With rising living costs and sky-rocketing food prices it can be difficult to eat healthily, but maintaining a good diet and including all the required daily nutrition for you and the family can be affordable if you make the right choices.
With a little know-how and planning, it is possible to enjoy nutritious foods and a variety of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and protein in your diet without breaking the bank. Follow these tips and you’ll be surprised how much the grocery budget can be stretched.
1 : Plan ahead
Planning ahead ensures you think about food needs, tastes, and budget, and it can really pay off.
- Adapt recipes to fit your needs.
- Use recipes with common ingredients.
- Find ways to stretch a recipe.
Planning weekly menus ensures you’re stocked with healthy ingredients for balanced meals. Experiment with your cooking by using left-overs in other dishes, and include in your planning to pack your own lunch for work. You’ll not only eat healthier food, you’ll be less tempted to raid the vending machine later – a bad move for you both your wallet and waistline.
Remember not to cut down on fruit and vegetables in trying to stick to a tight budget. These are “protective foods” that guard against disease. Get your 5 – 7 portions of fruits and vegetables a day by buying in season – these are not only cheaper during their peak growing times, but also taste better. Consider buying vegetables and fruit in bulk from a fresh produce market and share with friends and family, as onions, potatoes, butternut and gem squash, for example, are cheaper by the pocket and tomatoes by the box. Left-over or wilted vegetables can also be added to soups.
2 : Shop With a List
After planning menus, create a shopping list and stick to it. Having a list helps the shopping go easier and faster, and reduces impulse buys. And if your shopping list includes nuts, beans, or grains, consider buying in bulk to save money and keep your pantry well-stocked for future meal planning. Use the calculator on your phone to help you stick to your budget. Also try to shop the outer edges of a store first – this is where whole foods are generally placed and will help with filling your cart with these first, and not the more processed foods generally found in the middle of the store. Remember that self-selected vegetables and fruit are cheaper per kilogram than those that are pre-packaged for convenience. And never go shopping when you are hungry!
3 : Buy Frozen
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, frozen options can be healthy alternatives to fresh produce. It’s a common misconception that frozen foods aren’t as healthy as fresh. Commercially frozen foods are flash-frozen within just a few hours of picking or harvesting, helping to retain most of their nutrients and colour. Skip frozen foods that have added sugar or salt, or butter or cream sauces.
4 : Cut Cost With Coupons
Coupons are a good way to save on a grocery bill, especially if you have a shopping list planned out, which means you can search for online coupons for the ingredients you need. Can’t find a coupon for those blueberries on your list? Use the one for strawberries and save money. Even low-value cents-off coupons can add up – using five 50-cents-off coupons a week can end up saving over $100 each year.
5 : Buy Store Brands
Generic or store brand items can save 20% to 30% on a food bill. These always include staples like canned tomatoes, milk, olive oil, and frozen fruits and vegetables. Take some time to compare the ingredients list and nutrition facts to make sure you’re not getting unnecessary added ingredients though.
6 : Try Growing a Garden
Growing your own fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to save money. And you’ll have fresh organic produce at your fingertips. Many fruits, vegetables, and herbs can grow in pots on patios or balconies if you don’t have a garden with space.