How to Grocery Shop Healthy on a Budget

Who said healthy grocery shopping has to be expensive? Here are some of the best tips to keep a healthy diet while grocery shopping on a budget.

How to Grocery Shop Healthy on a Budget
Photo by Maria Lin Kim / Unsplash
María Rubio María Rubio
6 min read

A common misconception about healthy eating is that it is expensive – but this couldn’t be farther from the truth! While buying organic food and high-quality brands can indeed be expensive, those aren’t the only healthy options available in the market.

It’s completely possible to follow a healthy diet for your goals while on a budget, whether you’re an active person with a fitness routine or you just enjoy healthy eating for the infinite benefits of it. The three basic macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats), as well as all the vitamins and minerals that your body needs, can be found in a wide variety of food products, not only the most expensive ones!

We’ll show you some tips and tricks that you can follow next time you’re going to the grocery store and in your daily life, so you can take your healthy grocery shopping to the next level while still keeping it pocket-friendly!

Buy produce locally and seasonally

Fruits and veggies are seasonal, meaning that there are certain times of the year when production is at its peak, both in harvest and in flavor. Of course, you can usually find any kind of fruit or vegetable all year round at the grocery store, but shopping around their specific season will guarantee that you get more for less since it’s more abundant, plus a much richer flavor.

On top of shopping seasonally, shopping locally will also guarantee lower prices and a richer quality than shopping at your usual grocery store. Your local farmer’s market likely has a wide variety of fruits and veggies you can choose from at a low price, and you can support your local economy and community this way!

Buy frozen or canned produce

Maybe the fruits or vegetables that you want to buy aren’t in season, so they’re at the regular price at the store. To save money on groceries, make sure to buy frozen or canned fruits and veggies instead! When they’re not in season, frozen and canned produce often has a lower price tag. This is a great way to buy perishable items without them going bad too quickly, just make sure to read the nutrition label for any unnecessary additives or preservatives.

The freezing and canning process happens soon after the fruits and veggies are harvested, so they maintain the rich flavor and nutritional benefits for a lot longer. With frozen fruits and vegetables, in particular, you can portion them and take them out little by little whenever you need to grab some. Plus, it’s a delicious way to prepare healthy smoothies and fruit bowls!

Choose generic brand products

Well-known food brands are well known for a reason. Maybe because they have great marketing, their packaging is more attractive, or they’re truly high-quality and have gained the public’s trust. But all of this doesn’t mean that they’re the only good brands out there!

Generic food brands, such as store-specific brands, can be just as good as the well-known ones, and much much cheaper. Think pasta, flour, beans, oil… Most of the time, you’ll find little to no difference between the nutrition label of a famous brand vs. a generic one, so always make sure to read it carefully to make sure you’re still eating healthy while keeping it budget-friendly.

Buy in bulk whenever possible

While buying a 20 lb bag of brown rice is certainly more expensive than buying your regular 2 lb, in the long run, it’s much more affordable. This is because bulk items offer the best bang for your buck, being a lot cheaper when compared to the smaller packages in the same quantity. It’s a better deal and a more comfortable choice since it’ll last you longer so you don’t have to go to the grocery store once a week.

Of course, you don’t need to buy everything in bulk. Instead, think of the food products that you use the most, and if there’s an option to buy in bulk without risking an expiration date, go for it! This goes for all kinds of grains and other dry foods, but it can also apply to frozen meats, fruits, and vegetables if you have enough freezer storage!

Coupons can be your best friends

Finding coupons for products that you frequently buy can make your trips to the grocery store a little bit more budget-friendly. You can sign up for weekly flyers that come with a bunch of coupons and discount codes, and take them with you next time you need to restock your pantry. There are also rewards programs and memberships that you can sign up for at your favorite grocery stores, as well as cash-back options on each grocery trip!

That said, if you’re using coupons, here’s a word of advice: avoid temptation. A lot of times we’ll find coupons that have nothing to do with what we usually buy, and that discount can be tempting. The “I don’t actually need it but it’s cheap so I’ll buy it anyway” mentality can be very harmful to your wallet, so be careful and try to only keep coupons for products that you would otherwise buy with actual money!

Buy limited perishable items

We’ve talked a lot about non-perishable foods and ways to keep them stored for longer, but perishable items are also part of our regular diet. Anything with an expiration date, as well as fresh vegetables and fruits, make sure to buy in limited quantities to avoid waste.

By limited quantities, we mean just enough of that food to last you until your next grocery store visit or less. You don’t want anything to get spoiled and then tossed out because that’s not only food wasted but also money lost. Make sure to read the expiration date of every product that you choose and buy accordingly – but still try to buy frozen or canned whenever possible!

Take a grocery list with you

The grocery store is usually huge and full of all kinds of foods, from the healthiest options to the most unhealthy ones. A great way to avoid temptation when you get there is by bringing a grocery list with you so you know exactly what you need to buy and don’t distract yourself with attractive snacks and costly foods!

Before you leave home, take note of everything that’s missing from your pantry and fridge. Take this list with you to the grocery store, and stick to that list throughout your whole trip. Of course, we’re only human, so falling for your favorite chocolate bar won’t do any harm, but having a list with you will serve as a reminder of what your priorities are so you can stick to the healthy options and save some money while you’re at it.

Try meal planning

If you want to take your healthy eating and budgeting to the next level, meal planning can be the perfect option for you and your goals. Making a list of the foods that you’ll prepare and eat throughout the week will help you better visualize what you need to add to your grocery list so that nothing goes to waste. As a pro tip, planning foods that have similar ingredients will help you save some money at the store!

You can go one step further and meal prep your meals for the week. This involves pre-cutting and slicing your fruits and veggies, cooking in batches, and having your food already portioned in lunch boxes or food containers. This helps reduces waste and mindless snacking, and saves you a ton of time during the week!

All of these tips can help you stick to a budget-friendly grocery shopping while still keeping your pantry and fridge well-stocked and healthy for your meals. You can also get creative with your ingredients and make healthy food swaps so that you can enjoy delicious meals and snacks with the healthy ingredients that you already have!

Looking for a place to plan your healthy meals for the week?

The Fit With Iulia app has everything that you need! Our Kitchen feature lets you log all the meals that you eat every day, so you can better visualize your healthy meal plan and make modifications as you go. You can browse our expansive food library and sort the results by macro, how healthy they are, if they’re vegan or vegetarian, and even if they’re lactose or gluten-free. Try the Fit With Iulia app and start your healthy eating journey today!