By Kim Duke

Do you feel like as an adult, life seems like an endless array of bills?  That we continuously move forward so that we can keep up with the arrival of the endless amount of mail/bills that need to be paid? AND, on top of bills, it feels like the price of everything you need in life continuously goes up.

For instance, if you’ve ever compared the price of certain groceries at a designated health food store to those at your local supermarket, then you may have come to the common conclusion that eating healthy and organic can be quite costly!  It is no wonder that a typical grocery shopper leaves with more processed food than fresh or organic since the price of eating healthy can seem daunting.

There’s good news for us money savers. You can live a healthy lifestyle, with healthy foods and all, on a budget! With these tips and tricks, you won’t even need to purchase any overpriced ingredients for your next meal.

Because let’s be honest— if we can put food on the table that is cheaper than the healthy stuff, money can and will rule this decision. But it doesn’t have to be like this, money doesn’t have to decide your next meal or how healthy you are!

1. Let your freezer be your best friend.

Many grocery stores reduce the price of fruits, vegetables and other perishable food items on the sell by date. Try to find the routine of your nearest grocery store so you know the best time to buy. You can then freeze some of your finds for future healthy smoothies or soups and eat the rest!

Speaking of the freezer, frozen vegetables are usually frozen in a way to retain most of the important nutrients, reports ABC news, and they’re often cheaper than the fresh alternative. If you always have frozen veggies on hand, you can throw them in every meal!

2. There’s nothing wrong with generic.

If you haven’t already noticed, many items in large supermarkets have knock-off items in either the store’s own brand or a generic name that sounds similar to a more popular brand name.

The good news is that with many products, the generic version is just as good as the more expensive brand item. Sometimes people pass over these generic brands of edible items in favor of the more popular brands. One item in particular is vitamins.

If there is the same amount of the desired vitamin or supplement in the generic or store brand option, there really is no reason not to go for the cheaper version.

3. Get on the meal prep bandwagon.

It’s true— meal prep is quite trendy right now. But who said trendy has to be a bad thing? Perhaps it’s on trend because it’s a fabulous idea. Preparing your meals for the week can be cost effective and healthy, depending on what you’re making. It’s perfect for those looking to stick to a budget because you end up using every single item you buy—nothing goes to waste.

It takes a bit of planning and self-control to not go out and get something to go after work or school. But because you have a meal already prepped and ready, you’re much more likely to stick to the plan and go home to eat.

4. Avoid impulse buying.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” The best way to avoid impulse buying is to prepare yourself before you do the grocery.

• Makes a list and stick to it. Plan your meals ahead, including portion size. List all foods you need for the next 7 to 14 days. Go the grocery store, get what’s on your list and get out.

• Eat before you go shopping. This prevents buying foods not on your list because you’re hungry. Eat a solid meal before doing the grocery.

• Shop alone. Prevents impulse buying from spouse and/or kids. Leave them home. Take them to more fun places when you get back.

5. Sleep is free!

What person on a budget doesn’t love something free? One of the simplest ways to stay healthy is to just sleep enough hours each night.

This might be easier said than done, but it’s so important to try as hard as you can to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night. And this should be restful, deep sleep.

A good tip is to turn off your electronics (like that bright cell phone!) a half hour before bed so you have a deeper sleep. Having enough sleep at night will help you make better health decision the following day since you’ll be well rested.