Food prices are up. That’s no myth. I, too, experience it personally whenever I go grocery shopping. But I’m less convinced by the argument that eating healthy foods is more expensive. Sure, organic strawberries are more expensive than the alternative.
You: Wouldn’t those be inorganic strawberries?
I don’t think so. But my Chem 101 memory is kind of fuzzy. Although organic fruit can be pricey, we each make food decision throughout the day that are potentially even more costly than a 45-cent strawberry. So I became immediately interested in Cheap eats: How to find healthy food, which effectively describes strategies for eating healthy foods for less.
Like the rest of financial planning, thinking ahead of a food purchase decision drives savings as much as anything. One of the most important examples provided is to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. Such produce will nearly always be more affordable in-season than the exact same type (and often lower quality) of fruit or vegetable will be six months later. (Asparagus being an example I am most familiar with.)
Beverages are another example discussed. Although I’ve insisted before that Your problem isn’t Starbucks, there is an indisputable financial savings from making your coffee at home. If you don’t get the same emotional “high” from visiting the coffee shop that you once did, it’s an idea worth considering.
Other tips from Cheap Eats include (with my comments in green):
- Look for the generic or store brand. I agree 99%. For me, brand still matters for spaghetti sauce and orange juice. But I drink generic soda. You?
- Look for bigger containers and boxes to save some money. To see if you are really getting a better deal, compare the unit prices of the bigger and smaller containers on the store’s shelf. Remember the one about the English Muffins?
- Use coupons, but only for things that you normally would buy—not a lot of high-fat, high-sugar foods. Indeed, make sure you don’t become a serial coupon user.
- If you’re feeling really frugal, grow your own fruits and vegetables. Most of the people I know don’t have the time, interest, or acerage to accomplish this in its entirety, but a) my wife does love to garden and b) I love pesto. Basil (a primary ingredient in the making of fresh pesto) is expensive at the store. But she grows the basil outside our back door and we’ve got another bumper crop this year (I suspect basil is pretty easy to grow compared to, say, green peppers). Her little farming habit has saved us a pretty penny at the grocery store plus we get to enjoy very fresh, healthy food.
What strategies have you used to keep your food bills down while still eating healthy food?