Eating healthfully on a budget is easier than you think! It is a common misconception that buying healthy food is much more expensive than buying unhealthy food. Here are a few money-saving strategies for enjoying a healthy diet on a tight budget:
Most importantly, take a few minutes to plan your meals for the week. Look for bargains and coupons in the newspaper and plan meals with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and animal protein (if desired). Try to include plant sources of protein such as, grains, lentils, and beans to stretch your dollars. Then prepare your grocery list based on the ingredients needed for the upcoming week’s meals. By shopping from a list, you will avoid buying non-nutritious extras on impulse.
- Don’t ever shop on an empty stomach! You’ll end up buying things that you don’t really need or wouldn’t normally buy.
- Make a list, stick to it, and look for sales on the items on your list.
- Compare prices between grocery stores and try to get most if not all of your items from the store offering the lowest prices.
- Be careful when using coupons. Coupons are great to use if the coupon is for something you normally buy and use, but coupons are often for foods that are more expensive.
2. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store first
For good taste and savings, buy produce, especially locally grown produce, in season. To avoid spoilage, try to buy only the amount that you will be able to eat in the next few days. Frozen fruits and vegetables are a good choice during those seasons when fresh produce is more expensive.
Meat can be the most expensive part of a meal. Instead, serve up beans, legumes, and whole grains for a less expensive source of protein. Add in some fruits, veggies or salad and round out your ‘rainbow’ of nutrients. These foods go a long way in creating volume in a meal and in soups and stews. Also try some whole grain pasta with some olive oil, beans and veggies.