Eating and shopping healthy + sustainably doesn’t have to drain your bank account or rule your life — and while it does add up, there are ways around overspending and overwhelm at the grocery store. I will point out, it’s certainly a privilege to make your wellbeing and the wellbeing of our planet a top priority, because again — it can often be a financial and mental investment, and being able to invest in things like this is a privilege. But to a degree, it may be a matter of priority — prioritizing your health over things you’d spend that money on that don’t necessarily fuel or nourish you.
The way I look at it: your health is worth investing in. Grocery shopping with your wellbeing in mind is way cheaper and easier than dealing with diseases, skin problems and painful illnesses down the line.That’s not to say I never go out, or that I advise against it — you gotta live a little. But cutting certain expenses for the sake of being able to afford food that does nourish and fuel me is so worth it.
SOME TIPS FOR GROCERY SHOPPING EFFICIENTLY AND ON A BUDGET:
1. Make a LIST! I write my lists out in categories and ordered based on (a) where things are laid out in the store and (b) what type of food, so I make sure not to get too much of one thing. When using a list, I find myself sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store without going down the aisles, other than for a few items, because the aisles are where all the packaged/processed products with added + refined sugars hide, and avoiding these products keeps our bodies, planet and wallets feelin’ good. Here is a general list, but note that I don’t usually buy 100% of these products at once; it’s just what I like to have on hand to make macro bowls, tacos, salads, snacks and soups. The combinations are endless and change with the season, my cycle and ever-changing tastebuds. :
2. Stick to the perimeter! Grocery stores are deliberate with the way they package and place their items so you spend more money and time there, and keep coming back for the addictive stuff! (Priciest options are always at eye level, the packaged / overly-processed foods are in the center, milk/eggs/staples you usually go to the store for are in the back so that you have to pass all that stuff on your way to them. STICK TO THE PERIMETER AND THE PLAN, PEOPLE!
3. Farmers markets and the frozen section are your friend! The thing about grocery stores is that even when things are laid out as fresh — they’ve often already been frozen on their way to the store, and then thawed so they keep. So, essentially, when you buy fresh chicken/fish — you’re likely buying thawed chicken/fish. And the thing about frozen fruits/vegetables: they’re typically just as, if not more fresh than the marketed fresh produce because they’re picked at their peak and then flash frozen. So frozen food is the way to go! And shopping at farmer’s markets is usually your best bet because it’s all locally sourced, which makes that stuff more sustainable. Good for our wallets, bodies and planet — and you’re supporting a small business. Quadruple win.
4. Buy dry food / pantry items in BULK! These are things I stock up on about once every two months: nuts, seeds, spices, oats, oils. Buying in bulk usually helps save money and allows for less packaging!
5. Bring your own bags (and, pro tip, a COAT even if it’s not cold outside)! Not only is it better for the environment in reducing plastic use and need for more plastic, but a lot of stores now charge you a small amount for bags (or take a small amount off your total if you bring your own). And re: the coat tip — you’re basically walking around a giant refrigerator.
6. Bring your own PRODUCE bags! I try to stay away from the pre-packaged veggies and plastic baggies. It’s more cost-efficient, better for the planet AND your body to avoid foods that have been wrapped in plastic. Bring your own cloth baggies and go for the loose/bundled herbs, veggies and whole potatoes. Here are the reusable bags I bring for produce!
7. Get your toiletries online! They are always significantly more pricey at the grocery store. Amazon is my close friend!
8. Don’t go while hungry! I think we’ve all been there. Do it for your wallet and your fridge space
9. Find deals on Amazon, Marshalls, Aldi, or Target/Walmart. YOU DO NOT NEED TO GO TO WHOLE FOODS TO EAT WELL. Some of the higher quality organic stuff can unfortunately only be found at health food stores like that — but not all of it is necessary. I will say, some of that stuff is priced more highly because of the quality or effects on the body, but I believe good health is about stripping away rather than adding to. My goal is not to get everyone to drain their wallets by buying superfoods at expensive stores, but rather to encourage you to slowly start incorporating foods that help your body into your diet, in a manageable, approachable and accessible way.