How to Save $100: Grocery Shopping on a Budget (Simple And Healthy)

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Written By

Rhea Dali

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Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Budget Friendly And Healthy Grocery Shopping Is Possible Copy 700X675 1 | How To Save $100: Grocery Shopping On A Budget (Simple And Healthy)

Think grocery shopping on a budget is impossible? Or that healthy grocery shopping can really only happen at Whole Foods? Think again. 

“Healthy eating is expensive”–said Most People (who have obviously never grocery shopped with me). Although I do claim Whole Foods is NOT as expensive as some people make it out to be, sometimes conventional, chain grocery stores are the only stores in your rotation. And guess what? That’s perfectly fine. Let me show you how to hack any store–from Piggly Wiggly to Kroger, Publix, HEB and everything else in between. Grocery shopping on a budget 101…


Back Where I Come From

There’s no place like home—Arkansas to be exact. Simplicity, slower-paced, down-to-earth Arkansas. This past weekend, I made the venture back home to hang with the fam for the 4th of July. Visiting my old stomping grounds is always a great re-set. It brings me back to my roots.

Arkansas is a place where:

  • Country music is appreciated
  • Duck and deer are the equivalents to many folks’ chicken, and sweet tea=water
  • “Hi ya’ll” is a normal greeting
  • Neighbors know neighbors
  • Overall have alwas been cool (even though they are just now recently ‘back’ in style’)
  • And Piggly Wiggly’s DO exist

Being home always reminds me of how spoiled I am in Austin.

The fresh healthy food selections are definitely not as bountiful, compared to the hippie, granola-y, farm-to-table, “Whole-Foods-every-5-miles”, non-GMO options that populate my urban city. Instead of Whole Foods, daily farmer’s markets and Central Market, you have Harvest Foods, Wal-mart, and Kroger.

Think “eating healthy” can really only happen at Whole Foods or farmers markets though?

Think again.

If grocery shopping at a conventional store is in your grocery rotation, here’s how I hacked the chain store Kroger in Hot Springs, Arkansas—and how you can too (no matter what chain you have in your backyard).

Grocery Shopping on a Budget

(Budget-friendly, healthy eats, anywhere you live)

 

Grocery Shopping On A Budget

1. Make a List.

It’s ALWAYS in your wallet’s best interest to make a plan of attack for the store—this includes your grocery list. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, so don’t let hungry eyes get the best of you. Look up any recipes you want to experiment with, take inventory of what you’re out of, and think about (realistically) how much you are going to be cooking at home or eating out this week.

 

2. Shop the Perimeter.

The outside edges of the store is where all the “good stuff” is at. Think: Veggies, fruits, meats, fish—the base of your diet. By sticking on the outside, you also prevent from straying too far away from your list.

3. Buy in Bulk.

For ‘bulk’ and non-perishable shelf-items, like coconut oil, olive oil, coconut flour, nutbutters and more, consider buying these in bulk from sources like Amazon, Costco, Sam’s Club or the online co-op Thrive Market. Generally you can get a better deal from these places, and since the items last long, you don’t risk it spoiling anytime soon. (Note: Costco in fact has LOTS of organic options on both fresh and shelf foods. If you don’t have a friend with a membership, it still may be worth a consideration)

4. Navigate Each Section Wisely.

Here are a few tips for scoring the best deals in the produce and meat departments:

Produce 101

Seasonal Eats. Look out for the sales in the produce section. Regardless of where you are shopping, the fruits and veggies that are ‘in season’ are typically on sale—meaning less GMO or conventionally grown, since they are more in natural state. In the basket?

  • Zucchini and yellow squash
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Boxed Power Greens
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Baby Carrots
  • Avocados
  • Sweet potatoes

 

Organic Do’s & Don’ts. There are still organic options at most chain grocery stores. The reason to buy organic? More regulated standards over farming practices; Less risk of GMO’s and pesticides (i.e. toxins); And, freshness. If anything, opting to buy as many of the organic versions of the “Dirty Dozen Plus” fruits and veggies is ideal. These include:

  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Celery
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Hot Peppers
  • Kale/Collard Greens

Kroger had a robust selection of organic options. If you don’t see fresh versions, there are often times also organic frozen options—like organic broccoli and berries. As for the fruits and veggies ok to buy ‘non-organic’? Check out the “Clean 15” here.

Meat & Fish

 Be Picky. Meat land is the one area of the grocery store where I urge people to have HIGH standards. Big chain brands, like Tyson Chicken and Perdue Farms are not ideal. Even if the package says “natural” it is these big companies wherein many unregulated farming practices are going on (cramped animal conditions, GMO-diets, antibiotics and hormones). You eat what your meat eats—rat feces or grain-based, standard-American diets included. Kroger’s better options include its Simple Truth line.  In fact, I was super impressed to see the grass-fed ground bison and bison steak, chicken, beef and ground turkey. Laura’s Ground Beef is another brand often found in conventional stores to opt for. As for fish, most conventional fish departments don’t offer “Wild-Caught” options, but I found quite a few in the freezer section. And bacon and deli meats? Applegate Farm’s nitrate-free bacon, deli meats and sausages are generally at many stores across the country.

Eggs-cellent Options. Look for “pasture-raised” for your top-of-the-line quality eggs (i.e. a colorful orange yolk vs. a pale, pasty, milky yolk). Next in line: Cage-free organic eggs if “pasture-raised” is not an option.

Choose Full-Fat. Stock up on grass-fed butter (Kerrygold), and if you eat yogurt, if you can find a plain, organic, full-fat yogurt—go for it. Non-organic label? Still opt for plain and full-fat varieties, as they are less processed. Milk is similar—plain, full-fat and grass-fed or organic versions are optimal. Organic Valley is a quality brand—over Horizon—found in many chains.

In-Between.

If you didn’t hit the bulk store or order online, here are some of my fav stock ups I found at Kroger for building a base for your weekly list:

  • Natural Ground Almond Butter (make your own) and Justin’s Classic Almond Butter
  • Raw Cashews, Macadamia nuts and Chia Seeds (bulk section)
  • Spices—Cinnamon, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Garlic Powder—anything and everything without added chemicals or additives
  • Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
  • Coconut Oil
  • Extra Virgin Cold-pressed Olive Oil
  • Sauerkraut
  • Olives
  • Wild-caught Salmon and Tuna (Wild Pacific)
  • Coconut Manna (Coconut Butter)
  • Ghee

 

The Bottom Line?!

It’s true—shopping at a conventional grocery store IS possible. My total bill?

$77 for a week’s worth of groceries.

What’s in YOUR basket?

Do share to comments (and give us any tips you have along the way).

 

Let’s Shop!

Want to get going on the “right foot”? Let Thrive take the thought out of it. Book a pantry sweep, grocery tour or simple meal prep session today and I’ll show you how to save money AND eat healthy.

Don’t live in Austin? No problem! I’ll customize a nutrition plan with a complete grocery list and SIMPLE recipes that work for your lifestyle to make things EASY!!!

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