When living on a budget, it can be difficult to eat healthily. It just seems like everything that is good for you costs a fortune. While there are some truths in this, it doesn’t mean you have to opt for a grocery list full of junk food.
With some planning, you could have a cheap and lean grocery shopping list. There’s no need to break the bank or worry about where the money for your groceries is going to come from.
Sometimes you’ll want to make some smart substitutes. And it’s worth remembering that you don’t need to eat meat every single day, which can help to keep your shopping budget to a minimum.
Need some specific help to get a cheap and lean grocery shopping list on a budget? Here’s all you need to follow.
Stop Paying for the Brands
Whether you opt for branded or non-branded products, you will mostly get the same. This is especially the case when it comes to fruit, vegetables, and meat.
There’s no need to get the biggest named brand in the market. These brands get to price their products much higher because they know people will buy them. They may also have more outgoings, meaning that they need to charge more. However, the non-branded products are usually made up in very similar ways and will not taste any different. Some of them can end up tasting better.
The next time you’re shopping for groceries, consider opting for the non-branded products. If you’re really worried about the taste and quality, you can always just get one tin or item instead of stocking up the whole cupboard with non-branded items. Try them first and stop thinking of them as lower quality compared to the branded stuff. All you’re missing is the name!
You’ll save a good few dollars per product just by making this switch. It’s definitely worth it in the long term.
Keep an Eye on the Offers
Shops will always put their own offers on. Make sure you keep an eye out for them and tailor your grocery list to work with this. This is most important when it comes to the meat.
Start by looking at the offers for the week. Which meats are widely available? Could you bulk buy on these meats to help keep your overall monthly budget down? Mark down the meats that you’re getting and keep track of the cycles of offers. You’ll usually find that once every four or five weeks the same meats will be on offer, so make sure you stock up on enough of them.
Create a meal plan around these meats for the week and month. This will help you get the right amount while the offers are on and will keep the costs down throughout the month.
It takes the time to do this, but you will avoid waste and keep the costs down.
You will want to make sure that the meats on offer are the lean cuts. Sometimes the lean cuts are slightly more. However, chicken and minced turkey are often the lean cuts at a low price.
It won’t be just meat that’s on offer. Fruits and vegetables tend to be included. You’ll want to keep an eye on these cycles, especially when the foods are out of season. If your store does a price match, this is an excellent way to keep the costs of your fruits, vegetables, and meats to a minimum quickly and efficiently.
Make a List of In-Season Vegetables and Fruits
You want to pile your cart high with fruits and vegetables. These should take up the bulk of your budget after the meat. Looking at the offers available isn’t the only way to keep the costs down.
When you make your list of fruits and vegetables, look at the ones that are going to be in season. Yes, you can freeze some of them if you want to buy in bulk and make them last. This is best with fruit rather than vegetables!
Buying fruits and vegetables that are in-season will help to keep the costs down right away. They cost less to produce and for the stores to get their hands on. If you buy the out of season fruits and vegetables, the stores have to buy internationally. They spend more on the shipping, so pass on that cost to you.
On top of this, buying out of season fruits and vegetables means you’re not supporting the local farmers. And you don’t get the best quality options. Most of the fruits and vegetables have pesticides and other chemicals to last the journeys, and they often end up closer to their best before dates! You’ll get a juicer and tastier fruits and vegetables when you buy in season.
If you really want out of season fruits and vegetables, opt for the freezer aisle. There will be plenty of packets of both fruits and vegetables; all varieties of the two. If you want mangoes, pineapples, berries, sweetcorn, beets, and more, you’ll find them in the freezer section.
There are some debates over the nutrients, but getting some nutrients is better than getting none at all because your shopping budget won’t allow. You’ll also find that they keep some of their taste compared to the internationally shipping options.
Bulk Buy Only When It Works Out Cheaper
Don’t be afraid to stand in the aisles and compare the prices. You want to bulk buy on the dried and canned goods only when it works in your favor.
For example, a large bag of pasta can work out cheaper one week. The next week that you go, you’ll find buying three smaller bags is going to work out cheaper due to that week’s offers. Get your calculator out if you must just to make sure.
I can’t tell you a number of times that I’ve seen “offers” of $0.30 each or 3 for $1! Too many people fall for this because they see an offer and think it’s better for them. The shops only have their bottom line in mind when creating these offers.
At the same time, don’t buy bulk just because it will save some money in the long term. Will those foods last for the longer term? Two bags of potatoes may save you $1-$2, but they may go off after two weeks, and you wanted those two bags to last you a month. In two weeks you have to buy another bag and throw out the second bag. You’ve actually wasted a couple of dollars instead of saving it!
All that being said you do want to look at items that you can bulk buy and save money on. These items include the likes of canned and dried goods. If you know that you will save that week and throughout the month then opt for picking up extra items one week.
Opt for Legumes Instead of Meat
We have this misconception that meat is the only good ingredient for protein. If that were the case, vegetarians and vegans wouldn’t be healthy at all. There’s no denying that the vegetarian and vegan diet can be the healthiest, if it’s followed properly.
This means getting protein from other sources. One of the best sources of protein is legumes.
You need to stock up on lentils, chickpeas, beans, and other similar items. Many of them will be dried, which also means you can bulk buy without worrying about waste.
Switch out the meat and opt for more legumes instead. Not only are they cheaper, but they will last longer. They are also healthier. You’re getting rid of the saturated fats and some of the animal forms of vitamin A. You get the plant form of vitamin A instead to help with muscle building and healthier living.
When you do opt for canned options of legumes and beans, make sure you buy those that have no added sugar or salt. Watch out for those that say they are “salt-free” or “sugar-free.” It is possible that they have other additives to make up for the taste when removing natural sugars and salts. “No added” means that they’re more organic and healthier for your body’s sodium and water levels.
Quinoa is another excellent option to substitute your milk for. It is healthier and cheaper, and there are so many recipes. The benefit is you don’t need to worry about the cost of tofu!
Stock Up on Whole Wheat Options
Healthy living doesn’t mean you have to cut out pasta, rice, and bread. It’s important to look for the right type. When you get the complex carbs, you help to reduce the problem of insulin resistance.
It’s time to stock up on the whole wheat options. They can be harder to bulk buy, but they are still cheaper than trying to get your carbs in other ways. You also get your fiber intake through these options.
One of the biggest benefits for cost is that the whole wheat options will fill you up more. The fiber breaks down slowly, so you’re left feeling fuller for longer. There’s no need to eat as much of the ingredients, so they last you an extra week or so. You get to save money without really thinking about it, and you don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything.
Get Rid of the Breakfast Cereal
Watch out for the breakfast cereals. They are usually branded products with coloring on the packaging that makes you want to buy it. The food doesn’t actually taste that great, and you’re wasting your money on empty carbs.
The only type of “cereal” that you need is porridge oats. You can make so many different meals with them, whether you want oat bars, overnight oats, porridge and more. Remember all that frozen fruit that you got? Well, this is a great way to create delicious and different breakfasts daily.
And if you do get bored of porridge, you can opt for eggs instead. They are much cheaper to buy than cereal and extremely filling.
Eggs have gained a bad reputation over the years. The high cholesterol levels are actually good for you. They’re the HDL form, which helps to protect your arteries and line them with a smooth covering for the blood to flow the past. The cholesterol helps to prevent blockages and keep the blood pressure levels down.
You can also make eggs in so many different ways. There’s an endless supply of breakfasts and other meals with them.
If you’re really worried about cholesterol levels, you can opt for egg whites instead. There are some cartons of just egg whites if you want to save the full eggs to avoid wasting the yolks. It’s far better to spend the money on your egg white cartons instead of breakfast cereal!
Create the List and Stick to It
Now that you have a list of lean foods for your grocery shopping, it’s time to create it. Plan out your meals and make a note of every single item that you are going to buy. The fuller the list, the better it will be for yourself in the store. You limit the chance of walking past something and realizing that you forgot it. That just opens you to deviating from the list!
Never ever buy something, not on the list. Your list is keeping your shopping to a minimum. It’s healthy and full of foods that will be filling for you. The fuller you feel through the day, the less you will eat. Not only do you consume fewer calories but you must spend less on topping up on certain elements of your meals.
Make your list every week before you go on your grocery shop. Look through the offers that are available and find out the shops that have the best deals on. If you don’t have a store willing to price match, you’ll need to go to the shops to keep the cost of your groceries to your shopping budget.