Is it possible to save money on groceries and still load up on delicious, healthy food? Short answer: YES! Long answer: Keep reading…
Although it might feel like healthy food doesn’t always fit the grocery budget, it doesn’t have to mean you should abandon all efforts to eat a nutritious diet. This is only a minor setback that can easily be overcome with a little organization and five simple steps.
- First things first: when you hit the supermarket, Have a Game Plan (in other words, a grocery list) and stick to it! This is, above all, the most important as your grocery list should include the ingredients that you need to make healthy meals and snacks…but, it only works if you don’t deviate from “the plan.” A surefire way to deviate from your plan is to arrive at the supermarket hungry! So plan to eat a little something before you start your shopping.
- Spend Most of your Grocery Budget on the Perimeter (or outside aisles) of the store. This is where the ‘real’ foods hang out – you know, the vegetables, fruit, fish, lean meats, eggs, and dairy/dairy free products.
Inside aisles are still allowed, just be selective and savvy to budget-friendly gems like canned fish, dried and canned beans and lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains, frozen vegetables, canned tomatoes, frozen berries, and raw oats (ideally the steel-cut and the old-fashioned kind).
- Go Meat-free at least Once a Week. Did you know that you can slash your grocery bill considerably simply by swapping pork chops for pinto beans? Take a walk on the “veggie” side folks and make room for lentil stews, bean chilies, chickpea curries, black bean tacos, quinoa salads, and egg frittatas. Kudos vegetarians, you got this!
- Buy Local and Eat Seasonal. Vegetables and fruit are simply cheaper when they are in season. And when you buy produce from local farmers, you will – without a doubt – get the freshest and most nutritious bang for your buck! To avoid waste (and throwing money away) buy fresh fruit at different stages of ripeness. In other words, choose some fruit that is ripe and ready to eat that day or the next, and some that will ripen in a few days. This way, you can stretch your supply of fresh fruit throughout the week and not have to throw out spoiled or overripe produce.
And when fresh is out of season or beyond your budget – buy frozen vegetables and fruit. They are just as nutritious and taste just as good. If you buy canned vegetables, rinse them under cold water first to wash away some of the sodium. Also, keep a look out for on-sale seasonal items, as many of these can actually be frozen for later use!
- Make it from Scratch. One of the biggest ways you can save money on your grocery bill is to cook from scratch. While pre-packaged meals may be a convenient short cut, taking the time to prepare your own food with simple ingredients limits additives and preservatives and helps your family maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. From quick breads, granola bars and muffins, to homemade pizzas, soups and salad dressings, you can stretch your dollar much further simply by rolling up your sleeves and making your own!
If work and family schedules make this one extra challenging, start with a small, more attainable goal of cooking just a couple days a week. This can still provide a huge savings.
Bottomline? There are plenty of ways you can stick to that grocery budget without sacrificing the quality of your diet.