Before I had three kids and before inflation made food cost nearly triple what it did a few years ago(!), my grocery shops were typically filled with all kinds of lovely extras like magazines, new coffees (to test out), and organic everything. As much as I’d love to still shop that way, it’s completely unrealistic at this point with trying to feed three little people as well as ourselves.
It’s difficult to make healthy choices at the grocery store when, for example, romaine lettuce now costs nearly $6 each and a pint of strawberries can be nearly $8 at this time of year. Filling your cart with lots of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein can end up costing so much no matter which store you visit.
Let me share some of the tips that help me buy healthy food for our family, without spending a crazy amount each week:
Some ‘superfoods’ can be very cost-effective!
Each week, there are a few inexpensive ‘superfoods’ I consistently buy (and why) including:
- large flake oats (for baking & eating)
- frozen blueberries (great for brain health, skin, heart)
- canned salmon (again, skin & brain health, omega fats)
- milk (we do eat dairy) (protein that the kids will consume lol!)
- eggs (see above)
- nuts (walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds) from Bulk Barn (using a coupon!) (healthy fats)
- canned or dried beans (usually canned because I forget to cook them in time!) (fiber)
- kefir (lots of probiotics and protein)
- pasta sauce (whichever is on sale) (a base for a meal, with lycopene and other great antioxidants)
These help to balance out the healthy splurges, which include:
- meat (usually stewing beef, stir fry beef or chicken from Sobeys) (protein & iron/zinc etc.)
- frozen wild salmon (I love the PC brand of wild sockeye salmon) (healthy fats for skin & brain)
- Green & Black’s organic sea salt chocolate 💗 (because I love it)
- fresh fruits and veggies (esp. avocados, strawberries, cucumbers, carrots, and sweet potatos) (vitamins, minerals, fiber)
- school snacks (usually applesauce, raisins, cheestrings, Bear Paws, etc.) (because the kids need to eat and I believe in letting them have some fun snacks for school)
Price-matching, apps, and choosing where to shop
I used to be great at price-matching and would regularly pore over flyers to get the best deals at Fresh Co. or Superstore. It doesn’t happen very often any longer but I do admire those who are able to make it happen! Apps like Flipp make it easy to create lists and search up items to price match. I like to look at the flyers in Flipp and will usually decide where to shop based on the store that has the best deals for what I need.
Ordering groceries online is another way to save money, at least for me. I find that my temptations live in new item displays, the natural section, and in the magazine aisles! I can end up throwing $50 worth of magazines, new coffees and the occasional $100 coat into my cart when I’m physically in the store. Online, it’s easier to stick to a budget and pick only what is needed.
Amazon can also be a great place to pick up pantry items like canned pumpkin, beans, etc.
Prepping at home
Most frugal eating blogs will mention how cost-effective it is to prepare things at home, from shredding cheese to chopping veggies. I would agree – to a point. For me to bake cookies at home is 100 times more expensive than buying a box of Dad’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies! (usually because I’ve forgotten an ingredient and need to drive out to pick it up) Definitely shredding cheese and chopping up peppers and carrots may be less expensive, but if it stops you from eating at home it’s probably not THAT cost effective. Eating out is always going to be more expensive than a bag of shredded cheese or a bag of salad mix.
We have two appliances that I promised my husband would completely change our lives (okay, I say this a lot but this time I meant it!) – an Instant Pot and the Pampered Chef blender. I use these two appliances nearly every day and would argue that they are worth the price. The blender makes amazing smoothies, soups, and the perfect hot chocolate for little ones (you pick the temperature!). The Instant Pot makes soups, stews, curries, rice, beans…pretty much everything you could ask for! You can do tons of food prep in an Instant Pot like preparing dried beans, rice, eggs, and even broth. I use an amazing recipe for frozen salmon in the Instant Pot for nights that I forget to take something out for dinner (note: my kids would never eat this in a million years, but it’s perfect for me!)
Organic or not?
Sigh…this is a difficult one. I used to be so committed to buying organic whenever possible but it can be prohibitively expensive to do this. In an ideal world, it would be wonderful to buy exclusively organic food but, from my perspective, it would be a struggle to FIND everything to make up a balanced diet in a way that was cost effective. Based on what I’ve read, I do try to buy the more expensive eggs (although the grocer at Sobeys has convinced me that ‘cosy coop’ eggs are better based on his farming background!) and meat.
I’m less concerned about fresh fruit and vegetables because the organic ones always look a bit sad and are very expensive. The science that I’ve read mainly concludes that there is a marginal difference between organic and conventional food and ultimately it’s best to do whatever allows you to eat the healthiest diet you can.
I hope this helps to give you some tips to eat healthy for less! I’m not a perfect eater but I do feel like we have a fairly healthy diet without spending a crazy amount of money. Do you have tips to share? Please let me know in the comments!
2 responses to “Eating healthy for less”
Love these tips Justine! I am always looking for ways to save money as a student and trying to do that while eating somewhat healthy is a challenge these days ! My tip is I tend to buy bulk items (cereal, nuts, butter, eggs) at stores like Food Basics as I find they are usually a couple dollars cheaper than other more high end grocery stores 🙂
Thanks Julia! I’m so glad you liked this 😊. Gosh I love Food Basics…they have some of the freshest fruits and vegetables. I just bought a Christmas urn there for such a good price – just added in some pink ribbon and some gold balls from a previous urn. Go food basics!