At the start of the new year, many people focus on getting their finances in order and reducing their expenses. One of the easiest ways to lower your budget is to focus on your grocery bill. Toward the end of last year, I noticed that my food bill had been slowly creeping up each month until it had gone over the amount we had budgeted. Since I want to keep feeding my family food that is nutritious and minimally processed, I decided to sit down and figure out how to save money on healthy products.

Eliminate Processed Foods

Whether you’re talking about organic or traditional packaged food, chances are it will be more expensive than if you make it from scratch. If you have the time, for example, it’s cheaper (and healthier) to make a huge pot of chicken soup and freeze individual portions, versus buying multiple cans.

Look For Markdowns

Our grocery store has a markdown area in each department where they sell reduced-price merchandise that is damaged or dented, or close to its expiration date. I check for organic produce, dairy products, cleaning supplies, and other products in these sections each week, and often find prices that are more affordable than making the same item from scratch or buying the generic version.

Check Local Bulk Sources

My family prefers humanely raised, grass-fed meat, but the price at the grocery store is often out of our budget. Instead, we purchase in bulk from small farms in our area at a fraction of the price. We feel good about supporting our local farmers and local economy, and I love knowing that I’m getting healthy, antibiotic-free meat at a price that fits our budget.

Grow Your Own

Just about anyone can find space for a small garden where they can grow vegetables. Even if all you have is a balcony outside your apartment, you can grow fresh herbs, lettuce, spinach, and even kale. When you grow your vegetables, you know exactly where and how they have been grown. If you have a larger space, you can grow virtually all of your vegetables, and even some of your fruit. Be sure to preserve the extra food you grow by pickling, canning, or drying so it doesn’t go to waste. Then, instead of buying it at the store in the middle of winter, you can open the kitchen cupboard and grab a jar you preserved yourself.

Pick Your Own

If you don’t enjoy gardening or don’t have space, you can still save money by picking fruit and vegetables at local farms during the summer months. In our area we can pick apples, berries, and even potatoes. I visit when the prices are at their lowest and stock up for the winter months. Instead of buying jelly or pickles at the store, I always have some jarred up from the summer.

There are just a few ways to save money on healthy food. Get started by taking a close look at your grocery store receipt, and choosing one area to tackle each week.