Eating Healthy on a Budget
If you’re working with a tight budget, you’re in luck because shopping for healthy foods can actually help you save money. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2002 found that consumers were able to cut their weekly food bill when they purchased fewer extras such as soft drinks, chips, baked goods, and other high-calorie items. But buying fewer sugary, salty snacks is just one of many ways to stretch your food dollar.
- Plan Meals Around Weekly Specials
Peruse the food section of your newspaper each week to spot the best buys, and then plan your family meals around them. Create a well organized grocery list based on the ingredients you’ll need and stick to your list. That way you’ll be less likely to grab the more pricey impulse items.
- Buy Produce in Season
Produce at its peak is a smart buy. Take corn for example. Purchased in the summertime, it costs a lot less than buying out of season … and it tastes a lot better too. Other ways to save on fruits and veggies include buying only the amount you know you’ll use (there’s nothing worse than throwing away spoiled produce) and comparing the price between frozen, canned and fresh produce to spot the best buy.
- Be Picky About Protein
Besides the usual protein foods of chicken, beef, pork, and seafood, try some less expensive vegetarian sources of protein including tofu, lentils, and beans. A can of protein-rich beans can cost as little as fifty cents, and their versatility can’t be beat.
- Turn to Generic
Generic brands are often a lot less expensive than brand-name products. Even if you have a coupon for the well-known brand, the generic brand may still be cheaper.
- Cook From Scratch
It’s often tempting to pick up a pizza or drive by your local fast food joint when it’s 6:00 PM and your cupboards are bare. By planning ahead though, you can avoid those costly traps. Takeout foods almost always costs more than a comparable (more nutritious!) home cooked meal. Take, for example, a fast food chicken burrito. The cost is about $3.00 per serving. Our homemade Confetti Chicken Wraps (made with chicken, bell peppers, frozen corn, lowfat cheese and salsa) costs just $1.30 per serving.