At a popular burger joint, a 20-piece box of chicken nuggets costs only $5. In a leading online store, a 2-pound pack of organic 100% whole grain quinoa costs a whopping $16. When you compare the level of satisfaction that you will get eating a box of chicken nuggets from a fastfood chain with the nutty flavor of quinoa, you will definitely choose junk food. But if you’re concerned about your health, you may want to take the alternative route of eating quinoa.
However, you don’t want to pay too high a price for it. The difference between the prices of the above example is $11.
Would you want to pay so much more when shopping for healthier food? The good news is that you do not necessarily have to. There are many ways for you to save money when shopping for healthy food. The bonus is that you can use cheaper substitutes while lowering your caloric intake as well! Read on to find out how you can do just that.
Know Which Grocery Items Are Too Pricey
When it comes to healthy food, there are two rules that you have to follow. First, you should know which health food items are too pricey especially when bought on a regular basis. Naturally, you should look for equally healthy – yet cheaper substitutes. The second rule is to know which health foods are worth the price tag.
To get started, here is a list of the healthy food items which are considered too pricey, and what cheaper but equally healthy food items to substitute them with:
Buy frozen instead of fresh berries
If you have a sweet tooth, you might go overboard when ordering dessert at a restaurant or buying goodies from a bakeshop. Instead of packing on the pounds with these calorie and sugar-laden sweets, snack on fruits instead. Use them as toppings for healthy breads or your morning oatmeal or cereal.
Berries are excellent fruits because they have antioxidant properties and they’re super healthy. The problem is that they can also be a bit expensive, especially when bought out of season.
So what’s the cheaper yet equally healthy alternative? Simply swap fresh berries with the frozen variant! They cost a lot less than the fresh variant, although the fruits can be cheap when in season. Another benefit of buying frozen berries is that you don’t have to worry about accidentally consuming bad fruit.
Buy canned salmon instead of fresh salmon fillet
Fish is the staple meat of those who are trying to live a healthier lifestyle. The best variant for this is salmon, but purchasing it fresh will cost you. The cost of fresh salmon fillet can be quite high and they take a lot of time to prepare. Canned salmon, on the other hand, can be bought really cheaply in supermarkets.
Aside from the cost savings that you will get to enjoy, you can also consume the fish out of the can. Not only that, but you will get the Omega-3 fatty acids from the fish which benefits the heart. If you want to pack cheap, healthy lunch on the go, simply add some rice to a can of salmon fillet and you’re good to go.
Blend tofu instead of using whey protein powder
Those who are working out and require a specialized diet may want to prepare protein shakes at home. The main ingredient of this is whey protein powder. When you buy the canned variety, it can cost you quite a lot.
But did you know that tofu makes for a cheaper whey protein substitute? Tofu is an excellent source of protein and when cut into small chunks, they can be blended right into a healthy smoothie. Don’t worry about its mushy texture of bland taste, because it can be mixed with other ingredients to refine the mixture for your palate.
Snack on kale chips instead of vegetable chips
Looking for a healthier alternative to buttered popcorn? Vegetable chips may be your first option, but they are a bit expensive.
If you want the same taste that potato chips has but while using a healthier ingredient, try making your very own kale snack ships at home. Use cooking spray on the leaves of just-washed kale. Season with sea salt before baking in the oven for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. The healthy snack tastes like potato chips, but without the calories and fats.
Snack on dried fruits and nuts instead of buying Larabars
If you’re in the mood for sweet snacks, munch on dried fruits and nuts instead of Larabars. These are delicious snacks with flavors like cashew cookie, banana bread, coconut cream pie, chocolate chip cookie dough, peanut butter cookie, blueberry muffin, chocolate coconut chew, peanut butter chocolate and more.
Sound delicious? They definitely are, but snacking on them every day will burn a hole in your pocket. What’s so special about these snack bars is that they are tastier than your average granola or protein bar. They’re also gluten, dairy and soy free, and are only made from fruits and nuts.
If you don’t have the budget to treat yourself to one or two Larabars per day, an excellent substitute is simply to snack on dried peanuts and fruits. Combine them in one container and munch on the fruits and nuts when you need a quick pick-me-up snack.
Quick-cooking oats instead of instant oats
If oats is your constant companion for a healthy breakfast, instant might be your go-to product. There’s a big difference in price, however, between quick-cooking and instant oats. Quick oats are better than instant because the latter come in small packets which are usually filled with sugars, preservatives and other ingredients with added calories. With instant oats, you can have the real deal with all that fibrous goodness.
For a non-sugary yet still sweet option, top your quick oats with a few frozen berries.
How About the Health Foods Which Are Worth the Price?
If there are cheaper yet still healthy substitutes to health food items, there are things that you can easily splurge on without the guilt. For example, if you love almond butter or Greek yogurt, you may not find a cheaper substitute. There’s nothing wrong with this, as long as you make up for the added cost by using the cheaper alternatives mentioned in the previous section.
If there are other quite pricey items on your grocery list that you cannot seem to live without, go ahead and splurge on them – but make sure to save on your other grocery health food items.
Other Ways to Save on Healthy Food
Here are additional tips on how you can save money when shopping for healthy food for yourself or the entire family:
Shop for the ingredients that you need in bulk
When buying healthy foods, you will save more by planning what you are going to cook for the entire week – then purchase what you need in bulk. This way, you can take advantage of wholesale or bulk discounts. Planning the menu for the week is also a great way to keep those extra pounds at bay. Just make sure that you are incorporating plenty of fruits and veggies in your menu, so that you can maintain that healthy theme in your eating habits.
Stock up on what you already have in your fridge
If you haven’t been making home-cooked meals for the past few days and you have not inspected the contents of your fridge, do it before heading off to the supermarket. Taking stock of the food items that you already have will allow you to plan your meals around these ingredients, and give you an idea about which items you need.
Use online or magazine coupons
Whether you’re shopping at a supermarket or a small grocery store, make sure to cut out those magazine coupons or copy the codes of discount vouchers on your mobile phone. When you see health food products on sale, don’t hesitate to give them a try – especially if they come at a discounted price.
Buy slightly bruised fresh produce, if you plan to use them immediately
Finally, if there’s a slight bruise or black patch on a fruit or vegetable in the supermarket, they might be available for a discounted price. Don’t hesitate to buy these because you can easily cut off the part of the fruit or vegetable which is bruised. Just make sure that you will cook the ingredient right away, otherwise you will simply be wasting your money on unused, bruised produce which may be rotten after a couple of days.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways by which you can save money on healthy food items. Living a healthier lifestyle means eating healthy as well, but you don’t necessarily have to pay an arm and a leg for it. By following these shopping tips, you can eat healthy, delicious food right in the comfort of your home – without having to spend a fortune on buying health food items.