7 Tips: Shopping Healthy on a Budget!

A few weeks ago, I shared my grocery shopping list – and then received a whole slew of emails saying that it’s impossible to buy healthy foods on a budget. That’s a huge misconception! Contrary to popular belief, it’s totally possible to shop healthy without breaking the bank.

So, I put together a video at Whole Foods Market with my 7 best tips for shipping healthy on a budget. In the comments below, share some of your best tips!

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 100 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.

Comments

  1. Sam Bacon says:

    I love that you mentioned that each store has their own brand, and it tends to be less expensive. I love Honey Nut Cheerios, but the Ralph’s close to my house has their own version that tastes the same, and is usually two to three dollars less. I also walk to a from the grocery store. There is one thing I would point out, Whole Foods is a great, healthy store, and I’m sure they were happy to have you film there, but they tend to be a bit on the pricey side. Trader Joe’s is a great store with a lot of healthy alternatives for a fraction of the price of Whole Foods.

  2. Never shop hungry. This leads to those glorious impulse buys when you go to the store. Have a snack on the way if you have to, or go shopping after a meal, NOT before. If you generally shop for your dinner on a daily basis, try buying food for tomorrow’s dinner instead to help solve this issue. This also fosters being able to plan ahead. Knowing ahead of time what you’re going to eat keeps your appetite (a psychological feeling) from overriding your hunger (a physical feeling). Hope this helps!

  3. It does pay to comparison shop. I learned that Whole Foods (generally considered expensive) has better prices on milk, eggs and some cheese — and their store brand tub-package shredded Parmesan cheese is like ten times better than Safeway’s. For meat and canned goods, Safeway and other “regular” grocery chains usually have better prices. And our local independent market has incredible specials on in-season produce — like fresh strawberries for $1 a pint, compared to $6 at Whole Foods or $4 at Safeway.

    Thanks for a great post, Davey!

  4. I save money by eating less meat. Beans and grains are cheaper than meat per meal. When I buy chicken, I buy whole chickens. I cut up, debone, and skin them myself. I do the same with seafood.

    Also, I save by using smart cooking techniques. Many of the odds and ends from vegetables make good fodder for vegetable stock. I keep a storage container in my freezer at all times for them. All of my chicken skin and bones, I freeze for stock as well. I make fish stock as well.

    I am not afraid of freezing left overs for meals later in the month. A big pot of lentil soup makes several meals. When I eat on it for a couple of days, I get tired of it. When I freeze it, I eat it.

    These things add up.

    • Beans are a great, inexpensive nutritional powerhouse! As a high-protein, high-fiber complex carb, they deserve lots more lovin’ than they tend to get!

      • christopher says:

        i eat beans a few times per week.very high in fiber.today i had refried beans.canned low-fat.

      • christopher says:

        organic natural oatmeal and granola sold at discount store has been a bargain lately.watch out for sales at healthfood stores.Wholefoods and Trader Joes run sales everyweek.it is possible to shop at these stores on a budget.i did just this past weekend.

  5. Cheap, healthy foods that I buy:

    >Oatmeal (AND SQUATZ)
    >Snow peas (great for snacking)
    >Chicken breast (who doesn’t love cock in their mouth?)
    >Brown rice
    >Eggs
    >Skim Milk

  6. Fruits and vegetables are awesome, and you, incredible, Davey! I loved you in blue!

  7. Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli are two nutrition powerhouses that are also inexpensive. You can definitely eat healthy foods on a budget.

  8. I honestly thought the sign behind you (in the end) said “orgasmic peaches” haha boy would I love a bag of that ;)

  9. Hey There Daveywaveyfitness,
    Very interesting, Those contemplating taking out an auto loan usually do so because they need a new vehicle. The process to obtain that vehicle often begins with a prospective borrower finding a car they like-and then trying to work the budgeting process out. While this approach may be sound, it should be taken only by those who are willing to change their vehicle selection if their budget doesn’t allow for such a purchase. How does a borrower know what their budget will afford them? There are several approaches, but arguably one of the healthiest is through a simple 50/30/20 plan analysis.
    Keep up the good work

  10. well your fitness tip help ppl that have diabetes i have but not bc i’m big it bc it in my family’s geans plus i get really sickwhen i don’t a certainamout of food what do you think i should do

  11. When I lived in Canada, I would go to the grocery store and buy for the week (or two weeks). Partially because I had a HUGE north american sized fridge that needed filling. This makes impulse buying a LOT easier and throwing out food at the end of a week a lot more common. Since having moved to Europe (I am in Denmark), it is more common to buy food for the day. (You should also see the size (or lack thereof) of our fridges…) On my way home, it’s a five minute trip to the grocery store (or butchers, or green grocers), and I end up purchasing what I need rather than succumbing to impulse buying for items that will just be chucked out at the end of the week. (Keeping in mind, that we don’t need to drive to the shops as everything tends to be in walking distance.) So what I suggest is:

    1) Plan your meal in advance and buy only what you need for that meal. This may mean only 10 minutes in advance (that’s about as much as I can think ahead), but I always know what I am going into the shop for. Besides which, I would rather spend as little time in a supermarket as possible. I can’t guess what I am going to eat in 10 days, never mind what I might be in the mood for tomorrow….
    2) Buy what’s local and in season (and preferably organic). One, you are helping out your local economy and your farmer friends will love you for it (and ultimately, become cheaper for you and your neighbors as you are not needing to pay for transportation costs), two, you just might be purchasing something that is far better for you, which means your body uses more of it so you are not as hungry as often, and it will probably be a lot tastier too! If fruit and veg are made to last for 6 months and 5000 miles of transportation, you should wonder what has been done to it. If you can chuck a tomato at a wall, and it bounces back at you, allowing you to practice your racquetball backhand, there just might be an issue. (Besides which – taste? Do you complain that tomatoes don’t taste of anything? Precisely.) If you throw a tomato at a wall and it splats and goos down the wall, and your neighbor complains of the overabundance of tomato smell, you might be onto a good thing.
    3) Stir fries are a great way of using up what’s in the fridge. With a little bit of rice or pasta …. : ) !!

    My fridge might look wantonly empty, but that’s because I buy what I need and eat it right away while it’s still fresh and tasty! I also have discovered that I end up spending a lot less.

  12. Fred Martin says:

    thanks Davey. I personally am not a big fan of frozen foods, but I’ll take your advice into consideration.
    right now, with money tight, so to speak, the reasons you give for considering other options are valid and certainly wise.

    best wishes,
    fred

  13. davy beam says:

    i love Chipolte, so i learned how to make their vegetable saute of onions & green peppers even better-i add eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, carrots, basil, cilantro, and lemon pepper to the saute (with regular olive oil, never virgin or extra virgin, because the heat tends to make the oil taste bitter). i buy canned black beans, drain them and add cilantro. i buy white rice in bulk, or jasmine wild rice in the microwave packets (Uncle Ben’s almost always has coupons available). tastes great on a bed of spinach and kale, with lemon & lime juice as dressing.
    i have allergies to gluten and dairy, so i don’t eat breads or much dairy anymore. mostly eggs in baking. cheeses made from soy, goat’s and lamb’s milk, and buffalo milk are just as awesome, taste great, and have the added benefit of no hormones nor antibiotics that cow milk has.
    it’s fun to be a pescatarian! i stopped eating terran meat late last August, and what a transformation. never really had much use for most veggies, outside of corn and tomatoes, garlic and scallions. now, however, i crave them as much as i do beef burgers, and chicken breastesses.
    i’m ordering the new dvd today too. i’ll let you know how it is working out soon.
    cheers! davy

  14. It is most assuredly easy to eat healthy on a budget. I had the most healthy eating habits and had my healthiest weight of 150 when I only had 50 dollars a week to spend(not including the weekly box of Pellegrino which, when refilled with empty bottles, stacked and covered with cloth, make excellent college furniture! Easy to recycle on move-out day too!)

    Granted, I did not shop at Whole Foods (although I bet with 70 dollars a week I could pull it off) but it is very possible. The first tip, probably mentioned but ya know tl;dr, is to stick to the perimeter of the shop where the fresh things are and away from the middle aisles where they keep the processed crap (with exceptions to be made for frozen, unmodified fruits and veggies, the whole grains, esp steel cut oatmeal, and beans. And screw those bottles of spices and flavorless dried herbs! I spent 2 years with nothing but kosher salt (sea salt is for garnishing), cracked pepper, and an herb garden on my window sill.

    Steel cut oatmeal is definitely your friend. it’s ridiculous cooking time can be easily mitigated by using an electric crock pot. Just prepare the night before, and when you wake up, breakfast! Avoid the temptation to add sugar or butter, but ALWAYS add a pinch of salt AFTER cooking. If you want to go the sweet route, thats why you bought the frozen berries or seasonal fruit. Honey, okay. But either get the local stuff, or the bizarre mystical white Hawaiian stuff they have at Teavana and sometimes Whole Foods. (oh if you’re going to, don’t mess around with skim milk. add a touch of heavy cream. a little indulgence goes light years, and you’ll probably add less of that than you would have if you added butter)

    Also, do what I do, and add salt and pepper. It’s not that wonderful on instant oats (but instant oats have had most of their value flattened and processed out of them anyway) but on steel cut, its heaven.

    Also steel cut oatmeal is like 2 dollars and lasts for like 4 months of daily breakfasts. The stuff they have at Jamba Juice has a profit margin of like 950%.

    Beans cost nothing and keep until the end of time, either dried (again, soak the night before. stick those in the fridge tho) or go for canned. Drain the goo tho, and then rinse. Some black beans, salt, pepper, olive oil. I’m good.

    Meat: I’m sure Davey has mentioned this, but although we are genetically adapted to eat meat (altho props to my vegan peeps) people in the developed world eat too much of it in proportion to other food. A few tips: First, buy local. A butcher is going to give you a better, fresher cut of meat than a store ever will, and if you get to know your butcher, he or she will start dropping prices for you. Also, you can get really useful bits for stock. more on that later.

    Always buy quality over quantity. spending 5 dollars on a tiny $9 per pound cut of filet or dry aged ny strip that is significantly smaller is going to satisfy you much more than spending 5 dollars on a giant $3 per pound cut of some sirloin or other cut of beef I don’t buy that is 3 times the size. And even though it is leaner, because you’ll end up eating so much more of it (and it usually isn’t trimmed as well due to the way the fat is distributed) you’ll end up with more fat, and more beef stuff for your body to sit around processing and trying to figure out what to do with all the protein.

    Lamb. Smaller. same principle. buy it in season and it will be cheap. buy it LOCAL. Yes the Hobbits in New Zealand make excellent lamb. good for them. it also has to be frozen and put on a boat or a plane and flown like 5 thousand miles. you pay for that. a lamb chop is smaller, the fat is more flavorful and again, although you ate less, you end up more satisfied.

    Duck. Yes. YES. Duck. Fatty, Fatty, Fatty duck. Guess what? as a water fowl, duck fat is different from land poultry and is more chemically similar to olive oil. Also, in order to remove the water resistant feathers, it has to be processed at 300+ degrees, which means that unlike chicken (which, unless you are getting it from people whose names you know, doesn’t have any flavor of its own anymore) and turkey (which is also losing its flavor and is so gigantic you’ll either be eating it for a week and get sick of it, or you’ll buy some pre-sliced processed thing.) Duck cannot harbor the same kinds of heat-resistant microbes that poultry can, which means you can serve it at a comfortably pink (or rarer, but i’m not down with that) 145-155 degrees, unlike chicken which has to be 165 or the USDA’s Biohazard Division will come to your house, seal it, and drag you off to a Secure and Undisclosed Location.

    Again, ducks are smaller, so you end up eating less of it, but feel more satisfied. Also, because the fat hangs out under the skin, it crisps the skin, creates a lipid barrier preventing water-based juiciness from steaming away, and then politely exits the bird once it liquifies. (which, when saved, makes a lovely substitute for butter when sauteing veggies) and you get the joy of moist crispness without having to shove butter under skin, engaging in that kitchen voodoo “basting” (which doesn’t do anything since poultry skin is watertight; it just increases cooking time and/or prevents the skin from burning) or getting flour and a deep fryer involved.

    Fish: buy local. do not buy the ahi unless you live in a place where you know what the word ahi means. That really pink tuna you see? they add that color. same goes for salmon, that color is mostly beta keratine. Go for whatever is local. lower transport cost, lower price, and fresher. Don’t know what’s local? ask the seafood manager. oh and if you approach the seafood section and smell anything that doesnt make you think of “clean” or “maui.” Leave. Leave immediately. That “fishy” smell is not caused by fish, but microbes that live ON fish. run away. run far away.

    Hey! have a lobster! Even if they are on sale! lobster is the only seafood that I dare to buy on sale. why? easy freshness test. when they take it out, is it moving rapidly? then its fresh! cuz its alive.

    Oh and if you like the bivalves, skip the clams unless you live near Spooner Street and get the Mussells. much cheaper, they also have an easy fresh test (when you get them home, if they are open, tap them. if they dont close, theyre dead. Cook them (which just takes a big pan, white wine (get the box Pino Grigio. shhh, im Italian, i know what I’m talking about. ill save the 40 dollar bottle for when nonna comes over) or some cheap as all get out clam juice, and 2 shallots) if they AREN’T open at that point, they’re dead! throw them out. if more than 1/3 of your mussells end up DOA or DAC (Dead After Cooking) take the tag that was on the bag (required by law) back to the shop and threaten to call the USDA if they don’t refund or give you a bunch of lobsters

    Finally, buy in season. Always buy in season. fruits, veggies, fish, beef, lamb. don’t know what’s in season? ask the section manager. Also try and hunt down a farmers market. most rural areas have them (since thats where they keep the farms) and even Washington DC has a farmers market. If you live in NYC and don’t know where to find a farmer’s market, then you aren’t from NYC and need to go back to where you came from. pay a year’s rent first tho. If you buy out of season, they bred or genetically modified it to last, look pretty, and have no flavor or nutritional value. Strawberries ARE NOT supposed to be white on the inside!

    Finally, there is stock. Stock is a joyus thing. all those 5 star restaurants that make those amazing sauces? Stock. don’t you dare buy it. take your laptop into the kitchen on a weekend, quarter some onions (2 big ones) some carrots, some mushroom stems that you froze, a garlic clove maybe, some peppercorns, whatever herbs you have growing, AND NO SALT into the biggest pot you have with some leftover bones that dont have sauce on them. younger animals are better. ducks are always young (unless you shot it) and they have happy grass fed free range veal now ask YOUR BUTCHER. lamb, also a great choice. birds can be thrown in together, 4 legged animals can too, but i dont mess with pork. never ever for stock. add water. (leave about 5 inches (thats 7 in internet inches). bring to rapid boil. reduce to a simmer (occasional bubble every 30 seconds or so. too much, and it will get cloudy, too little and it wont work) wait 8 hours or so (just lid it and turn the heat off, or get your roommate to watch it when you go to the gym, besides this is good to do on your rest day, i said as if i worked out) wait overnight, if youre brave.

    as it cooks, the collagen in the connective tissue dissolves into delicious NO FAT gelatin. you know that lip smacking goodness from slow cooked ribs or slow-cooked anything-on-the-bone? thats dissolved gelatin. real gelatin. jello uses a synthetic kind.

    don’t bother skimming the scum or the off. just put the whole mess into the fridge and wait another day, then all the fat will be solidified at the top, scrape that off, and strain the rest with a collander and some cheesecloth (or VERY clean tshirt. but cheese cloth is cheap. im just saying if you went to express and bought those 5 white v-necks for 15 dollars and then when you got them home realized they weren’t cut right and made of nothing, they now have a new use. or use davey wavey’s underwear)

    that should catch a good 99% of the fat. then, boil it again, let it reduce by a fourth, put most of it in little ziploc or whatever containers and freeze (good for 6 months) Then, when you want to cook some veggies and want more flavor than steamed (which is great, dont get me wrong) just boil the stock (hard boil for 2 minutes. salt-free gelatin-laden protein water is kind of a bacterial playground, but they all die at 140 unless youre a moron and decided to culture botulism by letting the stock cool to room temp and let it sit for 2 days instead of putting it in the fridge where it belongs) and cook it in that instead of water. it will need salt. (if you add salt before or during stock making, it concentrates and it ends up too salty)

    finally, take the last bit of stock and get an ice cube tray. pour that, about a pint, into a stainless steel saucepan and cook that down until it begins to coat the pan. season this with salt, then pour into the ice cube trays. next time you do want to cook a boring skinless bird breast, drop one of these 99% fat free 100% flavor orgasms into the pan after it browns.

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