Most of you have probably been excited to get ready to eat healthy but realise that food is so expensive and asked yourself, is it really worth it? Some of you may be students, recent graduates and others may just be trying to save money. After years of trial and error, I figured out the best ways to save money and eat healthy on budget.
Here are my top tips:
- Make a list
The worst thing you can do is to go to the shops without a shopping list. You will definitely break the bank. I suggest to start making the list at the beginning of the week on your phone or a sheet of paper and hang it on the fridge. By the end of the week, review your list and decide if you should add or take any item off.
Also write down an estimate of how much money you can afford to buy your food for the week. The challenge is to stay within your price range. Note: If it is not on the list, don’t buy it. It wasn’t important enough for you to remember during the week.
The way I make my list is to ensure the following:
- Protein: Do I have enough protein sources for the week?
- Carbs: Do I have enough carb sources at home for the week? If not, what do I want?
- Fruits: What fruits would I like to eat for the week? How many of each do I need?
- Vegetables: What vegetables would I like to eat for the week? How much do I need?
- Miscellaneous: Chocolate, sweets, ice cream etc.
When I was living in the U.S, I became more brand-conscious in my life. What I learnt was to buy generic brands instead of a specific one because at the end of the day, it is a) cheaper and b) practically the same quality. Each supermarket you regardless where you are living have their own store brand foods for a cheaper price. I suggest buying them in order to save money and stay within your budget.
3. Convenient Items
There are some items that are more convenient if you are on the go or if you don’t have time to quickly whip up a meal during the day. Canned vegetables, canned beans, canned fish, yoghurt, zipped up tuna, fruits, frozen vegetables etc. are my idea of convenient items. These foods tend to have a bad rap especially canned foods but they are a bang for your buck so to speak. If you are going to buy canned fish, always buy the ones in water. With other canned items, make sure to wash them thoroughly to get rid of the sodium.
4. Coupons/Vouchers/Shop Card
This is one of my favourite tips out of them all! Every shop has a newsletter, a shop card and vouchers. In their weekly newsletter, they have deals of the week and show you discounted items. A shop card or points card (whatever you call it) is a lifesaver. As you start shopping and racking up points with this card, you will receive points and eventually can start paying for your weekly shopping with your points.
Now vouchers, DO NOT THROW AWAY THE VOUCHERS YOU GET AFTER YOU GET YOUR RECEIPT. That’s a little excessive but this is so important. I used to throw these bad boys out all the time when I realised that these were extra discount vouchers that I could use when I came back shopping the following week. They usually give you vouchers based on the items that you usually buy or similar items. Some can be “buy one, get one free”; “buy one, get one half price”; “30% of this item when you next purchase it in within this time frame”. Honestly, buy a notepad and store this vouchers in it. You will never know when you need them.
5. Farmer’s Market
I know that the farmer’s market is not always year-round across the world but actually buying fruits, vegetables,meats(if they have them) and breads there, is so much cheaper than buying them in the supermarkets. If I have time, I tend to go to the farmer’s market here in Lausanne where I live or I’ll just hop onto the boat and buy it in France (so much cheaper there).
6. Buy in Bulk (if you can)
If they have sales running, buy as much as you can afford.
7. Eat Before You Shop
Going to the shops hungry is such a terrible idea. You will do impulse shopping because you are too hungry to think. Please don’t do it.
8. Prepare your own meals
Prepping your meals the day before work or school or even prepping all of them during the weekend and throwing some in the freezer saves you time and money. Think about it, if you are going to buy lunch every day for the week, you are roughly going to spend $100/100 CHF on just getting a decent lunch alone.
It is worth your time and money to prep your meals for the week. One meal that you make is probably worth $3/3 CHF each. If you divide your weekly costs on food by the number of meals that you are making for week, you’ll think twice about buying lunch every day. Of course, treating yourself once in a while is perfectly okay but I wouldn’t make it a habit buying lunch out all the time.
There are so many ways that you can save money and eat healthy on a budget, you just have to be willing to do the research in the area in which you live, get the vouchers, coupons and points card and make that list. You will be surprised how easy it is to eat healthy on a budget, you will be a pro at it within two months.
Until next time,