With gas prices rising, food prices tend to follow. We strive to choose healthy items and cook at home, but many times people are surprised at the cost of a healthy diet for their family. Check out these 9 cost-saving nutrition tips to help you maximize your grocery budget!
1) Plan ahead!
Sit down with the grocery circulars on a day when you have an hour to focus on meal planning. Scan the circulars to see what the major sales are that week, go through your recipes to find ones that utilize the sale items, and choose 7 of those recipes for that week. If you’re not someone that uses recipes, think about buying staple items that can create meals with a lean protein, a whole grain, and tons of fruits and veggies. Make your list based on that. It time to plan ahead, but when you do this you’ll have a defined list that makes the shopping itself quicker and less costly. It also helps to utilize produce much better – you know exactly how much you need for each of your recipes, so you avoid just purchasing random items and risk them going bad before you use it.
2) Stock up in season…
You know that fruits and vegetables are essential items for nutritious meals. To save money, look for items that are in season. When this is the case, there are more available, they tend to be lower priced, and they can be more nutritious.
3) …and stock up on staples!
When healthy staples go on sale, like whole wheat pasta or brown rice, stock up! Think about items that can be frozen as well, like boneless chicken or ground turkey. This may require more dollars spent up front, but it’ll save you money over the long run.
4) Look for frozen produce choices
Frozen fruits and vegetables are excellent economical choices. Produce is frozen at the peak of freshness, so it is just as nutritious as fresh choices (and often cheaper, especially during off-season times).
5) Do the prep yourself
We often pay for convenience. Precooked grilled chicken costs much more than it’s uncooked counterpart, and often contains additional sodium. Pre-sliced veggies from the produce department are much more expensive than their whole versions. If you can plan the time to do these prep type tasks yourself, you’ll save money at the store. Consider taking an hour to chop up your produce for the next few days, and store in containers in the fridge – then it’s all ready for snacking and meal prep!
6) Choose meatless protein sources
Meat is often one of the most expensive items in our carts, so try some other protein sources like beans, nuts, peanut butter, tofu, or lentils. By eating a plant-based diet just one day a week, you can improve your health and save money.
7) Use coupons wisely
Search out coupons for your favorite products. I’m sure you all know by now that coupons are available each week in the Sunday paper or available online. But you can also try looking at your favorite company’s social media pages for coupons, or try contacting them and asking for a few. A key to eating healthy on a budget, though, is to avoid the “but I have a coupon” complex. For example: my family doesn’t really need another box of cookies to snack on, “but I have a coupon!”. Even though it might only cost 50 cents, is it worth it to be detrimental to your own health or your family’s health?
8) Eat a healthy meal before shopping
Before you venture to the grocery store, make sure you’ve eaten a healthy meal, or at least a healthy snack. When you’re stomach isn’t grumbling, you’re less likely to reach for the unhealthy impulse buys. If you do happen to arrive at the grocery store and are starving, consider buying a piece of fruit or a nutritious bar before you start the rest of your shopping to tide you over.
9) If you forgot it, it might be best to forget it
If you forget an item, the best strategy might not be going back to the grocery store another day. If you have a problem with impulse buying, you can easily walk out the door with $20 worth of other items when you mean to run in and buy one thing for $1. Try to find a good substitute that’s already in your pantry instead!