Budget Hacks for Healthier Food

11/23/18 I've included a budget hack for buying nuts and will continuously be growing this list as I find more to add in the future. 

Lately, I’ve been reading as much as I can about culinary spices to use on your food that contribute to certain health benefits. Since I’m working on weight loss now, I’m trying to eat healthier, but when you’re on a family budget, things like buying supplements, specialty shakes, organic vegetables, healthier organic meats, and superfoods, can pose a challenge when you have a family to feed.

Notice that I said challenging, but not entirely impossible. Today, for example, I used a recipe that required spices like turmeric, chives, ginger, and cumin. All of them were priced above $3 a bottle, and when having to decide between $12 worth of food or $12 worth of bottled spices, one can see why salt, pepper, and/or a combination season-all with MSG (which is not good for us), usually turns into the default staple of spices for most people who season their meals. Mind you, these aren't even organic spices. Those are usually $5-$8 a bottle, and when trying to decide whether I want $20-$32 worth of organic spices or food my family can actually eat, well, let's just say that those spice bottles don't look as appealing as a steak.

There is still a way you can buy those expensive spices without breaking your pocket books. Here is a healthy budget hack, and some steps you can take, to still get the culinary spices you need at about 40%-75% off what an average spice bottle will cost you:

1. If you've already bought the spice before, don't throw away the bottle. Save it, and soon I will tell
you why.

2. Shop at a store that sells spices in bulk. In my home state of Texas, we have an HEB that sells items in bulk, including fancy shmancy culinary spices.

3. You can get as much as you need for what the recipe calls for or fill a one ounce bag to the rim, and when you get home, simply keep it stored in the bag, or transfer your spice into the bottle you saved. It's that simple!

This cost me an average of $1.41 per bag, and I was able to refill my whole bottle at a fraction of the average cost.
I use a funnel to transfer my spices into the bottle

Here are a few more budget hacks:
Focus on Seasonal Items

Produce and Fruits

When it comes to produce, I only buy whatever fruits and vegetables are on sale for the week. If it's only apples and peaches we will be eating for that one week, so be it, but at least they are still healthy and organic fruits and peaches that I got on sale!

Some people may disagree with this, but I generally bypass buying organic fruits with tougher shell coverings, like coconuts, bananas and avocados, because I'm not planning on eating the shell. That covering already protects the fruit that you are actually going to eat on the inside. Again, if you can afford to pay the extra $2-4 for those products, because they read "organic" more power to ya! But if you're on a family budget, that type of call is your business, and don't let anyone make you feel guilty because of it.


Other things you can buy in bulk are nuts with the shell in them. However, those tend to be more seasonal items, which is usually around November. I love Brazil nuts, but they tend to be quite pricey- and for good reason. This selenium-rich nut helps reduce inflammation, improves heart health, aids with skin care and weight loss, even helps regulate thyroid function, and so much more. Get yourself a nutcracker and open them yourself. Just this week, Sprout was selling them for $3.99/lb. That’s a huge price drop from HEB (a main grocery chain in Texas) $19.99/lb. without the shell. Takes a little time and patience to crack them open, but they're totally worth it. Other nuts also in the shell are almonds, hazel nuts, walnuts, and pecans.

Brazil nut with the shell

Plant Your Own Food

Whenever possible, grow your own herbs, fruits, or vegetables. I know it's a challenge, but the money you will save on just herbs can go a long way compared to the prices I pay for a small package of basil. Also, cooking with roots like ginger, or herbs like thyme, oregano, and cilantro, will not only add more flavor to your food, but they have added health benefits. Ginger for example, can treat nausea and is great for inflammation reduction; thyme is wonderful for sore throats and colds, and cilantro's metal detoxification power is also beneficial. I do container gardening and grow peppers, basil, sweet tomatoes, thyme, oregano, green onions, cilantro, ginger, and lettuce. If I had more room and time, I would certainly get into pickling cucumbers and growing much more, so if you do have the time and place, there's nothing more rewarding than choosing a more self-sustainable way of life. It adds money to your pocket book and daddy can take mama out for a nice, hot date! 

Costco It

Costco has gotten better with offering more organic food choices. If you can afford the annual membership of $60 per year, I have saved money on buying their organic chicken and ground turkey in bulk. The one thing to know about Costco is that while most retail stores will mark up their prices by 50%, the most they mark up theirs is 14-15%. They make their money on their membership, not their grocery products, so that's why we can afford quality food at a low price. Sometimes they offer amazing deals on their seasonal products as well and we take full advantage of that too. Here's a small tip about Costco: When you see an "*" on their display labels, that means they are not going to re-order that product any time soon, so they have really marked it down as low as they can to make a quick sale.


Of course, it goes without saying that coupons are fabulous, and with the exception that I rarely find some on organic products, if you can save on some type of cleaning supply, pet food, or other household item, then perhaps those dollars and cents can shift to other foods you don't normally buy because of cost.

Well that's it. If you have any other ideas about how you feed your family healthier food without straining the family budget, feel free to share them. I'd love to hear from you!


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