For those of you watching your grocery bill closely these days, be sure you avoid some of the worst things for your food budget. They might seem like a good buy at first glance if you’re not especially budget-savvy. Some of the worst things for your food budget can be disguised as health foods, special savings, and even worse – diet foods. Whether you’re a single gal looking to save money or a mom trying to feed a family, avoid these tricky items at the store so you can save money and stress at the same time!
1. Organic Cereals
One of the worst things for your food budget is organic cereals. These boxes of cereals usually range anywhere from $4.00-$6.00 and what’s worse is the bags inside the box are only ¾ full! Plus, cereal grains are highly refined, even if they’re made from or with whole grains. If you want to save money and get a more nutritious breakfast, buy organic or conventional rolled oats. They’ll cost you $3,00-4.00 for a huge tub at the most and likely last you around three months.
2. Vitamin Enhanced Water
Vitamin enhanced water is essentially just another gimmick to make money off those looking to be healthy. Here’s a little tip for you: have plain water and take a multivitamin instead. The vitamins will last you several months and water is free - no specialty beverages in plastic bottles needed.
3. Gluten-free Snacks
Gluten-free snacks can be helpful in a pinch, but overall they’re a waste of money because they’re highly refined which means they are a poor choice for healthy blood sugar levels. They’re also not very filling which means they’re a waste of money and calories. If you have a gluten allergy, it’s a better idea to buy certified gluten-free oats or gluten-free rice crisps and make your own snacks at home with dried fruit and nuts.
4. Breakfast Bars
These bars are marketed to customers who need a convenient breakfast but they’re mostly all loaded with sugar, refined ingredients, and are extremely pricey. What’s worse is they’re not very filling, which leaves you hungry in an hour or two. If you’re in a hurry, make overnight oats in the fridge with oats and Greek yogurt and you’ll stay full well through the morning hours while saving money too.
5. Pre-cut Veggies
Pre-cut veggies at the produce section can cost up to 75% more than their whole counterparts. If you buy these items because you’re short on time, just make it a priority to spend one hour on Sundays chopping several whole veggies into smaller pre-cut items for the week ahead. It’s incredibly easy to do and will save you so much money along the way.
6. Specialty Nut Butters
Have you seen the store price of fancy nut butters like almond and cashew or walnut and coconut butter? They’re ridiculous! If you must have these items, buy them online or buy almonds in the produce section in your supermarket and grind them to make your own nut butter. You’ll save about 50% doing this rather than buying straight off the shelf.
7. Pre-made Juice
With the juice trend bigger than ever, companies are taking advantage of the hype and taking your money too! Don’t buy pre-made juice at the store whether it be green juice or orange juice. If you can’t make your own at home, at least eat plain fruit or make a green smoothie instead.
8. Kale Chips
A measly three ounce bag of kale chips costs around $7.00 at most supermarkets. Are you kidding me? You can buy a whole bag of organic kale that would make about 30 ounces of kale chips if not more for under $5.00. Make your own kale chips either in a dehydrator or at a low temperature in your oven.
9. Whole Grain Breads
I know whole grain bread is a better option than white bread, but let’s be honest here: bread is still a refined food and has no resemblance to a whole grain at all. If you’re on a budget, it’s especially a poor choice since you have to eat at least two slices to even be satisfied. Even sprouted grain breads are astronomically high when on a budget. You’re much better off having a serving of whole grain oats, quinoa, or wild or brown rice. These grains are more nutritious and more filling too.
Being on a budget doesn’t mean deprivation. The best items to stick to at the store when watching your grocery funds are whole produce (organic or not), whole grains in their natural form, nuts from the bulk section, plain yogurt, unsweetened nondairy milks, lean meats if you eat them, wild or canned fish, and pastured eggs. Don’t shun canned or frozen vegetables on a budget either. They’re some of the best items when funds are low and they’re perfectly healthy for you too. What’s your best tip for shopping healthy while on a budget?