I don’t know about you, but the last time I looked at my grocery bill, I suddenly felt a bit faint. Shocked even.
It seems so much higher than just a little while back. Now eating on a budget is getting more important for many.
Do you think I’m being brainwashed by the media who are constantly talking about the rising cost of food?
No. I do think food prices going up.
Therefore let’s see how we can create savings WITHOUT missing out on healthy nutrition or yummy food.
Our aim should be to ensure we maintain our health whilst controlling the grocery spending a little tighter.
So what are some of the ‘doable’ options when we buy our food?
1) WHOLE FOOD PLANT BASED
Thank goodness, plant-based eating can fit into any budget. You can either spend a lot. [Think organic, imported fancy foods.]
Or you can fill your trolley with healthy fare by choosing mainly whole grains, legumes, and fresh produce.
Although many processed ready foods can be low-cost, it’s best to stay away from them. They may save us a bit of money now, but the possible cost to our future health can make this a bad deal.
So let us cook from scratch and enjoy the savings!
Even if you’re not used to it, within a short while I know you will have several easy and delicious meals that you can keep preparing in no time.
2) WHERE POSSIBLE, BUY LOCAL
Search out local produce where you can and compare their prices with imported options.
For instance, I find that our local apples are often less expensive than the imported ones. But sometimes supermarkets get an impressive deal from another country where harvesting costs might be lower.
Search for special offers. If you notice that fruit and veg are less expensive in shop A whereas dry goods cost less in shop B, you may have to divide your loyalties and make your purchases accordingly.
3) COULD YOU MAKE BETTER CHOICES?
Look at the selection of foods you purchase. Instead of buying ‘fancy’ packed foods, or tropical fruit and out-of-season vegetables, try to stick with local basics. Here in the UK it would be apples and pears, green beans, carrots, cabbages, mushrooms, broccoli and Brussels sprouts etc. And not many fancy imported packed foods.
If you live in a tropical place (lucky you), check out seasonal veg and fruit over there. You will find that most times they work out less expensive.
4) CHECK OUT FROZEN PRODUCE
Frozen produce is very cost-effective. Plus it often has a higher nutrient level than the “fresh” stuff that’s been brought in from the other side of the globe.
When studies claim higher nutrients in fresh foods, they often tested produce freshly harvested. Not many of us have the opportunity to get our hands on such freshly picked produce.
Our stuff usually sits around in airports, shipping containers, warehouse storage, supermarket storage and then on their shelves. 😤
To save time I love using chopped frozen vegetable medleys. There’s no cutting, peeling or cleaning up after…and I have many options to choose from. I use them to either make a soup or sauté them in veg stock.
Then I add cooked legumes to the sauteed food…maybe mix in a homemade mushroom sauce from my freezer, and BOOM…we have a tasty stew. You can also add some potatoes or whole grains on the side.
And fruit? Frozen berries are especially cost-effective and most times even sweeter than fresh ones. They get picked at their peak and are snap frozen to retain as much taste and nutrients as possible. I find that the fresh punnets always have several squishy berries which is such a waste. And the use-by date is never longer than 2 days.
Frozen berries are so convenient in many ways.
Frozen berries, close up
4) Organic vs. Regular
In a perfect world, we’d only buy organic. But right now, we are far from living in a perfect world. And organic produce can be pretty pricey.
So what can we do to remove most of the pesticides?
According to Dr Greger from nutritionfacts, here’s a good tip: make a 10% salt solution (1 part salt and 9 parts water) for soaking and washing your fruit and vegetables.
It appears to work just as well, or even better, than the usual suggestion of pure vinegar washes. And it is less expensive as well.
He reminds us to rinse all the salt off before eating.
And did you know that each year we get an updated list of the US ‘Dirty Dozen’ produce? They itemise various fruit and veg with the highest and lowest levels of pesticides.
Although many don’t believe the numbers are always correct, I like to look at these figures as an interesting guide.
We don’t have a comparable list in the EU or Great Britain. Maybe it would not be too different anyway.
Someone wrote that our governments ensure we aren’t using too many chemicals in our environment.
Well, I’m sure there are strict regulations around this important subject. However, a recent survey found that current schemes are pretty ineffective in helping farmers reduce harmful chemicals use. I wonder why?
In the UK organic farming appears to be a ‘movable feast’ meaning, that some organic farming sections have decreased, others increased.
And the rest is sprayed with an ‘exciting’ cocktail of mild to not-so-mild toxins.
So check out which fruit and veg have the most pesticide residues in 2022 over in the States.
And the Clean 15 is in there as well.
Can you guess which food had the highest pesticide levels according to their list?
Hint: It’s a fragrant fruit. 🍓
5) BUY IN BULK
I buy many of my staples in bulk from online whole food stores. Although the initial outlay for a 1-2kg pack of say rolled jumbo oats or quinoa might be higher, they do work out cheaper in the long run. Buying staples in small 250g packs is more expensive when you add it all up.
I hope that some of the above options have shown you that we can easily get our food on a lower budget if we put our minds to it.
What are some of the money-saving steps you can recommend to us? Let us know in our Facebook group.