to start eating healthy but it’s so expensive”. I am going to show you how it can be way cheaper to buy fresh, real food versus the pre-packaged, convenience foods at the grocery store and share some tips on how to find the healthier products!

I have listed a few items that I feel are commonly bought at the grocery store (Walmart Grocery prices).

Shopper 1

  • Maple & brown sugar instant oatmeal packs (160 calories/serving) > $2.50
  • Welch’s fruit snacks (80 calories/serving) > $6.98
  • Bag of Doritos (140 calories/serving) > $3.98
    • Totals = $13.46, 380 calories

Shopper 2

  • 100% Whole Grain quick oats (150 calories/serving) > $1.76
  • 2 lbs of grapes (30 calories/ 15 grapes) > $5.76
  • 1 bag of string cheese 12ct (70 calories/serving) > $2.18
    • Totals = $9.70, 250 calories

As you can tell, shopper 1 bought the processed, pre-packaged items while shopper 2 chose a healthier and less processed version of shopper 1’s items. The healthier options not only cost less and are lower in calories, but the health benefits they provide are going to save you money in the future as well due to less medical bills and visits to the doctor.

I also have some tips to help you make healthier decisions while you are at the grocery store. I know you have probably heard some of these before but that just means that they are working for people!

  1. Make a list. This doesn’t mean throw together a list in the car on the way there, this means plan your meals and snacks for the week and write it all down.
  2. Eat a snack. We all know you aren’t supposed to go to the grocery store hungry, so if you know you’re one to buy impulsively from cravings, then have a snack before you go or even take one with you.
  3. Shop on the perimeter. Have you ever noticed that the fresh produce, meat, and dairy are all on the perimeter of the grocery stores? The processed foods tend to be in the aisles in the middle of the store, so after shopping for all your wonderful, fresh foods venture over to get necessities from the aisles such as brown rice or whole grain bread.
  4. I hope this blog has opened your eyes to the world of grocery shopping for a healthier lifestyle. Reminder: this does not mean you have to give up your favorite cookies or ice cream… Everything can fit onto your plate in moderation. In the long-run, your body and mind will thank you for eating fruits and vegetables as well as a cookie now and then! KM
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