Wallet Friendly Food Hacks
“Money Money MoneyMust be funny
In a rich man's world”
Every time I think of my bank account, that song from mamma mia comes on. You know the one...Where Meryl Streep is running around trying to fix her hotel that's falling apart and lamenting about all the things she could do with more money.
Unfortunately, it's a lie because we all know Meryl Streep has millions in real life and can’t relate to us at all...She can probably afford to go to Whole Foods EXCLUSIVELY for food.
But for gals like us….. that is not a thing.
I used to feel frustrated, and think healthy eating was classist because literally WHO CAN AFFORD TO SPEND $20 PER POUND FOR GRASS FED BEEF. And if you’re trying to feed a family? FORGET IT.
This the number one hurdle I see women facing when trying to change the way they eat.
I seriously get it. When I first learned about the thyroid and hormonal issues I was having, I became so gung-ho to work on changing my diet to a hormone loving one.....Until I realized my college work-study job and non paid internship salary was not on the same page. So I had to learn-- QUICKLY--how to best utilize those dolla billz to get the maximum amount of nutrient dense whole foods I could with the smallest possible grocery bill. These 7 tricks I list for you today are the pinnacle of what I've learned so far, and how I’ve been able to cut my food cost down MORE THAN HALF than when I first started my healing journey.
1. Outsourcing Meat by going local
Out of all the healing foods I mention in my Nutrition guidelines, grass-fed and pasture raised meats are the most expensive. Especially when you get them from typical supermarkets like Whole Foods, Safeway, Sprouts, etc. If you prefer the convenience of shopping at grocery stores, my recommendation is to keep an eye out for when organic/grassfed meat goes on sale (especially the cheaper cuts like ground beef), then buy A WHOLE BUNCH and keep it in the freezer. However, that's not as dependable or sustainable as we would like.
My best recommendation for finding good meat at better prices is to buy local from a farm. If you live near any farms, there are most likely meat buyers clubs, CSAs, or regular pickups you can be a part of. There are options for buying 1/4th, half, or a whole cow which allows you to spend next to nothing per pound. If you don't have all the money or freezer space for that, gather up a large group of friends and all go in together, that way you still save but don’t end up with hundreds of pounds of meat with nowhere to store it.
If that sounds like too much of a hassle, most farms will still have a regular meat ordering program where you can receive monthly orders, pick them up, etc. To me, these are a win-win because 1. You support local agriculture and sustainable farming practices 2. You get high quality, better tasting meat and 3. YOU SAVE MONEY.
Want to find a farm near you? Go to LocalHarvest.org. Contact the farms nearest to you and see what they offer in terms of pricing, pick up, or delivery options.
If going directly to the farm isn’t your thing, there are amazing companies that serve as the middleman between you and farms. Near me there are companies like Grub Market or Good Eggs: they have farm fresh items from a collection of local farms all in one place. You can conveniently order online, in your pajamas, and hunt for the best deals. Just look up Farm Delivery Services Near Me and see what companies are doing the work for you!
Side note: If you are interested in food delivery sites, and aren’t necessarily concerned about the wide range of pricing, this site is a good resource.
I have found that going directly to local farms is the cheapest option, though, so don’t be afraid to get friendly with the people giving you food!
For Sacramento area residents: I order my meat from Sinclair Family Farms, and seriously cannot recommend their meat or prices enough. If you live in the Sacramento or Penryn area, check them out!
2.Wholesale is your friend
I recently posted a picture on Instagram of my latest Costco finds, and got so many replies like “WOW you found THAT at Costco?!”.
Why yes...Yes, I did.
The demand for healthy, organic food has increased and therefore wholesale stores have a lot of it to offer. Purchasing a yearly membership to Costco or Sam’s Club more than pays for itself. The trick is, you have to take the time to peruse all the food aisles since they are constantly changing products and you never know what you will find. Some of my usual pickups include grass-fed beef sausages, Kerry gold butter (in bulk...because obviously), pasture raised organic eggs, grassfed beef jerky, and non toxic home cleaning products.
Another great option is Thrive Market, which is like an online Costco JUST for organic health food items. That too requires a membership; so you can spend time exploring all the options and land on a membership you feel is best and most practical for you.
3. Optimize your purchases
Kale chips are great. Organic sweet potato chips baked in coconut oil are great. Gluten-free, grain-free, pizza made with first born baby sheep milk cheese and fair trade holy almonds are fun.... but luxury products like that can really hike up your bill. I call them "luxury" items because they are not providing the basis of your nutritional needs, and cost more for fewer nutrients. They are the sprinkles on top of your healing food cake. So, naturally, you are not going to forgo buying the actual cake mix just to have sprinkles, right? Same goes for buying the 'luxury' products over the basics like meat, fruits, and veggies.
Packaged "Health Food" always cost more than whole foods themselves, PLUS they are usually less nutrient dense. More often than not I will opt for buying kale, for a couple dollars, than a small bag of kale chips, for $6. Stick with buying the foundational foods FIRST, to get your nutrient needs covered in the simplest, cheapest way. THEN, if you have money leftover, you can splurge on the coconut oil baked chips at $6 per bag. *When i say 'splurge' I mean financially, not 'diet' wise. There are no such things as splurges in food. Food is food and you can enjoy anything you want whenever you want #intuitiveeating AMIRIGHT?
I know it's hard to refrain, but nobody said budgeting was easy.
4. Frozen is your friend
When it comes to saving money, frozen over fresh, ESPECIALLY for green veggies. It is commonly believed that frozen veggies are "less healthy" than fresh, but that is actually the opposite of the truth. Frozen veggies are flash frozen right after picking, meaning they have the highest level of nutrients saved, whereas fresh produce has been sitting out for a couple days transport which can cause some nutrients to be lost in the process.
bonus tip: When buying produce on a tight budget, whether frozen or fresh, stick to buying organic from the dirty dozen and be more relaxed on the others.
2 Items I almost always buy frozen are green veggies and wild caught fish. They are cheaper and last longer, so you don't have to worry about wasting food: WIN WIN.
5. Browse Local Farmers Markets
Farmers markets can be a great place to find steals on produce and fun items like fresh honey or broccoli sprouts. A little caveat: they are a hit or miss, and COMPLETELY depend on the market and location. I've gone to farmers markets that were more pricey than whole foods, and some that made me feel like I OWNED whole foods I was so rich. It all depends. It's still worth exploring all the markets near you just so you know whether that's a viable option for you or not.
6. Lazy Girl's Meal Plan
Meal planning... you knew this was going to be on the list right?
Though I don't necessarily preach it for health sake, because I feel you have the right to decide what you want to eat and should be flexible, it DOES help a lot with saving money.
Meal prep doesn't have to look like exactly portioning out your meals every day for a week--actually, I would argue that can feel pretty restrictive to many people and isn't sustainable.
It can look like writing down what you plan to make for dinner Monday-Thursday, and easy lunch ideas to take with you to work. That way, you know exactly what you need when you go to the store and don't overspend on things that will go to waste; and you can spend an hour or less on Sunday batch cooking protein, veggies, and carbs for throw together lunches. The big bonus with this is you eat out less, and cook more. It's another money saving, healthy eating WIN WIN.
7. Put your money where your mouth is
This is the hardest one for many people, because the simple truth is, where you put your money reflects your priorities. Back in high school, I spent all my extra funds on shoes and mascara (disclaimer: still on my priority list, just not as high )... And don't even get me started on college: $15 drinks and uber money both ways every weekend just to be reminded you're not cut out for anything that happens after 10 pm...
One of the most helpful things I've ever done is download a money tracker app (like Mint, or You Need A Budget ) and have a reflection of where I'm spending my money looking right at me in the face, so there is no escape. You realize where your current priorities are real quick.
You realize you eat out more often than you thought, you're spending unnecessarily on snacks when you could just plan out your meals ahead of time, and you impulsively buy shoes when you're PMSing... anyone else? Either way, if you are tight on funds, it's time to cut back on the unnecessary spending and get creative about ways to have fun and socialize that won't cost an arm and a leg. I may be biased, but I really believe that preventative health is a worthy priority for us all. I would rather spend an average cut of my paycheck on healthy food and supplemental support than most of my retirement on health insurance and medical bills....Because let's be honest, I'm going to need that retirement money for all my Hawaii vacations.
What are your favorite ways to save money on healthy food? I'd love to know below!