Eat Healthy On A Budget

Love yourself enough to live a healthy lifestyle.

My favorite subject. FOOD!

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I love grocery shopping, whether if it’s at home, or travelling around the world. I also just love wandering around and seeing what’s new. Food is very important to my family and I. Healthy food helps us keep grinding during the week, helps our bodies stay awake and focused, and our bodies love getting whole nutrient foods.

Take out is the most popular indulgence for Canadians according to a survey from Capital One. It states that 72% of us dine out and 71% order takeout more than a couple times a month! Spending the total of almost $200. Also, 52% of respondents state that they buy coffee on a regular basis, which is ranked behind dining in and takeout orders. Canadians now spend about 30% of their food budget on eating out and ordering prepared meals.

I hear quite often that “Eating healthy is so expensive.” It’s actually not expensive at all. Unless you’re religiously shopping at Whole Foods or bulking than yes, you can make your grocery bills much higher. But for the average shopper it isn’t as pricey as you think!

I do wonder why people think healthy food is expensive, when we are all guilty of signing up for monthly subscriptions, clothes shopping on a regular basis, or dining out multiple times a week. Why is eating clean on the back burner?

Jamie and I are huge foodies, and have been shopping more often lately due to both bulking this winter. We have always been pretty organized when it comes down to buying our food. Let me share with you our daily routine and tips that help us save money and save time!

Make A List

Jamie and I ALWAYS do this and it helps us big time. Everyone has iphones these days, so we make a full menu with what we want to eat for dinner for an upcoming week. We then plug our dinner menu into our iphone calendars that are synced together, so we both can see it.

We grocery shop for only the things we need for dinner and obviously a couple of snacks. I find when you know exactly what you’re having for dinner, it’s easier to actually grocery shop.
When you have no clue what you want for dinner, you end up buying things that don’t even make sense, or you’ll find a recipe after you shop and have to end up going back to grab the rest of the ingredients that you need.

Make a dinner menu, make a list and shop for those items. It’s a great way to be organized and stick to your list. It also saves you time and money.

Never Run Out Of Your Staple Ingredients

Staples in our household would be milk, egg whites, eggs, olive oil, oatmeal, yogurt etc. We do go out of our way during the week to grab those things if we are running low. I find when you run out of all your “daily staples” it feels like your grocery bill is much higher. Buy those things in bulk or always stock up during sales.

Check Out Other Stores

This one is fun! Checking out new places is like an adventure!
There are so many stores to buy food at these days. Jamie and I shop at Loblaws and a market in our old neighbourhood. The market is SO cheap, it’s where we would buy most of our fruits and veggies. They had great deals always going on, where you could buy two containers of blueberries for only $5.

Going to multiple stores can get annoying at times, but it’s a great way to save money! So dig around and maybe support your local town. I’m from a town where they have fruit stands everywhere and little markets. Go to a couple different places and compare prices. I know veggies and fruit can be more expensive at a grocery store, and supporting local farms and families is a great thing!

“Point-ing” You In The Right Direction

Using your points for a full grocery haul and not paying a single dime is honestly the best feeling! I suggest if you shop at Loblaws, No Frills, or Canadian SuperStore, to use their PC Optimum point system! Jamie and I have had multiple grocery hauls that were free or as little as $5 out of our pocket. The points really add up!

Or, look into banks that offer credit cards with the perks you’re looking for. PC has a credit card, so that might be helpful on saving money on groceries.

I have never looked into coupons, but that’s another option for not paying full price for an item!

Buy Generic

Most of the time the only difference between brand-name products and store-brand products at the grocery store is the packaging. Compare the ingredients, they should be the same; but you’ll notice the price to be different. Don’t always grab the brand names you know, do some research to find the best deal for the item you’re looking for.

Don’t Always Buy Fresh Produce

When produce is out of season, buy it frozen, canned, or dried. It usually costs less than fresh produce and has the same nutritional value. There is nothing wrong with canned green beans. Saute them with some onions and garlic, and they will have flavour no problem! Cans are so cheap! It’s not gross, it’s being smart when you need to!

Stock Up On Sales

Really take advantage of this one. You won’t regret it. I was at the grocery store the other day, and they had ground beef that was so cheap! 3LB for only $11.00. Yes, it wasn’t 100% extra lean, but that’s totally fine. We grabbed a couple of those. It’s easy to portion into separate bags and freeze them. Stocking up on meat is so easy when you have a freezer. You can also stock up on breads and freeze that as well.

The fish department usually has a little freezer at the side and has really good deals on salmon and white fish. Salmon as little as $6. Sometimes the fish can be small, but if you have a child who likes salmon, it’s a great deal!

Cook More Than You Need

Who doesn’t love leftovers!? I feel like sometimes a dish can taste better the next day. There is nothing wrong with having the same dinner 2 nights in a row. You don’t have to cook and it saves you some money on buying more ingredients for a new dish, so it’s a win win!

If it’s a chilli or soup that can also be placed in the freezer for the next dinner!

Only Shop With Cash

Jamie and I did this for a bit and it can help you from spending more than you should. Take out money and only use the money you have on hand. It helps you only buy the stuff you actually need!

Check Your Pantry

Challenge yourself and go through your pantry or fridge and try to find ingredients to put something together. If you have chicken in the freezer, lots of beans laying around, and some salsa, make a shredded chicken dish in crockpot. You can use your imagination in the kitchen too!

Check The Online Flyers Before You Make Your List

Grocery stores have flyers online that make it so helpful for your list and budget. It’s nice seeing the deals before you get to the store, and you can also compare different store flyers while you’re at it! 🙂 If it’s a big price difference there is nothing wrong with making a couple different stops to get what you need.

Avoid “Healthy” Labeled Packaging

I feel like a lot of things these days can be labeled as healthy and the price for the item is a bit much. Example, some protein bars stating that their healthy can be pretty pricey, but when you look at the ingredients and the nutritional facts, it’s not healthy at all and is filled with more sugar than protein.

So How Is Healthy Food Expensive? It’s Not!

Now that we talked about how to save money, let’s compare some prices.

Everyone has this conception that healthy food is expensive. Let me show you that it really isn’t that bad!

Chicken Wings
Looking at the wings themselves, they are cheaper. $10 for a whole box, wow! But, for that box you only get 14 chicken wings which depending on how much you eat is either a meal for two people or just one. If you split the wings you are looking at a cost of $5 per person for this meal. Not horribly expensive, but not really healthy either…

Now let’s look at the Extra lean ground beef…

Ground Beef
Yes, the sticker price of the ground beef is expensive. We found this on the loblaws website and it said that the average price was $17.38 for 1.58kg.
But what we need to do is not just look at the sticker price, but how long that meal will last us. The chicken wings will probably last you one meal, so how long will the ground beef last us?

Using our household as an example, we tend to eat 6 ounces of meat per meal, so if we convert the average weight of the beef into ounces, we get 56 ounces (1.58x 35.274).

We then take the amount we eat per meal which is 6 ounces and divide that from the total package weight (56/6) which gives us 9 meals!

Right off the bat we can see the ground beef is a better value, but the last part which I find magical is looking at what the total cost PER MEAL is. If we take the cost of teh ground beef ($17.38) and divide it by the number of meals we get out of the package (9), we get a cost per serving of $1.88 per person!

Not only is the ground beef better for you, but it is also way cheaper then the chicken wings. Grab some buns (or go bunless) and use some of the condiments you already have in the fridge and you can make burgers, or throw together a hearty pasta, chilli or whatever you want. The possibilities are endless and with a little imagination you can really stretch your dollar and feed your family healthy nutritious meals, that don’t break the bank.

Another example below…

The prepared chicken is $4.29 each and according to the packaging is enough for just one person. While it does include rice and some vegetables, you can still stretch your dollar further with just buying chicken.

Let me show you below!

The package of chicken is $12 for a package of 4 (so $3 per breast). When we zoomed in on the above image, we got a net weight of 1.87lbs which = 30 ounces. That’s a lot of chicken! If we follow the same thinking as we did with the ground beef, and portion out 6 ounces of protein per meal, that gives us 5 meals!

This means that we are only spending $2.40 a meal for clean no nonsense chicken! If you combine this with what you have laying around the house you can whip up a quick and delicious meal for less than Starbucks coffee; and what’s even better, is that you know what’s going into it!

Let’s take cereal.. It’s something I do buy more often in the winter for my bulk. It’s not healthy at all and it’s almost $10! Yogurt here is $4.49, when you can add fruit and some granola and make it healthy. Cereal is actually surprisingly expensive!

If you want to see what I buy for my grocery haul, check out my article here. Organized by protein/carbs/fats.

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