Until recently, I never thought much about what I ate. I ate fairly healthy, was never a snacker, and have maintained my weight. However, a couple of things over the past year have changed my perspective. For one, I’ve developed a sensitivity to gluten, and two I recently watched Forks Over Knives and it freaked me out. I’ve since changed my diet by taking out the gluten, limiting red meat and dairy, and adding more fruits, vegetables, rice, beans and Quinoa to my everyday meals.

However, changing my diet hasn’t been cheap by any means. For instance, take gluten-free products versus regular gluten, or bread products: Where I used to purchase an 8-pack of hamburger buns for $1.50, I now purchase 4 gluten-free buns for $3.65. That’s an increase of over $4.00 (if I count the reduced quantity). Since oats are questionable when it comes to gluten, I’ve switched to Quinoa which is about 3-times more expensive than regular oatmeal.

Swapping diary for soy based products have increased my grocery bill as well. A gallon of milk sells for about $3.56 which is about the price of a half-gallon of soy Silk Milk. The benefit to soy is that it keeps a little longer than regular milk (however, I like the taste so much more, I’m drinking it faster). Thankfully increasing vegetables and fruits has been much easier on my pocketbook.

Eating healthy is definitely more expensive, but there are ways to save money on these items. Before I go grocery shopping, I hunt down coupons online and set Google Alerts for everyday items I need, like Silk Milk. When a coupon pops up online, I get an email. Sometimes I can time the sales then hit the store with a coupon in hand – those are my favorite shopping days.

One of the most expensive items I buy is Quinoa – a gluten free seed that’s a complete protein. Yet, if I purchase in bulk online, I save over $2.00 a package. The catch with purchasing online is making sure the shipping and handling doesn’t end up costing more than the item would in a store.

Farmer’s markets are also a great way to save money on vegetables and fruits. But another way to save at a local grocery store is purchase produce that’s in season. Selecting the store with the best produce and prices is also important. Sprouts is a fairly new store in my neighborhood, but their produce is very inexpensive and fresh compared to other local markets.

The one monetary benefit to my new diet is the reduction of meat, one of the more expensive items on a grocery receipt. Eating a very small amount of meat at one meal a day greatly reduces the weekly amount I spend on groceries.

Of course, the overall benefits to my new diet out-weight the initial increase in cost: better health will save me thousands of dollars in potential medical bills in the long run.

Have you recently changed your diet and seen an increase in your grocery bill?

This is a guest post from Little House in the Valley who blogs about tips for smaller living. Many of her topics include little house plans, becoming financially savvy, and learning to do more with less.

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