Vegetables and fruit are shown and separated by color.
Grocery stores offer daily sales that can save you money on fruits and vegetables. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Many people think eating healthy is expensive, but the truth is many pre-packaged foods cost a lot more than the fresh foods.

There are plenty of cost-conscious strategies to build a healthier diet—and save money while you’re doing it.

Here are 5 ways to smarten your diet without busting your budget:

Eat fresh foods

The more a product is processed, the more it’s probably going to cost to produce. Not to mention, they are usually much less healthy and can later lead to much greater costs in health care.

And while those pre-packaged foods might make you feel fuller, they are usually calorie-dense and nutrient-poor, meaning you might feel full but your body could be starved of the nutrients it needs. Use the next four tips to shop for fresh foods for cheap.

Pick more plants

The best way to reduce food costs and live more sustainably it to switch to a plant-based diet. Animals consume enormous amounts of food and water. To raise them for food not only costs more, it also causes unequivocal harm to the environment.

Humans consume fewer plant foods than other animals. If we could all stick to eating more plants, there would be a lot more food to go around—and that would also reduce the cost.

Shop the sales

Most grocery stores have daily sales on fresh produce. If you are willing to base your meals on what’s on sale that week, you can save a lot of money. Plus, produce is usually on sale when it’s at its peak harvest time, so it will be the freshest option.

Buy in bulk

Many dried fruits, nuts, grains, lentils and more can be bought cheaper in bulk and stored for a long time. Shopping in the bulk section will not only save you money, it will reduce plastic waste if you bring your own reusable containers.

Shop more often

Shopping for only what you can eat will help reduce costs by avoiding food waste. When buying fresh produce, only buy what you know you can eat. When you run out, make another quick trip to the store. Another option is buying frozen vegetables or cooking larger quantities and freezing the leftovers for some quick meals later.