How to Eat Healthfully While on a Budget
Eating a well-balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, and lean proteins is definitely possible to do on a budget and is crucial for keeping you and your family healthy. Don’t look for “immune boosting” supplements, instead eat highly nutritious foods. The following tips can help you plan your shopping trip so that you stock up on the right goods while sticking to your budget.
Plan your meals and snacks before shopping, according to your budget. Before making a list, scan your pantry to see what you might need. Try to incorporate pantry items into meals by looking for recipes online to help you get creative with the foods you already have. Planning is essential to staying on a budget and making sure you don’t buy things that you won't use.
Buy frozen fruits and vegetables. These are typically less expensive than the fresh alternative and even more nutritious since frozen produce is picked and frozen at peak ripeness! Frozen berries are great in yogurt, cottage cheese or smoothies, and frozen vegetables can be added to stir-frys, soups, and stews.
Stock up on low-cost staples, such as canned goods, legumes, whole grains, root vegetables, and cooking oils and vinegars. These staples will last a long time and are versatile and nutritious. In particular, canned goods (without the added salt or sugar), such as diced tomatoes, beans, vegetables, tuna or salmon are affordable and can be added into salads, stews, and soups.
Buy store brands of products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. Try sweetening plain yogurt with frozen or fresh fruit for a healthy and more affordable snack or meal.
Check out the store coupons and incorporate the weekly special and in-season produce to save even further!
Don’t go into the grocery store on an empty stomach. Chances are this will lead to buying sugary snacks and low-quality processed foods that aren’t good for your health or your budget.
Stick to your grocery list. It’s easy to get side-tracked by bright packaging and end-of the-aisle promotions. This can lead to buying unnecessary items. Organize your grocery list into different categories so that you can be as efficient as possible and move through the store quickly.
Shop the perimeter of the grocery store first. Most of the processed foods are in the center of the store away from the refrigerated sections. If you are walking around the outer walls of the store, you are more likely to fill up your cart with whole foods.
Read the nutrition label and compare unit prices. You might realize there are different brands of the same item. By reading the nutrition label, you can choose items that are more nutrient-dense and without additives. By comparing unit prices, you might find that the large container is actually a better value.
Tip: Did you know that prepared food can cost more than food made at home? It may also contain added sugar, trans fats, and preservatives. Planning, shopping, and cooking can seem overwhelming, but it is healthier and will save you money. By making your own meals, you know exactly what goes into the food you and your family consume.
Bottom line: you don’t need to break the bank to eat healthfully. Planning ahead and sticking to your list is the best way to make smart choices while shopping.