I’m coming out and saying it – I think it’s a myth that eating healthy has to be an expensive endeavor. You can cook and enjoy nutritious, tasty meals by simply shopping at your local grocery store, no less. Here are my top food budget trimmers that I routinely practice to get nutrient-rich foods into my grocery bags and healthy dinners onto the family table without breaking the bank.
Have Shopping List in Hand
You can’t “eat” this tip but it’s my number #1 food budget no-brainer. By having a grocery list with me, I’m less likely to put random foods in my cart. I also try to organize my list items according to which aisle they are located as another way to avoid impulse purchasing as a result of “wandering” through the grocery store (not to mention, it’s a time saver, too).
Focus on Fruit and Vegetable Options
Fresh produce can be more expensive – so don’t forget about the canned and frozen versions, especially ones packed in their own juice or without added sauces. Produce companies can and freeze fruits and veggies at the height of freshness, which locks in nutrients and prevents vitamin loss that may happen over time with fresh produce. Buying canned fruits and veggies also reduces food waste – less chance of them rotting in the fridge, forgotten.
Pick Protein Savers
Canned beans are one of the most inexpensive, convenient protein options around – they are also high in fiber but low in fat; this makes them a pantry must-have. Look for low-salt versions, and always drain and rinse the beans to remove excess sodium. Eggs, canned tuna and peanut butter are also nutrient rich, protein packed and beneficial money savers.
Buy Bulk Bargains
Take advantage if your store has a bulk aisle where you can bag and weigh the quantity you want to buy. You can save a lot on whole grains, (like oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa and popcorn), nuts, dried fruits and even spices this way.
Raid Your Own Pantry
Try this a few times a month (as I try to do): rather than go to the store for those few items for a certain recipe, go to your pantry/fridge/freezer and make do with what’s on hand. The truth is, if you practice these food budget tips regularly, you’ll have enough items to pull together a nutritious and satisfying meal or two like Mixed Veggie Fried Rice, Cuban Black Bean Soup or Chickpea & Kraut Pasta Toss without that extra grocery shopping run.