Our coaching question of the week comes from a member of the Metabolic Renewal Facebook group, who we will call Jessica for the purposes of this post! If your goals involve healthy eating, and you are curious about how to accomplish this while on a budget, this Q&A post is for you! We hope you’ll find our response helpful in learning how to make the best food choices possible without breaking the bank!

“Hi all! Super new to the group! just wondering if you have any tips to keep the cost of these menus down. Eating healthy is expensive! Heck, everything is so expensive these days. Help a girl out and give me some budget-friendly shopping and meal-planning tips!”

Jessica, we totally understand that lately, it feels like food prices are heading into the stratosphere! While there may be some food choices that are worth the extra dollars, we can definitely share a few tips on cutting costs and budget-friendly food options that will help you to meet your personal and financial goals!

Before sharing any cost-cutting tips, let me first remind you that you are absolutely welcome to modify our menu plan suggestions, or meal ingredients, in any way that works best for you! For example, if you see a recipe that calls for fish, but you happen to have a bunch of poultry on hand due to purchasing in bulk as part of a sale, feel free to swap protein for protein! 

You can also eat any of our meals on “repeat” so don’t feel like you have to have different meals prepared each day of the week as our menu or meal plan may suggest! Anything you can prepare in bulk that also involves cost savings to you is absolutely encouraged! We are big fans of “structured flexibility” here at Metabolic.

Now for some tips to help with healthy eating while on a budget. Look for off-brand products in place of brand names. As someone who loves fashion and enjoys following trends, I understand how fun it can be to buy from particular brands. When it comes to grocery shopping, however, I often actually prefer off-brand or store-brand items! 

Next time you head to the store, take a look at the ingredient list of particular brand-name products compared to off-brand products. You may be surprised to learn that you probably won’t find much of a difference when comparing the labels.

Think of products like Greek Yogurt, cheese, protein sources including organic deli items, and canned goods. Spend a few extra minutes while shopping looking at the ingredient list and nutrition facts. You’ll often find things are basically the same between the brand of your choice and the off-brand product. If you can save some change by buying off-brand products, and still meet your nutrition goals, why not? 

Buy your most frequently used items in bulk. If you have access to a warehouse club of some sort, such as Costco or Sam’s Club, probably best to purchase your most frequently used items in bulk. Things like protein, fruit, veggies, and frozen items can lead to greater cost savings ounce for ounce or pound for pound. If you are worried that some of your items may not stay fresh for too long, or may go rancid before you have a choice to eat them, freeze what you can or buy food already frozen.

Some pantry items can be found online in bulk (or even off-brand alternatives) through online stores that may or may not require a membership fee, including Amazon and Thrive Market. You can even find organic produce at deep discounts through companies like Imperfect Foods or MisFits Market. 

For online stores that require a membership fee, oftentimes there are fantastic incentives that you’ll receive upon enrolment, including a steep discount on your first order or free items. If a significant discount is offered as part of your enrolment, take advantage of that and buy items that will store well in your pantry for months to follow! 

Know when to buy organic versus when to save your pennies. Buying organic isn’t necessary all the time or for every item on your grocery list. To clear up any confusion there may be, buying organic doesn’t always mean making a healthier choice either! Check out this YouTube video from Lora and Bella, where the ladies walk you through when to buy organic versus when to save your pennies, but also explain how to support your local farmers while reducing food costs. 

I’m often asked more specifically about the benefits of buying fruits and vegetables that are fresh and organic versus those that are canned or frozen. The truth of the matter is whatever allows you to get in your fibrous veggies is what is most important, and actually fresher isn’t always better! There are so many great deals weekly at stores on canned and frozen produce, and you can easily stock up on these types of food choices when they are on sale.

Plus, according to this report, the Produce for Better Health foundation has data to support the fact that consumers who have all forms of fruits and vegetables ready and available for home consumption have the highest produce consumption overall. This illustrates the value in simply having healthy foods on hand and at your fingertips whenever you may need to throw a meal together in a pinch versus the stress involved in thinking that you can’t possibly be a healthy eater if you aren’t only eating organic foods.

So what do you think, Jessica? Can you use some of these tips to help with cost-saving measures next time you head to the store or think about ways to modify the menus according to your own personal budget? While some of these tips may involve some extra label reading or time at the store, the time you spend investing in yourself and your health may lead to more money in your bank account at the end of the day!

Let us know what tips you find most helpful!

Photo by Diane Helentjaris on Unsplash