Seeing as though this has been a highly requested topic from my readers since I started my account [back as a broke college student], it’s FINALLY time I posted it. There are endless ways you can go about cutting costs in certain areas of your life… and you definitely don’t have to compromise when it comes to staying healthy!
Budgeting is smart– it means you have a plan. If you don’t already know your current expenses, it may be worth it to start writing down as you spend since most things add up… quick!
I compiled a list of 7 of my top master saving tips below, along with so many suggestions from you guys! Who would have thought it would be so easy to crowd source for answers in 2018?? Anyways, thank you for all your tips and I hope this helps ya save more $$ 🙂
MASTER SAVING TIPS
- Shop sales ! Sign up for newsletters, download apps like Whole Foods (especially their new Amazon Prime deals), Sprouts, or ibotta, where you can earn real cash back and look at weekly ads at grocery stores. It’s worth the wait for markdowns on your favorite products.
- Be willing to hit several different stores to load up on everything you need. Once you do this a few times, you’ll learn which stores offer the cheapest price for certain items.
- Shop seasonally and be guided by the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. In season produce not only tastes better and contains more nutrients, but is cheaper when in season due to the abundance. It also forces you to learn about the seasonality of produce items. In season produce is usually more affordable. Perhaps something you’re planning on buying at the store isn’t offered organic, but notice it’s listed on the Dirty Dozen, opt for something else!! Get creative and see if the same recipe can use an alternative item, or maybe branch out from your typical piece of fruit and try something new that’s organic & a better price.
- Trader Joe’s is literally my ride or die. They have such great prices, healthy items & tons of organic produce. Click here for my Trader Joe’s shopping guide.
- Freeze your fresh produce items that are on the verge of going bad, and use for smoothies instead! Things like berries, bananas, spinach, etc. are great for throwing into an airtight container and popping in the freezer.
- Go in with a list. And DO NOT DEVIATE FROM THE PLAN.
- Avoid pre-cut foods. You’ll end up saving money buying whole/loose pieces of fruits and veggies and further, you’ll be reducing your plastic waste from that packaged item.
- Take in only enough cash$$ that you’re willing to spend. Your credit/debit card makes it feel ok to spend more than you would with just cash.
- Eat a primarily plant-based diet. Organic, grass-fed, sustainably caught animal proteins should be add-ons!
- Imperfect produce: being able to pick and choose what you receive each week by the click of button is brilliant. Plus, being that it’s “imperfect,” it tends not to be a big seller at grocery stores, which is why they created this business! Cheap varieties of all kinds of fresh produce. Click here to save $10 on your first order with Imperfect Produce.
- Sign up for CSA at the beginning of the season and plan your meals around what shows up in the box. If you think it’s too much produce for just you, sign up and split it with a friend!
- Shop in the BULK section. When it comes to nuts, grains, legumes, spices, oils, etc., you can find a lot of what you need for a cheaper price. Not only will this be cheaper in the long run, you’ll be reducing your waste as well! Remember your reusable bags / storage items! 😉
- Thrive Market. Although there is an annual fee of $60, depending on how often you buy specialty health products, you can save quite a bit of money! Plus, everything is delivered straight to your door. I use it all the time for my favorite specialty products.
- Costco has improved so much with organic produce. Buy extra & freeze for later use! Plus, they have specialty items for great deals, such as Vital Proteins, RXBAR, Chosen Foods avocado oil, Simple Mills, Purely Elizabeth, etc.
- Go to local farmer’s markets… but at the end of the day, before they close! Vendors would rather get rid of what they brought with them to their stand. Usually the best deals are in the last 30 minutes of the market!
- Try to plan out your meals for the week that have overlapping ingredients. This way, you can repurpose certain produce items.
- Aldi: we don’t have any near Seattle, but tons of you recommended for healthy & cheap options! *Shop at discount stores BEFORE hitting more expensive places like Whole Foods.
- Grab a hand basket instead of a cart so you can only buy what you can physically carry out.
- Shopping store brand names are cheaper! And generally, no difference in taste/quality– I do this with 365 brand & Thrive Market brand.
- Grocery deliveries may help keep you from buying extra add-on’s you’d normally grab if you were in the store.
- Limit yourself to one “splurge” item each week or every other week.
- Stock up on anything with a longer shelf life (extra-virgin olive oil, Primal Kitchen salad dressings, frozen wild-caught seafood, organic meats, etc.) when it’s on sale.
- Separate your “want” vs. “need” items and save the “wants” for special treats or occasions as opposed to weekly purchases.
- Make extras for dinner to supply your lunch or dinner the following day.
- If you’re one to find that produce items go bad before you can get to them, make a point to hit the grocery store 2+ times per week! This way, you know items will stay fresh and you won’t have to worry about wasted food by the end of the week.
- Frozen fruit and veggies are great! They’re picked and frozen at peak freshness and usually cheaper than fresh produce. Again, try to shop organic or follow the Dirty Dozen.
- Don’t double purchase! Check your fridge and pantry before leaving the house to really determine what you need.
- As you’re going down the aisles and picking up any packaged items, look at the ingredients and think to yourself, “can I make this at home?” for certain items like salad mixes, sauces, quick snacks, granola, nut milk or cut veggies. Most likely, you’ll spend less on the ingredients to make bigger portions of that same item.
- Stay away from aisles that contain snacks you cannot control yourself around.
- Try eating animal protein only a few days out of the week. Think of it as supplemental to your already plant-based diet. There are thousands of recipes out there that recreate classic “meaty” dishes, without the meat!
- If you’re the kind of person who needs a list to follow & stick to, do what works best! If you’re disciplined in a grocery store, try shopping on the spot for deals, being open minded and planning your meals around those sale food items.
- Find one or two recipes (bonus for more recipes) you love and that are pretty cheap to make, and put them in rotation every week! It can be anything from a yummy & quick side dish to a big greek salad, or even a main dish. This way you won’t have to think twice about meals you’ll be making for the week. Check out my easy Chicken Verde Tacos.
I do spend a good amount of money each month on groceries. I’m not the type to go out to eat several days a week (I hardly ever eat out in general), go out to get drinks with friends, or buy a daily coffee. So, I feel like I allocate those unused expenses towards high quality food items. I put my health at the top of my priority list and I make an effort to fuel it with nourishing foods because I know just how important the role food plays in our health (especially brain health) later down the road.
A few things I personally never compromise when it comes to grocery shopping– animal protein & dairy. We just can’t trust our current meat industry in the U.S. In order to account for the population increase, meat manufacturers pump animals with all kinds of antibiotics, hormones and chemicals in order to prevent sickness and produce more product. It’s so important to buy organic, grass-fed, and sustainably raised animal proteins. If you’re unable to afford, I recommend sticking to plants. I’m of course dairy-free (lactose intolerant), so you won’t see my recipes using dairy much at all, but for those who do consume it… choose organic or not at all!
I typically shop for the majority of my food at Trader Joe’s and the farmer’s market, get my grass-fed / organic meats from Butcher Box, organic produce every other week from Imperfect Produce, and shop for specialty items either at Whole Foods or on the Thrive Market website.
At the end of the day, you don’t need all these fancy superfoods, detox supplements, etc. Eat REAL FOOD and your body will be happy 🙂
STORING FOOD ITEMS
Not knowing how to properly store produce items tends to be one of the main contributors of food waste (and waste of money). How many times have you gone through your storage drawers in your refrigerator only to find wilted greens and moldy fruit? I’m almost positive it’s happened to you before, because I know it all too well.
Make sure to do your research and educate yourself on the proper ways to store those fresh herbs and yummy pieces of fruit in order for them to live a few more days in the fridge.
There is a great resource HERE.
ORGANIZATION IS KEY
When your fridge is organized, it’s less cluttered, you feel like you have your life together, you waste less food, and further, you spend less money. It’s a fact!
Here are some steps in order to simplify your fridge (and pantry).
Step 1: Clean out your entire fridge and wipe it down! No one likes opening a fridge to crumbs and stuck on messes
Step 2: Buy all kinds of storage things to help you be more organized. Maybe some glass jars for nuts, seeds, fresh herbs, etc. and some additional clear bins to categorize your items.
Step 3: ONLY buy what you are going to eat for the week
Step 4: Remove all plastic from food items right when you get home from the store. Here’s to hoping you went with as many loose, whole fruits and vegetables and avoided pre-cut, overly packaged produce. Items just look nicer without the plastic covering.
Step 5: Wash any and all produce items that need to be washed
Step 6: Re-stock your fridge with fresh new items and keep it that way ! At least for the week ahead 😉
Alright– now you’re equipped to go out there and start SAVING, but still staying healthy! Comment below / share this post if you thought it was helpful 🙂
Do you have a guide to shopping seasonally? I never know what times of the year certain produce items are in season. Thanks!
Rachael Devaux says
No, BUT I think that’s a great idea for a future blog post xx thank you!
This article is great – thank you! Do you recommend keeping nuts (e.g., almonds, cashews, etc.) and seeds (e.g., sunflower, pumpkin, chia, flax, etc.) in the fridge? And if so, do you prefer to use Mason Jars?
Rachael Devaux says
Yes I do! 🙂 Or at least the nuts and seeds you don’t use as often since refrigerating helps increase their shelf life. I’ve linked the jars I’ve been using at the bottom of this blog post
Literally Trader Joe’s gang for life! I’m a nutrition dietetics college student & so many of my classmates shop there too!!! Love love love this post 🙂
Megan P says
I think the biggest thing is for people to really focus on the plant based items and loading up on fruits and veggies without worrying themselves sick over organic vs conventional. I know you touched on it but sometimes I just want to scream, “JUST EAT SOME DARN PLANTS!” People have become so fearful of GMOs (not sure why) and eating organic that they’re sometimes skipping out on the important stuff.
All in all, great tips!
This is great! Can you share a shopping list for items to buy from Thrive Market?
Love all the info!! Thank you! I didn’t realize things were cheaper when they’re in season! Really going to start watching that. I guess that’s why apples have been on sale lately! I’ve been buying the tastier ones that are usually more expensive lately because they’re on sale!
Would you be willing ro share some pictures of your fridge and cabinets on instagram?!! So we can see a good way to organize. Especially now that you have a label maker! 🙂
Carly (simplycarlymarie) says
yaaas Rachael I’m loving all these new blog posts! #blessbe to TJ’s. Def need to do a monthly fridge clean out, you’ve inspired me to do that today hehe. Thanks for sharing all your tips and knowledge!
Rachael Devaux says
Aw, so glad you’re enjoying my new topics! I’ve been loving putting more out there lately 🙂 Enjoy your fridge clean out!! xx