Are you on a tight budget, but still want to balance a healthy diet into the mix of bills? Eating healthy does not have to be a budget-busting lifestyle. All it takes some careful planning and tactful purchasing. Follow these 10 steps to keep your budget low and your health high!
1: Plan, plan, plan! Before you make your trip to the store, plan out your meals for the week, making sure to incorporate left overs and bulk items into the mix. The more you can stretch out the expensive purchases over multiple meals, the less you’ll waste and the more you’ll save!
2: Get the best price! Search local newspapers and coupon books for weekly sales, ad coupons, and other discounts. Do this while you’re planning out your week so you can incorporate sale items onto your list and keep that extra change in your pocket.
3:Compare and contrast! While at the store, compare different brands of the same product using the “unit price” listed on the shelf with the item price. This helps determine which brand can give you the most for your money.
4: Buy in bulk! Buying foods in bulk is almost always a cheaper option, as long as you have the storage for it. Frozen vegetables, chicken, steak, and potatoes are great items to buy in bulk
5: Buy in season! Purchasing fruits and vegetables that are in season usually results in a cheaper price and increased freshness. They likely have less food miles on them and so will have had less time from the vine/tree/ground to your plate!
6: Convenience costs…go back to the basics! Frozen dinners, pre-cut fruits and vegetables, and instant cooking foods often cost much more than it would cost to make these dinners or prepare the vegetables on your own. Don’t be afraid of a little work; it will save your wallet from distress.
7: Easy on your wallet! There are many foods that are available for a low cost all the time! Try incorporating more of these foods into your meal plan. They include: beans, carrots, potatoes, bananas, and greens!
8: Cook once…eat all week! Cooking large batches of food ahead of time when you have a free day helps cut down on costs of foods for the week. Try making a large batch of a meal and then freezing portions in small containers to defrost and reheat for later in the week.
9: Get your creating juices flowing! Instead of throwing out leftovers, spice them up with new meal creations! Turn leftover chicken into a stir fry or enchiladas. Make salads and chilis, pizzas and stews!
10: Eating out! While eating out at restaurants can be expensive, there are ways to save a little cash when enjoying some time out. Try getting to the restaurant for an early-bird special, eating lunch out instead of dinner, and ordering specials from the menu to keep costs down. Ordering water instead of other beverages also helps keep a little more green in your pocket!
Article adapted from USDA 10 tips Nutrition Education Series: http://myplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet16EatingBetterOnABudget.pdf