We all know the importance of eating a diet rich in fresh whole foods. Locally-grown organic vegetables and fruit, grass-fed and pasture-raised meats and eggs, and wild-caught fish provide an abundance of nutrition without the harmful pesticides, GMOs, and additives found in the majority of “foods” lining the grocery store shelves.
The challenge for many people is that these high-quality foods are prohibitively expensive when compared to convenience foods and conventionally grown produce and meat.
Fortunately, there are creative and surprising ways to save money while still putting nutritious meals on the table. We’ve put together a short series of articles filled with tips to help make healthy eating affordable for you. Read through these ideas, and choose one to implement starting this week. Continue adding a new strategy each week, and before you know it you’ll be a pro at sourcing the best possible food within your budget.
In this article, we’ll cover the time and money-saving tip of planning out your meals ahead of time. You might already do this to some extent but we’ll help you fine-tune your process and highlight common areas that can help you save money and waste less food along the way. Let’s get started!
Last minute-grocery store trips and letting food go to waste are two of the top ways your grocery budget can get out of hand. Use these tips to stay organize and avoid wasting money.
Know Your Pantry
The first step in saving money on groceries is to take inventory of your fridge and pantry. When these are well organized, you know what you need to buy, what you already have, and food doesn’t get forgotten and go to waste. Keep a list of everything in your pantry; this could be a Google Doc or a piece of paper. Delete foods when they are used up and add ones as you purchase them.
Once a week, set aside some time to plan out meals for the coming days. This doesn’t have to be set in stone or super elaborate, but have a general idea of dishes you plan to cook. Go over the recipes and identify which ingredients are already on hand and which you’ll need to purchase.
A sample meal plan might look something like this:
- Breakfasts: tomato & asparagus frittata, smoothies
- Proteins: roast chicken, ground beef
- Carbs: summer squash, sweet potatoes, grain-free noodles
- Breakfasts: AIP Breakfast Hash, Anti-Inflammatory Blackberry Smoothies
- Lunches: Salads with leftover proteins & veggies from dinners
- Snacks: Cinnamon Raisin Protein Cookies
- Dinners: Chicken fajitas on cassava flour tortillas, AIP Rosemary Kale and Turkey “Spaghetti”, Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs & Vegetables
Create a Shopping List and Stick To It
Keep a list of foods you’re running low on, and combine this with the list of ingredients you need to make the meals you’ve planned for the coming week. Organize your list by category (i.e. meats, produce, frozen), and do your best to stick to it (don’t do your grocery shopping when you’re starving!). This way you only buy what you need and avoid wasting food and money.
Audit Your Spending
Do you balk at the price of organic broccoli but easily spend the same amount on a sugary latte or a streaming show? Buying nutritious food is an investment in your long-term health. Consider tracking all your expenses for a month: you might be surprised at how small impulse purchases add up and decide you would rather put that money toward high-quality food.
It can take some time to get the hang of meal planning, but once you do you’ll find you can utilize your food much more efficiently and save money in the process. If you’re new to or struggle with this step, we created a guide to help you out! Learn how to plan and prep your meals with our latest AIP Paleo Batch Ebook, which you can download for free.
Once you’ve tackled the planning step, you’re ready to shop. Learn how to shop smart and still enjoy a wide variety of healthy foods in part two of this series, which is coming out in two weeks!
20 Free AIP & Paleo Batch Cooking Recipes
Along with simple tips to make meal prepping and batch cooking work for you, this book will also give you 20 recipes to mix and match for endless meal possibilities.
Inside, you’ll find delicious favorites your whole family will love, including:
- Creamy Mushroom Pasta
- Pesto Veggie Noodles
- Date Protein Bars
- and more!
About the Author: Lili Hanft is a certified Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. She is passionate about the power of real food to support the body’s innate ability to heal, and she believes that nourishing ourselves with nutrient-dense foods can be a profound source of joy and empowerment.
Want to work with the GrassRoots team? Check out our Adaptation Program and book your free discovery call to find out if you’re the right fit.