I do not have the money it takes to eat healthier or lose weight.
Healthy eating does not need to be expensive. It can be tempting to compare a $10 value meal to a $200 grocery bill and run to the closest McDonalds. But, in a meal-to-meal comparison, grocery shopping will win almost every time. It is true that you can save money eating nothing but ramen noodles. However, I invite you to consider this question: What is more expensive, fruits and vegetables, or doctor bills? If you look at your monthly budget, you likely spend money on all kinds of extraneous stuff that you do not need.
There are a number of tools and strategies that you can employ to save yourself money.
AT THE STORE:
No Organic: although organic foods may be better for the environment and animal welfare, in the vast majority of cases conventional is just as healthy for an adult.
Online Coupons: before shopping, check out coupons online. Use your grocery store’s app to clip online coupons. There are also often deals at the store that you can scan with your smartphone. It is a bit of a learning curve but using the app can save you hundreds of dollars each month.
Grocery Ads: look at grocery ads in the newspaper and plan your meals and shopping list according to what is on sale. Or conversely, buy what’s on sale and throw it in the freezer for later.
Use a List: if you use a list, you are less likely to buy things that you will not actually use. There are so many foods that “seem like a good idea” at the time of purchase that you never end up eating.
Do Not Shop Hungry: this will limit spur of the moment spending. It is amazing what looks good at the store when you are hungry.
Buy in Bulk: bigger packages cost less per serving. Stock up on non-perishables or freeze meat for later (be sure to write a date on when you put it in the freezer). Check the price per ounce sticker at the grocery store, this can be a good time to get the name brand products for cheaper than the generics.
Choose Generic: generic and store brands often taste similar to name-brands. Test out generic brands to see if you can tell the difference.
Check Expiration Dates: some extremely good sales are illusions. The sale item might expire before you are ever able to use it. Salad dressings have gotten me on this one a number of times.
Clearance Items: stores will often reduce the price of products that have crushed packaging, are out of season, or are close to their expiration date. I buy close to expiration date meat all the time and throw it in the freezer for later.
Limit Eating Out: the cost of eating out can add up fast, especially if you have a large family.
Meal Plan: planning ahead reduces the number of times that you must eat out and you are less likely to let foods spoil and go to waste. Meal planning also limits the number of times you will need to eat out or make another trip to the grocery store (time saver).
Leftovers: never throw out leftovers. Be creative and incorporate extra chicken or rice into your lunch or dinner for the next day.
Be the Prep Cook: not only are whole foods usually healthier, but they are cheaper than already processed foods. Cut up your own lettuce, cook fresh chicken breast, or make spice mixes. The difference in price between a head of romaine lettuce and pre-cut, bagged lettuce is just crazy.
Know Your Skills: cook meals that you can prepare so that you do not waste food in kitchen disasters. Ask for help the first time you try a recipe or follow step-by-step YouTube video instructions.
Pack a Lunch: bring all the food you will eat during the day and avoid extra vending machine and cafeteria purchases.
Water: Drink from the tap, invest in a filter and/or always carry your water bottle with you.
Expiration Dates: keep an eye on when your food is about to spoil so that nothing goes to waste. There is nothing worse than having to throw out meat and vegetables because they are going bad.
Gardening: if you have time, planting a garden can cut reduce costs. If you don’t have a space, some plants like herbs or tomatoes can be grown in the window or on the porch.
Canned and Frozen: canned and frozen produce and meat are just as nutritious as fresh. Always do a price comparison, but they are often cheaper, especially if out of season. These can be used in mixed dishes without compromising taste.