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Eating Healthy on a Budget

It may seem like eating healthy means spending more money. But there are simple, cost-saving ways for you and your family to eat well and stay within your budget.

 

  • Plan ahead. Before you head to the grocery store, take some time to plan your weekly meals and snacks. Then, take inventory of what ingredients you already have in your kitchen, and make a list of what you’ll need from the store. Get input from family or roommates!
  • Shop around sales. You can scan weekly store ads and flyers for sales and coupons to help you plan your weekly meals and snacks. If you notice items you use frequently are on sale, stock up—just make sure these items won’t spoil if you don’t use them right away.
  • Stick to your grocery list. Enticing sales and shopping when you’re hungry are two of the main reasons you might stray from your grocery list. Make sure to grab a snack before you head to the store, and don’t forget your list.
  • Buy whole frozen, bulk and generic foods. Try shopping the perimeter of the store first to stock up on whole foods, which are less processed/refined and generally contain very few additives and artificial ingredients. The less healthy processed food (“junk food”) tends to be in the center of the store. Buy frozen fruits and veggies to cut down on waste. Bulk foods, such as grains, beans and nuts, provide you with greater quantity and a lower price. Don’t shy away from generic brands—they often contain the same ingredients as their brand-name counterparts, while costing less.
  • Look for cheaper cuts of meat and meat replacements. Meat and fish can be expensive, so shop for cheaper cuts and use them in clever ways. Ground meat can be used for burritos, casseroles, burgers, soups and stews. You can also have Meatless Mondays, where you cook with other protein sources such as beans or eggs.

 

Now that your shopping is done, you should have a kitchen full of healthy meal options and snacks. The trick to eating well and saving money at this point is simple: eat at home!

 

  • Get into the habit of eating at home rather than going out. Eating at a restaurant or ordering takeout can be fun and spontaneous, but it can also cost twice as much as cooking at home. Plus, by cooking your own meals, you know exactly what’s in your food.
  • Cooking large portions can help you save money as well. Leftovers can feed you and your family for days. If you want to change things up, try using your leftovers in other recipes or in lunches rather than dinner.
  • Packing your lunch is another way to make sure you’re eating healthy and saving money. Between cooking large meals and planning ahead, you can boost your wallet and your health by preparing your lunches and snacks rather than dining out.