Tips to Healthy Grocery Shopping on a Budget
Planning ahead for your grocery store adventures can really make a difference in your checkbook. Many health professionals suggest we eat better or recommend that we eat certain foods for our health, but it can be overwhelming and expensive to sample the latest craze in healthy foods.
Here are a few tips that can help anyone on a budget to shop and cook in a more reasonable and cost-effective way.
First things first: determine your food budget, write it down and plan to go to the store once a week. Many times we forget the menu planning part and end up at the store two to three times as week, which increases our chance of spending more than our budgeted amount of food money. If you have a monthly budget amount in mind for food, divide that number by four and stay within the amount you have predetermined for food on a weekly basis.
Plan your meals ahead of time so that you know your menu for the week and are able to purchase all the necessary foods. Check out your cabinets and refrigerator as well to know what ingredients you already have and what you need to complete your menu. Use this menu planning time to create a healthy meal.
If making food from scratch is an option, try to plan meals that you can prepare instead of choosing convenience foods (which tend to be higher in fat and sodium).
Plan your meals for the week around food sales or foods that are in season by checking your local newspapers and grocery advertisements. Sometimes we need to be flexible in our plans and perhaps visit two stores for all of our groceries to get the best prices to stay within our budget.
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Shop and cook in bulk if you have storage options. Freeze additional servings and reheat them later in the week. When buying food, read the list price to determine the price difference for the larger size; for example, you might be able to purchase 6 more ounces of a product but get the food for $.50 less per ounce.
Compare prices across all brand names that carry the product. Many times, you can purchase the house brand for less; it is usually the same product without the marketing and colorful label.
Finally and most importantly, make a grocery list and stick to it. Prepare your list in sections and be sure to include items from a variety of food groups.
Try the following categories to keep your list organized:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Canned fruits, vegetables and other canned foods
- Bread, cereal, rice, tortillas, and other grain products
- Dried beans and peas
- Milk, cheese and yogurt (low-fat and non-fat products)
- Meat, poultry, fish and eggs
- Frozen foods
Use March, National Nutrition Month, to start saving money while eating healthy everyday.