I thought it seemed timely to post some tips on eating healthfully on a budget.
1. Plan, plan, plan ahead!
Planning meals in advance can save tons of time and money. When we know what we're going to eat and we've already purchased those foods, we can avoid the eating out trap. Personally, I like to plan my meals one week at a time. After planning the meals for the week, make a grocery list and stick to it. Much of our impulse spending occurs in a grocery store, believe it or not.
2. Search for savings
Look through grocery store ads, circulars, or the Sunday paper for specials and coupons. You can also rack up savings through websites such as The Grocery Game (though there's a regular fee) or The Coupon Mom. The key with coupons, however, is to only use them for foods on your grocery list.
3. Avoid shopping when hungry. Enough said!
4. Stock up on sale items or purchase in bulk.
For instance, if whole wheat pasta is on sale this week and it's a staple in your diet, stock up, if you have space.
5. Scan the unit price.
Many stores now place the price/unit (i.e., $/ounce) on the tag beneath the item. This allows you to comparison shop for the best buy.
6. Consider generic or store brands.
7. Purchase produce in season.
Not only will it be cheaper, but it will also be even tastier!
8. Purchase locally grown.
The closer to home an item is grown, the less distance it has to travel, therefore cutting down on shipping costs. This also supports the local farmers and economy. I love visiting the local farmer's market for great deals (they're often willing to bargain) and excellent food! It's also awesome to be able to meet the people who actually produce the food you're about to eat!
9. Consider more meatless meals.
While meat offers a great source of protein, iron, and other important nutrients, it actually costs more per serving since it's a step or two further on the food chain than grains, vegetables, or beans.
10. Cook in bulk and freeze leftovers for another meal.
11. Purchase items in their truest form.
When we purchase items such as pre-cut/washed bagged salads or pre-peeled/cut carrots, we end up paying more because we're paying for the convenience of these items. However, if we purchase these whole, fresh items and prep them ourselves, we can save oodles!
12. Purchase frozen vegetables, fruits, or 100% juices.
These items can be just as healthful but can cost less than their fresh counterparts, especially when not in season.
13. Look above and below eye level on store shelves.
Generally, higher priced items are placed at eye level while lower priced bargains can be found above or below that.
14. Make a budget and stick to it. In fact, only shop with CASH!
I've personally learned that this is truly an excellent way to save money. We are much more emotional with cash than we are with a debit/credit card or even a check. So those impulse buys look much less enticing when you only have $X in hand.
15. Prepare your own meals at home.
The average person spends about $8 on a fast food meal. However, a meal prepared at home will not only cost much less, but you will know exactly what went into it!
I know that I have family and friends who are super savers when it comes to shopping, so I wonder if I will get any additions to this list?
Happy Shopping and SAVING!