Eating healthy foods doesn't have to break your budget. Organic foods and other healthy foods can often be more expensive, making many think that eating well is out of reach. After all, the organic carrots and bell peppers aren't usually buy one, get one free. Even still, there are many ways to save on these and other healthy foods so you can start creating a healthier lifestyle.
Here are just a few ways that you can save money and eat well on a budget:
Shop Farmer's Markets
By shopping at a farmer's market, you are cutting out the middle man -- which means that you are saving money and supporting the people who grow your healthy food directly. Produce, meats, and other goods at farmer's markets are usually less expensive than the same products at the grocery store. Even when they're not, there is the possibility that you can negotiate a discount simply because you're able to talk to the farmer himself in most cases.
Another benefit of shopping at farmer's markets is that you can learn more about the source of your food to ensure that it is organically and ethically grown.
Join a Food Co-Op
A food co-op is a great way to save money on a variety of healthy foods. The way it works is that you usually pay a monthly fee and get a box of a certain amount of produce that's in season, as well as meats, cheeses, or other goodies, depending on the details of the service. You save money by joining others who agree to buy regularly and in bulk, bringing down costs for the farmer and ensuring profits. Plus, you get food that is locally and (often) organically grown and is in season, helping you to meet your healthy eating goals.
Grow a Garden
There's no better way to save money and to ensure that you're eating fresh, healthy foods than to grow them yourself. You can grow a garden whether you live in a house or an apartment, and whether you are a growing expert or can't keep a houseplant. If you have a house and are more comfortable growing things, you can plant a traditional garden in your yard and grow whatever types of foods you like that will grow in your region. If you live in an apartment or aren't very comfortable growing things, you can start a container garden or choose easy-to-grow plants such as herbs and greens.
No matter what you grow, you will be supplying your pantry with fresh produce that cost you pennies on the dollar for what you would have paid in the grocery store. Even just growing a selection of herbs will help you save.
Shop in Season
Just changing what you buy can save you as much money as changing where you buy. When foods are in season, they are cheaper because artificial methods don't have to be used to grow them and they don't have to be shipped in from half way around the world.
Keep a list of what's in season in your region and shop from that list when you go to the grocery store. (The farmer's market will only offer what's in season.) Not only will you save money, but you'll ensure that you're buying fresh, healthy food that wasn't artificially grown.
Though coupons for fresh produce and health foods are few and far between, they are available. Sign up for coupon services online, or visit the website of manufacturers of health foods, such as Bob's Red Mill, Annie's or Eden Organics. You can have coupons e-mailed to you.
Keep an eye out on your local mailers, as well. Some coupons will turn up for produce and healthy packaged foods, as well.
Eating well doesn't have to be the privilege of the well-to-do. You can eat healthy on any budget with a little creativity and the right decision making. These tips will help you to start saving and start eating right.
What other tips do you use for eating well on a budget? Share your tips in the comments!
Bridget Sandorford is a freelance writer and researcher for Culinaryschools.org, where recently she’s been researching culinaryarts scholarship. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.