5 ways to save money on good foods

Shopping advice for eating well on a budget

Photo: Happy woman eating a bowl of berries

Eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein is a great way to take care of your heart. Not only that, but having a healthy diet is one of the most affordable things you can do to lower your health care costs further down the road.

And despite what you may have heard, healthy eating doesn't have to be a luxury. In fact, according to research from Ohio State University, the real reason we assume that nutritious foods are costly is because our brains have been trained to think that way. In other words, we tend to associate expensive with high-quality, and inexpensive with low-quality. But when it comes to the food you eat, that's hardly the case.

Try these simple strategies to enjoy more healthy foods for less.

  1. Plan ahead. People who make shopping lists to take advantage of their grocers' weekly discounts spend less money and are more likely to stick to their healthy eating plan, research has found. Clip coupons for fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods. The next time you head to the grocery store, ask your cashier or a manager about any loyalty store programs you might have access to. If you're comfortable online, you can sometimes sign up for these programs on your grocery store's website or through their app. But if you are unsure about how to access these items, be sure to ask for the help of someone who works at your grocery store.

  2. Enjoy in-season produce. Make the most of lower prices for fresh berries, melon, and corn. Visit your local farmers' market for produce picked just hours ago.

  3. Fill the freezer. Keep a supply of frozen vegetables and fruits on hand. You can also stock up on frozen fish and shrimp when they're on sale.

  4. Pick protein. Canned light tuna and salmon are budget-friendly sources of lean, low-calorie protein.

  5. Buy unpackaged foods. In addition to fresh fruits and veggies, you'll often find foods like lentils, dried beans, nuts, and whole grains like quinoa in open bins in most grocery stores. And with the ability to scoop and bag only how much you need, you can ensure you won't be paying for food you won't consume.