How to feed a family healthy meals, while staying on a strict budget is a dilemma that will never go away completely.
Prices change, budgets change, and you’ll always have to be flexible.
That said, with a little strategic planning, I believe that it will always be possible to build a healthy grocery list on a budget.
Define what healthy means to you
When I compiled the $20 a week grocery list, I took it for granted that most folks would think of brown rice as healthy. Turns out, not everyone does. Heck, I don’t think of brown rice as health food anymore! Not everyone believes potatoes are healthy either (I’ll never not think potatoes make the world go round 😉 ).
But it doesn’t really matter what others think. Know what you believe, and write those items that you want to see your family consuming down into a big list.
This list will give you a pretty solid idea of what your grocery budget will need to be. For instance, if wild-caught salmon is a must have, you’re gonna need a bigger budget that someone eating ground turkey.
The thing is, maybe wild-caught salmon is your ideal protein, but your budget isn’t your ideal size. In that case, you’re probably going to have to compromise. Try to find a replacement that delivers the same nutrition that salmon would deliver. Which may be fish oil capsules and chicken leg quarters.
That may not be your ideal scenario, but it’s still nutritious, and it’s budget-friendly.
One of my health ideal compromises has been with dairy. We live about 30 minutes away from a raw, grass-fed dairy. It’s heavenly! But it’s also very expensive. I can’t bring myself to buy cheap, homogenized milk, and I can’t afford raw dairy, so I compromise by 1.minimizing our dairy consumption, 2.making almond milk for most of our dairy needs, 3.buying the very occasional gallon of raw milk, most of which gets frozen and slowly used for yogurt making.
(Our hope is to move back out to the farm within the next few months, and get another dairy goat, but that’s another story.)
Edit your list in light of the compromises you need to make.
Take the World (or at least the grocery store) By Storm
Now that you have your edited list, you know exactly what kind of food you want your family to eat. Do you know what that means? You have the power to take advantage of every sale that pertains to you, and stock up on the best prices.
For example, One of our local grocery stores had a sale on ground turkey that was literally half the price that we normally pay at another store. I know that my family will eat ground turkey mixed with hamburger meat, so guess what? I bought every chub in the refrigerator when I went shopping this week, and put them in my freezer.
It’s not hoarding if you use it up.
The same principle applies to any meat, dairy, freezable produce, or household item that you’ll use. Stock up while it’s on sale.
Don’t Even Try To Buy Everything Fresh
In other words, make friends with the freezer aisle. I’ve heard that Costco has amazing prices on frozen organic broccoli. We don’t live near a Costco, but I can absolutely vouch for the fact that most stores will stock frozen produce much, much more cheaply than fresh produce, and believe it or not, there’s a really good possibility that frozen veggies are even better for you than fresh!
One of our local grocery stores has a really good selection of organic frozen fruit that we love to buy for making smoothies (green smoothies of course! ;)). I would never be able to afford all those organic fruits from the fresh produce section!
Use Cashback Programs
eBate y’all, use eBates. With them, you can get up to 7% cash back on your purchase. It’s super cool, super easy, and the dollars add quickly! If you’re at all interested in saving money, definitely go sign up for a free account! (psst, if you sign up through my link right here, you’ll get $10 right off the bat!)
Another great program, especially if you’d rather put your savings into charity, is Giving Assistant. I’ve used them to order site-to-store with walmart.com, and it makes my shopping days SO much easier!
Try to eat seasonally
In this era of high-tech farming methods and instant gratification, we’re use to eating whatever we want, whenever we want, but the truth is, a lot of food, especially organic food, is a lot cheaper when it’s in season. (Check here for a long list of seasonal foods.)
Really, the bottom line can be summed up in one phrase: plan ahead. Because knowing what you need ahead of time, gives you the power to save more money than you ever thought possible!
Get Your Garden Cheat Sheets!
Want to know exactly when, where, and how to plant your vegetables? Sign up to get our FREE companion planting guide, and garden planting cheat sheet printable.