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When you start thinking about pursuing a healthier diet, one of the first thoughts that may come to your head is, “What on earth do I shop for?” followed closely by, “How am I going to afford this?” To help you with the first (and hopefully the second) question, here’s a list of my top refrigerator/freezer/pantry staples and where to find them for the best price.
As you will see, we try to shop at budget-friendly stores (often buying in bulk for better prices) and attempt to stick to budget-friendly ingredients for the most part. When we need an expensive ingredient, we shop around to get the best bang for our buck. We don’t do organic or grassfed, but just try to stick to healthy whole foods in the general sense. It’s been doable so far. These lists are by no means exhaustive, but they contain most of what we try to keep on hand.
Buying in bulk really does save! Always look at what value you are getting for your money. Even if the cost up front is higher, you save more money than you realize in the long run by buying in bulk. Having a big freezer helps tremendously because not only can you buy more expensive things like meat in larger quantities to save money per pound, but you can stock up when there’s a sale going on.
I love the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating because it’s flexible and I can make it work for me and my budget. As you’ll notice in the lists below, I don’t always buy all the recommended, raved-about ingredients. I use pork gelatin, not beef. I haven’t bought collagen yet. I definitely don’t have anything against beef gelatin or collagen, and I’m sure they have tons of great health benefits, but it’s more important to me that I can maintain this way of eating for the long haul, not that I have all the special ingredients in my pantry. Make THM work for you and your budget – it’s possible!
Want more tips for your trim, healthy lifestyle? Check out my Starting THM page for helpful links!
Please note that prices will vary in different areas, so check your own local stores to see where the best deals can be found. I didn’t price check everything at Aldi and Sam’s Club, but both generally have very good prices and sometimes we buy things at Sam’s Club over Aldi just for the convenience of buying things in bulk that we use a lot of. Generally bulk does tend to be cheaper, but there might be exceptions to that. Also taken into account in these lists is the fact that we usually go to Aldi first and Sam’s Club last, so we usually get milk at Sam’s Club so it doesn’t have to sit in the van while we’re shopping at another store. Necessary? Probably not, especially when we have a bunch of other dairy products that we get at Aldi, but it’s a habit. With reusable insulated grocery bags I don’t suppose it matters all that much.
- Cream cheese (both reduced and full fat)
- Sour cream
- Greek yogurt (we make most of our own Greek yogurt-tutorial here, but we buy some at Aldi too.)
- Sliced cheese
- Deli-style lunch meat
- Unsweetened almond milk
- Frozen chicken tenders
- Celery, lettuce, spinach, peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms, radishes, and other veggies
- In-season fruits
- Sweet potatoes
- Old-fashioned oats (for oatmeal and homemade oat flour made by grinding the oats in a blender or coffee grinder)
- Canned beans, Rotel-style tomatoes, black olives, other canned goods
- Pizza sauce
- Condiments and salad dressings
- 85% dark chocolate bars (Moser Roth brand)
- Bulk shredded cheese
- Cottage cheese
- Milk for the rest of the family and for making Greek yogurt (tutorial here-we use skim milk so the Greek yogurt can be used in any fuel setting)
- In-season fruits
- Frozen strawberries and blueberries
- Frozen chicken breast
- Ground beef
- Turkey bacon
- Frozen flounder filets
- Pork loin
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Hershey’s cocoa powder
- Baking powder
- Coconut flour
- Truvia packets in bulk
- Vanilla extract
- Natural peanut butter (Smucker’s brand)
- Joseph’s flatbreads and pitas, other low carb wraps
- Plain pork rinds (not a staple per se, but I enjoy them)
- THM Pure Stevia Extract Powder (we buy the 4 oz. package to save money, but you can get a 1 oz. package as well) and THM Super Sweet Blend are my go-to sweeteners.
- Oat fiber – THM makes a gluten free product. Not all brands are created equally, but I really like this one. I don’t recommend NuNaturals brand.
- Whey Protein Powder (Swanson brand is not technically on plan anymore due to a change in ingredients, but the nutritional info hasn’t changed a lot and Swanson often offers great deals plus free shipping so I personally still use Swanson brand for cost efficiency.)
- Oolong tea (from Swanson here, Amazon here, or iHerb here)
- Knox gelatin (yes, I use pork gelatin because it’s cheaper)
- Brown eggs (local)
- Golden flax seeds – we grind our own golden flaxmeal in a coffee grinder from whole golden flax seeds that we buy at a local bulk food store. You can buy golden flaxmeal already ground here.
- Refined coconut oil (bulk food store – we’ve only ever used refined because it’s…you guessed it…cheaper. And I’m not a huge fan of coconut flavor. Sometimes we get coconut oil from Sam’s Club; they have a good price on it as well.) – Update: the brand Sam’s Club carries now doesn’t taste very good, so we buy Nutiva coconut oil from Amazon and love it!
- Hot tea varieties (discount grocery store, local grocery store)
- Lorann flavor oils (local cake decorating store – can also be purchased online from Netrition here)
- Extracts (cake decorating store)
- Xanthan gum – so far what we’ve used has been given to us! The last package we got was from a friend at church who found it for a dollar or two at a discount grocery store. A lot of health food/bulk food stores carry xanthan gum too.
- Wasa crackers – so far I’ve been able to buy these almost exclusively at a discount grocery store, but they’re available in our local grocery store as well. You can also find them online here.
- Finely shredded coconut flakes – we can get these at our local grocery store, and they can be purchased online here.
We have a garden every year and put up our own corn (a good filler for the rest of the family, and we who do THM include it in an E setting in very limited amounts), green beans, salsa, and a bunch of other stuff. We have about 20 blueberry bushes, so we freeze a lot of blueberries during the summer for the rest of the year. My dad hunts, so in a good year we’ll put a couple of deer in the freezer (we process our own at home). Sometimes we buy a live cow (we’re currently feeding out two in our pasture with the horses) and have it butchered.
I hope this gives you some encouragement and helpful tips. If this post was helpful, pin it here to share it with your friends!