A real food diet is the cornerstone of good health.

There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

So it breaks my heart when readers tell me how they struggle to balance buying the best quality food for their families with their budgets. And I totally get it — healthy, real food can definitely be more expensive (thanks to our country’s backwards, profit-before-people food policies).

But over the years, I’ve found quite a few ways to shave down my grocery bill without compromising food quality or my health.

7 Ways to Save Money on Healthy, Real Food:

1.  Buy dry goods online at Thrive Market, Vitacost, and Amazon.

This is without a doubt my best and personal favorite tip. Since using Thrive Market, Vitacost, and Amazon, I’ve been able to shave my overall grocery expenses down by about 25%.

Thrive Market is essentially an online wholesale club (it does come with an annual membership fee of $59 which pays for itself in no time) for health foods and natural products that often gives free products with orders over a certain amount. Vitacost is an online superstore with discounted healthy foods and natural products, and often has sales offering an additional 10% off your order which is when I like to stock up.

BONUS:

2. Buy dry goods from the bulk section.

Most grocery stores have a bulk section where nuts, seeds, dried fruit, dried beans, and healthy grains (like quinoa) can be purchased per-pound. The savings here can be considerable. Plus, you’ll be skipping out on extra unnecessary packaging, especially if you use your own reusable produce bags, reducing your personal environmental footprint.

3. Buy whole produce rather than pre-cut or pre-washed produce.

Sure, it’s more convenient to purchase a pre-cut and pre-washed salad mix or green beans. But you’ll save quite a bit if you buy whole produce and do the washing and cutting yourself instead.

And again, you’ll be skipping out on extra unnecessary packaging, especially if you use your own reusable produce bags.

4.  Prioritize which produce you purchase organic.

Some crops are heavily sprayed with toxic herbicides and pesticides while others aren’t. Similarly, some crops are often genetically-modified while others are not.

Get to know the Dirty Dozen — those crops with the most trace pesticides — and the Clean Fifteen — those crops with the least trace pesticides — as well as the common GMOs. To save on your grocery bill, prioritize buying the Dirty Dozen and common GMOs organically-grown while buying the Clean Fifteen conventionally-grown.

5.  Avoid wasted food by meal planning ahead of time.

Meal planning not only saves you time and energy, but it also saves you money by ensuring you don’t buy more than you need. (I hate finding a pricey organic red pepper soft and fuzzy at the bottom of my produce drawer!)

6.  Don’t discount the frozen section for produce.

Especially if you’re a smoothie drinker, check out the produce selection in the frozen section. I buy frozen organic blueberries, kale, and spinach for smoothies, as well as brussels sprouts, pearl onions, and broccoli for side dishes.

Nutritionally speaking, frozen produce is very similar to fresh produce… sometimes even better! This is because frozen fruits and vegetables are often picked in the peak of their growing seasons and flash-frozen — which halts their “aging” and nutrient losses — immediately after being harvested. For this reason, frozen fruits and vegetables have been shown to have higher vitamin and antioxidant content than their fresh counterparts.

7.  Buy seasonal produce from a local farm or farmer’s market.

Seasonal produce is often cheaper since the supply is greater. And you won’t find better prices than at local farms or farmer’s markets, where fruits and vegetables pass directly from producer to consumer, cutting out retail markups.

You can even have the farm come to you by joining a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Do some research to see if there’s one in your area, and look into pricing and details for joining.

Do you have any other tips for saving money on healthy, real food?

Please share with us!

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