“Eating healthy is expensive.” Cost is the number one excuse for not eating well. I’m here to bust that stereotype by sharing my favorite grocery store hacks! First things first, you do NOT have to shop at “health food stores” to find healthy, specialty, and organic products. These days, you can visit your local Walmart for all your needs! According to the New York Times, 90% of people live within ten miles of a Walmart. I personally live within a mile of three locations. I know what you’re thinking: can Walmart really fulfill all my grocery shopping needs when I’m trying to live a healthy lifestyle? Do they carry my steady staples like almond milk, organic produce, cage free eggs and clean meats? The answer is YES across the board. If you find yourself driving past your local WalMart on the way to another store, maybe it’s time to pull in and take a second look.
More than Meets the Eye
If you’ve been inside a Walmart recently, you may have noticed the increase in specialty items such as cage free eggs, non-dairy milks, various gluten-free products, and an increase in local and organic produce. Even as a nutritionist, I can assure you that my grocery bill is NOT my highest monthly bill, and that’s because I shop smart. The trick is knowing what your options are. For example, by shopping at bargain stores, like Walmart, I can purchase a bag of store brand frozen broccoli for less than a dollar that will yield at least three servings-enough for a full day of veggies! Compare that to frozen broccoli at your local health food store for almost $3.00 per bag. While this may not seem like a huge savings on it’s own, think about the impact on your total grocery bill for the week! Let’s take a look at some of my most shocking finds from my trip to Walmart and a local health food store- how many items can you save on?
Price Comparison: Walmart: $2.94.
"Health" Store: $4.49
When it comes to nut butters, look for products that have one ingredient- nuts! There is no need for the added oils and sugars in the traditional nut butters, like JIF. The less ingredients listed, the better. By shopping smarter, this natural nut butter is not only higher quality than a traditional peanut butter, but now the price is comparable as well!
Price Comparison: Walmart: $3.74 for 32 oz
"Health" Store: $3.99 for 16oz
SAVINGS: $0.25, but you walk away with twice the amount of egg whites!
Next, let’s examine some cage free eggs. When it comes to eggs, there are a plethora of options. Personally, I gravitate towards cage free. This means the hens are living in a higher quality environment, as opposed to being stuffed in a cage. This allows them to move around and take in some vitamin D, resulting in a better egg!
Price Comparison: Walmart: $3.98
"Health" Store: $6.69
Between food allergies, intolerances, and general interest in a plant-based lifestyle; demand for plant-based dairy products is continually rising. Just a few years ago, these products were only found at a specialty stores with steep price tags. As you can see, these products are now found at your local Walmart for a fraction of the price!
Price Comparison: Walmart: $0.98 each
"Health" Store: $1.69 each
SAVINGS: $0.71 each
Organic and local produce is now available at a lower price point at Walmart. Organic produce contains fewer pesticides, is often more fresh, and is better for the environment. In order to cut down on cost, shop local and choose fruits and vegetables that are in season!
Price Comparison: Walmart: $3.76 per pound
"Health" Store $3.99 per pound (Regular $4.49)
SAVINGS: $0.23 per pound, with the Health store variety on sale.
When it comes to meat products, look for items that boast no antibiotics, no animal by-products, and contain no artificial ingredients. Similar to eggs, animals raised in a humane manner not only produces a higher quality product, but ensures a better life for the animal and less damage to the environment.
Price Comparison: Walmart: $3.64
"Health" Store: $6.49
Many people require gluten free flours and baking agents to accommodate allergies and sensitivities. Luckily, these products are more readily available and at a lower price point than ever before. Buyer beware, gluten free does not necessarily mean “healthy”. Don’t fall into this trap-a cookie is still a cookie, gluten free or not! Check the ingredients list, and choose minimally processed products when available.
Total Savings: $8.50, and that's just on a few items!
After going back to look at my most recent shopping trip and compare prices, I saved at least $15 by choosing a local store like Walmart, over the health food store for the same items. Eating healthy doesn’t have to break the bank, and is now available to almost everyone! Just remember, read labels, incorporate a blend of fresh and frozen foods, select local, in-season produce, and choose the right store!
Now that you're a shopping pro, it's time to hit the store with our easy to follow shopping list!
Katelan Sottosanti is a Nutritionist at OnPoint Nutrition. As a self-proclaimed foodie, she loves being immersed in the world of food and nutrition. Katelan is an advocate for Intuitive Eating, which she implements in her counseling to help her clients improve their relationship with food while building strong mind-body connections.