Twelve years ago, I decided to stop eating red meat and poultry after a friend sent me a PETA video the day before Thanksgiving and I quit cold turkey (pun intended). It not only changed my perception of the food industry and its treatment of animals but also jump-started my journey on eating healthier. I started buying more fruits and veggies and looking for more organic and all-natural products whenever and wherever possible.

Once I expanded my healthy eating habits, I quickly learned how expensive this new lifestyle was becoming. I sought out local farmers markets to purchase reasonably-priced, locally-grown produce, however, at times it was difficult to get to these markets due to distance from home, especially during the week after working all day or on weekends due to kids’ extracurricular activities. I also found that local farmstand prices still tended to be quite expensive.

Thankfully over the years, we have seen an increased awareness and desire for healthy living evident through organic, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and farm-to-table type eateries, smoothie bars, and local health food stores sprouting up everywhere. This has propelled big-box retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Costco to start carrying more organic and plant-based foods in order to remain competitive, making it a whole lot easier to buy healthy foods and products without it wreaking havoc on our checkbooks.

Whether you’re just starting out or are a long-time conscious eater, the following are a few tips on how to comparatively shop for competitive prices on healthy foods, ultimately saving you time and money. While some tips may take time at first, once you commit, it will become an everyday routine that you won’t want to break!

1. Comparative Shopping

Regardless of whether you’re single or a family of four, the first thing you should do is plan your meals.  This will keep you focused on the main items you need to shop for first and help you stay on budget. Allow for some flexibility to incorporate any sales you may find for the week.

Next, look for print and online sale promotional advertised by your local grocery and health food stores. Most stores now have apps where you can create a shopping list so you can keep track of your items and clip digital coupons. Stores such as Whole Foods offer Amazon Prime members 10% off their grocery bill and access to weekly discounts on popular items.  Also, always consider the store-brand products as another way to save at the checkout.

Look for Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) items! This can really save you money as well as allow you to stock up on your favorite healthy items.  Look for BOGO products that are organic or all-natural first when at all possible, such as fresh or frozen fruits and veggies, plant-based foods such as Gardein, Morningstar, or Beyond Meat, and natural cleaning products such as Seventh Generation, Method, or Mrs. Meyers.

If you’re a coupon clipper, combining these offers with cut-out and digital coupons will really maximize your savings. Some of these manufacturers also include coupons once you sign up for their e-newsletter, which is another way to stay up-to-date on the latest products, recipes, and healthy-eating news.

2. Groceries Delivered to Your Front Door

Now, I realize that many of you may not want to shop at several stores to take advantage of these savings because let’s face it, you could be spending more on the gas to get there than the actual bargain itself. A great way around this is utilizing delivery services such as InstaCart specifically for those stores located furthest from your home.  The small delivery fee is well worth the time spent driving all over town and will balance out, especially if you’re getting a more competitive, bargain price in comparison to other stores. These apps also offer their own coupons, discounts, and credits especially the more you use their services.  There is nothing like getting your groceries delivered to your door after a long day of commuting and working. 

3. Food Prepping

Food prepping is probably the most time consuming of these tasks however, it will save you time and money in the long run.  The best time to meal prep is as soon as your groceries are brought home.  If you weren’t able to find organic fruits and veggies, wash them in a strainer with a mixture of distilled white vinegar and water to remove as much bacteria and pesticides as possible before placing them in separate containers in the fridge for easy snacking and packing. The same goes for nuts, crackers, and seeds.  The more you prep, the less likely you are to skip a meal, reach for quick, fatty foods, or spend money picking up fast food or eating out.

If you stocked up on certain foods that may go bad before you have the opportunity to eat them because the sale was just too good to pass up, store and freeze them! Products such as bread and fruit will stay preserved longer while stretching your dollar!

These small steps can really go a long way not only in saving you money but also by helping you maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle for years to come.  Happy shopping!