A new year is here, and with it come new ambitions to follow a healthy diet. Eating healthy is often easier said than done, given the fact that grocery prices rose around 12 percent in 2022. Due to inflation and supply chain issues, the costs of nutritious staples like fruits, vegetables, and eggs have been hit hard (egg prices have gone up an eye-popping 30.5 percent), and going food shopping has become an increasing financial strain for many Americans. It may feel more daunting than ever to meet your healthy-eating goals given all this, but we’ve gathered some savvy tricks from real women that will help you save money on healthy food. Whether you’re looking to eat more organic food or fish, or incorporate convenient pre-made meals into your diet, there are a number of ways to find savings on good-for-you foods and start the year off right.
1. Try ‘Ugly’ Groceries
“I’ve happily cut my grocery bill by 30 percent by shopping for ‘ugly’ food at sites like ImperfectFoods.com. They offer curated boxes of items, including produce, pantry staples, animal and plant-based proteins, dairy, and more that are imperfect — they could be an irregular size, have cosmetic imperfections, or be nearing the ‘best by’ date — which they get at a discount, then pass the savings on to you. Sign-up is free: You just fill out a questionnaire and receive a box (they range from about $4.99 to $8.99 each) based on your preferences. Everything I’ve gotten, even the ‘ugly’ produce, has been perfectly delicious.” — Shana Douglas, mom of three, Portland, OR
2. Buy Pre-Made Meals Late in the Day
“No time to cook for yourself, but want to stick to a healthy eating plan? You can find good-for-you, ready-made fare at supermarkets or specialty stores like Whole Foods Market for less by heading to their takeout department an hour before it closes. The reason? This is when they significantly reduce prices on items the store will otherwise have to toss out, like soups and salads. Get there and don’t see markdowns? Ask a manager. They’re usually more than happy to slash the price in half or throw in a few freebies, rather than see it end up in the trash.” —Marina Yanay-Triner, health coach in San Diego, CA
3. Choose Frozen Fish Over Fresh
“Fish is great for a healthy diet — but getting the recommended two to three servings in per week can be pricey. The trick? Go frozen. While fresh salmon can run $10.89 a pound, the frozen variety costs as low as $4.22 a pound. There’s a misconception that frozen means lesser quality, but in most cases, the fish is frozen mere hours after being harvested — making it a better choice when it comes to quality and budget!” — Kathy Siegel, dietician with Kathy Siegel Nutrition
4. Go For Larger Pieces of Meat
“Instead of buying a chicken by its parts — breasts and wings can run $4.99 a pound — I buy a whole chicken for about $1.99 a pound. I ask the butcher to cut it up and debone it, which gives me a week’s worth of meals (breasts for stir-fry, thighs for enchiladas, bones for soup) for just $9. I also buy larger packs of meat — you get a better price per volume — and at no extra cost, the butcher will grind, trim, or separate them!” — Sara Doll, fitness trainer, Los Angeles, CA
5. Opt For Private-Label Organic Goods
“It’s no surprise that organic foods are typically priced higher. But this simple trick can help you save big: Look for private-label brands at retailers like Target, Shoprite, Walmart, Aldi, and more. These stores’ specialty brands offer organic items like sauces, condiments, and breads for 50 percent less than their branded counterparts. One great example: Walmart’s Great Value Organic Triple Berry blend costs $2.98 per 10 ounce bag while the same size bag of Cascadian Farm Antioxidant Blend Harvest Berries costs $5.87!” — Shelley King, co-founder of StockPilingMoms.com
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.