When my husband and I decided we wanted to eat healthier, I had one niggling concern: what will this do to our grocery budget? At the time, we hadn’t been married a full year and I felt like I was still learning how to use cashback apps and Aldi to their full potential as I learned how to grocery shop within our budget.
But we jumped in with both feet, on a mission to eat healthier! We cut out most processed foods and focused on filling our bellies with mainly healthy proteins, fruits, and vegetables. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I refused to swear off bread, we could have called it Paleo.
Here’s how we started eating healthy while still on a budget:
Step One: Make a Budget
Since we’ve been married, I’ve used the EveryDollar app to track our spending. I highly recommend it, especially since it is free, but you can use any other budgeting app out there—or even good ole fashioned Excel spreadsheets!
If you don’t already have a grocery budget, make one. Go back through your receipts or your bank statement, see what you spent on groceries last month, and set that as your budget. Hopefully, you may even decrease how much you spend now that you are actually tracking it (just like how research shows that when you finally start writing down what you eat in your food diary, you make better food choices and most likely consume less!). Awareness is powerful!
Learn how to budget your money now.
Step Two: Create a Quick and Easy Meal Plan
Nothing will decrease your grocery spending quite like making a meal plan. This doesn’t have to be complicated! Want to know what I do? My entire meal plan process takes fives minutes–yes, five!
That’s it! Even though I’d like to adopt more structure someday, right now I don’t worry about having Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, or whatever Wednesdays. My husband and I both work, and our schedules sometimes conflict so that dinner at home together often doubles as our weekly date night.
But I do make it my goal to always have 3-4 dinners’ worth of ingredients on hand at all times so that we have choices and the “What’s for dinner?” question can breed options instead of panic.
Now you try it! Jot down a few ideas on paper or in the Notes app on your smartphone, raid your pantry for what you don’t already have, make your grocery list from that, and don’t forget to include fruit-and-vegetable-heavy meals in your planning.
Step Three: Write Down Your Grocery List
We could all do with another to-do list that actually has items crossed off, right? Here’s a surefire way to add a list like that to your life: make a grocery list.
The second most important thing you’ll ever do for your grocery spending is never darken the door of a grocery store without a list ever again. Seriously, just don’t do it.
Instead, bring the list you made with the ingredients you’ll need for this week’s dinners with you, either on paper or in your Notes app.
If you struggle with coming up with different meals each week check out $5 Meal Plan. They make meal planning as simple as it gets!
Step Four: Take Advantage of Deals
Before you tune out, let me assure you there’s an easier way than covering the kitchen counter in coupon clippings: it’s called Ibotta!
What is Ibotta? A tool that will help you lower your overall grocery spending as well as propel you on your goal to grocery shop on a budget. Ibotta is a cash-back app that groups rebates (think digital coupons) by category. Before I go grocery shopping, I open the app, select the rebates of the items I plan on purchasing, and later I scan my receipt to redeem my cash!
I add to my grocery/ ingredients list any specials I see on Ibotta. I don’t use Ibotta quite as often as I did a few months ago, now that we have cut down on boxed and bagged (processed) foods, but there are still cashback rebates on there that I snag each time I see them–especially the one redeemable for any grocery item.
What’s great about Ibotta are those Any Brand rebates. For instance, you can select Squash or Milk or Eggs and earn cash on any brand of those items that you buy. If there’s a sale on eggs and you also snag a Any Brand rebate? Awesome!
Step Five: Enjoy Your Healthy Diet…and Your Healthy Grocery Budget
If you want to begin eating a more healthy diet, fear for your budget doesn’t have to hold you back! My husband and I have been pleasantly surprised by all the positive effects eating better has on our days. Try it yourself and see if you don’t feel more energized.
Use the three easy steps above to help you save your grocery budget when you start eating healthy. Make room in your fridge, it’s going to be a more colorful place from now on!
Rachelle Rea Cobb is a freelance editor and the author of Write Well and the Steadfast Love series, three historical inspirational novels that she signed a publishing contract for five months after her college graduation. Rachelle enjoys blogging, working with writer and blogger clients, and pretending she’ll one day see the bottom of her to-read pile. You can find her on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and on her blog.