The never-ending conversation between that my husband and I have is figuring out a way to lower our weekly grocery bill while shopping for healthy foods. This is something that has been a table topic for years. Almost as soon as we started living together, our quest of these budget-friendly healthy foods was a complete failure. Our grocery bill went through the roof.

Buying Healthy Foods on a Budget

When I lived alone, I used to pride myself on maintaining a $30 weekly grocery bill. I didn't eat out very much, didn't have much of a social life (boo hoo...I just moved), and at the time was transitioning my career to what I'm doing now. To be perfectly clear, by "transitioning" I mean I quit my old job and plunged headfirst into a completely new industry. I was broke with a capital B. Until I started making money, I was counting my pennies, while eating as healthy as possible. Still, I managed to get a bunch of healthy foods on a super tight budget.

Then I met Justin, my husband. I learned very quickly, he too needed to eat. A few years later, we had our oldest daughter. Within a year, she was eating people food, too. Add two more kids to the mix along with an encyclopedic knowledge of good/bad foods and you have the recipe for a very high grocery bill.

I know those of you who eat know what I'm talking about. Food is expensive, isn't it? Especially if you're trying to eat healthy. If you've seen Food, Inc., you know that you're constantly having to battle the super slick marketing of big food companies telling you that their products are the healthiest. Usually, that's not the case. Buying healthy foods is expensive. If you're a family participating in a subsidized food program, buying healthy foods for your loved ones is nothing short of a strain.

Duped Into Buying Healthy-Sounding Foods

A packaged food that contains a healthy ingredient doesn't necessarily make it healthy. For instance, adding flax seeds to the top of a processed cracker just makes it a processed cracker with flax seeds on top (and indigestible, completely oxidized flax seeds at that!). Similarly, 10% juice in a bottle of sticky sugar water or pressed within a fruit chew doesn't mean there is any added value. It's still sugary garbage that probably contains GMO-loaded high fructose corn syrup. But, because we know, or have been told, that flax seeds are good and real juice is real good, we buy it, spending a good chunk of change along the way. All the while, we avoid the foods that are actually very, very good for our bodies.

Swooping around the other side of my digression above, the way I've been able to manage my grocery bill AND maintain a healthy family menu is by practicing minimalist shopping. I just made that up. I'm pretty sure there is no "thing" called minimalist shopping. I'll admit, it sounds boring. Nonetheless, the concept is healthy and my whole family has learned how to prepare foods using a variety of ingredients. Well, my toddler hasn't. In fact, he's the pickiest child I've ever had. But he's learning. In fact, this morning we were working on eating oatmeal with a spoon. Baby steps. Today, learning how to use a spoon. Tomorrow, chiffonading strips of basil for a Caprese. No, I'm kidding...I just wanted to use some form of the word chiffonade because it sounds so fancy (although I do seriously mention it this technique in The Belly Burn Plan...but that's for grown ups.

This list below is indeed minimal. I don't doubt that most people will buy more the next time they shop. The quantities might be off, too. For example, I have eggs on the list. Some families go through a dozen eggs in a couple days, where a family of two might take two weeks to work through the batch.

The point is, these are the foods that are always in my kitchen, and at one point or another, always in my grocery cart because they are versatile, healthy and relatively affordable.

The Key to Buying Healthy Foods: Shopping for Staples

I've calculated the average weekly shopping bill (not including taxes) for this list at $51.46.

Bottled Lemon Juice
Cost: $1.11
Length of time to repurchase: 2 weeks
Real lemon juice with nothing added is an absolute must for everyone. Yes, it's acidic, but when ingested it helps to alkalize your blood, bringing your body's pH into better balance.

Add a couple tablespoons (or so) to a 12 ounce glass of room temp or warm water every morning before you eat anything. This will help stimulate your digestive system and hydrate that beautiful body of yours!

Coconut Oil
Cost: $7.99
Length of time to repurchase: 2 months
Coconut oil will hang around your kitchen for quite a while, adding a delicious flavor and plenty of healthy fat to the foods you live. Coconut oil is a medium chain triglyceride, which, unlike other fats, converts to energy much faster.

Tip: Coconut oil melts at 76 degrees. When you buy it in the store, it's probably in a solid white form. Over the summer months, or if you kitchen warms up, don't be surprised if you see a clear liquid forming in the jar of oil. Don't worry, the integrity of the oil hasn't been affected. Cook away, using on everything you roast or bake with.

Cost: $1.99
Length of time to repurchase: 1 month or longer
One of the best spices in town for stabilizing unruly blood sugar levels. If you're following The Belly Burn Plan, you know I use cinnamon liberally. If you have more belly fat than you need, high A1C levels or type 2 diabetes, you should make cinnamon a staple in your kitchen cabinet.

Tip: Need a snack for work? Add 1 cup frozen berries, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons walnuts to a container. You'll have a cool, crisp, sweet and delicious snack within a couple hours.

Raw Walnuts
Length of time to repurchase: 2 weeks
Raw walnuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, something our brain is almost always running short on, and metabolized by our bodies very quickly. Raw walnuts are also a healthy on-the-go snack that can take the edge off hunger.

Tip: Another great on-the-go snack, grab a handful of this vitamin E packed nut to give your hunger a break and skin a nice glow.

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
$6.36  This is the type I like --> buy here
Length of time to repurchase: 2 months
Oh, the things you can do with unsweetened cocoa powder. I actually encourage people to buy cacao, not cocoa as it's less refined, but cocoa is pretty healthy and a lot less expensive. They're mostly interchangeable (some exceptions with baking), and are in just about every single chocolate recipe I've written.

Tip: Use cocoa powder to make my Homemade Chocolate Pecan LARABAR recipe or these Healthy Homemade Peanut Butter Cups.

$1.49 (conventional) to $3.99 (organic)*
Length of time to repurchase: 1 week
Eggs are a perfect protein. The whole egg, not just the egg white, is a nutrient-dense, chock full of B12, folate, choline and vitamin A, to name a few. Organic is always better, but if it's not an option, aim for conventional. Unless you know you're ordering an omelet made from bagged eggs (read my article on why your shouldn't eat this type), in which case you should always order egg whites, whole eggs have been shown to elevate HDL (good) cholesterol.

Tip: Boil a bunch of eggs in advance. Peel and keep in a air tight container for a quick snack or last minute egg salad.

Romaine Lettuce (bag of 3 heads)
$2.99 (conventional) to 3.99 (organic)*
Length of time to repurchase: 1 week
Oh, Romaine, how I love you. You're not quite as bitter and dense as kale, but still full of vitamin K, vitamin A and folate. Let's face it, most plant-based foods are super foods, including romaine. This leafy green is also high in vitamin C (which boosts your immune system) and fiber (which feeds good gut bacteria and aids in digestion).

Tip: Instead of using corn or flour tortillas for tacos, use a hearty leaf of romaine. You'll avoid all those refined carbohydrates and get an extra bit of belly-friendly fiber.

Frozen Broccoli
$1.59 (conventional) to 2.99 (organic)
Length of time to repurchase: 1 week
It's affordable, won't perish as as quick as it's fresh counterpart and easy to blend into just about any meal. What's more, broccoli helps to balance hormones, fight cancer and significantly reduce inflammation.

Tip: Make quick stir fry by adding frozen broccoli to a pan heated with coconut oil. Cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, then toss in your favorite protein. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and sesame seeds to finish.

Frozen Berries
$3.99 (organic)
Length of time to repurchase: 1 week
Frozen berries are the sweet counterpart to frozen broccoli. Filled with nutrients, fiber and plenty of antioxidants, frozen berries can be added to anything from smoothies to muffins (including these delicious gluten free blueberry muffins) and oatmeal.

Tip: If you're buying berries, especially strawberries, make the investment and buy organic. Conventional strawberries top the list of this the Environmental Worker Group's Dirty Dozen (translation: loaded with pesticides).

Avocados (bag of 4)
Length of time to repurchase: 1 week
I eat at least one avocado a day. I usually blend 1/2 in either a breakfast or lunch smoothie, especially if I'm working out of my home office, and the other half makes its way next to a couple of eggs, on a salad or whipped up as guacamole. A lot of people don't realize this, but avocados have a good amount of fiber in them. Just another reason to love avocados. Because they're a hard-skinned fruit, it's ok to buy conventional in this case.

Tip: If you missed it, I posted a Fudgey Avocado Brownie recipe that blends both the benefits of cocoa powder with avocado. Bonus!

Ground Turkey (2 lbs)
Length of time to repurchase: 1 week
Assuming there is more than one of you in your household, 2 pounds of turkey could work. If you're single and usually make dinner for one, two pounds might be a bit much. Regardless, ground turkey is a healthy, versatile protein that can be used in burgers, tacos, chili, lasagna, sloppy joes...and the list goes on.

Tip: Make spaghetti bolognese with turkey meat instead of ground beef. Listen to me talk about this recipe, along with a few others, with Steve Harvey.

Length to repurchase: 2 weeks
Like with olive oil, or avocados, the monounsaturated fat in olives dig into fat cells in the body, helping to break it down. Keep in mind, dietary fat is very different from the fat we have in our body. One is a much needed macronutrient, and the other is a body insulator (among other things). Most of us simply don't need the amount of insulation we actually have.

Tip: The next time you have a party, pull out the tooth picks and set them beside a big bowl of olives. They're a savory sensation and so easy!

Carrots (2 lbs)
Length of time to repurchase: 1 week
Bring on the carrots. This hearty root vegetable can be roasted, steamed, stewed, snacked or shredded onto a salad. Carrots are a good source of fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C. It's been shown to improve skin quality, boost immunity to colds and eliminate toxins.

Tip: If you like carrots and you like muffins, then make these Carrot Ginger Muffins. They're amazing and packed with plenty of nutrition.

California Olive Ranch Olive Oil 
$7.00 This is the type I like. Buy here.
Length of time to repurchase: 2 months

The reason I recommend California Olive Ranch is because it's REAL olive oil. A while back, 60 minutes did an exposé on the olive oil industry and discovered much of the expensive olive oil we've been buying isn't really olive oil. It's worth the watch if you enjoy your olive oil. Regardless, once you fill your pantry with olive oil, use it regularly.

Tip: Olive oils is an important part of my One Day Detox Routine. You can read all about that right here.

Sea Salt
Length of time to repurchase: 2 months+
Many of us, especially those of us who eat a largely processed diet, consume far too much salt. This can be a big problem. But if you're committed to eating unprocessed, it's safer (and much healthier) to add a small amount of sea salt to the foods you enjoy.

Tip: To help control salt intake, hold off on adding salt to the foods you prepare until you're ready to eat. Then add just the right amount for your taste buds. Note: the exception to this rule is when baking. Salt is needed to help strengthen the consistency of many baked goods.

Black Beans
Length of time to repurchase: 2 weeks
Black beans are an great source of B6, fiber and folate. They're also a good source of protein and help to curb hunger. A versatile legume, black beans can be used in omelets, burgers, tacos, salads and so much more.

Tip: Want to try something different? They I think you will love these Black Bean Brownies. This might sound unusual, but they're a chocolatey, grain free alternative to their refined counterpart.

Length of time to repurchase: 2 weeks
I always passed by chickpeas on the salad bar when I was a little kid. I never understood why they were there. Today, I can't get enough of them and make plenty of recipes using them (see below). Similar to black beans, chick peas are a good source of protein and fiber. They're also a good source of manganese, a mineral that helps keep bones strong and skin elastic. Beautiful!

Tip: Planning a backyard BBQ anytime soon? Make these Cucumber Hummus Bites. They're simple, healthy and filling. Another simple but spicy recipe are these Turmeric Roasted Chickpeas.

Length of time to repurchase: 2 weeks to 1 month
Garlic is an amazing detoxifier and a potent ally in the fight against cancer. Eating a clove a day can do you body wonder. Regular consumption of raw garlic has been shown to fight the common cold, obliterate bad bacteria and reduce high blood pressure.

Tip: To get the greatest benefit out of garlic, consume it as raw as possible about 15 minutes after crushing it. For example, if you're adding it to a salad dressing, then allow the garlic to sit a few minutes before mixing and adding to the salad.

Length of time to repurchase: 2 weeks to 1 month
Did you know that quinoa is actually a berry, not a grain? It's true. Nonetheless, is relatively high in protein and can be substituted for rice, pasta or cous cous. Compared to other grains, quinoa has nearly twice the fiber content. It's a fantastic gluten free substitute.

Tip: Looking for a healthy vegetarian swap to the traditional burger, then try these Black Bean and Quinoa Burgers. They're delicious.

Length of time to repurchase: 1 month
If you need to have something in your cabinet that helps bring out a little sweetness, then honey is it. Unlike refined table sugar, honey has antibacterial and anti fungal properties that are great for your gut. Of course, it's still very sweet and calorically dense, so don't go overboard.

Tip: Drizzle honey over plain yogurt with fresh berries and a little cinnamon to make a fresh and delicious parfait.


clean eating shopping list on a budget


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