22 Staple Groceries That Won't Break The Bank
I have always been one for awesome deals and sales. My goodness, my husband thinks I’m nuts when I come home with $150 worth of sweaters for $25 (no joke, this happened yesterday). What can I say, I love finding inexpensive options when I can! My outlook toward food is no different.
At the beginning of my journey to a healthier life, I feared my grocery bill. Eating healthy can be expensive, no doubt - especially when you buy some superfoods or items out of season. I was determined to eat well without overspending, so I created a list of inexpensive healthy items I buy every week. These starter groceries are the base of my meals. Each item has been carefully chosen because they are cheaper than others, have high nutritional value, and give the best bang for your buck. This is for all you girls on a budget! I do add a few different “speciality” items every so often for certain recipes, but this list comprises the majority of my weekly shopping cart. (For reference, I shop at ShopRite and love their inexpensive, organic line, Wholesome Pantry).
1. Chicken - Protein is a key part in my diet. I buy chicken breasts every single week, but change how I season them to give some variety to my palate. I always stock up when they’re on sale, too - this helps in the long run!
2. Tuna - The easiest protein to grab and go is Starkist Tuna Creations. They now come in a packet (instead of a can) and no water. This makes them super easy to bring to work to pair with a salad. I even eat them on cabbage for a delicious protein-packed snack. Tuna might seem small, but the amount of protein in a single pack is so worth the price.
3. Ground Turkey - I love buying this because there seems to be an unending list of ways to make ground turkey. I’ll roll it up to make meatballs or burgers, sauté it in pasta sauce or pair it with a teriaki for an Asia alternative. Sometimes I’ll even make healthy tacos using ground turkey, the list goes on. Needless to say, it is a great source of protein to keep you full longer.
4. Eggs - Eggs are life. Seriously, though. I eat eggs every day. If I don’t have them for breakfast (or breakfast for dinner) I end up throwing them in my healthy baking recipes, protein pancakes, or hard boiled as a snack. Eggs are high in protein so I love eating these daily.
5. Spinach - I put spinach in every single smoothie I make. Greens are so important to a healthy diet, and spinach blends very well and goes a long way. I’ll also sauté it or use it fresh as the base of my salads. Since it is part of the “dirty dozen,” I try to buy Wholesome Pantry organic spinach which is actually the same cost as non-organic spinach at Shoprite.
6. Carrots - No lie, I eat 4 lbs of carrots a week. I might have a problem, ha. Seriously, I love grabbing a carrot stalk to munch on, combine it with pb or hummus at snack time, or throw it in a salad.
7. Cucumbers - The perfect addition to salads, but I also use them as a snack. Sliced cucumbers dipped in hummus or a “chip” for guacamole is delicious.
8. Cabbage - I buy red or green cabbage each week. It’s an easy way to add variety and thicken your salads. I also love taking a full green cabbage leaf and making it into a “wrap” stuffed with tuna and avocado.
9. Bananas - This is one of my favorite groceries. It is always very inexpensive, and there are so many ways to use bananas. Make protein pancakes, “Nicecream”, combine it with pb for a perfect snack, use it in baking, throw it in a smoothie - the list goes on.
10. Apples - I love grabbing an apple for an easy on-the-go snack. I bring one to work every day in case I need a little something extra. Combine a sliced apple with some cinnamon and you have the perfect dessert. I’ll also eat my apples with nuts or peanut butter to balance my blood sugar levels.
11. Quinoa - Quinoa from Wholesome Pantry at Shoprite is a steal if you ask me. I love adding quinoa to my salads, as part of my quinoa oats, or even in baking. Quinoa is a must for me because it is high in protein and fiber so it keeps you full longer. It might be slightly “pricey” in your eyes, but the benefits make the cost worth it!
12. Rolled Oats - You love overnight oats? Hey, me too! Rolled oats are a crucial part of my diet. I’ll grind them up and use them in baking, throw them in an oat bowl or bring them to work. Oats are high in fiber making them take longer to digest which gives you the “full” feeling. I love oats!
13. Protein Bars - When it comes to bars, I try to find ones have as few sugars as possible and all natural ingredients. So many protein bars are stuffed with fake sugars/sugar alcohols and processed food. RXbars make my list because they might not be the absolute cheapest, but for the high quality WHOLE ingredients, they are actually very inexpensive and make a fabulous snack.
14. Peanut Butter - Natural peanut butter is more expensive than processed ones, but I found one that is cheap and by far the best tasting peanut butter I’ve ever had. Crazy Richards PB can be found in most grocery stores and on amazon for about $3 a tub where the only ingredient is peanuts. That’s a steal.
15. Nuts - Nuts can be expensive depending on the brand you choose. I always try to buy the store brand nuts (my grocery store - Shoprite - has very cheap options). I try to get almonds and pepitas nearly every week. They are a healthy fat and contain protein so they make a perfect healthy snack or salad topper.
16. Chickpeas - Canned chickpeas are a great source of fiber and protein. Plus, they are much cheaper than many other sources of protein. I love Wholesome Pantry’s canned veggies!
17. Black Beans - I love adding black beans to salads, salsa, or a morning egg scramble. High in fiber, these are packed with healthy nutrients and a cheap choice to add to your diet.
18. Almond Milk - Many Almond Milk brands can be filled with added sugars, but Wholesome Pantry at ShopRite has unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk that is 0g sugar and tastes amazing. I use it all of my smoothies, oats, pancakes, granola, etc. It has less sugar (with only 0.5 g) than regular milk and is great for anyone who is lactose intolerant.
19. Greek Yogurt - Plain greek yogurt is packed with protein, low in fat, low in carbs. It is a great, healthy snack that fills you up. I love Chobani, but for those that are lactose intolerant, Yoplait is mostly lactase free!
20. Hummus - Hummus has slowly but surely made it’s way into my diet. The base is made of chickpeas and pairs so well with veggies. I’m in love with Fountain of Health beet hummus. It tastes great, has antioxidant properties from the beets and is quiet inexpensive.
21. Frozen Cauliflower - One way to lower the sugar of your smoothies is to replace bananas with frozen cauliflower. It absorbs the taste of the other items in the smoothie while making the base thicker. I will sometimes “rice” cauliflower to use in place of pasta or rice as well. It is a very cheap way to make your meals larger without the extra empty ingredients.
22. Frozen Berries - Most of the time frozen berries are cheaper than fresh berries. They are also a great alternative when berries aren’t in season. I love using these on top of my oats, in or to top my smoothies and in granolas. Berries are high in antioxidants and have natural sugars to cut your sweet tooth!