Cheap Groceries for Weight Loss
The ongoing quest for cheap weight loss foods can sometimes feel like an uphill battle, with each week’s latest research study hyping a new herb or super fruit. Fortunately, there are plenty of cheap groceries for weight loss that most of us can afford. While the typical frugal advice of shopping the grocery store's perimeter (instead of the prepared food in the middle aisles) still applies, it’s also fair to say that you need to be a bit more specific than that.
Filling your cart with only healthy fats might make you feel better about munching out, but you still need to make some precision produce purchases to help you control your calorie consumption. What follows are some sources, strategies, and several specific grocery items you’ll want to add to your list of cheap groceries for weight loss. (See also: Frugal Fitness: 25 and a Half Ways to Make It Happen)
Produce to Buy for Weight Loss
It never hurts to have a list of shopping suggestions (which is why I developed this cheap food guide); even when it comes to produce, some items are more healthful than others. You can consult this nutrient density index for nutrition information, and I’ve also included seven specific produce items below and provided fairly extensive resource lists featuring recipes you can use for each vegetable.
It’s no secret that cruciferous vegetables are good for us. Cauliflower can be used to help cut carbs in a variety of ways including pulverizing the florets in your food processor to then use as bread crumbs, as a raw couscous substitute for summer salads, or mixed with mashed avocado to serve as a rice substitute in raw vegan sushi. Here’s a detailed list of cauliflower recipes that will help you start including more of it in your regular diet.
Dark green veggies are a great addition to any list you’re developing of groceries for weight loss, and one of the most versatile ones is broccoli. If purchasing the fresh stuff leaves you with extra bits you don’t have time to prepare, take these frozen broccoli recipes for a test drive. The fact that you are starting with a frozen product allows you to take individual amounts out of the freezer to use at your discretion. This will help you keep waste to a minimum.
Mushrooms give a nice meaty, beefy flavor without all the calories and fat of a full-on steak. You don’t have to go completely meatless to enjoy the benefits, either. If you still want to experience red meat, consider threading chunks of it onto a barbecue skewer along with mushrooms, peppers, and onions to spread the calories out while still enjoying something from the grill. Here are 40 mushroom recipes to help you incorporate more of them into your meal planning.
This is probably the green vegetable we eat the most of in my house. We use it for everything from party appetizers to pizza toppings to soup. You're bound to find a few favorites among these 25 ways to use frozen spinach.
When it comes to cheap groceries for weight loss, carrots are pretty tough to beat. They are filling, they can be snacks or soup purees or side dishes, and they are affordable, even if you buy organic. These 50 fabulous carrot recipes provide numerous ways to start eating more of them, including the age-old strategy of cutting them up to enjoy alongside a sandwich.
What would a salad be without tomatoes? There are many other ways you can incorporate them into meals however, as this list of 25 tantalizing fresh tomato recipes demonstrates. Homemade salsa is certainly a fun way to go. So is making your own sundried tomatoes in the oven.
Of course, shopping for vegetables is only part of the solution when it comes to cheap groceries for weight loss. It doesn’t do you any good to buy all of those low-calorie veggies and other foods if all you’re going to do is serve them with fatty sausages or cook them in heavy oils. You need to find cost-conscious ways to cut calories in all areas of your grocery shopping.
Better Beverage Choices
I don’t know about you, but I like to enjoy a drink or two at the end of a busy day. There are a few ways to enjoy lower-calorie cocktails, including but not limited to using seltzer water and veggie juices, or skipping mixers altogether in favor of things like flavored vodka on ice.
Reduction of Meat and Dairy
You don’t have to be a hardcore vegan to enjoy the health benefits of a plant-based diet. Minimizing your intake will get you on the right track, and help you shave your some grocery costs at the same time. If you think getting your extra fiber through grains and beans will be boring, try these 25 ways to enjoy beans and rice.
The Full Vegan Monty
You’ve got to admit, chicken and cheese along with other meat and dairy items add significantly to your bottom line. And for the purposes of this article, they offer a higher caloric density than many of the produce items suggested above. If you feel like it’s something you can stick to, going vegan might be just the nutritional and financial ticket you’ve been searching for. Two Wise Bread articles to help you with the transition are Eating Vegan on the Cheap and 25 Frugal Items for Your Organic Vegan Grocery List.
Amp Up the Antioxidants
According to Women’s Health Magazine, antioxidants can play a significant role in our weight loss efforts. Worried you’ll be spending your entire grocery budget on dried gogi berries? No need to stress. Plenty of foods are good sources of antioxidants, and plenty of them are also affordable.
Where to Shop
We all have a few of our own secret sources, but there are certain ones available throughout the country that are convenient to most of us. Here are some of my top picks.
Some of my favorite reasons to shop at discount retailer Aldi include their Fit and Active brand brown rice and veggie oven sandwiches; access to 80-calorie Caribbean frozen fruit bars from Grandessa; and their weekly specials on baby portobello mushrooms, celery, bagged onions, and other low-calorie produce items. Similar savings are accessible by shopping at Save-a-Lot, with consistently good buys on avocados, bananas, sweet potatoes, cilantro, and more.
If you choose to shop at warehouse clubs consistently, chances are you’ve discovered a number of bottom-line prices on your favorite grocery items. The next time you are shopping at Costco, consider cruising the produce, pantry staples, and frozen goods aisles in search of cheap groceries for weight loss that fit your family’s preferences. Some suggestions include frozen berries to blend into smoothies and high-nutrient salad dressings, large bags of pinto beans to add to your list of meat substitutions, giant tubs of greens for salads, and various bulk bags of fruits and veggies to include in healthier brown bag lunches you can take to work.
Health Food Retailers
While many balk at such stores and assume they are too expensive across the board, the truth is there are decent deals to be had if you have the time to shop carefully and get the lay of the land, so to speak.
For example, some of my favorite Whole Foods bargains also qualify as cheap groceries for weight loss. Granted, I had to take my time and cruise the aisles to see what was available. Regular purchases include organic flax seeds, oatmeal, bulk organic popcorn to prepare as a healthy movie snack, and certain low-priced flavors of loose tea.
It still comes as a surprise to some people when I suggest it, but there are super stores in this country that include a grocery department along with sportswear and home goods.
Perusing the perimeter at Target will not only score you great clearance deals on clothing for the kiddos, but it will also take you by the 30-calorie-per-serving almond milk, which trumps the calorie density of traditional skim milk by a significant percentage. Other finds at Super Target include fresh parsnips, string beans, spaghetti squash, and romaine hearts. The store is also a great source for purchasing organic groceries on a budget, due the many USDA-qualified items in their line of generic food items. If Walmart is more your speed or it’s what you have available in your location, check their selection of inexpensive toasted sunflower kernels as a salad add-in, store-brand canned beans, and bagged brown lentils.
In short, there are a number of cheap groceries for weight loss at your disposal so there’s no need to avoid eating healthy because you don’t think you can afford it.
Are any of the suggestions here something you already enjoy on a regular basis? Do you have any suggestions for cheap weight loss groceries that you don’t see listed here?