Eating clean just got a lot more budget-friendly! Shopping experts share their tricks to slashing the prices on everything from organic foods to diet-friendly finds.
Stock up on portion-controlled meals
Taking the guesswork out of portion control by opting for diet-friendly prepackaged meals helps women lose 30 percent more weight, according to a study conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. And these meals can be had on the cheap at warehouse clubs. For example, at Nutrisystem.com, a 28-day weight-loss plan traditionally costs about $350. But at Costco, you can buy a $100 Nutrisystem gift card to use toward the program for $54.99 — a 45 percent savings! Plus, you can get bulk deals in the freezer section: We found a 6-pack of Lean Cuisine entrees for $10.50 at Costco — $15 less than at a nearby grocery store.
Score surprise bargains at international grocers
“One of the most often overlooked ways to really save on healthy fare is to shop at a local ethnic supermarket,” says Kimberly Button, founder of GetGreenBeWell.com. These stores typically sell food for much less than regular supermarkets, plus most other countries don’t allow GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or use preservatives in their foods. Says Button, “I’ve had great success buying organic, non-GMO foods at a German deli near me — like organic muesli for $5 a bag and granola bars for under $2, which are clearly labeled non-GMO — as well as at the Asian market in my hometown, where I find rice crackers, rice paper wraps and other gluten-free foods super cheap. I bought the crackers for less than $2!”
Check out organic produce
If you tend to skip over the organic section because you assume the cost is prohibitive, you’ll be surprised to learn that it isn’t always more expensive than non-organic! In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, some offerings — such as Granny Smith apples, artichokes, and soy milk — are often the same price or cheaper. One key reason: The growing popularity of organic foods is spurring more competition among vendors, who are lowering
their prices to get more sales.
Buy nonperishables in bulk
“Focus warehouse shopping on nonperishable health foods like quinoa, brown rice, almond butter and olive oil — items that won’t go bad before you can use them all up,” says Woroch. “The best price I have ever found on quinoa was at Costco. Since quinoa has a relatively long shelf life, two to three years dry, you don’t have to worry about it going bad when buying it in bulk. You’re looking at 30 percent savings on average across the board with nonperishable health foods.”
Zero in on this brand at Whole Foods
“I’ve heard Whole Foods referred to as ‘Whole Paycheck’ but if you know how to shop there, you can nab great deals, and certain things are actually cheaper than farmers markets or
other stores,” says Maria Marlowe, author of Detox Without the Deprivation. “For one, the 365 brand, Whole Foods’ private label, has tons of organic options that are typically a fraction of the price of comparable name-brand items. Plus, if you find a great price on an item you use regularly, buy a whole case and you can get a 10 percent discount. Also great? Say you only want half a head of cabbage for a recipe, ask them to cut it in half for you and they will.”
Experiment with store-brand organics
“From Kroger’s Simple Truth to Target’s Simply Balanced, stores are creating private-label brands that offer organic food at an average of 30 percent savings,” says money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. “The flow of new organic products has led to lower prices on organic cereals, breads and even dairy. And most stores offer a money-back guarantee, so if you don’t like their brand, you can return it for a refund.”
Shop Aldi on this day
Shop Aldi on Wednesday mornings. The budget grocer has super-low prices on fresh
produce, but they have less shelf space (and sell out more quickly) than other
markets, so they restock each morning! And Wednesday is when Aldi releases its
weekly sales, so you can get first crack at those deals before they sell out!
This article was originally published in our sister publication Save on Groceries.