ATLANTA, Georgia – Two of the most popular New Year's resolutions are to "save money" and "eat healthier." Most people think you have to pick one or the other because eating healthy is too expensive, but that's not true. You can actually switch to a healthier diet without breaking the bank.
Tiffany Terczak is living proof eating right doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. Far from it. She feeds her Atlanta family of four with super healthy foods, often organics, for the low, low cost of only $330 a month!
And Tiffany gives God the glory for what she sees as a miracle financial healing that came her way during the process.
She and her husband were languishing under a "scary amount of debt," so they prayed for help from the Lord. Not long after that, she realized the grocery budget had the "greatest amount of wiggle-room" compared to fixed expenses like the mortgage and car payment.
Climbing out of Debt – By Getting a Grip on the Grocery Budget
"If we ever wanted to climb out of debt, it had to be with the grocery budget," she told CBN News.
They achieved their goal, largely by slashing grocery spending in half, and as an added blessing, without sacrificing the health of their family.
"We eat real food, so food that comes from the ground and animals that eat plants from the ground," she told CBN News, "We hardly eat anything processed, and by processed I'm referring to boxes, just-add-water type of things. We don't eat that."
She says this didn't happen by accident.
"God has pulled us out of the depths of debt and gave me the skill," she told CBN News, adding, "Even if your budget's really small, you can still eat well within a small budget."
As a way to serve the Lord, Tiffany now teaches others how to drastically reduce the amount they spend on food through her online Grocery Budget Bootcamp.
"I believe God has given me the gift of teaching people how to eat real food on a budget," Tiffany said, "Everything involved in that arena comes easily to me. And I know it's hard for other people."
Her students save an average of $2,400 a year. For that reason, there's a waiting list to join. Tiffany's mission is to prove everyone can eat healthy for less.
"I don't think it's too expensive," she said, "I think it takes effort and it takes intention and you need to be strategic with how you spend your money. But I don't think it's impossible by any means."
Eat The Food You Already Have
Tiffany said although it may sound strange, the key to keeping your food bill low is to eat the food in your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator.
"We as Americans tend to have a lot of food on hand," she explained, adding many of us buy food that just takes up space in our kitchens.
"When I say eat the food you already have, I literally mean open your pantry, pull some things out and make that your meal," she said, "You already spent money on that food. Why would you go to the store and spend more money? You should eat what you already have."
Stock Up on Sale Items
Tiffany says grocery stores put most items on sale every six to eight weeks. Therefore, she advises stocking up on those items when they go on sale, purchasing enough to last until the next time they go on sale. For instance, if your family likes organic chicken, when it goes on sale, buy enough to last for six weeks and put it in the freezer.
"If you keep your eyes open, you can find really great deals on organic food at the grocery store," she said.
Fruits and Veggies
Healthy diets consist of lots of fruits and vegetables. Many people believe produce costs too much. However, Tiffany says if you take a closer look, you'll see plenty of bargains, even among organic produce. For instance, she points out organic carrots are usually pretty cheap. Her local grocery store sells one-pound bags for only thirty cents more than conventionally-grown carrots.
People who are watching their budgets might choose to limit their organic produce purchases to the types of foods that tend to carry the heaviest amount of pesticides when grown conventionally.
The non-profit Environmental Working Group released its Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The Dirty Dozen lists the foods with the highest amount of pesticides, while The Clean Fifteen names those with the fewest.
The Dirty Dozen
12. Sweet Bell Peppers
The Clean Fifteen
2. Sweet corn
6. Sweet peas (frozen)
11. Honeydew melons
Tiffany says seasonal produce is usually less expensive and abundant, and recommends looking for a bargain bin in the produce section containing items that might be bruised because they have been around a while, but nonetheless are foods that, like bananas, can be frozen and used in baking or smoothies or, like zucchini, can be shredded and therefore "don't need to look perfect."
Frozen produce can also be a money-saver. Tiffany advises comparing the price of fresh versus frozen, noting in-season fresh items are usually cheaper. When buying frozen, the big bags of fruits or veggies are usually less expensive per ounce than the smaller ones.
Buy In Bulk
Buying in bulk also pays off in other areas of the store, such as when buying probiotic-rich yogurt. The big container usually costs less per ounce than the single servings. Making yogurt at home can save even more.
Hunt for low-priced canned foods, including organics. Tiffany said her local grocery offered fiber-rich organic canned beans for the low price of $10 for ten cans. She said while stocking-up on this deal might be a good idea, it's important to note most stores don't require the large purchase.
"What you may not realize is that you don't have to buy ten for the deal of a dollar per can," she said.
Canned wild-caught fish, such as salmon and tuna, is far less expensive than fresh or frozen and just as healthy. It's an even better deal if you stock up on canned fish when it's on sale.
Only Buy Food at the Grocery Store
Tiffany says, believe it or not, most grocery stores hike up the price on non-food items such as aluminum foil, charcoal, paper products and greeting cards. Prices are lower at stores that aren't "food-focused."
Watch Out For Specialty Sections
Specialty sections, such as the deli, bakery or stand-alone specialty cheese case, typically located together, can sometimes offer great bargains, but often sell nearly the same items you can find elsewhere in the store for a lot less. For example, she noticed the blue cheese in the specialty cheese section of her local grocery was double the price of the blue cheese in the dairy section on the wall.
Cut Out Bottled Drinks, Packaged Snacks
Bottled and canned drinks, such as soda, juice, energy drinks and sports drinks can drain the budget when tap water is virtually free and a healthier alternative.
Likewise, packaged snacks can really add up. Tiffany says snacks like granola bars are cheaper and far healthier when made at home with organic oats and other nutritious ingredients.
"If you are intentional with what you cook from scratch," she said, "And you cook the things that will have the biggest impact on your budget, then you can make cooking from scratch work in your favor."
Bone broth and kimchi, which are both excellent for gut health, can be pricey at the grocery store, but easy and cheap when made at home.
Bone Broth Recipe
Purchase meats containing bones, such as whole chickens. These cuts of meat are less expensive than boneless. After eating the meat, save the bones. When you've accumulated a couple of pounds of bones, toss them in the slow cooker and cover with water. Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and let sit for one hour. Then add a carrot, two celery sticks, and a small onion. Cook on low for 24 hours for chicken bones, 48 for beef. Discard the bones and vegetables. Pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer and enjoy!
Homemade Kimchi Recipe
Chop one Napa cabbage and one bunch of green onions. Place in a bowl with one tablespoon each of freshly grated ginger and red pepper flakes, also 4 cloves of minced garlic and two tablespoons sea salt. Mix well and let sit for one hour. Squeeze the mixture with your hands to release its juices. Put the mixture in a jar, pushing down to make sure it's covered by at least one inch of liquid. Cover and let sit on the counter four days, opening the lid daily ("burp it") to release excess pressure. After four days it's ready to eat. Store in the refrigerator.